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Archive for September, 2014

Monday Morning Celebration x2

Sunday Night, September 28th, 2014

Today was just unbelievable.

Having the privilege of seeing 21 people make “their 1st step their NEXT step” through baptism has just blown my mind. Our church has been praying throughout the month of September for our “2″ people that need Jesus. #2for21  What we have seen is nothing short of miraculous. My mind is racing… my heart is full… and I am so proud of all of the people who make Vertical Church, “vertical”. From the parking lot to the stage and everything in between,

YOU ARE HELPING PEOPLE WHO DON’T LIKE CHURCH MEET GOD!

Let me take a moment to reiterate a few things that I shared with our church today (and repeat a few things I said to you after last Sunday):

  • You are responsible. If you have a friend that you brought to Vertical the last few weeks who met Jesus they need you to be there for them. Help them grow in their faith. Make sure they are going through the “Now What?” 7 day booklet they received when they were baptized. Do it with them if it would be helpful. You brought them to this point, you are responsible that they continue to take next steps.
  • Make sure they have a Bible and a reading plan. Of course they can download the bible app on their phones ** And I would encourage them to download it if they don’t have it and teach them how to use it well ** but there is something about having that physical copy. If they did not get a “Now What?” book, or a bible, or a reading plan you can stop by Vertical Headquarters and get any or all of them for them.
  • Get them to Vertical this Sunday!! We are beginning our new series, “Altar Ego”, where we will learn become the person God says that we are. One of the best practices for a new believer is CONSISTENT CHURCH ATTENDANCE (Heb 10:25). They need to meet people, learn to worship, hear God’s teaching and be in the presence of the Lord. I promise: this weekend will be helpful.
  • Encourage them to share that they met Jesus with someone. A co-worker, family member, neighbor. The best thing that we can help new believers to do is to share their decision to follow Jesus with someone. I saw some posting it on Facebook last night – the responses to them were SO encouraging. Remember “Foolish Encouragement”? You are Barnabas!

I am so thankful for God’s blessing on our church. Remember friends, this is not normal. May we NEVER take it for granted.

Vertical Bladen – THIS is YOUR Weekend!

I have often said that I believe that the reason that God brings so many people to our Vertical locations is because we are prepared for and expecting them. Every single weekend we believe that people will attend VC for the first time and they do. Every single weekend we make preparations to make our VIP’s feel special. Every single weekend our teams work to give our guests the best experience they had all week. People SHOULD feel that way about the Church – we are the Body of Christ.

Every single weekend.

We thank God for the influence that He has given to us through YOU. Thank you for trusting us with your friends.

That being said, THIS SUNDAY IS Vertical Bladen’s turn!

I hope that you have been praying for your “2″ for the last 25 days. Here’s a few things I need to share as we prepare for a POWERFUL weekend:

#1 – Your prayers really do make a difference. Thank you to everyone who has participated in #2for21. I want to ask you to stop what you are doing right now and briefly pray again. As you pray ask God to be glorified in our midst these next 2 Sundays, save people and lead people to take next steps at both Vertical locations. #praynowspeaklife

#2 – Thanks to everyone bringing people to church. For some of you that invite was hard and scary. Some of you invited someone who has told you no. Some of you are still inviting people who have recently blown you off about attending. I want you to know that we are getting ready for them. I also want you to know that YOU ARE the difference maker – any influence we have on them is because of you. #relationshipsmakethedifference

#3 – Thank you to everyone who serves. The way that you love and serve people INSPIRES me greatly. I am still so blown away that you believe in the mission of Vertical Church and US as your leaders. We are humbled by your partnership. You WILL make a HUGE difference in people’s lives this weekend. I am so proud of you all. #loveisaverb

We know you went out on a limb inviting them – we will welcome them and make them feel as comfortable as possible. We are making preparations from one of the greatest weekends we have ever had at Vertical Church. So make that last call… that last invite… that extra push.

I BELIEVE THAT LIVES WILL BE CHANGED. BELIEVE THIS VERTICAL: WE’RE JUST GETTING STARTED!

Monday Morning Celebration!!

We are EXACTLY in the middle of two exciting weeks are Vertical Church! We have been praying for people by name for the last 21 days and we saw God answer prayers yesterday at VC Ltown. I want to say “THANK YOU” to every single person at Vertical Lumberton who prayed #2for21 and invited people to Sunday’s services. We had an incredible day as we had great crowds, saw 13 people who decided that “their NEXT step is their FIRST step” through Baptism. Vertical Church – WE NEED TO CELEBRATE because Jesus said there is a party going on in heaven!

“I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Luke 15:7

WE CAN’T WAIT to see the same thing this coming weekend at Vertical Bladen!

I had some great conversations with people who brought friends, family and co-workers to church. I had one conversation with a person who had someone with them yesterday who hasn’t been in church in over 30 years. I had another conversation with a person who’s “2″ were both at Vertical for the first time. It was a miracle to just have them with us according to them. Or the family who had family members take their FIRST step through baptism – they were in a partying mindset after church to say the least. How about when a brother who had been praying for his sister’s salvation for 18 years had the opportunity to get in the pool and baptize his earthly sister as his new sister in Christ?!? As one of my friend’s said to me, “I have NOT been praying for my “2″ for 18 years – so that’s encouraging!”

Maybe your “2″ came but didn’t take a NEXT step? If that’s you, maybe attending yesterday WAS there next step. I want to encourage you to KEEP PRAYING for them – ESPECIALLY today! Do not be disappointed!!! You invited, they attended, we will let God keep working in their hearts and lives. I will say it again: KEEP PRAYING FOR THEM. We don’t want yesterday to be a one-time fluke. Hopefully they had a great first experience with us. Ask God for guidance about how to help them continue to take next steps. Be patient and encouraging. Keep the relationship strong and believe that God’s got this (Romans 8:28)

Maybe your “2″ didn’t come… Don’t be discouraged. You asked, you did your part – you were obedient to God placing that name upon your heart. Continue to pray for them, love them, be there for them: you may be the only “Jesus” they ever see in their day to day, so remember who you represent. You will have another opportunity to invite them soon.

Some of you have a friend who met Jesus yesterday! WOOOHOOOOO!!!! I have a next step for you as well:
  • Make sure that they have a Bible and a Reading Plan. Of course they can download the bible app on their phones ** And I would encourage them to download it if they don’t have it and teach them how to use it well ** but there is something about having that physical copy. If they were baptized yesterday then they received our book, “Now What?”, encourage them to read through that like a devotional for the next 7 days. Do it with them if it will be helpful. If they did not get a “Now What?” book, or a bible, or a reading plan you can stop by Vertical Headquarters and get any or all of them for them. Do it quick though!
  • Get them to Vertical this Sunday!! We will conclude our “What Should I Believe” Series with a message about God’s personal Helper in our lives. One of the best practices for a new believer is CONSISTENT CHURCH ATTENDANCE (Heb 10:25). They need to meet people, learn to worship, hear God’s teaching and be in the presence of the Lord. I promise: this weekend will be helpful.
  • Encourage them to share that they met Jesus with someone. A co-worker, family member, neighbor. The best thing that we can help new believers to do is to share their decision to follow Jesus with someone. I saw some posting it on Facebook last night – the responses to them were SO encouraging. Remember “Foolish Encouragement”? You are Barnabas!

Lastly, Vertical Bladen – THIS IS YOUR WEEKEND! Time to press in. Pray. Call. Text. Invite. Believe. They need to understand that “Maybe it’s time to try church again.” God is going to do great things in your midst this weekend and I can’t wait!!! 

We Are Making Preparations for Them!!

The number of VIP’s (first time attendees) that God brings to us is staggering.

I have often said that I believe that the reason that God brings so many people to our Vertical locations is because we are prepared for and expecting them. Every single weekend we believe that people will attend VC for the first time and they do. Every single weekend we make preparations to make our VIP’s feel special. Every single weekend our teams work to give our guests the best experience they had all week. People SHOULD feel that way about the Church – we are the Body of Christ.

Every single weekend.

We thank God for the influence that He has given to us through YOU. Thank you for trusting us with your friends.

That being said, THIS SUNDAY IS THE 1st OF TWO IMPORTANT SUNDAY’S AT VERTICAL!!!

I hope that you have been praying for your “2″ for the last 17 days – this weekend is Lumberton’s turn to get them to Vertical. Here’s a few things I need to share as we prepare for a POWERFUL weekend:

#1 – Your prayers really do make a difference. Thank you to everyone who has participated in #2for21. I want to ask you to stop what you are doing right now and briefly pray again. As you pray ask God to be glorified in our midst these next 2 Sundays, save people and lead people to take next steps at both Vertical locations. #praynowspeaklife

#2 – Thanks to everyone bringing people to church. For some of you that invite was hard and scary. Some of you invited someone who has told you no. Some of you are still inviting people who have recently blown you off about attending. I want you to know that we are getting ready for them. I also want you to know that YOU ARE the difference maker – any influence we have on them is because of you. #relationshipsmakethedifference

#3 – Thank you to everyone who serves. The way that you love and serve people INSPIRES me greatly. I am still so blown away that you believe in the mission of Vertical Church and US as your leaders. We are humbled by your partnership. You WILL make a HUGE difference in people’s lives this weekend. I am so proud of you all. #loveisaverb

We know you went out on a limb inviting them – we will welcome them and make them feel as comfortable as possible. We are making preparations from one of the greatest weekends we have ever had at Vertical Church. So make that last call… that last invite… that extra push.

I BELIEVE THAT LIVES WILL BE CHANGED. BELIEVE THIS VERTICAL: WE’RE JUST GETTING STARTED!

The Day I Realized I HAD to Plant a Church

Most people have no concept about why I planted a church. They also have no concept how long I waited and prayed about it.

It took me a long time to plant a church.

The day that it became clear that I had to plant a church happened in the fall of 2008. On this particular Sunday morning as I stood on the stage of the church that I loved, leading them in worship to God, I looked out and saw someone I had never seen before sitting on the back row. He stood out because he was very different looking than our regular attenders. He wore black from head to toe, he had chains hanging from his belt and pocket. The man was probably in his early twenties and he had many tattoos and piercings.

It came to the point in our service when our members would get out of their seats and greet our guests as well as one another. I had my eyes on the man – I wanted to watch our church handled him and they were struggling.

(Please Note: this church is one of the friendliest, open churches I have EVER seen in my life. They LOVE people – all people. But as I watched them I saw how this guy was stretching them. They were going out of their way to greet him but this guy was SO different that it was an obvious challenge.)

I could not take my eyes off of him. As I was preaching that morning I was drawn to him - We had never had anyone like this dude at our church and I loved that he was with us. At the end of the service I made a bee-line to him before he could get out of the door. 

“Hey man. I’m Mike.” I said. He told me his name was “Chris”

“Chris, I’m so glad that you came today. I hope you had a great experience this morning. Man, I hope that you’ll come back.”

As I watched Chris walk out the door I KNEW that I would never see him there again. We were as foreign to him as he was to us. And as hard as our congregation tried to connect with him it was a challenge and he could no doubt feel that tension.

That was the morning that I realized that, as great and loving as that church was, there is a whole segment of the population that will never fit into that church. Who was going to reach those people.

When you come to Vertical Church it is eclectic to say the least. We have so many people with tats I have often joked that it looks like we give them out as gifts to our 1st time guests. Tattoos, piercings, dressed in black. We have young people, old people and in betweens. People of many cultures and races attend Vertical. And all of this reminds me that we SHOULD be diverse:

Revelation 7:9-10 After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

It took me another 18 months to follow and to be obedient to the call that I had sensed for more than 5 years. But that is the day that I realized that I HAD to plant a church for the rest of us – a church that anyone can come to and feel welcome and loved no matter how they look, live or where they’ve been. We will love people where they are and allow the Gospel to do what the Gospel does: change lives.

I love Jesus. I love my church.