Archive for the ‘ Lessons from Pastoring ’ Category

Reflections on Awestruck Church (And a Prayer for our Future)

moveOne thing we can be sure of in life… Things will change! 

Sometimes that is bad, other times that means the situation is improving

 

In 2005 I had one item on my Christmas list…

It was a big ticket item and I just had to have it … It was a game changer!

4G iPod Nano

It did not take very long for my Life Changing Gift to become outdated…

It doesn’t hold many songs, No Touch Screen, No Candy Crush Saga???

This Nano led to other iPods, iPhones, iPads being in my house

Sometimes when things change it means there is an Upgrade in our life

 

Awestruck began in October 2007 with a group of 10 sitting in my living room

–In September 2008 we launched at Eastern Middle School

–In August of 2010 we began renovations on the Butler Rd.  property

And this is where we have been for the last 4 & 1/2 years

 

Since we have been on Butler Rd…

–We have camped out in below freezing weather

–Roasted almost 1000 hot dogs over a big bonfire

–We have hosted 2 Glow in the Dark Egg Hunts…before the sun went down

–We have worked hard together on improvements

–Hosted movie nights

–Served our volunteers breakfast and dinner

–Had some fun small group parties

–Our band has released 3 CD’s… Recorded one in this building

–We hosted a big CD release party right here

–We partnered with “The Patio” at this location

–2 churches became one awesome place for God to do work

–We have formed a great relationship with the Reedy Fork community

–We have celebrated 5 out of 6 of our anniversaries on this property

–We have seen some of our folks move on, but God has added a bunch of new people to our congregation at this property

–We have commissioned 4 people into Christian service and helped launch 5 church plant while in this building

–Tyler was ordained on this stage

–Almost 200 Families in our area have been blessed at Christmas time

–We have watched our children’s ministry become a youth ministry

–Almost 40 children have been dedicated on this stage

–Many people have given their life to Jesus at this property

–21 people have been baptized at this building

God has used this property to do some amazing work and gather some pretty awesome people.

The church is the people of God…Not the building

Over 100 Times in the NT the word Ekklsia is used to describe the Church

This word always means the Assembly or Gathering of people

NEVER the building or house where they met

Awestruck has had 4 Locations in 7 & 1/2 years 

God will move among His people as long as we are following His Plan and Seeking to give Him the Glory.

Here’s the Key to our Future success … We seek to Give Him all the Glory

 

Let’s look at Some things we need to Guard ourselves from in the Move:

1.  Being distracted by the location and the size

–God Grows a church…No matter where it is located

–Bigger does not always mean better … Especially if Christ is not the focus

2.  Letting the Newness Wear off … 

–Eventually the new location will become just the Location

–When that New building smell begins to fade we need to ask God to Refresh our passion for Gibsonville and the surrounding areas

3.  Thinking that the Church is becoming “Too Big”

–I believe we are going to grow in numbers

–You are going to bring friends and the Town is going to Show up

–As we grow bigger in numbers then you need to grow smaller in our community

–Get involved in a small group so that you can maintain intimate relationships

–Get involved with a serving team so you can work to help us reach more people

I Believe this with all my heart … We are moving forward in God’s timing and according to His Purpose for Awestruck

After 2 Frustrating years of waiting to hear clearly from God

He has answered our prayers about the location of our Gatherings

God has Clarified the Vision of our church so we can all move forward under the Heading of “Every Single One”  (Truth / Focus / Heart / Hope)

Our church body feels more Unified than ever before in this move…

-We have come together to work and renovate

-We have Unity in our daily prayers for the future of Awestruck

 

We want to keep our eyes on where God is taking us in the days to come

–Our past will always be a reminder of God’s faithfulness when we seek Him

–Our future is unknown, but We are trusting God to continue to Blow our Minds

 

This verse has always been our prayer…

It seems even more relevant at this time in our Church’s History

Eph 3 : 19  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully.  Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. 20  Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21  Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

Advertisements

FAQ’s About our Big Move

move

In case you missed the news this weekend…Awestruck Church is moving our meeting spot to a Historic movie theater on Main Street in downtown Gibsonville.  As we have been planning this move and talking with people, certain questions have been asked over and over.  From our staff to some first time guests who heard the announcement on Sunday, these are the top questions we have answered.

Why Gibsonville?

Our heart was to plant in and reach Eastern Guilford county when we started meeting in my house almost 8 years ago to plan and dream about starting a church.  8 years ago we looked at meeting locations from Alamance Crossing all the way up to the Mt. Hope Church Road exit on Hwy 85.  Gibsonville is in the perfect location to fulfill the vision that God gave us so many years ago.

Also, when we considered moving closer to Greensboro there were several factors that caused us to stop and say no.  Property in Greensboro is expensive to lease or purchase.  There are so many great churches doing amazing things for the Gospel in Greensboro.  God is calling a large number of church planters into that area that have just recently started or are getting ready to launch.  While there are a some churches in Eastern Guilford County doing big things, we still see the need for a vibrant, gospel centered church in this area.

Downtown Gibsonville is busy and alive with activity.  Great restaurants, parks, a dance studio, and local businesses make this a hot spot for big crowds.  We are moving our incredible church to where the people are instead of hoping they come and find us.  This gives a great opportunity to meet and spread the gospel to a larger new group of people.  We are excited about becoming an active, supportive member of this community.

Why move instead of build?

We are currently meeting on a beautiful piece of property in Mcleansville.  Unfortunately beautiful does not always translate into easy and convenient.  The land does not perk well for extra septic needed to build on our current property.  To build on that property will be extremely expensive because of the septic issue.  We were given an estimated cost of around $100 thousand just to put a septic system in.  That is $100k before we ever break ground on a new building.

Our heartbeat at Awestruck is to be fiscally responsible when it comes to our tithes and offerings.  After meeting with several different contractors, inspectors, engineers, and other pastors about this issue over the past two years, we have decided that it is not a great financial decision to begin construction at this time.  The cost issue combined with a hard to find location are the major factors that led us to decide to make a move.  This does not mean that we will never build on this property.  This simply means that with our budget and the current size of our church it is not our best option.

Are we selling the current property?

The short answer…NO!  (That is the first “no” I’ve been excited about in a long time.)

On a very selfish note, I love our current property on Butler Road.  It is peaceful and a blessed place.  God used that property not only to enhance our church, but also to encourage me at a tough time in my pastoral life.  I believe the gift of that property was God’s way of giving His stamp of approval to the work He has called me to do.

On a church wide not, the property is still an excellent location for us to do ministry.  God did not give it to us to waste or leave empty.  I don’t know exactly what the future holds for that property.  I do know that God has a plan and we are open for wherever He leads us.

Why are we moving so quickly?

The original plan was to start renovations in April and move in when it was ready.  God’s plan was for us to get the keys on March 8.  Our plans to meet, pray and discuss the move with our congregation got expedited when we got a surprise phone call last week informing us that we could move in several weeks earlier than expected.

Easter Sunday will be a great day to launch into the future of Awestruck Church.  People love to come to church on Easter.  For the Lilly and Poinsettia crowd (“ChrEasters”) it is one of the two times they will attend all year.  I can’t think of a better Sunday to introduce the awesome ministry of our church!  We will also be able to host ONE service on Easter Sunday for the first time in many years.

Here are Some Questions I have for you…

What will you be doing to help us get in the building on time?

Who are you planning to bring with you on Easter Sunday?

Where will you be serving on Sunday mornings at Awestruck?

How much could you give to help us achieve the financial increase for our church?

The Future is so Bright…

moveOn September, 7 2008 Awestruck Church launched at Eastern Guilford middle school.  The location was hard to find and no one found us by accident.  The school was a wonderful venue to host a church service.  We formed a successful partnership with the administration and teachers.  But the location was not ideal.

In July 2010 our church was given an amazing gift!  It was clearly a God sized miracle.  Our church was given 21 acres with an existing building.  It was deeded to us free and clear.  (You can read the story of our current church property RIGHT HERE )  There was only one issue with this amazing gift … the location was hard to find and no one found us by accident.  It was even farther off the road with a long, creepy driveway through the woods to get to the parking lot.  God has a way of keeping us humble and showing that He is in full control of our church health and growth.

Over the past 2 years we have been trying to outgrow the small building on the huge property.  Whenever we reached maximum capacity the crowd would begin to shrink back down because of overcrowding and space issues.  Our church leadership has been exploring as many options as possible over this time period.  We tried to add extra service times without much success.  We attempted to partner/merge with existing churches with dwindling congregations.  We have toured numerous church buildings, warehouses, strip malls, and talked with architects, engineers, contractors, real estate agents, and inspectors.  Every different option came with it’s own set of reasons to say “no”.  Too expensive.  Too small.  Too big.  Bad location.  The land will not perk for additional septic.  Needs too much work.

Each “no” led to more frustration within our staff and leadership.  All of us knew that something had to be done.  Each of us was praying hard and putting in work to find the right option.  We were willing to make any move that God would lead us to…but it seemed that the right door had not been opened.

That leads us to the exciting news that has happened faster than we could have expected.  In late January one of our staff made another phone call about an available property.  To our surprise it was not only affordable, it was also in a Perfect location.  As we walked through the property it became obvious that each of our staff was getting excited, but did not want to get our hopes up.   Each of us was protecting ourselves from the disappointment of the unrealistic high hopes that had just been abruptly shut down by all the “no” over the past two years.  For the first time all of us were in unity with a resounding “YES” about a new location.  We invited a group of folks from our church to tour the property and give us their feedback.  A bunch of great questions came out the group.  They gave us good suggestions and helped us think through some issues we had not fully explored.  At the end of the tour we had a unanimous “YES” from our feedback group.

After 2 years of the frustrating “no’s”, could it be that God has finally opened up the right door?  I am willing to say with 100% confidence that God has finally revealed His new plan and direction for Awestruck Church.  We will be moving into a historic theater on main street in Gibsonville, NC.  We will use a dance studio that is next door for our children’s space.  This move will more than double our worship space and almost triple our children’s space.

Please continue to pray for direction and guidance as we make this huge shift for our church.  This seems risky, but God honors our faithfulness when we follow His perfect plans.  I cannot wait to see what our amazing God has in store for His church!

New Headline, but the Same Story

every single oneIn January 2015 Awestruck Church launched a new vision statement for our church.  When we began in 2008 our vision and mission statement was long and wordy…very wordy.  It was well thought out and prayed over.  It was a great description of who we wanted to be as a church.  It was everything I wanted it to be.

The problem…It was also very difficult to remember!  In the fall of 2014 I asked my staff and some key volunteers to recite our vision statement for me.  I caught them off guard and didn’t give them a chance to study.  What caught me off guard was the fact that no one could quote our well thought out, prayed over, descriptive statement.  This was an eye opening experience for me.  If the folks who love and support our church the most could not tell me the vision, then I knew that no one in our community of faith had a clue what our vision statement was.

The good news is that these leaders in our church knew why we existed.  We were on the same page about who we are and where we are going as a church.  We just needed to clarify our wording so we can better communicate this to people in our church and people in our community.  We did not need to change our course, but we definitely needed to get everyone on the same page so we can move forward.

In January we launched a new campaign and vision statement for our church.

“Every Single One”

In Matthew 18 Jesus said this…

“12  “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do?  Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost?13  And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away! 14  In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.”

Every Single One matters to Jesus, so Every Single One matters to our church.

We also came up with our “Ones” that will help us stay on track and keep moving forward in unity.  These are the “Ones” that we value.

(Click the “One” for a Video of the sermon that gives a better description for each.)

1.  One Truth :  We are committed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ as our foundation

2.  One Focus :  We are dedicated to growing faithful followers of Jesus

3.  One Heart :  We are building a community that is leading each other towards Christ

4.  One Hope :  Our community making an impact on the world through the Gospel

The More it Changes, the More it Stays the Same

We began Awestruck Church with a vision to create a Genuine Community of people formed around living life for Jesus and doing life together.  That’s it…nothing too fancy.  Our “church” exists for people to build a life changing relationship with Christ and life enhancing relationships with others.  Real people who refuse to play games and hide behind the mask of false perfection.

Our desire is not to simply have a church building and hope people come in and join us, but to inspire a culture of people who live out their faith every day.  A living representation of the life changing message of a God who loves us deeply.  The paradigm shifts from “coming in” to “Going Out”.

That was our dream when we began this adventure into Awestruck 3 years ago, and nothing has changed!  We are now the owner of almost 21 acres and a church building, but nothing has changed about our vision.

For our church the blessing of land and a building is just the beginning, not the end.  We see it as God’s provision for us to begin achieving new levels of the dream He gave a few years ago.  Having a permanent location is not the Finish line for our church, it is a whole new Startling line to the next level of what God has in store for our future.  It changes everything about the we function as a church.  We are moving from mobile to permanent.

But the more it Changes, the more it stays the same as far as our Vision is concerned.

“This is the stuff that happens to other churches…”

That’s exactly what I have been thinking for the last two months, but one of my leaders summarized exactly how I’ve been thinking and feeling with his statement.  He said, “This is the stuff that happens to other churches.  You know God can do it, but never expect it to happen to us.”  I’ve never doubted God’s ability, but perhaps questioned when, where and IF it could take place at Awestruck.

In August 2007 I sat with my pastor at CrossPoint Church (formerly Clifton Road)  and shared my dream of starting a new church.  We celebrated and prayed over what God was doing in my life and my ministry.  When he asked where we would meet i immediately answered, “We’ll end up wherever God decides to give us land”.  It flowed out of my mouth before I could even think about what I was saying.  I remember in that moment God whispered into my spirit and said “That was for you, hold onto it”.  For almost 3 years I have been believing and telling people that one day God would give us some land for our church when the time was right.

Just a few months later while going through church planter training we were asked to close our eyes and envision our church in the future.  Everyone in the room was willing to share what their church would look like and it all sounded great, but it sounded a lot like every other church I’d ever been to.  I politely declined sharing my vision to avoid being viewed as even stranger and crazier than they already presumed me to be.  🙂  What I saw was a huge place where families were spending time together.  It contained all kinds of fun and amusement type activities.  Dads were spending time with their kids.  Christ was being honored and people were growing closer to God by doing life together and enjoying themselves.  I don’t remember what our church building looked like?  I don’t even remember if I saw a building on the property?

Last night while walking the property with a good friend he said, “God gave you a clear vision, you held onto it, and now look what He is doing.”  I can promise you that I no longer believe that it’s the stuff that happens to other churches!  I don’t understand and I can’t explain why God has blessed Awestruck Church.  I do know “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”  (Hebrews 11:1)  He gave us clear direction and we have been vigilant about protecting it and walking it out.  Always trusting that we were on the right path, even when it didn’t make sense.  Especially when it didn’t make sense to the critics and doubters.

What is the vision God has given you?

How committed are you to walking it out despite the consequences?

Awestruck Church is getting a new home…

Many are asking how and where, and when, and every other question possible about the new home of Awestruck Church.  Let me first say that we will be moving our church to 20.6 acres located at 5840 Butler Rd.  (Click it to see the Google map) but I’m not sure when the official move will take place.  I can promise you it will be as soon as possible.  I am excited and I am slightly impatient.

Next let me explain how all this came to be.  The obvious first statement is God is in control and He has orchestrated this whole deal.  I am nothing but humbled and overwhelmed in this process.  This wasn’t something we went searching for, but God has taken His plan and collided it directly into the path of our church.  We can’t wait to see what else God has in store for our future.

On May 20th (exactly 2 months from the day it became official) we were driving to Boone, NC for me to do a wedding.  I normally don’t answer phone calls from people whose number I don’t recognize, that’s why God created Voice Mail, but for some reason I picked up the phone on that night.  The voice on the other end introduced himself and then asked, “If your church had a lot of land and a small building, could you do something with it?”.  I simply answered “Yes” and then the questions began to flow.  How will you use it?  How does it fit the vision of the church?  What sorts of things would you do with it?

After about 20 minutes of talking I stopped him and said that we’d love to have land, but there was no way our church could afford to buy that much property right now.  And that’s when things got interesting.  His response was, (laughter) “We are not trying to sell it.  We are looking to give it away to the right ministry”.  We finished our conversation with pleasantries and talks of future meetings to discuss details.  I found it hard to even catch my breath and wrap my mind around the gigantic size of what had just taken place.  The next few weeks were filled with frequent meetings and phone calls with 2 of the 3 folks that would be voting to give us the land.  Then almost a month of SILENCE!  Nothing!  No contact at all!

The silence was broken late last week when I was informed the official vote was taking place on July 20th.

Here we are on July 21, 2010 and it’s official!  There are papers to be signed and some legal details, but the vote passed 3-0.  A unanimous vote of unity to donate all the property, building, and remaining possessions to Awestruck Church.  To top it all off they are also writing a check for $16,000 to help us get started with renovations!?!?!

How do I feel about all this?  I am a bit numb and completely overwhelmed.  I am more humbled by the power of God than ever before in my life.  I am emotional and have shed many tears of joy.  I am blown away that God has taken that much interest in our little 2 year old church plant.

I am sooooooooooooooo pumped about what all God has in store for our future.  This land fits perfectly into the the vision God has given me for Awestruck church.  It also is an answer to something I have been believing for the past 3 years.  Stay tuned for more info on that in a later post.  This one has become way to long!

God is amazing and I promise you that the Best is Yet to Come!