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Justin Buzzard

Justin Buzzard is founder and lead pastor of Garden City Church, a new church plant in Silicon Valley.

Posted 9/29/14 at 10:01 AM | Justin Buzzard

Make a List of What You Hate

Are you having trouble sorting out what you want to do with your life? Maybe you need to tap into what you hate.

Recently I spent time with an old college friend over a cup of coffee. We had a long, fun conversation about sorting through God’s calling on one’s life. We talked about all that this involves–knowing your passions and strengths, listening to what others say about your calling, looking at the opportunities in front of you, etc.

Somewhere in the middle of the conversation, my friend said something really helpful:

One way to sharpen your sense of calling is to make a list of what you hate.

I thought this was a great idea. I haven’t made my list yet. Maybe I’ll do that today.

I’ve been thinking about how this method is the backdoor entrance into your calling. The front door entrance is thinking about your greatest loves, delights, and passions (“I love working with at-risk youth,” etc.).

The front door approach is great. But, because you use the front door all the time, sometimes you need to go through the back door to get a new perspective on the calling that God’s put upon your life. FULL POST

Posted 9/26/14 at 11:15 AM | Justin Buzzard

One of the Most Powerful Questions You Can Ask Someone

Questions are powerful. Questions lead you to truth and closer relationships.

I think one of the most powerful questions you can ask someone is, simply: “How are you?”

Ask this question to a friend, neighbor, co-worker, or stranger. Then, listen. Really listen. Most people would love to have a safe and caring person/place/community where they can share how they’re really doing. Most people rarely get to share what’s really going on because 1) they’re rarely asked and/or 2) most people don’t listen, but instead simply take turns waiting to talk.

Good listening is a byproduct of understanding grace and how the human heart works. As I’ve written before: grace creates safety (which includes an environment of listening), which creates change.

How are you? It’s a great question be asked, and it’s a great question to ask.

Posted 9/23/14 at 12:08 PM | Justin Buzzard

Photo Gallery: Garden City Church Turns 3 Years Old

Yesterday Garden City Church turned three years old! Three years ago a handful of us started this church with a dream to engage Silicon Valley with the good news of Jesus in a fresh way. You can click here for more of the story of how we got started. We are amazed and grateful over how God is building our church. The picture above shows part of our gathering yesterday.

In contrast, this is a picture of our first core group meeting. What you’ll notice is a lot of empty seats. Starting a church is far from easy.

Our favorite thing to celebrate at Garden City is baptisms, when people go public with their faith in Jesus. Yesterday we celebrated a lot of baptisms–our most ever in a single day. FULL POST

Posted 9/22/14 at 6:10 PM | Justin Buzzard

Get Your Joy Back

Photo: Pixabay - Public Domain

Get your joy back.

What happened to all your joy? Where did it go? Who (or what) did you let steal your joy?

This is the question a missionary named Paul asked a group of Christians living around Galatia:

What has happened to all your joy? (Galatians 4:15)

These people used to live with joy, but something happened to it. Their joy was lost, stolen, snuffed out, buried.

What about you?

What has happened to all your joy?

You need to answer this diagnostic question before you can answer the remedy question: How do you get your joy back?

The Galatians lost their joy because they lost a firm grip on the freedom and grace they had in Jesus. Therefore, the remedy for their joylessness was to rediscover Jesus.

Get your joy back. Answer the first question, find out how you lost your joy. Then you can answer the second question and get your joy back. FULL POST

Posted 9/19/14 at 1:18 PM | Justin Buzzard

Monthly Day Away to Study & Pray; And, Wife's Night Out

Photo: Flickr/LilyyyB - Creative Commons
Beach at Half Moon Bay

For almost 4 years now I’ve kept what I call “A Monthly Day Away to Study & Pray.” Fellow pastors, if you don’t do something like this already, you should consider making this part of your monthly schedule. This has become such a rhythm in my life that I couldn’t imagine life without it.

Here’s how it works.

Long before my month fills up, I block off one day of the month for this day away. I don’t allow any obligations or opportunities to compete with this day. My admin knows not to schedule anything for me on this day. This is a day that helps protect me from burnout and refuels me for the rest of the month.

A few days before this day away arrives, I plan for how I will use the time. I ask questions like: What do I want to study? What do I need to pray through and process? How could I come away from this day the most recharged and refocused? I generally settle on 2 or 3 “projects” for the day. FULL POST

Posted 9/15/14 at 9:05 AM | Justin Buzzard

Steve Smallman Interview: The Walk

Book cover for The Walk

I have been so impressed with Stephen Smallman’s book, The Walk: Steps for New and Renewed Followers of Jesus, that I decided to interview Stephen here on the blog. I hope this brief interview persuades you to buy Stephen’s book.

Here is Tim Keller’s endorsement for the book:

This is the fruit of a lifetime of experience in ministry. I recommend this warm, practical, gospel-centered, and very useful manual on discipleship.

Stephen has served for over forty years in pastoral ministry and has served as executive director for World Harvest Mission. He currently teaches for CityNet Ministries of Philadelphia. You can learn more about Stephen at his website, Birthline Ministries. FULL POST

Posted 9/12/14 at 9:13 AM | Justin Buzzard

The Mercy Spiller

Once in a while a sentence of Scripture stabs your heart and wakes you up to realities you hadn’t quite felt before.

This morning I sat on my porch reading and praying through a few psalms. Eventually I came to a sentence, Psalm 40:11. I’m sure I’ve read this sentence many times. This time the sentence read me.

As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain
your mercy from me;


I restrain mercy. I hold back mercy, grace, and love from other people, even the people I say I love the most. My mercy-giving has a limit.

And, other people restrain mercy. Other people have restrained mercy from me. Instead of receiving mercy, I’ve received judgment, punishment, and shunning. My mercy-receiving also has a limit.

But a relationship with the Lord has an entirely different operating system.

His mercy-giving has no limit. He doesn’t restrain his mercy from his children. He never runs out of mercy! There’s an eternal supply! He doesn’t hold back and conserve his mercy, the Lord spills his mercy all over me.

This means my mercy-receiving has no limit. Because the Father spilled all his wrath on Jesus, he can spill mercy all over me every single day of my life, even on my days of greatest failure. So far, today has been a big day of failure for me. FULL POST

Posted 9/9/14 at 10:04 AM | Justin Buzzard

Re-Wording Your Mission Statement

In yesterday’s sermon, The Kiss of God, I announced the re-wording of Garden City Church’s mission statement. As you’ll see below, the mission of our church hasn’t changed and it will never change. But, for some important reasons we changed how we word our mission statement. If your church or organization has been around for a couple of years, then you have more wisdom under your belt from when you first started your organization and re-articulating your mission might be a healthy move.

Below is an email I sent to all of the deacons of our church last week, explaining to them ahead of time this change we announced on Sunday.


For quite a while now I’ve been thinking and praying about how it might be wise to change the wording of our mission statement. That turned into exploring and praying about this as elders, and asking the staff to explore this with us and give their input. It was a fruitful process that led us to an exciting decision. FULL POST

Posted 9/5/14 at 3:15 PM | Justin Buzzard

Live FROM Feedback, Not FOR Feedback

Photo: Pixabay/OpenClips - Public Domain

We live in a feedback culture. Move your eyes to the right or the left and you’ll spot someone looking for feedback. There’s nothing wrong with feedback. The problem is most people are living FOR feedback, rather than FROM feedback.

We live FOR feedback when we base our identity/happiness on the evaluation others give of us.

This is the plot line of every reality TV show. A group of contestants have a job to perform (sing well, dance well, woo a woman’s heart, etc.). At the end of each show the contestants stand before the judges panel, anxiously awaiting the evaluation, their identity hanging in the balance (will I get a rose, or will I be rejected and sent home?).

I fear that many of us live the Christian life this way. We live FOR feedback. The deep feedback of the gospel hasn’t invaded our hearts, so we spend each day following the plotline of reality TV, anxiously unsure of what the people we’ve placed on the judgment panel of our lives really think about us. We feel the same lack of assurance with God. FULL POST

Posted 9/2/14 at 11:08 AM | Justin Buzzard

How to Leave a Church Well

Photo: Wikipedia/RudolfSimon/cropped - Creative Commons

How to leave a church well:

There’s much more to it than this, but this might be the main thing.

Walk into the church auditorium and find that place where you got on your knees 4 years ago on your first day on the job.

That spot of carpet under the big cross.

Go to that spot and get on your knees again.

Survey the big cross above you, just like you did before.

Pray, praising God for the prayers he answered from 4 years ago.

Give God all the glory, all the credit.

Be amazed at all he has done.

Thank him for his faithfulness, his kindness, his lavish generosity.

Smile as you pray.

Then entrust to his care the people that have been under your care.

Then tell him how desperately you need vision and help from above for the new adventure ahead. FULL POST

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