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Archive for May, 2012

How Can A New Church Like VC Afford So Much Staff?

I have the opportunity to talk with quite a few prospective and current church planters. One of the things that they are normally surprised by about Vertical Church is the size of our staff. VC is currently 15 months old, have 6 on our Lead Team staff (Pastoral), 19 on our leadership staff team and 2 church planting interns. We also have a 5 man Elder Team consisting of 2 overseer Pastor’s from outside of Vertical, 1 lay Elder and 2 Lead Staff.

So our lead Pastoral staff is currently at 6. You might wonder how we can afford to have 6 Pastors on our staff – Let me tell you, but to do so I must give you some history:

  • In July and August of 2010, Donnie Paschall, Joey Autry and myself left fulltime staff positions at churches to plant Vertical Church (Brandon Meadows also made his intentions to do so known but didn’t join us full-fledged for a couple of months). I am the Lead Pastor, overseeing the leadership, direction, vision and teaching of Vertical Church. Donnie is our Executive Pastor and has teaching responsibilities with me. Donnie also serves on our Elder Board with me. Joey was our KidzMin and Connections Pastor overseeing VKidz ministry as well as the VGroup environments. Brandon is our Student Pastor and also oversees Service Programming and Environments.
  • We all got jobs outside of the ministry in order to make the dream we felt God gave us come true. I served at a University, Donnie worked in Engineering, Joey at a High School and coaching and Brandon went to work at a technical college. All of us worked these jobs because we wanted to be able to put everything possible into the ministry of Vertical and decided to do this until it was possible to sustain us without personally limiting ministry at the church.
  • Jon Lloyd joined us in March of 2011 as our Worship Arts Pastor. Jon was able to get a job at a local company in order to fund his ministry dream of being a part of this church plant.
  • Even though we weren’t being fully funded by the church we were still “the Pastor’s” of the church and carrying responsibilities that any fulltime pastor carries.
  • Donnie was the first to come on full-time. Brandon and I joined in a part time capacity next. I came on fulltime in November of 2011, 2 months ahead of our schedule. Brandon will be joining fulltime this summer.
  • We added 2 church planting interns in 2011. Both of these guys are bi-vocational. They are training with me to learn how to be church planters – I in turn am pouring all that I have learned into them. We hope that both will plant in early 2013.
  • We added our 6th staff member last week (Week of May 20, 2012), Danny McLamb. Danny, like all other Vertical Pastor’s so far, got a job outside of ministry in order to live out this ministry dream.
  • Our finances are very strong, especially for such a young church growing at the rate that we are. Remember, we live in an area that is economically depressed which means we must factor that into everything we do. We have worked hard to plan staffing into our budget in such a way that staffing doesn’t hinder having money to do ministry but rather, staffing in such a way that the amount of ministry will actually increase by the addition of staff.

6 Staff members, 3 of which work other jobs in order to be part. I believe in bi-vocational ministry in the starting of a church plant. There is no doubt in my mind that we were more hungry BECAUSE we had to work so hard to get what we wanted – it wasn’t just handed to us.

So, how does a young church afford to have so many pastors? Our Pastoral staff prove how much they want to be part of this move of God by finding other ways to fund their dreams of helping people who don’t like church meet Jesus!! When we set the bar high people strive to jump higher. I don’t know about you but that sounds like a plan to me.

A Couple More Thoughts about “Falling Out of Love”

As a Pastor probably the most common phrase that we hear from people who are considering divorce is “we just fell out of love”. Gary Thomas says, “Couples don’t fall out of love so much as they fall out of repentance” That statement has absolutely ROCKED my world – I have literally thought about it every day since I heard it. People quit living lives that are guarded by repentent hearts. It is impossible for you to be in a relationship with God, one where you are in daily communication, one that says, “Lord, I ask You to help me to follow You in all of my ways today” and later in that same day look at your spouse and say, “I don’t love you anymore and I want to live a separate life from you”.

“Couples don’t fall out of love so much as they fall out of repentance” – Gary Thomas

In a article he wrote some years back he writes of the way that marriage is designed by God to make us more like Jesus. He tells this story,

One of the challenges my wife and I faced in our marriage centered around ice cube trays. Lisa rarely filled them back up, so when I pulled out a tray it might have just two or three ice cubes left. This frustrated me no end. So one time when my wife was talking romantically, telling me she would love me forever, I replied, “I don’t need you to love me forever. I need you to love me for seven seconds.”

“What are you talking about?” she asked.

“Well, I timed how long it takes to fill the ice cube trays and put them in the freezer, and that’s about seven seconds..”

The next morning, however, it dawned on me while I was praying that if it takes my wife just seven seconds to fill the ice cube trays, how long does it take me? Seven seconds, naturally. And the question I believe God placed in my heart was piercing: Is my love so shallow that I would seriously resent my wife putting me out for seven seconds’ worth of work? After all of her love and commitment to me, am I so spiritually immature that I grow angry at seven extra seconds of lost labor?

The sad answer was, “Yes, I am that immature.” (you can read the rest of this excellent article here)

Maybe you get that. Maybe you’ve had a similar experience just as I have. You find yourself seeing your spouse’s flaws yet missing your own. What I have found to be my biggest issue is the wickedness of my own heart.

(Proverbs 4:23 NIV) Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

How’s your heart? You know, i have realized about myself that I am better at monitoring Keyna’s actions than I am at guarding my own heart. We believe that if we can get them to be who WE want them to be it will be better. “If he would just change I wouldn’t be angry all the time” or “If she would quit nagging me I would be more apt to do what she wants”. It’s his fault! She makes me that way! Sounds like the excuses in the garden. v.12-13.

Your ability to successfully fight FOR your marriage has as much to do with the condition of your heart as it does with the behavior of your spouse. Guard your heart for everything great in life flows from it.

How We Overcame our Struggles

I began Sunday’s message, “Fighting IN or Fighting FOR” by sharing my story of a rough period Keyna and I had in our marriage about 8 years ago. I love my wife and our marriage and am so thankful that Jesus gave her to me. This year we will celebrate our 23rd year of marriage!! You can hear the details of our issues in the message (should be here later today).

As painful as that period was to go through as a couple I truly believe that we are so much better BECAUSE we went through it. How did we come through? Keyna finally chilled out and accepted me for who i am am and automatically things got better? Yeah right!! NO, THAT DEFINITELY isn’t what happened. One day I woke up and realized that SHE wasn’t the problem, I was. My wife wasn’t picking on me or nagging, she was sharing her heart. What did i do? I applied the teaching that I shared in this past weekend’s message. I can truly say that this message was formed from the scripture and my own personal experiences as a husband.

Here are some of the steps that I took to become the husband Keyna deserved to be married to:

  • Step One: I started listening. Up to this point I heard what she said every time that we had this argument – my issue is that I was not doing anything with what I was hearing (James 1:19-23). I began to listen and realize that my actions were making my wife unhappy. As I said Sunday, if you are having the same fight over and over somebody isn’t listening. In order for me to take this step I had to lay down my pride – I had to say that my marriage relationship was worth more to me than being “right” was. I had to lay my desire to be right at the feet of my Savior – when I did I discovered that I wasn’t “so” right.
  • Step Two: I began to communicate with my wife in the way that she desired. I have always been the kind of person who doesn’t open up easily and kept my feelings to myself. Keyna wanted to know what was going on with me, she desired to be my helper (Gen 2:18), the person that God designed her to be yet I would not let her in. This was and continues to be hard for me as my natural tendency is to take things in and bury them very deep in me. In order to win in this area of our marriage I had to make a conscious effort to tell her things that I just didn’t want to talk about.
  • Step Three: I asked God to help me love her the way Jesus loves the Church (Eph 5:25). The desire of my heart was/is to love her the way that Jesus does – to see her through His eyes… and see how precious she is. Keyna Pittman is my most valued earthly possession. Get ya some of that! That may make some of you uncomfortable as you would not count your spouse as being your greatest earthly possession. If asked to do so, many would list their kidz as their most valuable possession – and I get that except that God expects us to love our spouse before them. Let me remind you that loving your spouse more doesn’t make you love your kids less. If your love is an outpouring of the love of Jesus in your life it will help you to love your kids more. YOUR KIDZ NEED YOU TO LOVE YOUR SPOUSE FIRST! Kidz want to know their parents are in love!! They might think it’s kind of “gross” but it brings security among all the families they see splitting up in their friends lives.
  • Step Four: I got the spiritual priority order right. I gave it to you earlier. God comes first (Matthew 22:37 ESV), then your spouse (Ephesians 5:25 ESV), then family (Psalm 127:3 ESV), then everyone else (by the way, this does include work. There are times where you have to do what you have to do to make things happen workwise, but some people use supporting the family AN EXCUSE and don’t give their family priority over work. None of you will lie and your deathbed and say, “I wish i would have worked more) and finally yourself (Ph. 2:3) Check this: someday your kidz will leave… and if we make life all about them and let our marriage suffer there will be nothing to live for when they leave. I want to make sure there is still a Mike and Keyna in 6 years when Matt leaves for college.

After 22 years our marriage is strong and enjoyable. Of course we have our difficulties and challenges as everyone does. But I believe we hold our relationship as the highlight of our life. Best of all (and most importantly) Jesus is at the center of our relationship – you can never go wrong if you start with your Savior. While I am still not the husband Keyna deserves I am striving day by day to become more like Jesus and to serve her in a way that brings honor to Him.

I truly hope our experiences helps some draw closer to the Lord and our spouse as we strive to have a marriage that is pleasing to the Lord.

Sunday Nite (on a Monday Nite)

Happy Memorial Day everyone! I hope that you all enjoyed a wonderful day with your family. I also hope that we took the time to remember that the reason that we could have such a carefree day is because so many have given their lives for our freedom. Thank you also to all of you who have served in our military.

Yesterday at Vertical was an incredible day, ESPECIALLY to be one of those holiday weekends where everyone’s attendance is down. Ours was as well compared to normal, but to think THAT MANY PEOPLE came to our 15 month old church on Memorial Day weekend – WOW!!!

Here’s what’s on my mind tonight:

  • Yesterday was week 2 of “Man vs. Woman” and my message was titled, “Fighting IN or Fighting FOR?” I was so pumped to jump into this subject. My heart is helping Godly men lead Christlike marriages. Such a privilege to finally get to teach on this subject.
  • I went all the way back to the only marriage that ever began in perfection teaching from Genesis 2 & 3.
  • Had some tense moments in yesterday’s message as I shared that having a lack of family boundaries destroy “oneness” or feeling connected to your spouse. Those lack of boundaries included spending too much time at mom and dad’s house (apron string issues) and allowing children to sleep in their parents bed. It was very obvious in both services that people were challenged by what I was saying. Before you give opinions please make sure you hear what I was saying in the context that I was saying it. I ended both subjects by saying, “if this is an issue that keeps coming up in your marriage – if your spouse is mentioning this there is a problem.” I have found that the things that get me fired up are the things I struggle with most. So I told them to ask God, “why did that pull something up inside of me” – because they may find it to be a red flag, something they need to deal with.
  • “Did I mention that she was naked?!?” You just need to hear the message.
  • As a Pastor probably the most common phrase that we hear from people who are considering divorce is “we just fell out of love”. Gary Thomas said, “Couples don’t fall out of love so much as they fall out of repentance.” That quote just rocked my world. I bet I have thought about it everyday for the past 6 weeks.
  • At the beginning of my message I told the story of a super rough period in Keyna and my marriage from some years back. I had all intentions of sharing how we came out of that period but time just didn’t allow. I will share it with you here on the blog tomorrow.
  • It is so encouraging to hear the way that the Lord uses the teaching at Vertical in people’s lives. Here’s one from my wall on Sunday:
    Hey Mike! The sermon was awesome today! I grew up going to church every time the doors were open. My mom always believed if you weren’t well enough to go to church…you weren’t well enough to go anywhere else….I always listened to the sermon…but something was missing…”How do I apply this to the way I should live?” That’s one thing I love about Vertical! You are taught how to apply the sermons to everyday life….thanks to everyone!!! Music was great this morning too!!!
  • Where I come from, that is what we call a win.
  • What does Ric Flair have to do with a series about relationships? You’ll just have to see for yourself on the podcast.
  • Music was incredible!! Vertical Worship introduced a song that is currently a favorite of mine, “One Thing Remains” (Jesus Culture) – I LOVE THAT TUNE!!! And right before my message they killed a version of “Fix You” by Coldplay. INCREDIBLE. As my friend, Chris Crain (who was in the house from Louisville, KY) who IS in the music industry and sees live music all the time said, “That was as great as any Coldplay Tribute band could ever bring!” And he was right – we are BLESSED beyond measure. Great job Jon, Justin, Robby, Bree, Christoph and Andrew, so proud of you all!
  • Our prayer room ministry is taking off – every week it gets better and better. We realize it will take a while for it to get to what we see but I believe a day will come when the prayer room will be one of our most fruitful ministries at Vertical Church.
  • As I said earlier, great crowd for what should be an off weekend! I can’t believe what God is doing in our midst.

That’s it for tonight! Check me out on here tomorrow.

Meet Our New Staff Member!

Danny and Wina

We are so humbled and thankful for all that the Lord is doing in our midst. The spiritual talent that God is drawing to this ministry is just incredible. I am so excited to announce to you today that Vertical has a new member on our Lead Team, Danny McLamb.

I asked Danny to share a little about himself and his family:

You’ve got it! My name is Danny McLamb, and I’m 54 years old. I have been married for 33 years to Edwina. We have 3 children; Curtis, 25 years old and married to Chrissy for 5 years (and about to have their first child). My daughters are twins, Sara & Jessica, 21 years old. Sara lives in Charlotte and is soon to be married to Reese, and Jessica lives in Surf City and is a youth minister at The Gathering at Surf City Baptist. I have been a pastor for 18 years. I grew up the Barker Ten Mile Community of Robeson County and lived there for 23 years. I love Jesus and His church and am so glad to be a part of Vertical. I’m living the dream.

Danny  has accepted the position to be our new Connections Pastor. Our Connection Pastor position has been held by Joey Autry since day one of VC. Joey is transitioning out of this role in preparation to launch our Vertical Bladen location over which he will be the location Pastor.

Danny and I began conversations about what God was doing in his life a while back. This has been a very long process as it is such an important and integral part of who we are as a church. The Connections Pastor oversees our VGroup system and protects VFormation #6: “We are a church OF small groups, not WITH – There is a difference.” We feel that Danny is the man and has the skills, leadership and strengths to lead Vertical VGroups excellently. Danny is now a member of our Lead Pastoral Team (Lead Team) and will also be serving alongside Joey on the Bladen Location team. We are very excited to have another pair of feet on the ground in Bladen.

Everybody welcome Danny and Wina to the Vertical Family (oh, and friend them up on Facebook).