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Archive for January, 2011

My Biggest Church Planting Thrill

Excited-crocodile-32715-1246917566-3 Yesterday I shared the issue that has disappointed me most but today I wanted to share the thing that I have found to be my biggest thrill as a church planter. There have certainly been many thrills like,

  • the way God called each of the four lead team to leave our comforts and trust him.
  • the stories of the way that people knew God opened this door for them.
  • seeing God answer the prayers of His people.
  • the amazing ways that God has provided.
  • Vertical HeadQuarters.
  • securing the location we always wanted.
  • ordering EVERYTHING we needed and wanted to get started.
  • seeing our VTeam leaders emerge.
  • watching the band come together with power.

Everyone of these things have been so exciting, however, they aren't the biggest thrill. For me the biggest thrill in this journey has been

THE PEOPLE GOD HAS BROUGHT TOGETHER TO BE A TEAM.

The first time that we had an interest meeting at the end of the summer we were excited but there was a challenge: we had people from 8 different towns represented among our group. We weren't "one"… heck, we weren't even three!! But little by little God has brought us together as a group – a team. As a matter of fact, over the past 6 months we have gone from being acquaintances to becoming a church. Mark Driscoll's definition of church says,

The local church is a community of confessing believers in Jesus Christ who obey Scripture by organizing under qualified leadership, gather regularly for preaching and worship, and scatter to evangelize and care for people everywhere. They observe the Biblical sacraments of baptism and communion, and are unified by the Spirit for mission in the world, and are disciplined to live out the Great Commandment and the Great Commission to the glory of God.

We have become that. Vertical Church, I love you all. It has been amazing to watch God orchestrate this move and I thank JESUS for the opportunity to do this with all of you. In 17 days this journey launches on a weekly basis and I am so proud of all that you have done!

My Biggest Church Planting Disappointment

Babycry Are you ready for a  moment of blunt honesty? My biggest disappointment as a church planter has been the reaction of some Christians about our church.

Don't get me wrong, I have had WAY MORE support from people than I have personally experienced negativity, but the stories from my people that I have heard lately straight up break my heart. It's amazing how gullible some people can be and how quick some are to believe lies and gossip. The thing that hurts me most is the way that people who have never spoken to me about Vertical will judge our intentions.

We realized when we went on this journey that we were following Jesus and His will for our lives and that what He was calling us to was going to be controversial and would cost us greatly. It has. I think the part that I have a hard time getting used to is how easy it is for people to believe the worst about people who have given them no reason to do so.

My plan to overcome this negativity is one person at a time. I want the people in our region to understand that Vertical Church is here to partner with the churches of our area to bring the light of Jesus to the darkness of our region. We're teammates working together for the souls of man – not competitors in the religious arena. 

If this experience has taught me anything it is to not jump to conclusions but to seek the truth at all costs. It has also reminded me how important it is to think the best of people and to give them the benefit of the doubt. It makes you ask yourself, "If I knew going into this that we would experience this would I do it again?" A MILLION TIMES OVER! The joy of following God's call and to know you're in His will is worth all we've endured times infinity. You know, there are crowns for overcoming (James 1:12). I hope you all win one!

We’re Not Competing With Your Church

Beat-competition Our mission: Leading people to become passionate about Jesus so they might lead others to become passionate about Jesus. Our vision: to help people who don't like church meet God.

In 19 days Vertical Church will begin having weekly services at the Cinema Four Theater in Lumberton. We are so excited to bring our new church to our region because we know that there are so many people who won't go to any church. 

That's who we're after. We're not coming to give Christians another more modern option – we're coming on mission. We want to make a difference in our region, one life at a time. We want to be the church that you think of when you think of your "really lost co-worker" who just won't go to church but you're praying they'll be saved. We want to be the church you think of when your cousin who is really far from God is asking spiritual questions and you know you have one chance to get them to church.

We're not trying to be better than other churches. We don't want to have better music than other churches and we're not trying to have a better church community than our sister churches. We aren't in a competition with the church – we're in competition with a busy world that has gotten out of control and isn't looking to God for the answers.

I hope that all my Christian friends remember that before we can help lost people to grow in their faith we must first lead them to Jesus. That's all we're looking to do: to create an environment that will put people in favorable conditions to have their life changed by Jesus. 

Absolutely Loving What We’re Doing

Leadershipteam As we get closer to our launch to weekly services on February 6th (20 days from this post) I am so filled with excitement and expectancy about all that is before us. For years church planting has been on my radar: I have thought about it, read about it, prayed about it and wondered if the reason I was so consumed with it was God's calling me to it.

I LOVE THE PEOPLE OF VERTICAL.

On Sunday's we meet at the Cinema in training mode. We don't have a regular service, but instead, our teams gather together to learn how to do what we'll do weekly. This morning, as Donnie and I sat in one of the auditoriums meeting and talking over issues we were both overwhelmed by all God has done to prepare the way for us. Although we both agree that this past year (especially these past 6 months) has been the most difficult of our life, we have literally watched the hand of the Lord operate on our behalf through this journey. Jesus has literally opened door after door as we have followed Him. Faithful.

There is no way I can share how much I'm loving what we're doing without telling you how much I am loving the people we are doing it with!!! The team that the Lord has placed around us is just amazing. In the picture above we were at Vertical HeadQuarters (HQ: our offices) doing some training on "the City". Our teams are working so hard as we prepare to "help people who don't like church meet God". Our host teams are planning to be make Vertical a most welcoming place. Our VKidz leaders are training and preparing to help the children who attend Vertical learn to trust in Jesus. Our musicians are putting together amazing songs that are teaming with excellence. We have refreshment teams preparing, set up teams strategizing and Audio/Visual teams learning. Donnie and I are working on our messages far in advance and can't wait for our first series, "Game Changers".

I'm telling you – we're loving it! 20 Days friends – I can't wait to introduce all of you to Vertical Church.

Get Me Out of the Way!

How-Does-The-Fed-Decrease-The-Money-Supply He must increase – I must decrease.

[25] Now a discussion arose between some of John's disciples and a Jew over purification. [26] And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” [27] John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. [28] You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ [29] The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. [30] He must increase, but I must decrease.”  (John 3:25-30 ESV)

It will never be because of me – it will be because of Him. The only way that He can truly use me for Him is if it becomes more about Him and less about me.

It's why as a worship leader I quit leading all the time and let others lead.

It's why I made the decision that when I did become a Pastor/Leader I would not do it alone.

It's why I have surrounded myself with talented people, more talented than I and am not intimidated by the fact that they may be better at something than me.

I want to be used by Jesus. Through the years I have realized it's not about me, It's about HIM using me and me staying out of the way and humble enough (which ain't easy) to be usable.

What about you? Are you "out of the way" enough to actually be usable?