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Relationships Make the Difference

The night of February 5th, 2011 was one of the most restless nights of my life. I tossed. I turned. I dreamt. I awoke. I looked at the alarm clock next to my bed incessantly all night long. Why? Because I knew that when I got up I was going to see a longtime dream come true: Vertical Church was going to have it’s very 1st weekly service at Cinema Four Theaters in Lumberton, NC. And I knew… i just knew that from this day forward we had the opportunity to

Help People Who Don’t Like Church Meet God.

I know I say that all the time. I probably say it so much that you barely hear it when I say it, but I say it all the time because it is the essence of WHO we are. See, we believe that there are tens of thousands of people in our region who don’t know Jesus. They don’t go to church. Many of them don’t care for church. How do WE reach those people? Well, first I believe we have to define “WE”. If we, means me and the other Pastor’s of Vertical Church, well, that’s not going to happen. WE, the pastor’s, don’t know them and the chance that we will have the opportunity to meet tens of thousands in such a way that we can have a spiritual impact is low. But if we means “US”, you and I, the pastor’s and leaders of Vertical, well now we’re on to something.


You know people who need what you have found. They work with you, recreate with you, live around you. They know you, your family and your kids. They personally know you, the music you like, the teams that you pull for and the food that you eat. They probably know where you attend church (and if they don’t that really needs to change!). Statistics say that they would attend church with you if you asked them to. Many of them would feel honored that you actually WANT them to attend church with you. Some have been wondering why it’s taken you so long to invite them. Almost every VIP I speak to at Vertical says the same thing: “I’ve wanted to check out Vertical for a long time. I’m glad I did!”

“I’ve wanted to check out Vertical for a long time. I’m glad I did!”

Relationships really do make the difference if we allow them to. #maybeitstime to have that conversation, extend that invite, show them that we care for their soul. May we be foolishly intentional about reaching the people that God has purposely placed around us. Pray for them – by name. Pray for boldness for yourself. Be intentional. Foolish Intentionality.

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


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

Vertical Church Coming to Bladen County!


We believe that God is at work in our region. People who don’t normally like church are coming to Jesus. There are so many people who believe in God but for whatever reason feel like outcasts in the church. Since launching VC 8 months ago we are finding many people who were church outcasts who have found a home at Vertical. We are also finding that there are many who find their calling in helping people who don’t like church meet God, which is the vision of our church.

On Sunday night, November 13th, Vertical Church is coming to West Bladen High School for a Night of Worship and to explore what could be and should be. We’re calling it, “What If?” If you are interested in seeing if you might be part of helping people in Bladen County who don’t like church meet God, we hope you’ll join us at 6pm for this evening of passionate worship and vision.

Come as you are. “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”(1 Samuel 16:7 ESV)

Together, God can use US ALL to reach people in Bladen who don’t think they need church.

One Person Looking in the Wrong Direction

Often times people become moved for something. In the church we call it getting "a burden". They identify something that is wrong and think, "this isn't right – something needs to be done about it!" Next, they look for someone who can help them, usually discussing it with their closest friends. Often they go to a pastor or someone they respect in their church. The person with the burden looks really hard for someone to do something about the thing THEY have become passionate about but they are looking in the wrong direction.

I would suggest they look in the mirror.

It only takes one. One person with a burden can do amazing things. God is looking for people who are willing to do whatever it takes, people willing to trust Him. I don't make this stuff up – look at what the bible says:

Therefore he said he would destroy them— had not Moses, his chosen one, stood in the breach before him, to turn away his wrath from destroying them. (Psalm 106:23 ESV)

God was ready to destroy Israel but Moses begged God not to. But at a later time we see God looked for someone to intercede for Israel and found no one.

And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none. (Ezekiel 22:30 ESV) 

Two scriptures. Two opportunities for greatness. Two different outcomes. Sometimes it takes only one courageous, righteous person to stop great evil, but in the 1st scripture there was no one. I personally believe that God's greatest movements begin in the heart of one – I have experienced this personally in my own life. I want to relive it through yours.

I believe that God is looking for people who are ready to quit looking for others to carry out THEIR mission. Remember, it's not God AND you, it's God IN you. What is Jesus telling you to do. I dare you to do it.

In this season…

Just wanted to take a moment to say "hi" to all of you who read me. I know that some of you have been wondering where my regular WholeHearted posts have been…

Honestly, I'm in a pretty busy season right now. I'm really not in a place where there has been much time to share on WholeHearted. I'm seeking the Lord, listening a lot, reading a lot and soaking up all that is around me right now. I've been making some changes in my schedule lately and have been making an attempt towards helping my mind to be less "busy" so that my heart can actually "be" with those I'm with. This is much harder than it would seem. Your prayers for me are so appreciated.

The fact that you actually care what I have to say is humbling and I really do take that very seriously. I pray this time will make what I say even more timely and powerful than ever. I'm sure that more regular posts are on the horizon. As usual, I have A LOT to say; I'm just not in a place right now where I can craft it. Maybe next week, maybe not. But soon.

I love you.