Category Archives: Centerpoint

Why You Should Dream BIG

4-years ago, as we were preparing to launch Centerpoint, we drew a prayer circle around a BIG dream called Crazy Love Family Day. The dream, although BIG, was simple. In a blue collar community, facing the reality of an economic crisis, we dreamed we could take one BIG day and show our city crazy love through the form of a free carnival. 

Despite the experts recommendations to take our minimal funds and market our new church, we decided we’d rather invest it into Crazy Love Family Day. Honestly, some people thought we were crazy and we often responded to that notion by saying “crazy love.” The reality is we would have probably grown at a more rapid pace as a church if we had invested our money into marketing but we knew that wasn’t what we were supposed to do.

Year 1 drew 500. Year 2 drew 800. Year 3 drew 1200 and last Saturday marked our 4th annual Crazy Love Family Day with over 2,000 people in attendance. This BIG day never happens without BIG prayers, BIG dreams and BIG faith. God is a BIG God and if you trust Him why wouldn’t you dream BIG and watch Him do His thing?

First Church of IKEA

Monday, my wife and I braved the Memorial Day crowds of IKEA to get some much desired furnishing for our recent remodel. In the process of navigating the endless room sets and wall to wall people, I begin to look at IKEA through to eyes of a church planter and pastor asking myself what the church could learn from IKEA. Here’s what I came up with.

  1. Make Kids a Priority: I’m sure my wife and aren’t alone with our lack of a desire to take our kids furniture shopping. In addition to getting bored quickly I’m always worried my 2-year old son could pull down his pants at anytime and pee on something. IKEA seems to be aware of this parental anxiety and provides a massive activity area for kids to enjoy themselves under supervision while their parents shop. It’s right at the front of the store and super attractive! Most kids would get as bored during a sermon as they would furniture shopping but when the church provides an excellent, age appropriate space for kids, everyone wins!
  2. Keep it Clean: IKEA was insanely packed Monday but every area of the building, including the bathrooms, were clean! I saw multiple team members waking around the store sweeping up trash and keeping neat. If a store that regularly accommodates thousands in 12hr. days can keep things clean, a church has no excuse not to do the same. Cleanliness is clearly a priority at IKEA and it should be the same in our churches because it sets a good tone.
  3. Clearly Identify Your Team: Every IKEA team member has a bright yellow shirt. There’s no doubt about who to ask when you need help and this is a huge benefit in such a massive, often congested space.  I’m amazed at how much we miss this in church land and our church is guilty of it as well. It’s not hard to let people know who can help them and it goes a long way in easing any possible anxiety they might experience.
  4. Keep a Complicated Process Simple: IKEA is massive and it’s unlike any other furniture store when it comes to getting your desired product. It’s 2 stories high and features a warehouse of over 30 aisles where you are responsible for pulling your own product. I’m sure this has seemed daunting and comlicated to more than 1 guest but they make it as simple as possible by communicating how it works in 3 easy steps. Computer kiosks and the yellow shirt folks make it simple too. Likewise, the process of getting connected at a church can seem daunting and complicated but simplifying the process will go a long way in helping guests grow and connect.
  5. SMILE: It was busy enough, loud enough and crazy enough at IKEA yesterday to wipe the smile off even the happiest persons face. Despite the conditions, I didn’t see one team member bumming around. Everyone seemed happy to be there and it was amazing how the attitude of the employees seemed to brighten the attitude of the shoppers. Not to dIminish the role of an IKEA employee but they are selling furniture while the church is offering the hope, love and liberation of Jesus! We should smile more than anyone elese on the planet! Period.

 

God in my dinning room table

VanB #3 is on the way and we’re remodeling to get ready. In the spirit of clearing out the old to make room for the new, my wife decided we should have a giant garage sale so we cleared out just about everything we have…literally and put it up for sale. After the yard sale was over we posted some of the larger remaining items on Craigslist. Needless to say, I did not know God would use that post to help us do much more than sell some of our stuff.

Our dinning room table was one of the items we posted and last night, a lady showed up to buy it. We made some small talk, she paid me 50% and said she’d be back later to pick it up and pay the balance. It was on the return trip that our conversation took a turn.

I found out she’d moved across the country and was in the midst of a major transition. I told her our family was also undergoing a transition hence the selling of just about everything in our home.  Somehow the talk transitioned to religion and she told me she was buddhist. I told her I was a pastor. Neither fact seemed to bother either of us. She asked where our church was. I told her it was in a movie theatre. She laughed. I shared our vision. She shared her perceptions. I invited her to come visit. She said she’d like that. As she was leaving she said, I think we just did a lot more than buy and sell a table didn’t we? I nodded and smiled in agreement. I went in the house, shut the door and realized God had used our dinning room table to create a moment only He can create.

Moments like this are all around us but we must be open enough to see them. I sincerely hope my path crosses again with the lady who bought our dinning room table. I’m pretty sure they’re supposed to.

Sex. Marriage. Church.

God created sex and marriage. No matter what you might have heard, neither were created simply for the sake populating the earth. He created sex so we could experience pleasure and He created marriage so we would have a visible reminder on earth of the heavenly love He has for His church. The problem is, our view of sex is distorted and the state of marriage is broken. We’ve taken two wonderful things and messed them up.

I often wonder if the church is more to blame for this than anyone else? God wrote the book on sex and marriage but have we engaged it in an authentic way? The divorce rate within the church is almost the same (50%) as  it is outside the church and nearly the same percentage of people in the church say they are addicted to porn. God gave us the guide but we clearly aren’t following it. I wonder if it’s not being followed because it’s not being taught?

There’s a positive wave in many churches today to refocus on giving a Biblical perspective on the issues of sex and marriage. The Bible is real about these issue and those of us who are spiritually leading others have to be real about these issues as well. These are vital parts of our society and they affect the way we view God’s creation and ultimately, the way view God. Sex and marriage are redeemable but it must start and end with God. His way is the best way.

As we approach this topic yet again at Centerpoint I have emotions that range from excited to apprehensive but my prayer is that hope will reign. Hope for the broken. Hope for the abused. Hope for the lost. God’s love is the only thing that can restore and redeem but people can’t experience what they have not seen and heard. May those of us who lead be willing to engage the hardest issue facing our society knowing that God has the answers.

CV

Sex, Marriage & Fairytales starts Sunday at Centerpoint

It’s All About Who You Know

My dad used to remind me all the time that it’s not always what you know in life but who you know that often matters. Although I’ve seen this to be true in multiple facets of my life nowhere has it been more true than in the world of church planting.

What most people don’t realize is that Centerpoint was initially launched without a true support network in place. We had a lot of people praying for us & we had some people who gave generously to our cause. Believe it or not though, it takes more than prayer & money to plant a church & make it work. At the core of what it takes is a support network filled with people who are ready to help you navigate the trenches of the vision God has called you to fulfill.

For Centerpoint, that support network came from ARC (Association of Related Churches)  & thankfully, God led us to them before I had the chance to mess things up too much. Proverbs 15:22 reminds us that plans often fail because we don’t seek counsel but the support & advice of others brings success. I type this blog as I prepare to depart for ARC’s annual All Access Conference. I am humbled by what they have meant to Centerpoint over the past 2.5 years & I’m being completely honest when I say that we couldn’t be doing what we’re doing, the way we are doing it, without their network of support.

God has called all of us to complete something & even with the knowledge, we must find the support that offers perspective & insight to make it work the way God wants it to work. That support usually comes from others we come know. Life was never meant to be lived alone & even when God stirs the soul of an individual to act, it most often takes a lot of individuals to help make that dream a reality. Learn to value who you know more what you know on the path towards fulfilling your journey. Knowledge can leave you lonely but relationships will sustain you.

Dream Big.

Find Support.

Watch it Grow.

Is the church like Simon Says

We sit, we stand.

We sing, we pray.

We sit again, we give.

We laugh, we cry.

We pray again, we go home.

No matter how different a church service may look, and how we as pastors & creatives might try to spin our unique approach, many of them are made up of similar rituals & elements. These rituals & elements aren’t bad but if we don’t know WHY we do them we can find ourselves following the commands & going through the motions of religion that ends up resembling a game of Simon Says.

I grow more & more convinced that this is one of the biggest reasons people minimize the importance of church in their life. They don’t know WHY we do the things we do & if we’re not careful, religion instead of relationship is ultimately encouraged.

I believe people crave genuine relationships & authentic life change but in order to find it, we must get past the exterior & tap into the WHY behind the WHAT. Why do we sing? Why do we reflect? Why do we serve? Why do we gather? As leaders, it’s easy to take these things for granted but in a world jaded by a list of religious do’s & dont’s we would do well to explore the WHY ourselves & then communicate it with our people. It’s all about getting back to the relationship & WHY is where it starts. 

CV

Centerpoint’s new series Simon Says starts Sunday March 11th. 

It Doesn’t Just Happen!

 

Last night I stood with a crowded room full of people as our worship leader (Josh Strange) & the CP Band kicked-off our first Collide of 2012. Collide is a quarterly worship event at Centerpoint we started last year & it’s had a growing amount of  success in it’s first 3 rounds.

Josh is an incredible worship leader & he’s help develop a talented band behind him. Everyone of these guys are as humble as can be & although they refuse to tout themselves I talk them up all the time because they’re that good. Last night people left saying the same types of things they say every week after the bands done with their set:

Wow that was great! 

Man they’re good!

Unbelievable!

Inevitably someone always says something like: “How did they get so good?” The tendency can be to over spiritualize this answer and although their God given skill & anointing has a lot to do with why they’re good I would argue it’s not not the main reason. These guys are good because of HARD FREAKING WORK! They rehearse 4-5hrs. every week to do a 4-5 song set on Sunday. They’re the first ones in the building & the last ones out. In preparation for last night’s Collide, they were rehearsing until after 1am the night before. That’s how they got so good.

I don’t care what your skill is. I don’t care how anointed you are. If you want to be great at what you do you have to put in the time because greatness doesn’t just happen. I believe God has placed a great deal of  world changers on this earth but unless we put in the time we will never see the full potential of greatness he has for us.

Thoughts to ponder…

CV 

Just Give Up

At the end of 2008 my wife & I were getting ready to have our first child, graduate from college, move back to Chillicothe, OH in the spring & plant the next fastest growing mega church in North America. So I’m slightly exaggerating the last part but you get the point. The world was ours for the taking & we believed Centerpoint was going to blow the doors off of our small southern Ohio town. 

3-years later, as we prepare to end 2011, I realize things didn’t go quite as we expected over the last 36 months. We did have our first child (Aubri), and our second one (Owen), and recently found out we’re expecting our third (TBD). We did graduate from college, we did move back to Chillicothe  and we did plant a church (Centerpoint) but it did not grow quite as rapidly as we expected. I could tell you our growth has been steady but my honest translation of steady in this case would be slow.

More often than not, a good thing takes time to grow but this is not what we want to believe. We are drawn to the exceptions. We love the overnight sensations & the start-ups that defy the statistics. These stories happen but it doesn’t make the churches, start-ups & dreams that don’t go this way less significant. Even now, as Centerpoint has grown & faces another move into the last & biggest theatre in our building, I am reminded of what might have never been if I had just listened to the voices & given up. No life change. No hope. No Crazy Love. No future.

I believe God has placed a dream in each of us whether it be a church, a business a cause or a destination we are drawn to. Whatever it is, when God says go we must go & trust Him with the consequences. Those who truly love us will stick by us through thick & thin. They’ll be there when it’s bad & when it’s good. They’ll be there when we exceed our goals & when we fall below them. A good team is essential to fulfilling a big dream.

As we all look towards 2012 & all the promise it brings, I would like to offer a humble piece of advice: If you don’t want to do something great JUST GIVE UP but if you want to live the dream & follow God’s leading, keep going because persistence & faith will carry you out of the valley & up to the mountain. May your new year be blessed!

CV

Do Something Great

UPDATE: Thanks to your generosity, we exceeded our goal by 30% rasing over $7K!!!!!

At Centerpoint, we have always felt compelled to do things that are bigger than our means. If it’s within our means than we could technically do it alone but if its outside our means, we know God has to show up. Our Christmas Project for 2011 was no exception to this.

The video tells the story for this years project so I hope you’ll watch it. Every year, we challenge everyone in our church to spend 10% less at Christmas so they can give 10% more. That 10% adds up to a lot we can do for others.

If you’re reading this, I’m asking you to consider giving generously & helping us give hope this Christmas season to some awesome people! To do something great it takes a group of people uniting with the same purpose. Regardless of your background or situation, let’s join together & change this world by showing God’s Crazy Love!

GIVE HOPE 

What I Haven’t Learned

A lot of leaders, myself included, like to share what experience has taught us. On the heels of CP’s 2nd birthday, I thought I’d take a different route & share some of the things experience hasn’t yet taught me. Today, you get to see what I’m still struggling with & battling through as a leader. Mask off. Full disclosure. Here’s what I haven’t learned yet: 

  • How to guide the vision without controlling the vision. God called CP to fulfill a very unique vision. He gave me that vision & I carry the weight of being responsible for it. I’m afraid that sometimes, this causes me to control people & situations more than I should. I want to train & equip leaders not followers & that requires guidance not control.
  • How to see everyone through the eyes of Christ. We have a messy church full of messy people. We admit it. We accept it. We love it. I believe everyone is worthy of a second chance & yet I sometimes I feel like I still pick & choose who gets that chance without meaning to do so. Some people are just harder to relate to than others but I never want anyone to sit on the sidelines simply because their different & we couldn’t find a way to connect them. If I see everyone through the eyes of Christ this will not happen.
  • How to balance faith with common sense. In all actuality, faith almost always defies common sense so that would be my first problem. Truth be told, knowing this is not enough some days. I believe there have been times where common sense said NO while faith said GO & I chose to side with reason instead of trust in God. There have been plenty of times I went with faith but I pray daily for that margin to be shortened. For God to do extraordinary things I must have extraordinary faith.
  • How not to let this vision consume my every thought. God has given me passion and for that I am thankful but there are many days when I have a hard time shutting my mind off of CP for a while. I believe this sometimes negatively impacts my ability to be present with family & friends. This vision weaves into every facet of my life & it’s the best worst thing in the world. I’ll be a healthier person when I learn to turn it off on a more consistent basis & be fully present in the moments I find myself in.
  • How not to care about the outward stuff. I do care about numbers. I do care about image. I do care about perception. There are so many things I consume myself with that I really shouldn’t. I justify it but only for my own selfish sake. I want to care about the things God cares about yet I know much of what spins through my head everyday is in direct contrast to this.