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Archive for February, 2013

Doing What You HAVE TO When Others Don’t Understand

What do you do when you feel compelled or led to do something that others just don’t understand?

It could be a move… a job offer… it could be a life-change situation – end of a toxic relationship. It was a situation where you felt compelled to do something, to act, and no matter what you did or how hard you tried to explain it, others just didn’t get why you HAD to do what you HAD to do.

Most people take the path of comfort, of acceptance, of success. Why would you go into something that might fail? Why would you go into something that isn’t a sure thing? I experienced this 14 years ago when I left my job to make the jump into full-time ministry. People thought I was crazy. I had my dream job, great benefits and compensation was really good for a man my age. But I couldn’t run anymore: GOD WAS CALLING ME and I had to follow.

We experienced this almost 3 years ago when we announced that we were planting a church. So many told me that a church like Vertical wouldn’t work in this area. But once again, I could not run anymore from what had been burned into my Spirit – i HAD TO DO THIS, even if I failed!

What do you do when you feel compelled or led to do something that others just don’t understand? You know, sometimes we have to follow God’s leadership even if it doesn’t make sense to those around us. If you are a christian You ask God again, “God are you sure?” and then you do what He says. It’s doesn’t matter what the facts say, The facts are just facts – God is not limited by the facts – God is supernatural, He operates outside of the facts – He makes the facts, factual… And nobody tells Him what to do. He can reach down and pull you out of the hole you’ve placed yourself in… What is God telling you to do? You can’t be flippant with this… you can’t just say what do I wanna do then call it God. That’s not what this is… this is, “God, what do you want me to do?” and you continually prayerfully ask that – then you do what He says.

Do you know His voice when He speaks to you? [27] My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27 ESV)

Is There a Hole in Your Soul?

There are so many people who struggle with emptiness and they are trying with everything within them to satisfy that emptiness. Maybe you have felt and sensed it – it’s like you have a hole in your soul.

People try to satisfy their deepest longing… The reason we can’t fill it is because we are trying to fill it in the wrong way with the wrong things.that’s what drugs and alcohol are. That’s what meaningless sex is. Trying to find purpose in work… the harder we try to satisfy these longings with bad AND GOOD horizontal means the more likely we are to miss God’s Vertical invitation to experience Him.

This weekend at Vertical Church we will begin one of the most important series that we have ever done – “Hole in my Soul”. God does have something better for you… and it’s not more rules or regulations. The question is, do we really want it?

If you or someone you know struggle with meaning, emptiness, lack of joy, depression, make plans to be or to get them here!!! If you know people who believe in God but don’t go to church, get them here. This is one of those series where we are addressing things that people are dealing with. It’s going to be a powerful month of March at Vertical Church.



Sunday Nite (Feb 24)]]

Today was truly a day to be remembered at Vertical Church for many reasons. 1st – those of you who were in attendance were at the very last service where Vertical is just One Church in One Location. This coming Sunday we become ONE Church in Two Locations – our original, Cinema Four Theater in Lumberton and our newest location, Bladen Community College in Dublin.


  • Today was a bit nostalgic for us. Even though we are One Church in multiple locations we literally have a group of people who will not be at the Lumberton location next Sunday. Some of those people have been with us since the very beginning of VC and are such a huge part of what made Vertical, “Vertical”.
  • So proud of Vertical Bladen Location Pastor Joey Autry. How much do I believe in this dude?!?! Words do not describe y’all!!!! His heart beats for Jesus, bleeds for Bladen County and he is 100% Vertical Church. God will do great things through Joey!
  • When we closed the door on the trailer and it was driving off we ironically ended that chapter the way it began, Donnie Paschall and myself, alone, looking at each other, feeling a little “sick”, and wondering if we are crazy (grin).
  • ALL IN!!!!!
  • Which leads to discussion of today’s message, the last in our BIG C, little c series titled, “Little c Goes Where Others Won’t”. Our text was from Acts 20, the story of “little c” Paul leaving the BIG C Church Ephesus to go to Jerusalem.
  • In the passage Paul tells them that God is leading him to Jerusalem yet is telling him that in Jerusalem arrest and affliction awaits him. This passage prompted my question for the day, “What do you do when you feel led or compelled to do something that others don’t understand?”
  • The question obviously has a personal implication as well as a corporate (church wise) implication.
  • The passage is heart-wrenching if you are REALLY reading it. Seeing the love of these people and Paul’s love for them. I love how Paul answers why he would go to Jerusalem if he knew trouble awaited: My message is more important than myself.
  • If you wonder HOW we will pull off being One Church in Two Locations I hope that you will listen to the Vertical Church podcast, now available on iTunes.
  • Worship was incredible!!!! Jon led worship yesterday along with Bree, Christoph, Robby and Andrew on drums.
  • Incredible set opening with “Rise and Sing” (Fee), “Cornerstone” (Hillsong). They introduced Chris Tomlin’s “Whom Shall I Fear” yesterday which was huge!!! Loved hearing the congregation singing it loud!
  • So many people taking NEXT STEPS with us and with Jesus!! I am so excited about this season that we find ourselves in!
  • It’s not too late for you: what is God telling you to do that you haven’t followed through on? Take the step TODAY!!! Matthew 7:24.
  • Next weekend we begin our new series, “Hole in my Soul”!!!! If you know people who struggle with emptiness, lack of joy, depression get them here!!! If you know people who believe in God but don’t go to church, get them here. This is one of those series where we are addressing things that people are dealing with.

So it’s on!!! Next Weekend we will be at both locations. Spread the word to everyone you know –we’re coming!!! If you live within 12 miles of VC Bladen make that your new church home – YOU WILL LOVE IT!!!

Preparing to Be 1 Church in 2 Locations

On June 1st of 2009, Donnie Paschall (Vertical Executive Pastor) and I began a fast seeking God for direction concerning the discontent and stirring within our hearts. One of the overwhelming leadings that we both individually sensed during that time was that God was not only calling us to start a church (GULP!!!), He was calling us to start a church that would start churches. We felt that God wanted to use this future ministry to reach people throughout our region. We felt that this was about more than 1 building. I cannot believe that in 10 days we will be 1 Church in 2 Locations.

I am excited about this opportunity that we have to meet in Lumberton AND at Bladen Community College.

What kind of preparations have we been making to be ready for this paradigm shift within our ministry?

  • We have been purchasing equipment, securing finances, designing signage…
  • We have been planning campaigns, making preparations…
  • We have been thinking through systems and making sure that we understand what makes Vertical, “vertical”.
  • Last night we had 2 bands rehearsing at our rehearsal space. 2 locations means 2 excellent, Vertical Worship’s.
  • We have been training and empowering leadership to lead Vertical Bladen in a “vertical” way. We are making sure that  our vertical dna be the same in Bladen leaders that it is in Lumberton leaders.
  • We are striving to be as ready as we can be. Will there be challenges? Absolutely! But we will deal with them as they come. This is about 96 thousand people – people who don’t attend anyone’s church.

One of the things I am most excited about is our Bladen Location Pastor, Joey Autry. I BELIEVE IN THIS DUDE!!!! HE FIRES ME UP!!! I know that God brought Joey into our ministry from this reason. The moment discussion began about him joining our team we recognized that God was probably bringing him to Vertical to TAKE VERTICAL BACK to Bladen County. He is equipped, prepared and ready to help people in Bladen County who don’t like church meet God!

This weekend, as we close our series, “BIG C, little c”, I will talk more about how we will be 1 church in 2 locations.

Tattooed: Forever Marked by Christ

Today’s post is written by our Bladen Location Pastor, Joey Autry. Only 11 days until the weekly launch of Vertical Bladen!!

Tattooed: Forever Marked by Christ

I saw something that blew my stinking mind on a visit to Anderson, SC in 2010. Yep, that Anderson, SC. College age students were RUNNING to get in the doors of a …..CHURCH! Imagine that. God had been doing something in my Spirit for about a year. That visit to NewSpring Church had been preceded by a Catalyst One Day event at North Point Community Church where I saw what could be and should be in a local church. Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel spoke with a message of hope and renewed fervor for His Church and it rocked me to my core. All the way home from Atlanta I couldn’t shake what I heard and experienced that day. A move of God that cannot be stopped by man. That it was time for His people to step up, get off the bleachers, and begin making a difference in our area for Jesus. What I didn’t realize was that Jesus was ‘marking’ me with a new passion for spreading the Gospel and to make disciples. That led to some God orchestrated conversations where I began to brainstorm with a team of men from Lumberton what He was leading us too in our area of influence.

Mike P, Donnie P, Brandon Meadows and a few others were headed to ‘Drive Conference’ in Atlanta. On the way down, we stopped in Anderson and NewSpring Church for their Sunday night service. We arrived a little late (due to a Brandon Meadows ER visit which is a blog in itself) and as we arrived on campus, I was blown away by the scene. People all over the parking lot making sure we were welcomed and loved. Volunteers holding the doors for us with a genuineness that was contagious. College students running to get inside the auditorium (that’s insane!) We were so late that we actually had to sit in the atrium and watch via monitors.The experience was just wow! They observed communion that night and it was as if Jesus was speaking directly into my soul, “I’m calling you to something more.”

Church planting had never ever been on my radar. Coaching for UNC or the LA Dodgers maybe, but to plant a church? In our area? You’d have to be crazy. But God forged this team’s heart on this trip. A couple of the folks on the trip were people I had never met or spoken too. But He was doing something IN us that I just can’t describe. When we arrived at the conference in Atlanta, one of the folks that traveled with us said to me at one point during a break between sessions: “Oh my goodness, ya’ll are about to start a church aren’t you?” We had not gotten that far in discussions but to hear her say it and what I felt in my spirit just screamed “Yes we are.”

Tattoos are meant to be permanent. They’re not something to take likely or play around with. It marks one’s outer body for life. Church planting was not something I had ever planned on or dreamed of doing. But after almost three years on this journey with an incredible wife, lead team, and unbelievable volunteer force, I can’t see myself doing anything else. To see life change week in and week out is indescribable. To see people spiritually go from death to life, to see the baptisms and hope that is found in no one else except Jesus Christ is/has been AWESOME!

In two weeks, we ‘GET TO’ plant again. This time in Bladen County which is our home. I hear almost daily how people can’t wait to experience Vertical Church. With over 19,000 people who don’t attend anyone’s church in Bladen County, I can’t wait to serve alongside incredible churches and leaders to help lead people to be passionate about Jesus so they can lead others to Jesus. Personally I can’t wait for children and adults to be forever ‘tattooed’ by Jesus Christ. Souls forever marked. People forever changed.