10 Values of My Starbucks Visit

I got to Starbucks this morning and couldn’t leave.  There was too much ministry and other activities happening.  Here’s a recap of my hour and a half experience:

1.     Met three people who are “considering attending Grace Community Church”.

2.     Talked with a family who visited the Sunday prior and enjoyed it.  (I wasn’t preaching, so it was one of our good Sundays.)

3.     Answered over a dozen emails, including one about “once saved always saved”, one about baptism, one about a marriage struggle, and one about the church’s doctrine.

4.     Met a man who really kept wanting to talk, wanted my input in playing his online poker game, excitedly shared that he won  $6 gambling, told me he quit church because all they do is “waste money”, and may give our church a try this Sunday! 

5.     Talked with and tried to encourage a new city councilperson who is doing a great job and has a positive vision for our city. 

6.     Accepted 6 new Facebook friends.  Welcome! 

7.     Responded to 9 direct messages via Twitter.

8.     Took a call from a desperate man trying to save his marriage.

9.     Encouraged an Austin Peay professor I hear is very well liked by her students.

10.  Visited briefly with a local pastor.  Great guy! 

The same type experience happens every Sunday night when Cheryl and I make our weekly Wal Mart trip.  I am thinking I may need to do this more often.  

Do you have similar experiences when you are out in public?  How do your convert those experiences into ministry opportunities?  

One Principle of Leadership Leaders Must Understand

One principle of leadership:

Not everyone will agree with you and/or even like you.  If you lead anything, someone will disagree with your decisions and you will divide people into different opinions.  (There has never been a president with 100% approval ratings.) Leaders must be prepared to lead towards the vision of the organization, even when it means losing approval ratings. 

The only way to avoid this is to never lead.  If you are someone who needs people to agree with you or who relishes popularity more than your desire to make hard decisions and do the right thing for the organization, then I suggest you choose something other than leadership in which to invest your energies.  

Tribute to the Staff of Grace Community Church

We have such an awesome staff at Grace Community Church. God has blessed us with people who love Him and love others and each of them has a true heart’s desire to be found faithful in their Kingdom work.  With the size of our church, by most standards we are under-staffed. We have a philosophy that everyone on our staff is a true minister.  There are no strictly administrative people working for Grace.  (I hope that’s always our philosophy.)  I want to take this opportunity to honor each of them for their special contribution to all God has done at Grace in the last 3 ½ years. Each of them encourage me in some way in what I do for the Kingdom.

Chad Rowland (Co-Pastor) 

Chad is my partner.  When we agreed to plant the church together the selling point for both of us was that either of us would have chosen to work for the other person.  Chad has the ability to take my weak ideas and make them far better.  He’s the “cool” of our partnership.  I also know that Chad is by far has a better pastor’s heart than me.  He truly cares for people and is so good at encouraging others.  Chad encourages me to consider people above progress. 

Michael Bayne (Director of Family Ministries)

Michael is one of the hardest workers I know in ministry. Michael excels best at connecting with students and their parents. I know on a Sunday morning that if I can get a visitor to talk with Michael, they will visit ReMix on Wednesday night.  Michael gives his attention to many areas of our church, even those he’s not directly involved in.  He’s a true team player.  Michael is creative, funny, and one of my favorite people in the world to pick on.  Michael encourages me to work harder and dream bigger dreams. 

Michael Higdon (Director of Creative Arts)

Michael has more talent and experience than we have yet to completely tap into as a church.  Everywhere I go people know Michael and are impressed with him.  Michael has the heart of a worshipper.  He likes real, authentic, genuine worship and has a true desire for us as a church to take people to the deepest places in their walk with God.  Michael is joining the other Michael in being someone I’m quite fond of aggravating.  Michael encourages me to continually find ways to point people closer to God.

Daniel Doss (Worship Leader)

Daniel was with us from the beginning. He took a leap of faith and trusted in Chad and me (really God) to plant a church that reached lost and hurting people in Clarksville.  Daniel’s golden voice instantly became a sticking point for those who visited Grace.  People love to hear Daniel sing and watch Daniel lead worship.  Daniel has a sincere faith in God and a loyal devotion to his wife, family and friends. Daniel encourages me to be more intentional in relationships.

Ben Reed (Director of Community Groups)

Ben is a bright and rising star in ministry.  His youthful enthusiasm is excelled only by his sincere heart, devotion and wisdom.  Ben is a “get it done” guy.  I love the way he networks in the church and with other churches. He is always learning new ways to improve in his work.  Ben is rock solid in his beliefs and unwavering in his commitment to his wife and new baby son.  Ben encourages me towards continual improvement in what I do.  

Karen Grizzard (Director of Volunteer Ministries)

Karen has a steadfast loyalty to Grace and it’s mission. She has a sincere desire to help other people and her heart for women, especially those who are hurting, is contagious. Karen is quiet, but her insight when she shares it is always dead-on accurate.  Karen allows her life experience to minister to others in her kind, caring, and understanding way.  She never turns down an opportunity to sit with another woman and lend a crying shoulder.  Karen encourages me to remember those who are hurting most. 

Katrina Watts (Director of Preschool Ministry/Family Ministry Coordinator)

Katrina has done a remarkable job organizing our preschool area.  Every church I have been in seems to always scramble for workers, but Katrina seems to have solved that problem for us at Grace.  Katrina’s heart though is in helping people.  I seriously believe Katrina probably ministers to more people personally than any person on our staff. There is hardly a day I don’t hear about Katrina impacting someone in a positive way. Katrina’s mother was a spiritual giant and Katrina becomes more like her everyday.  Katrina encourages me to take advantage of every opportunity to encourage someone. 

Christy Crosby (Director of Children’s Ministry)

Christy loves Grace Community Church.  As a member of the core group who started the church, Christy has always been ready to do whatever is necessary to help Grace flourish. She’s a wonderful mother and serves a role model for other moms in our church and community.  Christy is a great example of a Proverbs 31 woman. She works, supports her husband and family, and never seems to tire of doing good things for others.  Christy encourages me to continually invest my time in building young families in our church. 

Anne Loy (Financial Administration)

Anne is the master of organization. She makes my job so much easier by insuring the financial part of Grace runs smoothly and efficiently.  Anne is more than a number cruncher though.  Anne thinks for the church and always finds ways to save the church money or help us operate more effectively.  Anne is easy to talk to and genuinely fun to be around and she uses that well for Kingdom impact. She has a tremendous outreach to high school girls through her ministry, along with her husband, in Young Life.  Anne encourages me to be even more organized so I can accomplish much for the Kingdom.  

Questions on Church Planting

A seminary student who was doing a paper on church planting recently interviewed me.  For those planters who follow this blog I thought you might want to hear some of my answers.  If you have other questions for me, please ask. 

1,  What is the Vision?

The vision of Grace Community Church is to “make growing disciples of Jesus Christ”

2.         What is the strategy for evangelism, assimilation, and discipleship?

Our strategy is based on a “simple church” ideology. (Not after the book of that title, but similar in design to that philosophy). We try to get people to Gather. Commit and Serve.  We gather on Sunday mornings to worship. We commit through small group to build meaningful relationships with others. We carry out our mission to reach the world by serving others. Its a progressive system we think will help people become growing followers of Christ.

3.         What are key values that should be expressed by or philosophy of ministry related to: Worship Service, Adult groups or Sunday School, Service to the Community?

*Community investment

*Authentic Relationships

*High quality efforts at whatever we do

* Welcoming Environments

*Generosity to others

*Exciting children’s environments

4.        When will the church be ready to birth another church (or if already have, what were the factors that led to this sponsorship)?

We have assisted literally dozens of churches either through consulting, investment of resources or sending out workers. We would hope that our first duplicate site would come within the next year or year and a half. We will most likely duplicate so we can reach people no one is reaching in a specific community. We have dozens who travel a fairly long distance to come to Grace. We may start by providing a place for them in their community.

Part 2: 1.       Concerning your view of the weekend service

            a.         What occurred – timeline?

We have 2 services at 9 and 11. We are considering our 3rd now. We began with 1 service and at the 6 months mark went to 2 services. We changed locations once to allow for more people.

            b.         What do children do? Youth? Babies?

We have worship/small group environments for babies through Pre-K and K through 5th grade each Sunday. We are delighted that children often bring their parents back to church. Our goal is to create an irresistible environment for them.

2.         Could you tell how to:

            a.         Join this church?

Membership at Grace is begins by attending an informational meeting held 4 times a year where we explain who the church is, our history and philosophy. Once a person professes a faith in Jesus Christ and commits to our Gather, Commit, Serve strategy through involvement they can commit in membership.

            b.         Find a group or class?

We have sign ups for groups 3 times a year but we discuss groups frequently throughout the year and continually start new groups as the need arises.

            c.         Get your baby in the nursery.

We have a very welcoming greeting team beginning in the parking lot. People are led through the sign up process. Many people pre-register their children from our website prior to attending Grace the first time.

3.         Describe how a seeker would “process” through this church to become a serving leader. How many years would it take?

The window to become a serving leader in our church could happen very quickly. We are always talking about service and recruiting.  We do an all-church volunteer opportunity each year where we encourage everyone to serve one day. Many are introduced to service this way. Also we encourage service in our community by alerting people to opportunities outside the church.   


1.         Who is this church reaching? Is this the same group they intend to reach?

We have reached well over 50%, possibly as high as 70%, of people who were not active in any church a year before attending Grace the first time.  That was and is our target group.

2.         What are the strengths and weaknesses of this church as a discipling community?

Strengths. We have an exciting and attractive environment. People easily feel they can be a part of something.

Weaknesses. We lack enough quality leaders. We do not have some of the structures in place we need systematically to assimilate people through the strategy.  

3.         How well is the vision of the pastor propagated to the core leaders? New members? The congregation? How often is this vision reviewed/renewed?

We talk about vision constantly in different ways. With a simple strategy it is easier to communicate with people. With an elder structure of leadership we are able to control the focus of energies for the church always closely pushing towards reaching the vision. 

4.         Which “systems” are present and working well? Present but need help? Apparently not present? How easily can people “flow” from one system to another?

Because we don’t have many layers to our ministry, we don’t have many systems but the system of getting plugged into groups is working well. The system of getting people to serve needs on a weekly basis needs work. Our system to teach awareness of financial responsibility and raising funds for future building is an issue we haven’t completely figured out yet.  Our system of replacing leaders needs refining. Finally, our system of worship planning works reasonably well, but our system of implementation needs more work.

5.         Is this church reproducible? Has it reproduced? Why or why not?

Yes we think we are reproducible. We have not spun our own church plant yet, because of the rapid growth of the home church. We have chosen to invest in other starts rather than do our own. That is a long-term vision of the church.

6.         What aspects of the church would you like to emulate in a church plant? Change?

We planted with people who had a passion for spiritual growth but were dissatisfied with the church choices in the community. We called it a “holy discontent”. We would look for that again.  Also we would try to repeat the things we are noted for and that have become trademarks of Grace that I mentioned above, such as a heart of generosity and community investment. 

A change would be to look for more leaders to start with. We shied away from churched people not wanting to take from other churches but it left us with a void of leadership we are just now filling.

Again, what questions do you have?  

We Need Your Help at Grace!

God has blessed the last 3 years at Grace.  Our desire is to continue to grow!  If you attend Grace Community Church at the 11 AM service we need your help!  We are basically out of room at this service. If this is the best service for you, then keep coming to it, but if you can make the switch sacrificially, please help us by trying the 9 AM service. 

Just to get you thinking.  Here are 10 good reasons to attend to the 9 AM Service:

1.     No parking struggles.

2.     Plenty of seats.

3.     You’ll have lots more of your day left.

4.     Same great service (in fact, the band, singers and speaker may even have more energy!)

5.     We won’t be tearing down equipment around you as you leave! 

6.     You could come early and help with set-up!

7.     If you like it enough you can do it all over again that day!

8.     We do the offering in reverse at this service (not really, but that would probably bring more people to that service, wouldn’t it?) 

9.     Provide room for first-time visitors, who mostly come at 11.  (THIS IS REALLY THE MAIN REASON…)

10.  Make your pastors happy! 

While I’m at it with the helping us out thingy… We still need lots of help in the following areas every Sunday:

1.     Set up

2.     Tear down

3.     Parking lot greeting

4.     Hallway greeting

5.     Ushers

6.     Grace Acres (Preschool)

7.     Cross Street (K-5)

If you are willing to pitch in and help or want more information, send an email today to office@gcomchurch.com and someone will be in touch with you. 

Whatever service you choose please know that God is blessing our efforts at Grace. Keep bringing your friends and we’ll make room. 

What Language Are You Speaking?

Some people speak a language they share with the group of people who have a similar lifestyle, occupation or interest.  They use code words, anacronyms and phrases that only those within the group understand. Living in a military town, for example, I often hear a phrase like “he’s with the 82nd Airborne Division”, which to us civilians means????  Being married to an accountant wife means that having a tax conversation with her involves me knowing certain form numbers such as “W4 and W2”.   We tend to indoctrinate ourselves with the language and culture of the people we hang around, work with, and from whom we learn. 


Here is a short, random list of examples of people who speak a separate language. Feel free to add your own.








Sports fans





Here is the reason this issue matters to us. It is perfectly okay and perhaps even necessary to have the language within a defined group of people.  It expedites the process and builds commonality and loyalty, but if we are not careful, we will alienate people outside our “group” who do not understand our language.  If we want to help people understand who Christ is and what He means to us, then we have to realize that not everyone understands what it means to be “growing in the Lord”. 

What phrases can you think of that Christians (or other groups) use that would be hard to understand outside the “group”? 

Sober Reminders

I have a great life.  I have had years of struggles, which have greatly shaped the person I am today, but these days life is fairly calm and I hate to complain even when I am having a “bad” day.  In a church our size, there are always “sober reminders” to keep me grounded.  One would think I would become callous to disappointing news after hearing so much of it each week, but some things will always leave me speechless.  In those times, I learn more about the reality of life.  Other people’s struggles remind me how desperate each of us is for God’s mercy and grace and how incredibly blessed my life is right now.   


There are things that no matter how many times I hear them always take me by surprise.  Things like:   


  • When I learn a wife is leaving her husband for another man, it reminds me that what we see in couples does not always represent the reality of what takes place in the privacy of their home. 


  • When I hear that a young father received an unexpected stage 4 cancer diagnosis, it reminds me that life is fragile and family time has great value. 


  • When I sign another military “notification in case of tragedy” form indicating that I have to bring “bad news” should something happen to the solider, it reminds me that others serve our country so that my family and I can be safe and worship freely. 


  • When another teenage daughter becomes pregnant, it reminds me how much pressure is on our teens today and how desperately she needs our love and direction for life. 


  • When a mother or father loses their job, it reminds me that their biggest concern this Christmas is not what to buy but how will they buy anything.


  • When I find out the reason a couple has been married for years, but does not have children is infertility, I am reminded that there is a pain in a couple’s heart that I will never quite understand. 


  • When I talk with a family who has lost a child to tragedy, it reminds me that some pain in life never completely goes away. 


At Christmastime, “sober reminders” always help me remember that Jesus came to those who are hurting, those down in heart, and those in need of a Savior.  

This Week’s Stuff I Have to Share

Here are some items that caught my attention this week and caused me to think. 


Ministry Marketing Coach is going to provide some ideas in coming weeks to promote the church in low cost and/or no costs.  You can read the concept in the post Buzzing the Great Commission and make a link to start following these posts.  I look forward to the ideas to come. 


Tim Sanders has a candid approach to leadership.  He has helped me personally think through some decisions I have had to make. He wrote a BLOG about why it is hard to tell that his church (a great church BTW) has a United Methodist affiliation.  For those of us who are part of a denomination but do not know whether to advertise that fact at times it is a great read. 


Michael Hyatt is a polished leader.  Even with the demands of an important job as CEO of Thomas Nelson, he is approachable, honest, and invests in others. I have learned a lot from him this year.  His approach to handling the news of the day is one I think more of us need to take. 


I have been following the developments of a new ministry that is launching. The vision is huge.  Bookmark this site and get ready for great impact on the church world in 2009.


If you want to hear some incredible stories of famous people, check out http://www.iamsecond.com This site is well done.


Perry Noble is a “tell the truth” kind of person.  I love his honesty. His series of posts this week titled Four Arguments You Just Can’t Win are dead on accurate!  Pastors read these! 

Cross Street Live Family Worship Experience

This Sunday night our church launches Cross Street Live. I am not an emphatic person most of the time, but I honestly believe this could be one of the finest moments in the life of Grace Community Church. Cross Street Live is an opportunity for kids to bring their parents to learn and worship! It is fun, high energy and especially designed for elementary age kids and their parents. Our team has invested countless hours into planning this night, which we hope to repeat throughout the year in 2009. As with anything we do at Grace, this is a community event. You don’t have to attend Grace on Sunday morning to enjoy Cross Street Live.

Spread the word to your friends today.

What: Cross Street Live

Where: Rossview High School Auditorium

When: Sunday night, December 7, 5:30

For more information send an email to office@gcomchurch.com.

5 Things Your Pastor Needs, Part 5

We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing.
2 Thessalonians 1:3-4 NIV
The greatest compliment you can give to your pastor is to personally be growing spiritually. If you want to really get your pastor excited, let him see you excited about your relationship with Christ.
The pastor’s job is to help you become more like Jesus. He is assigned by God to shepherd the church, equipping the saints to do the work of the church. He is not the doer as much as he is the equipper. He should be building people who are doing God’s work in the church, the community, and around the world.
That’s the pastor’s part, but how is the pastor successful in his work? When people are doing their part; growing in the Lord, doing the work of the church. The catch is this. The pastor can’t make you do your part. He can’t force you to be molded into the image of Christ. He can’t demand that you obey the Word of God. He can encourage, teach, pray and lead by example, but he cannot make you do what you are not willing to do.
Give your pastor a great gift. Grow in your Christian walk!