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Archive for November, 2011

A Controversial Vision

The original title of this post was, “To Church People Who Think We’re Slammin’ You”. Since day one we have had people who just couldn’t get past the vision of Vertical Church.

What we say:

The vision of Vertical Church is to help people who don’t like church meet God.

What some church people hear us saying:

The vision of Vertical Church is to help people who don’t like YOUR CHURCH meet God.

If that’s you I truly hope that you will hear my heart: This is so not our intention. Truth is, the direction of our vision is aimed at the tens of thousands of people who are unreached. When we share our vision we aren’t talking to church people at all yet it seems that some read or hear our vision and think we’re talking about them when all we’re doing is talking to the people we are called to reach.

BY THE WAY, OUR VISION, IT’S WORKING!

Our target is the unreached. Members leaving one church and going to another ISN’T revival – it’s not even true growth – it’s barns swapping sheep. I would add that people who attend one church and begin to attend ours and do not join us in our vision will eventually grow disenchanted with us as we are focused on who we’re called to reach above those we have to please to keep.

CAN WE ALL AGREE THAT THERE ARE TENS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE IN OUR REGION WHO DON’T GO TO ANYBODY’S CHURCH? Many, if not most of these people believe in God and believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Many don’t like church – I know this true as I was one of them before I knew Jesus. Whatever the reason is, they have written off church. Many went at one time. Some feel they didn’t fit in. Still others have been hurt by someone in church. Their dilemma: they believe in God and Jesus but if they have to go back to “church” to get back to God they don’t know what they are going to do because they are done with church. My heart is for those people - those who just don’t fit a regular church mold.

How do you get the attention of those people who are unreached? I think you do whatever is necessary short of sin, right? The vision of Vertical is communicating to those people, “hey, we know you’re there, and we want you to give the church another chance.” We feel compelled to call out to these people as we believe it is the mandate of the church, given by Jesus Himself, to find people, baptize them in His name and lead them to become His disciples.  How many times have I been in a conversation with someone about church and tell them that the vision of VC is to help people who don’t like church meet God and they said to me, “that’s me man!”?!? I know… I started a church to reach people like him/her.

We could change our vision to say that we want to help people who don’t DO church meet God, but if we did it would only be in response to people that the vision has nothing to do with. Unfortunately, our vision wasn’t designed to communicate to churches – our vision is designed to communicate with people churches normally do not communicate. Communicating with churches isn’t our vision –  our vision is the vision.

What do we do when we see a problem? We find a solution to that problem. What is Vertical Church. A bible believing, bible preaching church that meets in a movie theater and uses rock worship music to reach people with the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You know what else I believe Vertical to be? I believe it is God’s solution to a long standing prayer that I have had to reach the people that most of churches aren’t positioned to reach.

How Easy is it to Make a Difference?

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that my friend and Christian brother John David Coxe and his family attended Vertical for the 1st time this past Sunday (they live in Moore County). JD and Tanya were 2 of our first friends after coming to Jesus in 1997. I do not know if I would have made it without JD.

John David, his brother Brian, Gregg Edwards, Eddie Covil, Kevin Mauldin and our Pastor Eric Rich were the cement in my newfound Christian life before I was “anchored to Jesus”. You see, I didn’t know much about following Jesus… I had never read the bible, had no Christian friends who lived locally (shout out to Chris Crain). MAN, I really don’t know what I would have done without these men.

You know what I trace to be the difference maker that brought me to Jesus Christ? JD invited me to a Promise Keepers event BEFORE I knew Jesus and that invitation drew me to the brink of receiving Jesus. His invite made me feel accepted in their “tribe”… up to then I felt like such an outsider and was so self-conscious.

The action John David took most people would overlook. He really didn’t know me… we had no history… no doubt he was nervous to ask me… what if I said “no”?

There are two things in this story that a Christian can take away and become a difference maker in someone’s life:

  1. Like the men in paragraph two, you can really be a difference maker by helping a new believer to grow in their relationship to Jesus. Challenge them, hold them accountable, pray with them and let them know you have their back.
  2. Include people who aren’t in your church’s inner circle to be part of something. It could be an event, a ministry, a job… it doesn’t matter what “it” is, what matters is that you make someone who isn’t included feel like they’re part – it might be the action that brings them to Jesus.
I don’t mean this like I am a big deal, but think about this: when JD asked me to participate he was asking an unsaved, unchurched, heavy metal drummer who was very far from God to go to a conference with him… he had NO IDEA that the man he invited would have the opportunity to lead hundreds of people to faith in Jesus Christ. You NEVER know. I know this, I am so glad he did.

Sunday Nite (November 27)

This was an outstanding week for me. Not preaching this weekend meant less sermon prep this week (I did work some on next weekend’s message but with little pressure). I worked about 2 hours on Wednesday and then I was done through the remainder of the week… It was amazing! I am refreshed, renewed and ready to go which is a huge improvement from the previous week in Anderson, SC and Chicago which had me totally worn down.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday – plenty of turkey, pie, football all wrapped up with some black friday shopping. Today’s services at Vertical Church was an incredible way to end the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Here are a few thoughts on this Sunday Nite before I hit my comfy bed:

  • I LOVE OUR TEAM! Let me begin today’s rundown with a shout out to the Sunday nite Leadership meeting we have on the last Sunday of the month. This meeting is kind of an “all-staff” type of meeting where we get together with all of our ministry leaders, collectively share the wins from the previous month throughout each ministry, hear any necessary ministry reports from my lead team. We end the meeting by me sharing a little vision with the leaders hopefully as a preventative for “vision leak”. Tonight’s message was kinda heavy (in a good way). Thankful for the leaders God has placed before me. Definitely feel unworthy to lead such an amazing group.
  • Now onto Sunday AM…
  • This week was week 3 of our Elijah series. Our KidzMin, Joey Autry, brought this morning’s message. Dude straight up brought it!
  • I love the fact that God has clearly given me quite a blessing in the area of teaching and preaching to Vertical Church. I share my pulpit a lot because I truly feel called by God to raise up preachers and leaders. One of the areas I believe we are failing in towards the last generation has been the raising up of preachers through the church… I want God to use us to raise up a generation of powerful men of God who believe and stand upon the promise of God with the anointing of God to proclaim the sufficiency of His Word! I want Him to use me in that way…
  • Joey’s transparency through today’s message was just life-changing. God is using Him in a great way at Vertical Church and I was very proud of the job he did. I am very thankful to have him on my team and for Him to call me Pastor.
  • I WAS THE DRUMMER THIS WEEKEND AT VERTICAL CHURCH!!! We have such an incredible group of worship leaders, instrumentalist and singers… so, so blessed. I joked this week that the only reason they let me play is because I’m the pastor and they don’t wanna hurt my feelings (grin). That might have been a joke but I tell you this, Vertical Worship is no joke!
  • Today’s worship music was just outstanding… DANG! HOW GOOD CAN THEY BE?!?
  • Our numbers were outstanding for it to be Thanksgiving weekend. We were quite a bit off numerically this morning but just to show you how much we have grown over the past month this morning’s numbers, though off, were the size of a really good week in the beginning of October. Praise Jesus!
  • I heard reports of people praying big prayers, interest in receiving Christ and wanting to serve. Much love and praise to the Father.
  • My brother John David Cox, his wife Tanya and children Johnny and Paige attending Vertical for the 1st time today (they live in Moore County). JD and Tanya were 2 of our first friends after coming to Jesus in ’97. They were SO IMPORTANT in my growth in Jesus Christ. Being with their family today reminded me just how much I miss them. Can anyone say, “Vertical Church Moore County”?
  • Speaking of Vertical in other locations… I had some really good Bladen County conversations this morning. God is doing a work…
  • Tonight at the leaders meeting Bree gave me a slammin’ collage type picture of different shots of me she’s taken at Vertical. So cool and thoughtful! Now to decide where to put it…
GREAT, GREAT SUNDAY!!!

Last Week in Review (Newspring Leadership Intensive and Catalyst One Day)

Last week was a whirlwind week that began with the casting of vision for a possible new campus, took me to Anderson, SC for 3 days and then found me flying with our staff to Chicago, Il for 2.5 days. All of this in the name of growing as the leader that God has called me to be to Vertical Church. I am often reminded that it is God who set me on this pathway,

[9] Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 ESV)

I took so many notes and there is so much for me to process – but at a glance here are some of my biggest take-a-ways from last week:

  • The hardest person for me to lead is me. Setting up a schedule that works for me and allows me to grow as a person, husband, father, pastor and leader is so important to the longevity of God’s ministry through me. I recognize that we all “know this”, so why do we continue to suck at it? 23For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. (James 1:23-24)
  • The Message is the most important thing we do on Sunday. With this in mind we should constantly evaluate our message through the eyes of a person who doesn’t attend church. We can and should strive to teach believers and challenge those who haven’t met Jesus at the same time.
  • Take off our “ministry colored glasses”. We must look at our environments through the eyes of those who don’t normally attend… would they think this is great? They should.
  • I’ve heard Perry say this many times before, “Your church is probably 1 or 2 changes away from doubling!”
  • You gotta care more about who your people are becoming than what they do. We never want to get the work done on the back of someone not growing in Christ.
Newspring Church sent our team to the Catalyst One Day Conference at Willow Creek in Chicago on Wednesday afternoon. This trip was SWEET!! They treated us so well – BIG SHOUT OUT TO CORY COOPER WHO MADE SURE VERTICAL GOT THE NEWSPRING TREATMENT! Newspring’s investment in us was just so kind and inspiring. I told my team to take note – we are looking forward to the day that WE can do something like this for another church. Here are some of my biggest Chicago take-a-ways:
  • The longer you’re in the less aware you are of the culture of your church. (Do we see anything off mission?)
  • Healthy people are attracted to healthy staff cultures.
  • What we value is what we DO.
  • What once was great is no longer great because they allowed what they valued to slip.
  • If you can’t tweet your values they are too long.
  • How do you infuse values into someone you hire? YOU CAN’T. Hire and recruit FOR your values, you won’t change them later.
  • If you’re somewhere that doesn’t share your values you should leave HONORABLY. They aren’t bad, you just have different passion/values.
  • I want Vertical Church to be the best place that anyone ever worked!
  • “tell me about the last person you prayed with.”
  • Your staff isn’t a supporting cast for your glory and success.
  • Loyalty IS NOT  a fruit of the spirit.
  • The higher you rise the harder it is to get objective truth.
  • A self-deceived leader always finds someone else to blame in church world. We are really bad at delegating authority.
  • “What am i excited about that you don’t care about?”
  • What makes an environment great? When it is irresistible.

Incredible information. Now to process and apply to my own life… hope it helps you as well.

We’re Getting Ready for our First Christmas

Christmas is such a special time as we celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world, Jesus. While it’s true that we celebrate Jesus weekly the Christmas season gives us a chance to refocus on the miracle Christ birth is.

Another awesome thing about Christmas is that it is one of the few times during the year when people who don’t normally attend church try to attend church. Which is why we will pull out all of the stops to make sure that their Christmas service is not only memorable, but also life changing.

Vertical Church invites you to join us on Thursday, December 22nd and/or Friday, December 23rd for Christmas Worship Experiences presented by Vertical Church. Come early for pre-service festivities including Christmas hayrides, hot chocolate and much much more! Pre-service activities will begin at 6:15pm nightly.

NOTE: If you plan to attend both services, you will need a ticket for both nights.

Vertical Christmas is a FREE ticketed event (you can get your tickets here).

We are planning an incredible music-filled evening filled with hope, joy and most importantly, the clear message of Jesus Christ. This will be a great event to bring a friend who doesn’t attend church. I hope you’ll make plans to join us for our first Vertical Christmas!