Monday, August 27, 2007

One Year Announcement from This Weekend

The following is the announcement made following a video - year in review - of our first year in our new building during worship this past weekend. I hope to post the video with blogger's new video add-on.

It’s been one year. It’s been one awesome year for the people of Charter Oak Church. It was one year ago this weekend that we moved into our current building. But you know what? It has never been about the building, it has always been about the people. What you just witnessed is a very small snap shot of our year in review. You caught glimpses of lives who have been touched by the love of Jesus. The words that Bishop Bickerton spoke a year ago continue to ring in our ears – people matter to God.

In the video you saw people of all ages and in all stations of life. We are in the people business – pointing people back to a relationship with God through Jesus. That is what drives our decision making process around here. It is why God choose to put the people of Charter Oak Church on this hillside for such a time as this.

The bishop was also correct – we have not arrived. A year ago we took our first steps into this building. We have grown a lot – both spiritually and numerically. And now we are beginning to take our next steps. That’s what we said would be our focus in 2007 – taking our next steps in our growing relationship with Jesus. No matter who you are there is a next step for you as you seek to become more like Jesus.

When we began the process in 1996 of listening to God’s vision for the future of Charter Oak Church, we knew that the fulfillment of that vision would take many building phases. We are ready for our next step at Charter Oak Church. I am here today to announce to you that we are putting into motion phase two of our multi-phase building project.

We have nearly ten acres of land that God has providentially placed under our stewardship.

As we narrow our focus on phase one, you can see our current building. On the upper level we have the Christian Life Center, Administrative Wing, Frye Chapel, the Rush Room for students, and a variety of classrooms. On the lower level we have many classrooms for children’s ministry. Guess what? We are running out of space. We have more and more children and youth wanting to know about the love of Jesus. They need a place to learn. We have adults who are finding their way back to God and need a place to grow. We have engaged couples seeking a special place for their wedding. We have families who want their love one memorialized in a larger traditional space.

Because of the prompting of the Holy Spirit and the realization of the demands on our current building, we are moving forward with phase two.

Phase two will complete the two side wings that face Frye Farm Road. The east side wing on the upper level will accomplish two purposes – a larger chapel and a larger connecting area. The east side wing on the lower level will bring more children’s classroom space. The west side wing will expand the Administrative Wing with more office space.

The completion of these two wings is absolutely critical because of the design of the Worship Center.

Phase three will complete the Worship Center.

Will there be a phase 4 or phase 5 or beyond? The bishop said that he hopes so. What the leadership of Charter Oak Church commits to you is that we will seek the face of God and will do our very best to be obedient to His will.

Are you ready for year two? We are. We are also ready to start the process of making phase two a reality. On July 17th the District Superintendent and Charge Conference approved our new building team and have set their course to begin the next step in our journey toward the fulfillment of all that God wants to do in and through each of us at Charter Oak Church.

Year one was awesome…the best is yet to come.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Soccer Begins Today

I'm in the office early this morning to get a few things done because soccer practice begins this morning from 7:30am-11:00am. This week of practice before school kicks off is an intense time of training. I love the promise of a new season with new players. At last count we had 25 players with a few others who may join us. It will be a very big team. I have an awesome coach helping me - Rob Reed. He's a great friend and coach.

Coaching gives me an opportunity to work on my ability to bring the best out of people. Every player is different. I should never treat every player the same. Some need more coaching, some need to have more encouragement, some need to be inspired. Each one is different, just like at Charter Oak Church. There is no way I can treat everyone the same. Coaching soccer helps remind me of the importance of how I treat each person.

One of my favorite authors is Patrick Lencioni. He has a new book that was released this past weekend. The reason I bring him up now is because he is also a soccer coach. Here are a couple of posts that he has on his website about his coaching. It is really good stuff.

Let's go Latrobe!

Home Again

Thanks for the prayers for my trip home. I was able to bump up to first class and was able to get enough sleep to make at least some sense when I preached on Saturday night. I don't know how anyone can take the red-eye on a regular basis. But it is sure is good to be home.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Flying Home

It's about 6:30am here. I am packing up my suitcase and stuff to come home today or tomorrow, however you want to think about it. You see after a full day of the conference I am flying home on the red-eye flight. I leave LAX at 11:00pm west coast time and arrive in Pittsburgh at 9:00am east coast time (after changing planes in Atlanta). I am doing this so I can be home in time to begin my new series on character.

So I am posting this request now, will you pray for me? I am hoping to be able to move up to first class so I can sleep on the plane or at least sit in the emergency exit aisle. I want to be completely energized and focused as I stand before God and the people of Charter Oak Church this weekend. So I am asking you to surround me in prayer over the next 24+ hours.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Thoughts on the Saddleback Church Campus

I think that one of my biggest surprises this week has been the Saddleback Church campus. The Worship Center is totally multi-purpose. The chairs are not comfortable. They are the plastic kind that stack out of the way very easily. There is carpet that is just laid out on top of a poured concrete floor that can be removed if needed. The sound and lights are top notch, but the building itself is not all that impressive.

They have a ton of classrooms that are all modular. It looks like they just throw them up whenever they need more space. There are a couple of large tents. Now when I write tents, these things seat about 1,000 people, they have a/c and heat, they have a stage, sound system, and lights. The largest one is used by the student ministry.

They are currently building a brand new student ministry building. None of the buildings are connected. Each one has its focus. There is an incredible three story children's ministry building. Each floor has a large group worship/teaching room for different age groups - 1st floor - first and second grades, 2nd floor - third and four grades, and 3rd floor - fifth and sixth grades.

There is also an administrative building that I was told was the original worship space that has been converted to offices. I haven't been in that building. There is also a nursery building dedicated to very small children and babies.

The grounds are extremely incredible. There is a man made creek that runs along the main side walk to the worship center that is fed by a waterfall that runs between the double set of stairs that leads up to the worship center. Did they have to build this? No, but they have created an outside environment that draws people to stay and building relationships with people. There are three different baptismal pools that are beautifully designed. There are paths that are carved out of the landscape for people to walk along.

I was very surprised how far you have to walk to get from the parking lot to the worship center and other buildings. The administrative building is almost a mile from the worship center. This place is huge and they are building more with plans for more. It is obvious that the buildings that they build that they label permanent is done at the highest level of creativity and excellence. The buildings that are not permanent are cheap and serve the purpose for that time.

There is a definite strategic plan for what they are building and when they will do it. It helps them to keep their eyes focused on the main thing. The campus serves the work of making disciples of Jesus. The point isn't the campus, it's Jesus. Good, good stuff.

Celebrate Recovery - Day 2 Overview

The Celebrate Recovery Summit continues in beautiful southern California. I don't think I have actually seen a cloud the whole time I have been here. It is hot, but beautiful.

Today we heard a little bit about the youth and children's version of Celebrate Recovery - Life Hurts -G.O.D. H.E.A.L.S. Of course it is another acrostic, but if it works, I guess Saddleback believes you keep using it. This looks like an incredible ministry opportunity.

Then we heard from John Townsend - the guy who wrote the Boundaries books. He talked about hope and moving from defensive hope to genuine hope. Having genuine hope is one of the greatest aspect for healing in our lives. Great communicator.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Celebrate Recovery - Day 1 Overview

Celebrate Recovery Summit kicked off with some great worship and the testimony of the pastor of Celebrate Recovery at Saddleback Community Church. Henry Cloud spoke at the first session. This guy is an incredible communicator. After lunch, Rick Warren showed up "unexpectedly" and spoke for over an hour. Rick was so transparent about his own journey of recovery. I never expected him to be so open and truthful. It was very inspiring.

Right now I am sitting in a brand new component of Celebrate Recovery - Celebrating Pastors in Recovery. Holy cow!! Pastors actually getting together to work on their hurts, habits, and hangups! Dang! The possibility of actually doing this at Charter Oak Church for the pastors of our region gives me goose bumps.

I'm going to stop now and actually listen. During our next break I will try to blog more fully on the first three sessions.

One final word, the Saddleback Campus is beyond anything I could have imagined. More later...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Next Sermon Series

I am starting a new series on character this weekend. As followers of Jesus our character matters. The things we say and the things we do will either attract people to a relationship with God through Jesus or repel them.

There are caricatures of the Charter Oak Church staff hanging throughout our building. We will have an artist here throughout the weekend drawing caricatures of people from our congregation. This looks to be a very fun learning time for all of us. I hope that you will find a way to carve out some time at the end of your summer to be in worship throughout this three week series.

My Wife Is Always Right

Last night I posted a picture of an airplane crash landing at LAX because I thought I was flying on that carrier. Kelli saw it and asked if I was really flying Jet Blue. I thought I was, but she didn't. I looked it up, and I'm not. I still like the picture, but I am flying Air Tran. Oh well.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Leaving for Los Angles

I leave tomorrow for Los Angles. This is a picture of the plane I will be taking. Do you remember all of the video footage that was shown when this plane "safely" landed at LAX a few months ago? That's my flight!

I am going with a group of eight leaders from Charter Oak Church to Saddleback Community Church for the Celebrate Recovery Conference.

I have never been to LA. I hope to rub elbows with members of the LA Galaxy soccer team, especially David Beckham. I'm sure he will make some time for me.

Soccer Camp

A week of soccer camp! (I am on the far left, fourth one in - no hair.)

Part of the things I do in order to be faithful to God's call on my life is to develop as many relationships with people in this region as I can.

The number one way I do that is through coaching soccer. God has opened some incredible doors for me to meet people. I don't ever want to be one of those leaders who stays in his office and never really connects with anyone outside the walls of the church.

What are you doing to meet people in this region and develop relationships with them, so that when God prompts you by the power of the Holy Spirit, you can have a spiritual conversation with them? For me, it's about loving people right where they are, not being a preacher, but a follower of Jesus.


I am so blessed to be at a church that I am able to take two weeks of vacation. Man, did I need it. Kelli and I dropped off the kids at her parents house and headed for Berkeley Springs, WV. We stayed at the Highlawn Inn. All I can say to all of you husbands out there - find a way for you and your spouse to get away for a few days. It was fantastic. We went horseback ridding, hiking, walking through the town, we drank from the springs, we went into nearly every little shop in town, and we ate like there was no tomorrow!

There is a reason why God gave us the gift of the Sabbath.

Book #15 - God's Gravity: The Upside Down Life of Selfless Faith

While on vacation I read Craig Borlase's new book God's Gravity: The Upside-Down Life of Selfless Faith. This was a great book. I was challenged on the size of footprint that I am making in my everyday, ordinary life and what I can do to make that footprint much smaller. I think most followers of Jesus don't even have this kind of mindset on their radar screen.

One of the things I really liked about this book was that Craig didn't just call people a bunch of jerks for the way they live. He gives the evidence and then he actually partners with the reader to help the reader to be a part of the solution and not just the problem. Good stuff.

I am trying to read and listen to podcasts as much as I can on what it means to be "green." The more I learn, the more I am feeling compelled to live differently and to lead the staff and people of Charter Oak Church to live in such a way that it leaves a smaller footprint. It has to start with me and my family first. Kelli is way, way ahead of me on this. She was a Greenpeace supporter long before it was cool.

I've Dropped Off the Face of the Earth

The title aptly describes how I feel in the world of communication right now. Since I finished my sermon series on prayer, I have gone under the radar. My good friend Greg sent me an email and so inspired me to get back to my blog. So I will try to put together a series of posts on what has been happening in my life lately and what is coming up.