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Let’s Celebrate What Happened in 2013

I truly believe that 2014 is going to be the greatest year that Vertical Church has EVER experienced. The best way to encounter a new year is to think back on the one that is behind you and 2013 had some incredible highs. Take a moment and remember with me two thousand and thirteen:

We began the year with a journey towards increasing our faith in God with “The Path”. It was during this series that we learned about

  • The Application Trail (“Application isn’t just a facet of following God – It’s a PATH that God uses to increase our faith.”)   
  • The Discipline Trail (Spiritual Discipline is doing what you don’t want to do now so you can do what you do want to do later.)
  • The Relationship Trail (God uses people to increase our faith in Him.)
  • The Missionary Trail (Our responsibility is to do what WE know to do then trust Him to do what HE does. God is not looking for the most talented people, He’s looking for the most willing people.)
In February we continued the year on a high by celebrating our 2nd birthday on the first Sunday of the year. We were thankful for all who wished us a happy birthday:

Our next series was “Big C, Little C” (“BIG C is the Church, little c is me – what God does in this world, He does as WE.”). It was during this series that we learned what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.

It was also during this series that we ordained John Paul Deaver as our connections pastor and David Collins as our Lumberton Location Pastor. We love all of our Pastors and are so thankful for all they do at VC.

 

 

In March Vertical became ONE church in TWO locations as we began our Vertical Bladen location at Bladen Community College. Since the beginning of Vertical we have had an incredible group of people serving from Bladen. Now it’s time for us to reach the people of Bladen County. Vertical Church is FOR Bladen.

We also began a very powerful series that hit a major truth in so many lives – without Jesus I have a “Hole in my Soul”. It was during this series that the picture on the right took place – a day when hundreds of people were forgiven of past hurts in our relationships. I will never forget the sound of the cracking of those paint stirrers along with the sounds of weeping across those auditoriums in both locations… I am so thankful to be part of a church where life change happens. The video below was from the “H.I.M.S” series:

In April YOU chose what we preached and taught at Vertical with our FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) Series and man was it challenging. You directed us to take on all of the following subjects:

  • Homosexuality, Tattoos, cremation, marriage and recognization in heaven, and suicide
  • Couples living together, gambling, why do bad things happen to good people,
  • Is it ok for christians to drink alcohol, Are ghosts real?, Can people lose their salvation

We also experienced this gem of a video:

In May we had an INCREDIBLE Night of Worship at the Vertical Bladen Location. This night was unforgettable and so moving. It was also the night that we sent our Worship Arts Pastor Jon Lloyd off to Pittsburgh to begin Steel City Church.

 

SUMMER 2013 was headlined by a bible character series titled, “Summer Blockbusters”. It was during the SB series that Vertical Church learned how deep our church is with preachers as our pastors brought messages live at all of our locations. We had the opportunity to hear from Joey Autry (Esther), Brandon Meadows (Abraham and Isaac),  David Collins (Daniel in the Lion’s Den) as well as Donnie and myself (Noah).

It was also during this series that Vertical participated in our first mission trip to NYC!! What an awesome experience as we teamed with our friends from Fusion Church, Spring Lake and Metro NY Baptist to minister to South Asian people’s in Jackson Heights, Queens for a week. Life changing for all who attended.

 

August brought us to our “White Flag” series, a study of the book of Jonah, where we called our people to surrender. We also talked about the truth that “Your chaos is causing chaos for everyone else in your life.” During WF we really pressed in on prayer. We fasted, we had prayer lunches and we called people to pray for those in their lives that need Christ. It was a humbling series that really refocused us after summer.

We also ended summer with a great Family Get together by gathering at White Lake Water Park for Splash Fest. This event is not only great fun, it’s a great event where families have the opportunity to meet others at VC.

September brought us into the “No Perfect People Allowed” series. Amazing that people (church people) actually asked us does that mean Jesus isn’t allowed at Vertical because HE IS perfect. Sigh… We talked about ROCKS during this series (see picture and THIS POST) NPPA was an incredible series that brought freedom and forgiveness of sins. We saw many salvations through this series by God’s grace as well as 36 baptisms over a 2 week period between both of our locations including the incredible baptism story below:

It was also during September that FUZE, our student ministry, moved to their new location at Bill Sapp Recreation Center. By the end of the semester they were ministering to over 130 students weekly. We are so excited for what is to come!!!

October not only brought our series of one of the greatest truths you will ever learn: “Who i am > Who i was”, it also brought our yearly LOVE WEEK where Vertical gets outside the walls of the church to serve inside our community. We served thousands of people through LOVE WEEK as a church racking up hundreds of hours. We are already looking forward to LOVE WEEK 2014!

In November we pressed into a blessing of the believer with our series, “the Whisper”.  It was a blessing to see so many working to grow in their ability to hear and respond to the whisper of God.

We just finished December – One of the great parts of Christmas was on the evening of December 15 we gathered with our VKIDZ at the Holiday Inn Ballroom for the VIDZ Night of Worship. It’s always a great night of encouragement when we celebrate the season and Jesu with our Kidz. McGee and team did a great job putting together a great family event.

I certainly hope that you were able to be part of a great Christmas holiday season, especially with our Christmas service, “The Song of the Season”. Not only was it an incredible evening but that day saw 18 people make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ as Savior.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some other noteworthy stats for 2013:

  • In 2013 Vertical gave over $31,000 towards mission work both here locally and around our world
  • We were able to give 12,800 to Church Planting Partnerships through the Vertical Church Planting Center.
  • We helped people with personal needs locally to the amount of $2,700.
  • And because of your giving we baptized 75 people – bringing our total to close to 300 in the last 33 months!!!
Isn’t that encouraging?!?  We need to CELEBRATE what God has done in our midst this year. I am so thankful to be a part of a church that is committed to

HELPING PEOPLE WHO DON’T LIKE CHURCH MEET GOD.

2014 is gonna be off the chain! See you Sunday.

STOP!!!!

It’s good Friday – the day that we remember the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. I hope that you will all take the time to remember and read the account of the events that took place that day:

READ IT HERE.

We are going to have an unbelievable resurrection celebration Sunday morning. That being said:

STOP!!! That excuse for why you can’t invite them, that’s not the Lord. The devil will never encourage you to invite people to church (grin). Most people are just waiting for someone to invite them. What better place for someone who hasn’t been to church in a long time to RE-EXPERIENCE Church on Easter than Vertical Church?

The Real Marriage Tour is Coming!!!

It’s our birthday week so have a gift for you: We are so excited to announce that the REAL MARRIAGE TOUR is coming to Lumberton!!! Some of us had the opportunity to experience this last year and it was SO GOOD. I honestly thought, “I would do anything to be able to bring this not only to my church, but to my region where I see so many marriages hurting!”

“Real Marriage and the Truth about Sex, Friendship and Life Together” is an incredible event that will encourage, enlighten, and equip you in your romantic relationship whether you are married or single. In this event you will learn how Pastor Mark Driscoll and his wife, Grace, have navigated their marital journey through biblical teaching and humor.

Marriage is a wonderful gift, but it takes work, growth in Christ and patience to love the other more than ourselves. Single individuals will be ahead of the curve after hearing these truths that will transform their dating life and shape their future marriage.

We will be taking part in the LIVE simulcast coming from Springfield, MO. Here are the details:

WHEN: Friday, February 22nd 7pm – 11pm and Saturday morning, Feb. 23rd, 10am – 1pm
WHERE: Candy Sue’s Downtown Event Room
WHO: Anyone!!!
COST: $20 per person includes Meal on Friday night and the REAL MARRIAGE Conference booklet.

In the event Pastor Mark will be addressing key issues like:

  • Tough and good lessons learned from Mark and Grace’s story.
  • Dating – keys to success and failure.
  • Married people, guess what, you are supposed to ‘date your spouse’.
  • Friendship in marriage – it is a simple idea, but often difficult to maintain.
  • Taking out the Trash – You will have to attend to learn how.
  • Sex as god, gross or gift?
  • Can We __________?

This isn’t just for Vertical Church but anyone who could use some encouragement in their marriage. Registration starts tomorrow ONLINE and will be limited to the first 150 people so get your tickets early.

Rattlesnake Shake

[10:1] After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. [2] And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. [3] Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. (Luke 10:1-3 ESV)

I really haven’t shared this way lately but went to bed with this on my heart: There are so many people in our region who need to meet Jesus Christ. Around 96,000 according to statistics. 96,000 people in our sphere of influence who do not attend anyone’s church.

As a leader, Luke 10:2 (above) constantly enters my mind. This verse of scripture has been on my heart for over a decade as I began praying this way in the fall of 1999. In the passage Jesus is telling 72 dudes He is preparing to send out to their region, “the harvest is plentiful (there are tons of people who are ready to come to me) but the laborers are few (there aren’t enough people to let them know that I LOVE them)”. These men are about to leave Jesus’ side and take the Good News of Kingdom to people who do not know about Him. You have to love His parting words to them as He is sending them,

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. (Matthew 10:16 ESV)

Be wise as a serpent? Isn’t the devil usually referred to as “the serpent”? (Yes). Obviously Jesus isn’t telling people to be like the devil, but instead is acknowledging the intellectual way that the serpent convinced Eve that she should eat the tree. He’s telling us to maintain our innocence while trying to understand the people we are called to reach, the life they live and the things that they deal with on a daily basis. This verse of scripture embodies the reason that we do church the way we do.

We are not looking to please people – we are looking to REACH the people God has positioned us to reach:

  • We realize that everyone is not looking for a church that people can wear regular clothes to – I LOVE IT but some people want to dress up to go to church and that’s fine. It is wise to realize there are people who don’t have church clothes. It is wise to acknowledge that some don’t want to dress up.
  • We realize that some people don’t want to attend a church that helps people find a place to park and sit, but most people love it. It is wise to realize that the quicker a person can find a parking space and a seat the better their experience will be.
  • We realize that there are people who don’t want to attend a church that has a band and plays a style of music that they would actually listen to outside of church, but most who attend do. It is wise to acknowledge that music with drums and guitars can accompany lyrics which bring glory to Jesus. It is wise to form your style of music to reflect the people that attend your church.

Let me say it again: there are at least 96,000 people in our sphere of influence who do not attend anyone’s church! 96,000 (say it out loud). In an effort to reach these people who without Jesus will spend eternity in hell (stop and think on that for a minute) we will do whatever we can to reach these people!! When Jesus sent these men out “among wolves”, which is dangerous, He told them to be wise, be crafty because the people they would reach needed to know. We are not looking to please people – we are looking to REACH people, people God loves and has positioned us to reach. We realize many of these people would like Vertical if they would just experience it for themselves. They need to meet Jesus and they need to know that they need Him. These people need a place that they will like enough to actually listen long enough to realize this truth. Vertical Church is a place for people like this.

As we look to reach out into other pockets of Robeson, Bladen and Hoke County (shout out to FuZion Church) and cultures within our region that are not being touched by the light of Jesus Christ, we will look to these verses. We will remember that there are plenty waiting to hear about and meet Jesus – they just don’t realize it yet. As we do we will continue to pray that God will send people who are willing to use their life experiences to meet people where they are. And while we won’t reach everybody hopefully we will reach those we are supposed to reach in Jesus Name. #WeC96

“But this is Little Lumberton’” – Encouragement for Church Planters

I am a church planter in a small town. Where I’m from people don’t normally start churches unless someone makes them mad. I wanted to start a church for years because I thought we could touch some hard to reach people.

One Wednesday night back in early 2010 I had a person who I love and trusted tear down my dream of starting a church purposefully designed to reach people who don’t go to church with the Gospel. As I shared my dream/vision to reach the thousands of unreached people in our region the person said,

“I know that there are churches that are doing this – you’ve taken me and shown me – I’ve seen it with my own eyes. But Mike, THIS IS LITTLE LUMBERTON! Man, you know I support you but I just don’t know if what you see can happen in a small town like this.”

Some people can see the very things that rocked your world and for whatever reason can’t see what you see. We see a similar thing in the Gospels when Jesus was meeting the men who would soon become His apostles:

[45] Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” [46] Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” (John 1:45-46 ESV)

“Can anything good come out of (little) Nazareth?” Nathanael asked, about to meet the Savior. I love Phillip’s response: “Come and see”. The problem with most people is that “they” can’t see what you see:

  • “They” don’t get your vision because they don’t have the ability to get it – maybe that’s why God didn’t give it to them. They don’t have your calling or spiritual insight. Thank Jesus that He gave it to you.
  • “They” don’t see the potential you do because they cannot see beyond that which they have always known. They don’t see the problems that you have solutions for. They are seeing the same thing that they have always seen - You are seeing what GOD has always seen. Thank Him for giving you eyes to see the potential.
  • “They” try to talk some sense into you because they think that you are believing in a pipe dream. You are in fact living a dream – GOD’S dream that His Gospel would be powerful and that His presence would be evident in that region. Don’t you let them talk “sense” into you. Thank God for entrusting you with His dream.

What that person said to me broke my heart because I really thought that they “got” it. It may have broken my heart but it didn’t break my spirit. You see, in the end I KNEW what I felt Jesus calling me to and was willing to trust Him to the end. That was hundreds of lives changed by Jesus ago. Hallelujah!

Can big things happen for God in little towns? You bet they can! Don’t ever let the things “they” say tell you any different. Your town may be little but your God isn’t.

 

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If you are a church planter, feel a possible calling to or are praying about planting and are in North Carolina, I would encourage you to join us for the Planting the Gospel Whiteboard Session at Vertical Church Headquarters on May 10th, 11:30 to 2:30pm. Planting the Gospel founder, David Putman will lead us as we strategize how to plant 10,000 churches in the next 10 years. The session is free and lunch is provided. You can get more info here or inbox me.