Wednesday, April 29, 2009

An opportunity to SERVE

This coming Saturday, May 2nd many from our launch team will be volunteering at Eli Pinney Elementary where we have our services. Usually the first Saturday of each month we have Leadership Community also at the school but b/c they were booked for the same time we felt compelled (in a good way) to serve the school. Our people will be mulching, weeding, raking, planting and supplying all the food and drinks for those who show up for the neighborhood.

SERVE is one of our core values and Saturday morning gives us a perfect opportunity to live it out.
One of our sayings is "Good deeds, create good will, that allow us to share the Good News". Just serving alongside neighbors from around the school will be a good thing, even if we don't get to share about Christ verbally we're being His hands and feet publicly.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Bingo @ Dublin Retirement Village

One of the ladies at ENCOUNTER, Carolyn Dubois, weekly visits this retirement home. She sent out an invite to our people and a bunch of us showed up. Rob Dubois did an excellent job calling out the balls and prizes were awarded to BINGO winners. We want to serve our community and this is a fun and relational way to do it. Thanks to all of you who came and played with the eight residents.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Final Exponential '09 Speaker

The conference ended with Francis Chan of Cornerstone Church. He didn't preach as much as he spoke from his heart. It's hard to fully explain what he said. If I had to boil it down I'd say he was urging us to live biblically authentic lives. He admitted the book of Acts has always troubled him b/c what he reads there about the start of the Church doesn't often match up with what is seen in today's world. He even joked that the Holy Spirit must be tired now as compared to then. He also emphasized that Christ followers should read and trust God's Word for themselves. The conference ended with Francis inviting all future church planters to come forward to be prayed over and anointed with oil. It was a powerful moment.

Great relationship at Exponential '09

This years conference for me was even more relational than last years. I met the NewThing Network guys last April and developed a relationship with them this past year over the phone, e-mail and three visits to the Chicagoland area. So coming to the conference was like a mini-reunion. Last night I went to a dinner for new people interested in being part of a church multiplication movement. It was fun to meet those who are considering a partnership with NewThing like ENCOUNTER has. I spoke with folks planting churches in Tenn., Mass., Kansas, Ill., and Mich. All of them either have or are in the process of planting daughter churches or campuses. It's been exciting hanging around those who are intentional about inviting people into a relationship with God.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Inspiring speaker

This morning I had the pleasure of listening to Craig Groeschel of He spoke about being part of a church planting movement. Here were his three main points. A movement... 1) will never be safe, predictable and clean 2) is not just about our church but is about HIS kingdom (mmm, I heard that before) 3) isn't to be lead on the old measurements of success i.e. how much $ we've taken in as opposed to how much we've given away.
He said the American church has played it too safe and needs to return to an Acts 2 type of mentality. Look it up, esp. the last few verses.
One thing that also hit me was when he said "Luke warm pastors lead lukewarm churches". Please pray I don't become lukewarm in my personal relationship with Jesus Christ but that I would stay in love with Him and lead ENCOUNTER with passion.

Monday, April 20, 2009

I'm not going to Disney

I'm in the Columbus airport right now waiting with Clancy Cruise and Jeremy Bury of Marysville Grace. We are headed down to Orlando, FL not for Disney but to Exponential '09, the largest church planters conference in the country. The people putting it on are the folks Encounter is partnering with from Naperville, Ill. Guys like Dave Ferguson, Jon Ferguson and Brian Zehr help lead a movement of church planters called the NewThing Network. To say I'm excited to go is an understatement. The warm weather, the buds, the session speakers and good food. I just wish Melissa was with me again.
Pray I lern gud stuf:-)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Our EASTER family pics.

Here are our family photos from last Sunday.
As you can see, we thought we'd do a silly one too. Each family that attended was able to have their picture taken. Thank-you to Phil & Jennifer Hill, Joselyn Young and Beth Fields for helping put it all together:-)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Ammar becomes a US citizen

Today I had the privilege to sit in a federal court room and see about 50 people from a wide variety of countries become US citizens. My friend Ammar Salameh, who I play in a co-ed volleyball league with, was one of the participants. It was a solemn and joyous occasion. Ammar, as you can see in the pictures, was all smiles. Our team plays tonight and will likely go out and celebrate him.
Mmm, maybe I should become a US citizen...any thoughts???

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Sunday Highlights

It was a beautiful sunny Resurrection Sunday. In contrast, today is over cast, cold and rainy.
The team did a great job setting up and preparing for our morning service. Something we added yesterday was a complimentary family photo with a black backdrop and lilies. This will be sent via e-mail this week. Our numbers weren't high but all our visitors were new. Our team has done a good job inviting co-workers, neighbors and people they workout with. Over time these people are trickling in and it's nice to be able to connect with them one on one. As
neat as it might be to have hundreds show up on any given Sunday, I don't know how we would be able to have a personal moment with each of them. So far we have seen slow and steady growth. Most visitors comments are very encouraging to us.
As you can see in the last photo, we end our services with everyone holding hands across the isles. It's a great way to see those in the service connect both physically and spiritually.
Keep praying God brings us those who need to hear the message of the Gospel: God's Love - Mankinds Sin - Christ Paid the Penalty - Receive Christ.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Huge Easter Egg Hunt

My Mother church, Grace Church in Powell, partnered with their local YMCA and the Liberty Township Fire Station to put on a 20,000 candy filled egg hunt at Liberty Park. They even had a helicopter come to drop several hundred of the eggs in each of the age group zones. I took my three girls who gathered a couple dozen eggs each. It was really fun bumping into so many of the people I know. They put a lot of hard work into making the event a success and from what I saw they did it. There had to have been a few thousand people in attendance. The kids were like locusts ravaging the land sweeping it clean of colored eggs.

Friday, April 10, 2009

3rd Grade Seder Feast

Yesterday I spoke at the 3rd Grade Seder feast for Worthington Christian Schools. Three years ago I was given the same opportunity when my son Zach was in third grade. I done it every year since and this year my twin daughters were in the room as well as my wife Melissa.
I was asked to talk about the Passover meal, the Seder feast, that God instructed the Jews to eat as a memorial to them being set free by Pharaoh in Egypt. The feast was first eaten on the night of the 10th plague God sent on the land of Egypt: the plague of the death of the first born. It's found in Exodus 12. The Jews were to kill a one year old male lamb without defect and use its blood to mark the top and both sides of the doorposts so that the angel of death would "pass-over" the home. A very clear connection can be made about Christ being the last sacrificial lamb when we read John the Baptist's words in John 1:29, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!".
After I spoke we parents joined our children and re-enacted some of the meal as the children read some of the symbolic themes off cue cards.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Looking forward to Celebrating Easter

This coming Sunday is Easter. I can't remember the last time I anticipated celebrating it like I do this year. I have the privilege of preaching/teaching from I Corinthians 15 on the resurrection. Our launch team anticipates many more visitors than usual esp. since many of them have been inviting co-workers and neighbors specifically to our Easter service. I'll let you know how things went on Sunday or Monday.
Pray that we will be faithful to the Lord in the preaching and hospitable to our guests.

Monday, April 6, 2009

A great Palm Sunday morning service

Honestly I was more nervous for yesterday's Sunday service than any of the other nine before it. Part of it was living in the unknown. How many people would show up? Not having the same amount of time to prepare the message b/c it was Spring Break week leading up to Sunday. All these things factored into it. And in the end it all turned out great.
From what I know, everyone showed up to play their part and we had five visiting couples and a single young adult. The testimony was encouraging, the worship was powerful, the announcements were done well and the 1st-5th grade Ekids came in and sang a song at the end of the service while holding construction paper palm branches. If you want to listen to the message click here. This whole month we're talking about our core values: Celebrate, Grow, Serve, and Multiply. We're calling it You 2.0 , taking our walk with Christ to the next level.
I had someone come in to take a bunch a pictures so no one on the team had to do it. I'll be sure to share some of those with you in the future.
This coming Sunday is of course Easter and celebrate is the core value. What a great thing to celebrate: He is risen...He is risen indeed! Who knows who God will bring through those doors. I'll be sure to let you know:-)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

LC #2 Review

I really enjoyed spending time with our leaders this morning. The set-up team, A/V guys and the hospitality team got everything set up before leadership community started at 9:00am. It's so nice that the school allows us to keep everything in its place overnight. It really takes the pressure off of us for the Sunday service. Our worship was led by our complete praise team consisting of a keyboardist, two guitar players and a female vocalist. They did great! They would like the team to grow though so if you know of anyone who plays the drums, electric guitar, or bass guitar let me know:-)
I had the opportunity to speak into the teams life and celebrate some of the blessings God has provided for us. We even sang, "Praise God from whom all blessings flow", off the cuff. I hadn't sung that in years.
Two entries ago I mentioned that we'd be doing something with our small group leaders and our "Give Away" money. Well...with our two small groups multiplying into four this month, and with the consent of our finance team, I handed each small group leader $250.00 to give away to a person, family or group of either that are in need. They are to get together as a small group and prayerfully consider how to do this before the end of May. Then we'll hear back from them and celebrate it publicly. I can't wait to hear the reports.
Lastly, Jeff Ruetty led the team in discussing how we will use our contact piece in inviting neighbors and friends to ENCOUNTER. The piece looks great and I'm proud to give it out. A big thank-you to the guys at Brown Cow Design for all the work they've done for us over the last
year. I look forward to seeing them again in three weeks at Exponential.