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As I said in this morning's post, yesterday was amazing. Our main photographer, Bree, captured some incredible pics! She has been tasked with documenting through photos the essence of the place Vertical is at. Check out her handy work:
For me, today was the most incredible day yet. Honestly, I can't believe I GET to do this!! I always believed that church planting was something I would love doing – IT IS. I'm beat but wanted to share what's on my heart before I settle in for the night:
Donnie brought the heat this morning kicking off this series. I am so thankful that Donnie felt God's call to join me on this journey. As he preached with freedom this morning I thought to myself, "he's preaching as though he is totally free to communicate God's Word without worry". Seriously, as a communicator, his chains are gone!
A couple of points that he hit this morning:
The purpose of this series is to help people who feel like they just don't measure up understand that they don't – YOU DON'T MEASURE UP. You can't do this on your own.
"I can't BE if it's all about me!"
"The BE-attitudes will flow into your life when you move the ME-attitudes out of your heart."
"You need to take the cap off your bottle."
Seriously, you need to check out the download on Tuesday. Please don't miss any week's of the series. God's gonna set some stuff off in people's lives – we're gonna learn to BE…
A couple of other things about today:
I cannot believe the people who are coming to Vertical. Story after story about the way God is using Vertical to point people to Jesus.
After worship we put people in the cafe to meet people (it's where I go after worship). I had priviledge of praying with people in the cafe after the service. So thankful people are taking that Next Step to come to me and say, "Mike P, will you pray for me". I know how hard that is… I am honored to take people to the throne of God and live out this core value of VC weekly: Pray Now, Speak Life.
We had a 12% increase today! As a matter of fact, we were within 9 of our launch day number.
Our volunteers are the most incredible team… I have never seen a group of people who are more unified in their quest to see people give their hearts to Jesus.
Those of you who read me but have never attended VC – seriously, you have no concept of what these people do weekly – they literally convert that place into our church building all the way down to some of the tiniest details. Why do they give so much time? Souls.
BAPTISM!!!!! We had 5 people share through baptism (and with their voice) that they have decided to trust in Jesus.
Check back here tomorrow as I will share baptism videos. I have never heard people shout for life change like I did today!!!!
People saved today! People crossed the line of walking away from God and walked back into His presence – Praise Jesus!
Vertical Worship today: You Deserve (Hillsong), From the Inside Out (Hillsong), Everything (Tim Hughes/North Point version).
Seriously, today was our best day yet!!! I CANNOT WAIT FOR NEXT SUNDAY – You do not want to miss any of the week's of this life-changing series. Who are You Bringing? Don't be afraid to ask – they just may say yes.
I absolutely cannot wait for Sunday for 3 reasons:
the opportunity to worship Jesus in the freedom of Vertical Church…
the opportunity to see the amazing people that God has placed in my life…
…and number three (not to mention the most exciting)
VERTICAL WILL CELEBRATE OUR FIRST BAPTISM'S AS A CHURCH!!!
For me this will be a special day as we celebrate the fact that people are deciding to go public with their decision to follow Jesus as Savior. You will join in their decisions as well as they share their testimony by video prior to their baptism.
Knowing that we begin our new teaching series, "BE", and seeing the songs we'll sing plus baptism videos/testimonies this is promising to be an incredible day.
Our Executive Pastor, Donnie Paschall, summed it up yesterday when he said,
I just finished another conversation with yet another person who thinks that to BE a Christian depends on our ability to BE good enough. If there has ever been a time for our new 4 week series called "BE" it is now. If you are one who has hesitated to come to faith in Christ because you don't think you will BE able to live out the Christian life successfully or you are one who has experienced the religious roller coaster so much that you are wondering if you will ever BE good enough for God, then you do not want to miss the next 4 weeks at Vertical. We will take an in depth look at what Jesus has to say about an issue that plagues so many of us. This is guaranteed to be a life changing event you cannot afford to miss!
Seriously, this will "BE" huge in a lot of lives (ok, i'll quit with the "be" stuff)
I originally wrote this post on July 14th, 2009. I share it because I wanted to share my heart about the way I felt that night; I want you to see our dream in development stage; I want you to see me praying the scriptures near the end. As a Pastor, this night changed my life.
(Original Post) On Sunday evening, Josh Shelley (our iServe Coordinator) and myself took 11 of (our former church friends) on a vision-building / encouragement trip to Elevation Church, Charlotte. After having an amazing morning we all met back for a 2:30 pm departure time… we were ready; Elevation didn't disappoint.
We were aware of the excellence Elevation Church is known for. I've been following them since their inception thanks to one of my favorite preachers, Clayton King. Although I've checked them out very frequently online and through the podcasts and blogs this was my 1st trip to Elevation due to the fact that for a long time all of their services were on Sunday morning. Due to their explosive growth they added a 6pm service at Butler High School (can you say, roadtrip?)
For those who don't know here are the facts:
Elevation is 3 years old.
They have 3 campuses (all of which are portable – they set up and tear down weekly)
Their regular attendance is now around 5,000 per weekend (across the 3 campuses and multiple services)
They have seen over 4,700 professions of faith.
They have baptized over 1,200 people during this 3rd year of ministry.
With that in mind I wanted to share my experiences:
The moment that we arrived we saw the portable "A-frame" directional signage pointing us into Elevations parking area. The parking team were easily identifiable (parking vests) with Elevation Church tshirts underneath.
The Greet team was amazing – they handled getting us everything we needed prior to the service and told us all we needed to know. They also told us if we would fill out the Guest Card and turned it in at the end that we would receive a free tshirt (you might not care but I'm a sucker for a cool tshirt!)
The lobby looked amazing – it didn't look like a school, it looked like a happening church! They utilized pipe and drape and banners excellently.
The lobby staff were friendly and knowledgable. They walked around asking our team question and wondering if they could help us in anyway.
Campus Pastor John Bishop saw our team and quickly engaged, showing them around (and even threatened to break the usher's rules ).
I was amazed that the greet team and lobby team were not all young people. I noticed that many of those serving at this rockin' church were my age and older.
We waited in the lobby until 10 mins before the service – they keep the doors shut until that time and people are escorted in to their seats.
We sat where they told us to. They fill the room up from the front to the back. Don't wanna sit at the front? Don't get there early – hang in the lobby or something. Most church-people would die if you told them where to sit. (I loved this: Elevation understands that too much empty space in a room kills momentum. Kudos to them for sticking to their guns on such an important issue).
The worship team was excellent! One of the best I've heard (and definitely one of the youngest). The music was rockin' and it was ALL ABOUT Jesus Christ and the sacrifice that He made for us. The words were centered on the cross, the blood, life-change, surrender, obedience… you might not like the sound but if you don't like the content you have a problem with God. (I loved the sound).
They offer people earplugs just in case it's too loud for you. It really wasn't that loud – but I thought that the earplugs were great. It was saying, "we respect your hearing, please respect our culture", meaning, the people they're trying to reach like it a little louder than some… let's accomodate them.
The message was in-your-face. Pastor Steven preached from 1Corinthians 5 (the whole chapter) and confronted a lot of issues that most churches won't touch because it makes people uncomfortable.
There were a bunch of 1st time visitors (I'm saying more than 20, maybe in the 30-40 range). Remember, this was a 6pm service. And no, it's not a "Sunday Nite service", it's the Sunday morning service on Sunday nite. The people who attend that service don't go to church on Sunday morning – they attend on Sunday evening.
Our people loved it! They were excited and pumped by the "Elevators" enthusiasm, they were challenged by the message (many of them said to me, "I really needed to hear THAT message tonite"). I was so proud of what I witnessed there – to see my brothers and sisters in Christ exalting Him so greatly in that city. To me, Elevation does portable church better than 99.9% of churches who have amazing buildings. Why? Because this church is sold-out to the vision of who they are: Elevation exists "so that people far from God will be filled with life in Christ".
Just thinking out loud: every town in America needs a church like this, a church that dares to be truly different, a church that embraces people who aren't "church-people", a church that understands that they will do anything short of sin to help people far from God be filled with life in Jesus Christ. A church that embraces discomfort for the sake of others comfort, a church.. (LARGE SIGH)
You know, I understand that everybody doesn't wanna go to a church that has loud, rockin' music; a church that offers earplugs to its attenders and tells them where they have to sit; a church that puts the comfort of those they are trying to reach above the comfort of those that they are trying to keep; I understand that might not be appealing to most WholeHearted readers, but you know, we have ALL KINDS OF CHURCHES that are the opposite of the above… where can someone in our region go to that kind of church?
8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" (Isaiah 6:8, NIV)
I feel with every ounce of my being that THIS IS the future of the church. Not replicas of Elevation, mind you, but the Spirit of what was happening there. The way that I see it, _______ can be that church or we can make it happen with someone else but you can MARK MY WORDS, it will happen.