Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Free Trip to Kings Dominion

I am real excited about the Free Trip to Kings Dominion servant evangelism project we are undertaking. Yeah, we are giving away a free trip to Kings Dominion theme park to kids ages 5-17 in the neighborhoods surrounding the school we meet at (Lee Hill Elementary School). We are particularly targeting the often neglected areas of our mission field. We just wanted to do something in the community to say thanks to the community for their support and to demonstrate the love of Christ in a simple way.

Here's the details. We are going Friday August 17th. We will leave from the school parking lot at 10 AM and return by 5:45 pm. The trip is open to 5-17 year olds. People will have to call the church office or register online to go. We will need a permission slip and a the covenant of conduct sheet signed. We are looking for people to sponsor a child for $32 and to serve as chaperons. If you would like to do either then shoot me an email.

Monday, July 30, 2007


I just finished up a week's vacation with my family in Myrtle Beach, SC. It was good to get away and good to get back. We had a really good time. The most eventful part of the trip was our three year old Jack jumping backwards off the side of the pool and cracking his chin on the concrete. This required a four hour emergency room visit and four stitches. This is four stitches and a broken leg and Jack just turned three a couple of weeks ago. Lord, help us!

This Thursday I am heading back out to attend the School of Congregational Development at the UM Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas. There is a good group going from our Conference and should be a time of learning and sharing ideas. We are seeking to learn some things to help us come up with a strategy for beginning 250 new faith communities in the next thirty years.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Connection Cards

Churches that are trying to connect with first time guests and have any assimilation plan at all typically use connection cards. At New Season, we call them Guest Registration Cards. I have found there are a couple of schools of thought out there when it comes to connection cards.

The first school of thought is the one I started out in. This view says have some form of a connection card whether that is a tear off on the worship program or a card in the back of a pew or an insert in our worship program. During an announcement or welcome time ask EVERYBODY to fill out a card. The idea is that you are being sensitive to your first time guests by not making them feel like they are the only ones filling out cards. I have found this method gets you a higher rate of return on the cards.
The second school of thought was suggested to me by my coach Jim Griffith. Jim suggests that that you do all of the above but that you don't ask everybody to fill them out but as you welcome first time guests you use the language, "If you are a first time guest with us and would LIKE TO REGISTER YOUR ATTENDANCE with us this morning we invite you to use the tear off in your worship program." The difference here will come in the quality of the card you get back. You will not get as many back but they will be "qualified". What I mean is that these are the people who will in actuality be saying "Hey notice me, send me a letter, give me a call, bring a gift by my house etc." Or, they are are at least open to that. Using this method persons do not feel compelled to fill out a card because the pastor said so. Moreover, the person who has filled out a card using the first method I described may have very well decided in the next three minutes that they are never coming back to your church again for whatever reason.
It seems to me that both these methods can work. What I like about the the second method and why I have chosen to use it at New Season is that allows a guest greater latitude to be anonymous if they so choose, or to be noticed. When people, even persons with no church background, put their address down, they have a reasonable expectation that they will be contacted.

Here is what our card looks like. It is a tear off in the worship program.

Monday, July 16, 2007

What About Angels?

Please find below the podcast for the fourth message "What About Angels" in the message series "Heaven Only Knows" at New Season Church.

To listen now, click on the podcast icon below.

Everywhere you turn there are popular books movies and TV shows about heaven. But do they really answer the important questions? Is Heaven a real place? What will it be like? And, what does it take to get there? Heaven is mysterious, but instead of wondering or worrying about what happens after this life, come explore some answers with us at New Season Church this week. All are welcome (no halos required)!

Subscribe to this podcast via Apple iTunes by following this link.

Get Apple iTunes for PC or Mac here.

Friday, July 13, 2007


Mark Batterson is the lead pastor, founder and guru of National Community Church in Washington D.C. Mark is one of the sharpest people I have read and you can glean from him yourself from his blog here.

As I have read Mark for a while now he always seems to have this knack for coming up with pithy little sayings that hit the mark (no pun intended). In a recent post here about churches using theaters as meeting places and about the need to be kingdom minded instead of fiefdom minded Mark points out: "I've learned that there are two very different approaches to ministry: my kingdom come and thy kingdom come." That sums it up well- "my kingdom come versus thy kingdom come."

That, friends is a Battersonism. I do not know if Mark makes these up himself or steals them from others but they are great sayings that help define a missional mindset. Some other Battersonisms I remember off the top of my head include:

Criticize by creating.
Everything (they do at NCC) is an experiment.
Irrelevance = irreverence.
There are ways of doing church that have not even been dreamed up yet.

And many more I am sure!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

8 Years

8 years is the number of years Diana and I have been married. We have known each other for 13. She spent quite a bit of time relentlessly pursuing me:) We celebrated our anniversary July 10th with a special dinner at Brocks in downtown Fredericksburg- we had a gift certificate. No, I am not cheap I did get her a pregnancy massage at Ambiance Day Spa. Diana is a beautiful, intelligent, compassionate, and patient person. I am blessed to have her as my wife and my ministry partner.

I have noticed that every church planter has the best wife in the world. That is because we all do. Not only does it take a special woman to be pastor's wife it takes an extra special woman to be a planter's wife (spouse). It is so important to make sure the spouse is on board when planting because of the stress of the situation, the chaos, and the uncertainty. It is not for everybody. When Diana and I came to Massaponax she was getting ready to start her own orthodontic practice (including building her own building), we had just bought our first home, we were getting ready to have Jack, and yeah we were starting a church.

It takes a committed and virtuous woman to be part of all this. I am glad I am married to one!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Smoking Section

Shawn Lovejoy had a great post on Sunday about the "Lost Parties" they are doing at Mountain Lake Church. You can read it here. This is one example of what has been called "hanging out in the smoking section." That is just a way of saying hanging out with people most followers of Christ would never hang out with- you know "those people" who sit in the smoking section. It seems to me as Shawn rightfully points out in this post that Jesus hung out in the smoking section (with sinners, tax collectors and prostitutes). I think he said something about coming not for the well but for the sick.

When I was seeking to find out all I could about the Massaponax and Greater Fredericksburg community when I first got on the ground to plant New Season Church one of my weekly stops was on Fridays at 3:30 p.m. to the bar at Pancho Villa Mexican restaurant for an O'Douls of course:). This was my sitting in the smoking section so to speak to get me out of my "Christian" bubble (surrounded by people who talk, think and act like me ((no I don't have fish on my car by the way))). There I was able to hear the stories of people who were just living and often struggling with life. I was able to engage a segment of the mission field I could not engage in meeting with school principals, civic and community leaders, and other church leaders.

The question for all followers of Christ is where will you sit in the "smoking section?" The studies say after becoming a follower of Christ you lose your non-Christian friends in two years. Wow!! You know mama said not to hang out with people who sat in the smoking section but Jesus said to indeed hang out and love them.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Servant Evangelism Idea- Flag Give Away

Each year there is a short and sweet July 4th parade in downtown Fredericksburg early in the morning on July 4th. For the past two years we have gathered early before the parade to hand out free 4" X 6" American flags to people on the parade route. Everybody wants a flag at a parade right! This is an easy and fun event and the people who give away the flags really enjoy sharing God's love in a practical way.

All you have to do is search the Internet enough ahead of time to find the best price on flags. Once your flags come in put a label on them. We used regular address labels that we stick on the stick of the flag that say, "God Bless America- from your Friends at New Season Church www.NewSeasonUMC.org." We then put a bunch of flags in plastic grocery bags, meet at a central location and hand out the flags.

Friday, July 06, 2007

New Season Bloggers

Becky and Brad Kocher have a family blog they have set up to tell about their life and most of all about their precious little guy Aidan. He is a cute kid and you gotta love the red hair! Check out the Kocher's Blog Here.

BTW, did you know Brad coaches baseball and is a very successful baseball coach?
Check out the awards he has won...

(From Becky)
Brad coached another successful season of Spotsy High baseball and was the recipient of 4 prestigious awards. He won:
--High School Coach of the Year (voted on by his peers at Spotsy High)
--District Coach of the Year (voted on by the other district coaches)
--Regional Coach of the Year (voted on by the other region coaches)
--Free Lance Star Coach of the Year (voted on by FLS staff based on stats, expectations, etc...)

Way to go Brad!!

Our Country Tis of Thee

This past week I was reminded of what a great country we live in. For all of our shortcomings and foibles we remain the greatest country in the world and the greatest country of civilization.

In some circles such a statement has become taboo because it would be viewed as ethno-centric or nationalistic. However, unlike the "blame America first" crowd which blames the U.S.A. for all the ills of the world, I can make such a statement because my priorities are straight. I am first a follower of Christ- then a proud American. It is important not to confuse the two.

C.S. Lewis perhaps put it best in his book Four Loves...
"We all know now that [the love of one's country] becomes a demon when it becomes a god."

Love of country can become a demon if we set it up as an idol. When we get God first though, there is nothing wrong under the sun with loving one's country.

Third Great Awakening

Many, including me, are praying for a Third Great Awakening in our world. This will be different than the previous Great Awakenings in the history of America as it will be a global awakening.

What will also be different is that it will not be primarily in the West. I have come to believe the next Awakening will be an Eastern and Southern event. It will come forth out of places like China where faith is burning in small groups where Christians are persecuted. Or, how about the great work occurring in the Philippines. It will come from places like Africa where the church is growing like in the Book of Acts. Thank God for these movements of Christ in our world.

We have witnessed, most among the oldline churches, many people afraid of this movement of God because in typical modernist fashion it has been turned into a dualistic debate between liberals and conservatives (the flourishing churches in other parts of the world are typically more conservative and thus kept out of denominational structure and leadership by the typically more liberal oldline leadership in the West for fear that these developing churches might threaten protected theological positions). We see this in both the UMC and the Episcopal Church.

We do well to recognize that our unity comes in the statement that "Jesus is Lord" and not through any named theological camp be it liberal or conservative.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Heaven Only Knows

Please find below the first two podcasts for the message series "Heaven Only Knows" at New Season Church.

To listen now, click on the podcast icon below.

What is Heaven Like?

Do All Roads Lead to Heaven?

Everywhere you turn there are popular books movies and TV shows about heaven. But do they really answer the important questions? Is Heaven a real place? What will it be like? And, what does it take to get there? Heaven is mysterious, but instead of wondering or worrying about what happens after this life, come explore some answers with us at New Season Church this week. All are welcome (no halos required)!

Subscribe to this podcast via Apple iTunes by following this link.

Get Apple iTunes for PC or Mac here.