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Archive for January, 2012

Personal Highlights from Our 1st Year – Part One

It’s so hard to believe that in 5 days Vertical Church celebrates our 1st birthday. HOW COULD IT BE A YEAR ALREADY?!?

This first year of ministry has been such an incredible journey. After dreaming with my friends about what it would be like to actually start a church from scratch and then being part of it happening is a SWEET experience! To “see” something in your heart for so long become reality, something you can see with your eyes is an experience – just a WOW experience.

This week I am going to be sharing some of my favorite experiences from our 1st year.

A mentor and friend, Marty Dupree

LAUNCH SUNDAY – February 6th, 2011

We launched our church without a lot of fanfare. Most churches that launch do a lot of advertising, mass mailers and a huge blitz to do all they can to get people in the house for the “big day”.

As excited as I was for our launch day, truth is, the “big day” scared me.

We had been praying for this day for so long. We had studied, prayed, read, prayed, gone to conferences, prayed, read blogs, prayed, talked to church planters, prayed (you get the picture). One of the things that I saw to be very common in many church plants were that many had huge launch days only to lose sometimes half and maybe up to 60% on the very next weekend. After all that my team and I had been through and the many months of training our leaders and volunteers had been through I thought that it would be devastating to us if we had close to 300 on launch day (that was a personal goal) only to drop below 150 on week 2. I felt a great momentum in our midst and didn’t want to do anything to hurt it. With this in mind my team and I made a decision:

Our biggest form of advertising for Launch Day!

No mass mail. No newspaper ads. No internet ads. Our method: word of mouth through the people pumped about VC, invite cards to be handed out by them, facebook (no FB ads, just wall posts) and some yard signs like the ones you see. It felt risky and everything within my promotions driven self was fighting the urge to go big on the advertising. Brandon (our Student Pastor/Service programming director and fellow marketer) and I talked daily about whether we were doing the right thing. We trusted that we were doing the right thing believing that a huge drop in 2nd/3rd week attendance would hurt us too badly. “But what if we have a bad 1st day?” was a common thought. This fear was quickly replaced by the reassuring thought that this plan was from the Lord.

Our team was ready. Our environments were tight. I told the leaders it was my goal for us to look so good and be so effective at what we do that we want to look like we’ve been here 5 years on week 1. People were not going to have pity on us because we were new – not the people we were trying to reach! Even our music on day 1 was pretty excellent for a band that had only come together within the last 3 weeks (God was cutting it close in the music area). We were prayed up, excited and believing God for the beginning of a miracle.

THE RESULTS? We had an outstanding Launch day!!! We had surprises from friends who came to support us for our opening day but the biggest surprise were all of the people who came because a friend invited them – people who didn’t go to church anywhere else, coming to see what this new church that met in the movie theater was all about. People gave their hearts to Jesus that day. Others said, “I will be back next week” and we actually had 296 people on our 1st day (like I said, my personal goal was 300). But the test for me wasn’t how many actually came on week 1, it was based around how many returned on week 2. That being said, on week 2 we only experienced a 26% drop in attendance and we have never dipped that low again since that day.

The moral of this story? I would tell any church planter in reference to beginning your weekly services don’t count on big advertising to get you off to a great start – YOU CANNOT BUY SUCCESS. There isn’t an easy way to a successful launch (and if there is let me know so we can try it next time). Build excellence into your environments and train people to be better than anything they have ever experienced. In a mobile church plant the people on your team must have complete buy-in. It is so important that your team understand that the way that God is going to bring about change to their community is through them BEING the change and BRINGING that change to the people that God has so skillfully placed in their life.

(DON’T MISS OUR PARTY THIS SUNDAY – 9am & 11am – it’s going to be an outstanding morning, you’ll be glad you came!)

How Do I Know What I’m Supposed to Do?

I have found that the life of following Jesus is one of many important decisions strung together for the glory of God. It is so important that the decisions that we make are the ones that we truly feel God is leading us to make. We cannot haphazardly jump from one decision to the next because it seems to be the right one.

It is so important that we wait on God.

In the story of the Apostle Paul’s conversion God made him wait. If you know the story, he was a pretty bad guy towards God. Feeling like a crusader against Jesus and “the Way” (what they called Christianity in its inception) he literally was a leader in bringing all of these blasphemers against Judaism and God to justice. But Jesus intervened:

[3] Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. [4] And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” [5] And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. [6] But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” [7] The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. [8] Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. [9] And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank. (Acts 9:3-9 ESV)

So he went into the city and waited for God to tell him what to do. The story goes on to tell us how he learned “what you are to do”:

[10] Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” [11] And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, (My note: NOTICE THAT WHILE PAUL/SAUL IS WAITING that HE IS PRAYING) [12] and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” (Acts 9:10-12 ESV)

So he did. Saul of Tarsus received his sight again (scales fell from his eyes – read it for yourself) and he was filled with the Holy Spirit. God told him what to do: 1st, he rose and was baptized then he ate some food. The next thing we see in scripture he is in the synagogue telling people about Jesus, his new calling in life.

This morning as I thought on the fact that it is Friday and Sunday is fast approaching I couldn’t help but think about how many of you who read my blog, whether you attend Vertical Church or not, NEED TO TAKE A NEXT STEP. What is that next step?

What is God telling you to do? I can’t tell you that, YOU need to ask Him. Stop what you are doing, pray right now, and continue that prayer. What is He telling you to do? For some of you your next step is:

  • You need to be saved. You need to receive the forgiveness of Jesus, given in His own blood through His purposeful sacrifice on the cross. What are you waiting on – receive Him into Your heart and life TODAY! (don’t know how, contact me and I will lead you there).
  • You need to be baptized by immersion. New Testament baptism ALWAYS takes place AFTER conversion. 1st you receive Jesus, THEN you are baptized. Many of you are under a continuous conviction because you know that you have this out of order. I would call you to remove this hinderance to growth from your  life. (if you need to be baptized you can sign up for that here - the next Vertical baptism is February 12)
  • You need to repent of sin in your life. Maybe there is something that you have buried that you don’t want to deal with – you try not to think about it but it’s always there. Stop what you’re doing, confess it to Jesus, ask for His forgiveness then TURN (that’s what it means to repent) and go in the other direction from that sin.
  • You need to forgive someone and/or be reconciled. Unforgiveness is poison to your soul – it eats away at you. You may say,”They don’t deserve my forgiveness!!!”, but YOU DESERVE to be free from allowing them to continuously hurt you. Unforgiveness is like you taking poison and expecting the other person to get sick from it. God can free you from this but you must give it to Him and allow Him to free you of all of this.

Maybe you need to join the church. Maybe you need to join a VGroup. Maybe you need to serve on a VTeam. I don’t know the answer for you but I do know that this Sunday at Vertical Church is a day in which we will celebrate Communion with Jesus through the Lord’s Supper. I would challenge you all to enter into prayer in preparation for this important day. Sunday may be the beginning of your new life with Jesus Christ.

So often we want to know God’s big plan for our life – He will not give you that answer until you have done the NEXT thing He is instructing you to do. First things first.

So I ask you, what IS God telling you to do?

How to Avoid Falling through the Cracks

Sunday morning services, as much as you may like them, should not be the be all end all of what church is for you! Have you ever thought, “there must be more to church than this”? There is! Question is, are you up to going there?

We call our core values “the V Formation”. V Formation #4 is, “We are a church OF Small Groups, Not With”. There is a difference. Our church is made up of a bunch of small groups that actually gather together for worship on Sundays. The biblical functions of the body of Christ actually play out within our VGroup structure – our care, discipleship and accountability all happen here. Our ultimate goal isn’t people sitting in rows listening to a speaker but talking in circles where lives really change.

I have continually told our congregation from the stage, “if you aren’t a part of a VGroup you WILL eventually fall through the cracks at Vertical,”  because the VGroup is how we keep up with people. Truth is, if a person isn’t in a group we don’t have another way to provide care or discipleship for them and have no plans to do so - VGroups ARE our way at Vertical.

Wondering how you can join a Vgroup? Make plans to be part of GroupLink. GroupLink is an event where you will meet and connect with others in your stage of life or live in your area to begin a VGroup. VGroups are small groups of approximately 5-6 married couple or 6-8 individuals of the same gender who meet weekly in homes around our region for friendship, Bible study and prayer. Anyone who attends Vertical is encouraged to get involved.

GrouplinkGroupLink will be this Sunday evening January 29, 5:00-7:00pm at the Holiday Inn Ball Room. We’ll have refreshments, some music and an opportunity to meet our VGroup leaders. VGroups launch on the first week of February.

You can sign up for GroupLink here.

Do You Like to PARTY!!!!

I know that Vertical Church has some PARTY PEOPLE! And we are preparing to have a throw down on February 5th! WHY?!?

BECAUSE IT’S OUR BIRTHDAY!

We’re gonna take that day and have a celebration – we’re gonna celebrate the journey that we’ve been on and all that we have experienced. Most of all, we’re going to celebrate the ONE that we gather each week for – Jesus Christ.

It’s gonna be a big day and we want  you to get ready. I want you to know that it is a biblical thing to celebrate Jesus. There are so many places in scripture where we see God’s people celebrating. Look at the way God’s people celebrate:

[12] But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy, [13] so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard far away. (Ezra 3:11-13 ESV)

Awesome!

Look at the joy of the lost coming to Jesus:

[7] Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. (Luke 15:7 ESV)

[10] Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10 ESV)

Isn’t that awesome! A party in heaven over JUST ONE SINNER who repents. We get excited when a person is saved! We get excited when someone takes a next step. We’re pumped when we have a victory in Waumba Land or UpStreet. We get super jacked when we hear a fantastic win from our Host team. VERTICAL CHURCH, we have kept the party rockin’ in heaven over the past 12 months and we believe that we’re just getting started!

So for this one day I want you to prepare to bring the party to church with you – it’s gonna be a fantastic day and we are SO EXCITED. Let’s share and let our region  know what God is up to in our midst – there are so many, literally tens of thousands, who need to realize that Jesus loves them. I want you to think, who can I invite to the party? Tell them that it’s our 1st birthday, it’s a special day and will be a great day to check us out. Tell ‘em it’s a birthday party – they might even get cake. You can tell them they have NEVER experienced anything like this (and I guarantee you, if you are there for the opener you will see that we’re gonna blow your mind).

On February 5th, lives will be changed and the party becomes reality. THIS PLACE IS BOUT TO BLOW – help us blow it up!

 

Sunday Nite – Jan 22/12 (on a Monday Morning)

It is such a joy to serve Jesus at Vertical Church. Every weekend is a new adventure. The joy I feel when I see so many people serving the Lord and people in such an excited, spirit-filled way. I’m telling you, if you haven’t been, for us it TRULY begins in the parking lot. There is no doubt in my mind that the way that God has been working in our midst has much to do with the way that His Body is functioning together (1 Cor 12:25-26). Here’s my Sunday Nite recap on a Monday morning:

  • Not a pretty morning weather wise in Ltown yesterday. In a new church like ours that has so many young families, young believers and people who are not yet followers of Jesus attending mornings like this tend to worry you a little.
  • That being said, yesterday was a really great day with great attendance in both services. Very thankful.
  • We continued the “RE:” series yesterday with the message, “ReGroup”. We looked at the life of the Apostle Peter through the lens of  John 21.
  • I challenged our people to quit quitting but rather, through the remembrance of your experience with Christ, ReGroup.
  • We worked through some worship challenges tied to illness in yesterday’s service. I was SO PROUD of the way that our worship ministry dealt with roadblocks – If you were there I bet you couldn’t tell that anything was an audible to the original plan!
  • Because of that I had the opportunity to lead our church in the song, “Give Me Faith”, which by the way isn’t hard as they could just do this song on their own! It still amazes me how many people will tell me “I didn’t know you could sing like that!”. Truly shows that we aren’t reaching church people (who would locally know me as a worship leader).
  • Still loving this song this morning!
  • There were so many victories among our church body yesterday. During the invitation there were so many hands in the air – looking very forward to helping all of these people take next steps with God. I am weekly seeing God at work and drawing nearer to God. Totally blows me away.
  • by the way… if you were one of those people and would like the packet we offer to people who pray to receive Jesus let me know.
  • Don’t forget, just 2 weeks until the party of the year – our 1st birthday party on February 5th!

Let’s have a great, Jesus filled week.