The answer is YES! And, honestly, the answer is no!
How about that answer!?! But, that’s exactly how I feel. Of course I can’t be excited 24/7…100% of the time.
But, I try. I really do!
Why do I try? Because I REALLY DO LOVE MY CHURCH! I’m not just blowing smoke when I say that! I’m not just saying that because I’m the church planter and the pastor.
You have to remember something about me…I love the local church and I really do believe it’s the HOPE OF THE WORLD! I’ve served/worked at churches for 20 years. My dad was my youth pastor. I grew up watching my parents do ministry. I’ve served at Churches of all shapes and sizes (Church Plant to 25,000). Churches with tremendous influence. Churches with ‘famous’ pastors. Churches with amazing people. Churches with not so great people. Churches with amazing servants. Churches that were hung up on tradition. Churches that embraced change. Churches that desperately cared for the lost. Churches that helped the needy.
Yeah, I’ve experienced it all! It hasn’t all been easy, but it’s been an amazing journey. And, now I have the great privilege to lead and be a part of Thrive Church.
So, yes, I am excited about what God is doing at Thrive Church.
How could I not be excited when I have a front row view to God changing lives?
To meet people who said they would never be a part of a Church and then to see God wreck their hearts! To see God provide in amazing ways. To see fully devoted followers of Jesus sacrifice so others could be introduced to Jesus. To meet so many amazing people! To watch kids and students be taught about Jesus. To see an inter-generational church be built.
Yeah, it’s awesome.
Is my excitement level a Mach 10–all the time? Honestly, No. I’m human. I get tired. I get worn down. Satan attacks. Everything isn’t perfect all the time. I get discouraged. It’s hard leading a church, but I love it!
I’m energized by it. I love the challenges. I love the hills to climb.
So, YES, I am EXCITED! I am excited about what God has already done. I am excited about the future. I am excited that I get to be a part of what He is doing.
I really do love my church.
2014 was my first full year of leading Thrive Church and it was AWESOME!
Today, Thrive Church is 72 weeks old and I have learned a ton! Oh my stinking goodness, that is the understatement of the year! I’ve served and worked at Churches for almost 20 years, but 2014 was my first year of leading a Church and it was unlike anything I’ve ever experience. It had many similarities, but it was also crazy different.
In 1995, I was hired by Covenant Community Church to be their youth pastor. In December, it will be 20 years since I first started this calling as a pastor! It is still crazy to me that they hired a newly minted 20 year old with basically no experience. But, I did have a whole lot of passion! A lot has happened since then and I’ve served at churches small and large, but, none of that compared to leading a new church. So, I thought I would put together some of my thoughts, so here goes.
People that tell me they don’t have time to pray or that prayer doesn’t work are straight up crazy! Sit down with me at lunch and I will give you a list of more than 100 answered prayers! For instance, as I type this blog post, I am in an office that I prayed for and God provided. I am typing on a computer than God provided.
I’ve seen people trust in Jesus and get baptized who told me they would never step into my church.
Holy Cow!! Thrive officially, kind of in an off the books kind of way started in December of 2012. That’s when 4 couples sat around a table and talked, dreamed and prayed about starting a new and different kind of church.
We started meeting as a small group in Jan. of 2013 and then met monthly in 2013 all the way to our launch date of October 6th! It honestly seems like yesterday that we sat around that dining room table. Time goes by quick.
I know, how could it be hard when pastors only work 1 day a week? Hah, Hah, Hah! I have always prided myself on how hard I worked. I have never been the 40 hour a week pastor. My motto has always been…let’s do whatever it takes.
But, planting and leading a church has been a different level of hard. For years, I always had opinions on what my pastor should or shouldn’t be doing. Now, after sitting in the pastors seat for 72 weeks, I have a completely different view.
Before I move on from this, maybe you’re thinking…‘what’s so hard about leading a church’? Well, here are a few of my thoughts:
Those are just a few areas that are hard.
Ok, I know this sounds a tad bit negative, but it shouldn’t come as a shock, right? I mean, everyone has been hurt by someone? Here’s what I know, to start a church takes a lot of hard work, emotional energy, faith and you have to keep moving forward in the midst of some tough negativity.
I know what you’re thinking! Why on earth would anyone be negative about pastors, churches or church planting? Isn’t the local church the hope of the world? Isn’t our goal to get as many people into a relationship with Jesus as possible? What could be negative about that?
Well, I’ve had some really awful things said about me. Other christians have criticized my church. People that I’ve invested into have left my church and didn’t even tell me why or respond to my messages when I’ve asked. That hurts.
But, at the end of the day, that’s what people do to each other. I know I have hurt people and it breaks my heart and I try everyday to not make the mistakes that would cause that hurt again.
Ok, these are a few of my thoughts on my experience of leading Thrive Church for our first full year. My next post will include 4 more!!
It’s no secret…
I have loved my church since it was an idea in my journal. I have loved it since it was only 8 people sitting around a dining room table. I have loved it when we had nothing…no equipment, no trailers, no computers, no office, no nothing. Just a crazy-passionate-wildly-huge dream to reach people who have given up on God and church.
And, I have loved every step of this journey. Don’t get me wrong, its been the toughest journey of my life. Feels like all up hill. Ups and downs. Crazy highs, crazy lows. Huge joy and tremendous pain. Tons of healing and tons of pain.
But, in the midst of all of that…
Here are 4 reasons why I love my church…
1. Our heart to care for and reach people who have given up on God and Church.
That’s right, we set out to start and lead a different kind of church. We didn’t want to be a churchy church, with church traditions and churchy culture. We wanted to be different. We wanted to be the kind of environment that people who have said that they would never step into a church again, would love it.
2. Our heart for prayer!
We have seen and experienced so many answered prayers over the last 2 years! It’s just overwhelming! Marriages healed. Jobs found. Finances provided. Hope and Joy and Peace brought into relationships.
God has just provided over and over and over again!
3. Our heart to welcome, accept and love ANYONE!
We strive really hard to keep the judgmental eyes put away. Actually, our goal is that everyone who comes to Thrive on a Sunday would be so welcomed and so accepted, that they couldn’t wait to come back.
4. Our church is growing.
Yes, I care a ton that we are growing! I believe a healthy church should grow. And, it is! It honestly feels like a blink of the eye and Thrive was just a handful of people. Now, more than 400 people call Thrive their church home! But, it’s just crazy and humbling that we continue to grow. For some reason, people keep telling their friends and family.
I just love my church. I love that I have the honor and privilege to be Thrive’s pastor and I love and I believe that our best days are ahead of us!
You are invited to come be apart of Thrive Church this morning!
Yes, I know…it’s early! Yes, I know…you have given up on ‘church’. Yes, I know…you’ve got more excuses.
But and it’s a Big BUT…give in to those excuses today and head to Thrive this morning!
Here’s the thing though, we don’t want you to just ATTEND. We don’t believe you ATTEND a Church.
I know people say that a lot…well…’I attend so and so church’. Nah! What fun is that?
You’re invited to come and be A PART of Thrive Church!
Isn’t attending something you do for a mandatory work training? Or something you do for school, right?
Be A PART of a family. Yes, we are a family. A family that takes care of each other, welcomes each other, prays for each other and looks out for each other.
Be A PART of a something SUPER FUN. Yes, are a fun church. We don’t hide that. You won’t find an old stuffy environment at Thrive Church. We laugh. We clap. We cheer. We are excited!
Be A PART of changing lives. Thrive Church exists to help people find and follow Jesus. That’s it. We’re all about Jesus! And, when you’re all about Jesus, soon you will experience amazing life change! So, if you’re at a point in your life and things need to change, come and be apart. If you have been sensing for a while you need a church family, come and be apart. If you’re looking to be apart of something bigger than you, come and be apart.
We meet at Celebration Cinema at either 9 or 1015! I recommend arriving about 15 minutes early! Hang out, grab some coffee and then get your kids all checked into to Thrive kids. Then, head to theater one and be part!
Today’s the day! Today is the day you’ve decided to check out Thrive Church!
You’ve heard of Thrive Church. You have some friends that talk about it. They share stuff on facebook. You’ve even clicked on some of those links.
And, wouldn’t you know it, you really enjoyed the stuff you clicked on. You’ve thought of checking it out. But, you’ve come up with excuses.
Well, today you’re ready. So, let me give you a heads up on what you’ll experience at Thrive.
On top of all that, you will experience an extremely welcoming environment and a place where you’re wanted.
So, we can’t wait to meet you! Don’t forget, we meet at Celebration Cinema in Mt Pleasant at either 9 or 1015. Don’t forget, just today, be about 30 minutes early so you don’t miss out on the tailgate party!!
Thrive Church is 69 weeks old! Our mission is simple and clear, we exist to help people find and follow Jesus. One of our hopes is that people leave an experience at Thrive and know exactly what their next steps are to become a follower of Jesus. And, one of the things we decided early on is that we will do anything short of sin to reach people far from Jesus.
We desperately want to reach people who have given up on church, are done with Church and have walked away from God. Honestly, we’re a church for people who don’t like church. And, we’re trying to be a different kind of church. Actually, if I had to do an informal survey, there are primary types of people at Thrive. People who are brand new to church. People who have been burned by a church in the past. People who have been burned by life.
We want to be a place where those types of people can find rest, peace, hope and be pointed to Jesus. And, in a way that doesn’t come across pushy, in your face, looking down on them or give the exclusivity vibe.
5-6 times a year, we host-plan-prepare and pull out all the stops in order to reach new people. Why only 5-6 times? Because of the natural momentum those days can bring. Days like…
Christmas, Easter, Mothers Day, Fathers Day (Dad Fest), Superbowl Sunday and our Church Anniversary.
On each of these days, we have an events team that prays-plans-prepares-dreams and hosts some great things at Thrive! Honestly, it’s a lot of work. On top of the already huge team it takes to pull off our Sunday morning experience. So, this is both hard, but extremely worth it!
Why do we do this? Because I believe to my core that if you can create a nonjudgmental, crazy welcoming environment that is filled with fun and normal everyday experiences, that environment can create an openness in people that they normally would never step into.
And, since they took the step, you can share the Gospel with them. Since this Sunday is Superbowl Sunday. It was the perfect opportunity to attempt an indoor tailgate party. So, we are giving it a shot. I don’t know if it will work. But, we’re going to try.
It all happens quick, so if people are late to Church, they will miss it all. But, we’ll see if it works.
We do all of this to create an environment where people will feel welcomed, accepted and loved. And then, we present the Gospel in the clearest way possible.