September 2, 2009
Sorry I’ve disappeared for the past several days (weeks from this blog). I’ve been trying to recover. I had no idea this would be so draining… but, well worth it! We finally have a church in Fort Walton Beach where we can invite our friends!
This past Sunday night we had the launch service for Beachside. I say this to brag on the incredible team of people that put this together- It was amazing! I know it’s not all about the numbers, but there were approximately 280 people in attendance including about 60 kids. All that in spite of the heavy rains that lasted up until just before the service started. Now, the real test will be to see who returns. Our goal has never been just to start a church. We want to build and sustain a successful church that is leading people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.
I want to mention a couple of things that I think have been really significant in allowing us to get this far. I want to say this because I think these are the same things we must do to move forward.
First, we really do have an amazing group of people on our launch team. They just get it. Early on our giving was low, our buy-in seemed low, and I think a good number of people really thought someone was creating a church for them- a place where they could attend. One of the best decisions we made was to put off our launch service (it’s been almost a year and a half now since we first started small groups). I think our team really solidified and got serious when we all realized that it didn’t make sense to start something we couldn’t sustain. I think that’s when a large part of our team realized that it takes sacrificial financial giving, a lot of time and hard work, and a lot of investment in our friends who don’t go to church for us to be successful. Our launch team now gets it. You guys ROCK!!! This has never been more evident than while watching them these past few weeks. There were a lot of late nights but we made it. And, you should have seen these guys at the launch service Sunday. They were in their element. Their enthusiasm was contagious, and they were rockin.
Second, the partnership we have with North Point Community Church has been amazing. I’ve not only never started a church, but I’ve never been a part of a church that was even thinking the way we wanted to think. The investment in training from NPCC has been incredible. They have challenged us to raise our expectations and have given us tools to make that tangible and practical. The Campus Expansion team is unbelievable. However, the network of partner churches is equally unreal. I’ve visited over half the existing partner churches and have had conversations with numerous staff members from these and the other partners. We’ve sent our entire launch team to Wiregrass, the closest partner to us, and they sent a team down for our launch.
Now, check this out- the 10 or so that came down from Wiregrass all had black notebooks with them. They jotted down everything they saw then left me with this priceless stack of notes on things we can improve on. That doesn’t take anything away from the launch. It just helps us get better. It is so easy to make excuses or to get so caught up in how good things are to not recognize the need to keep working on it. It’s awesome to be constantly challenged to improve AND have practical resources to be able to improve. That’s what creates championship football teams, out of the ordinary businesses, AND amazing churches. We are so blessed!
So, let me say a huge THANK YOU to…
Everyone who attended our launch service and celebrated with us,
Everyone who has given financially to the point where you have had to sacrifice something in your lifestyle,
Everyone who has taken evenings, weekends, vacation days, and other times away to build, paint, lead, create, drive, visit, learn, (this could go on for a while…)
Everyone who has invested in others and invited them to attend,
Everyone who has invested in us from the NPCC world, other churches, friends, family, etc….
Everyone at the Boys and Girls Club of the Emerald Coast who have provided an amazing facility for us,
Now, I get so excited I almost can’t stand it when I think that we get to do this again in 2 weeks! For the record, we’ll be meeting the 2nd and 4th Sunday nights of each month throughout the fall. Our goal is to move to every week and to Sunday mornings in the near future.
I’m looking forward to all of us being the Church together.