God at Work

29 04 2013
Photo @ Grace Community Church // Kenwood Campus. Photo by Lynse Michael Photography // lynsemichaelphotography.com

Photo @ Grace Community Church // Kenwood Campus. Photo by Lynse Michael Photography // lynsemichaelphotography.com

I love my church family.

I’ve been to so many concerts and events where the entertainer gets on stage and says “Yeah, Nashville! This is the best city on our tour!!!” And inevitably, the crowd goes wild. Now, I’m no entertainer, and I don’t stand in front of thousands of people every day, but I have said that I believe we have THE BEST CHURCH family! And every Sunday is further proof for me that God has blessed us with an incredible church family.

And I believe the proof is that God is at work in Unmistakable ways through Grace Community Church! Here is how:

1. Commitment Sunday – Yesterday, we finished our series “Unmistakable” where we have been praying for God to do things that can’t be explained apart from Him. Yesterday was commitment Sunday at the Kenwood Campus, and in our worship gathering we saw tons of people in our fellowship take their next step saying that their commitment to Jesus would shape all other commitments in their life. I am working my way through a HUGE stack of commitment cards where families are committing to Jesus in incredible ways through community, serving, inviting, and financially investing.

2. Praying for God to do Unmistakable things – On our commitment card that people and families did yesterday at the Kenwood campus, we had a section where they could include what they are praying for. So many folks are praying for their co-workers/friends/family to hear the truth of the Gospel and be changed by God’s grace and mercy. So many are praying that God will use their life to tell the story of Jesus. So many are praying for themselves, that God would help them lead as parents, as husbands and wives, and as leaders in the community in such a way that shouts the Gospel through their life.

3. Inviting others – One of the options on our commitment card said “I commit to inviting ______ of my friends, family and/or people in the community.” I cannot tell you how excited I was when I read through the commitment to invite friends, family and folks in the community. So many people are hurting, and surveys reveal that people typically show up to a church because someone has invited them. And the GREAT thing about our church family is that they are excited to connect people far from God to a local church!

Acts 5:38-39 says  “If they are planning and doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown. But if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God!”

I can honestly say that I absolutely love my church family, and I love seeing God at work in their lives in Unmistakable ways as individuals and I can’t wait to see how God continues to grow His church, and grow his followers to make Him famous in our city.



What’s next for the Kenwood campus of Grace Community Church?

25 10 2012

Two weeks ago, our pastor here at Grace Community Church, Chad Rowland announced the exciting news that the Rossview campus will be building a facility for their campus around the Rossview area of Clarksville. That same Sunday, I had the opportunity to share my heart and my vision for the Kenwood campus, and where I believe God is leading us in the future. If you missed my sermon that Sunday, you can listen to it here.

From starting in the living room of one of our founding pastors, we have gone from a living room to a coffee house. From a coffee house to a small catholic school, and from a small catholic school to Rossview High School. And now, to a Multi-Site strategy in clarksville by launching a North Clarksville campus at Kenwood High School.

And God has opened a great opportunity for the Rossview campus to build a facility.

Which naturally asks the question, “If the Rossview campus is building a facility, what does that mean for the Kenwood campus?”

Here’s what that means…the Kenwood campus of Grace Community Church will continue to do the very thing that brought us to North Clarksville in the beginning. And we will continue to do what we have done for the past year and a half in North Clarksville.

We as a church, went to a multi-site strategy, launching our first ever multi-site venue in North Clarksville because there are 70,000 people live within a 5 mile radius of KHS. And 90% of them don’t go to church.

Do the math – That’s 63,000 people who don’t have a church home. 63,000 people who don’t hear the hope, peace, security, identity, purpose that Jesus offers…

And these stats don’t change because 14 miles from here, the Rossview campus is launching a building campaign to build a facility.

It doesn’t change our strategy:

Grace Community Church is a multi-site church that is strategically planted in areas to maximize the influence and opportunity to bring the life changing message of Jesus to people.

We will continue to be ONE church in multiple locations. And if I can be honest with you, I hope that one day, we as the Kenwood campus can outgrow the venue at Kenwood High School. I hope that in the near future we can grow to where we have two services on a Sunday morning, so that those of you who volunteer can serve and be served on a Sunday morning at the Kenwood Campus.

We will still be a hybrid of live messages here and video messages streamed from another venue. And here’s why…we are one church, headed in one direction, with one calling from God, with one unifying DNA, with one charge in multiple venues with multiple pastors and teachers. And we believe that church is more than just a sermon. It’s more about people and relationships! And if we as a church start to think that video screens and video messages are going to stop God’s annointing on a pastor and God’s spirit working through the teaching of His Word, our God is WAY TOO SMALL. And it’s not the God I know in Scripture.

God is at work in HUGE ways in the life of the Kenwood campus. In just a year and a half…

1. We are running over 430 people on Sunday mornings. On average, a multi-site location has around 220 people on a weekly basis.

2. This year alone we have had over 300 1st time guests at the Kenwood campus.

3. From January of 2012 until now we have over 400 kids enrolled in kids ministry here at the Kenwood campus.

4. We have had so many people take their next step in going public with their relationship with Jesus through baptism here at the Kenwood campus.

5. And we have over 200 people serving in different areas here at the Kenwood campus.

I believe that God has even greater things to come…

And the only thing that will change this city is Jesus

BIG NEWS for AQUA College Ministry

27 08 2012

ImageA little over 3 years ago, my wife and I were eating pizza with Ron and Cheryl Edmondson in Louisville, KY. They shared their heart, and God’s call on Grace Community Church to launch a college ministry with GCC on the campus of Austin Peay State University. That fall, we launched a brand new college ministry at Grace Community Church, where we prayed and worked toward connecting college students with a local church that would lead them to a growing relationship with Jesus.

We called it AQUA.

In the 2 years that we have been connecting college students with the story of the Gospel, we’ve done things very simply. We met once a month, in an auditorium in the heart of APSU. But, we’ve grown to a point where we are ready to move to a once a week.

That’s right! Starting this fall, AQUA will be moving to once a week on Thursday Nights. We feel like we are at a place now to grow AQUA college ministry by adding even more students, and we hope that college students will grow in their relationship with Jesus in their faith journey by connecting once a week. And we will be partnering with Awaken Church and will be gathering in their venue at 585 South Riverside Drive.

While that is a HUGE change with AQUA moving to once a week, some things won’t change at AQUA. We will still be creating an excellent environment to gather with college students, engage the story of Scripture, and worship God for who He is and what He has done. We will still be doing small groups, because we believe life change happens in this context. We will still be on campus throughout the week, getting coffee, grabbing lunch, and attending various events like we always have. We will still be partnering with different greek organizations, athletic teams, and other great student organizations to serve the students of APSU. And we will still be a ministry of Grace Community Church!

We will be launching our new weekly AQUA College Worship gathering on Thursday September 6th @ 8:00 pm at Awaken Church.  And with tradition, we will be giving away FREE t-shirts to college students who gather with us at AQUA. We hope to see you and your friends at our first AQUA of the Fall.

Recruiting Volunteers

7 03 2012

from shutterstock.com

I think its safe to say, that across the board in ministry there always seems to be a shortage of volunteers.  Is that true of your church?  I don’t think that is always a problem.  At times of growth in your church, you will probably be in need of more leaders to step up and volunteer.  But, there are times when a shortage of volunteers turns in to a necessity of volunteers, which in turn can lead to a desperate plea for help.  In these times, how do you recruit effectively?  And how can you avoid recruiting the wrong people?

The first thing you need to understand is that it’s better to put someone in a role than it is to just plug a hole.

Plugging a Hole looks like this:

Many times, the first response is to say, “We’ve got so many needs for volunteers to fill, let’s just have a cattle call and get as many bodies as we can.”  This leads to taking in any person without regard to their skills, talents, and passions.  This type of recruiting may solve the problem for a few weeks, but the solution will only last temporarily.  Recruiting to plug a hole is like trying to stop the water flow from a fire hydrant with duct tape (I’m a redneck, we rednecks know that duct tape works can fix a multitude of problems…but not this problem).  When you recruit just to fill a hole, you will constantly be in the vicious cycle of the revolving door in your ministry.  The people will come in to volunteer but will quickly revolve out.

Filling a role looks like this: 

  1. Relationships – Invest relationally into the people who attend your church every Sunday.  When you take the time to care enough to have a meaningful conversation, get to know the people who come to your church, and look to equip them and place them into a volunteer role, you can better put them into a role that will give them an outlet to serve in an area where they are passionate and talented.
  2. Accountability – When you personally know the people you are recruiting, there is a deeper level of buy in.  They know your expectations and your heart for the church you lead, and you are quick to send an email, a text, or make a phone call when you know that the person wasn’t there.
  3. Leadership – When you recruit to fill a role, you are looking for a very specific person who can lead and influence others.  You don’t recruit to just plug the leak, instead, you search for just the right person for just the right role that you have available.

You should know that you aren’t the only church or ministry in the world who has a need for volunteers.  But, you can be the church who recruits volunteers to fill a role that they are talented and passionate about.  Don’t just desperately try to plug a hole to stop the leak.  A band-aid doesn’t work on an amputation…it’s not smart to try to plug holes in ministry.  Find the leader who will carry the vision and lead well.

How do you find great volunteers?

How does your church place volunteers based on their passions and talents?

The Best thing for your College Ministry

23 01 2012

If you are in the process of thinking through college ministry for your local church, serving in a college ministry in some capacity, or if you are working on launching a college ministry in your area, you have probably thought about what to base college ministry on.  If you haven’t thought through what your priorities are in college ministry, shut down your computer right now and go do that.

A lot of conversations are had on the topic of reaching the next Generation.  HUGE Conferences are put on, articles are written, creative minds work through long days on thinking through how to attract and reach college age students.

Can I offer a bit of advice?

1.  Make the story of Jesus and the Gospel central.  IF we believe that God still changes lives, IF we believe that Jesus is the only way to experience life and be made right, and IF we believe that the Bible contains the perfect and true word from the one true God…this has to be the foundation of college ministry.  Any other foundation will never produce long-term and genuine life change. (By the way…I think life change should be one of your priorities in college ministry)

2.  Don’t shy away from the hard truths and not so politically correct realities of the Bible.  College students do care about what’s “true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.”  Satan is throwing a party when college pastors just teach and talk about the things that make people feel comfortable, warm and fuzzy inside.  But the truth is that they can find that stuff on Pinterest and Stumble Upon.  Your goal shouldn’t be to become a Pinterest College Ministry.

3.  Make much of God.  A.W. Tozer said “We do the greatest service to the next generation of Christians by passing on to them undimmed and undiminished that noble concept of God which we received from our Hebrew and Christian fathers of generations past.  This will prove of greater value to them than anything that art or science can devise.” (The Knowledge of the Holy).  Here’s the deal…in your ministry, you’re either making much of God…or you’re making much of yourself.  (And, contrary to popular belief, you’re not that great.)

The local church has their panties in a wad worrying about college students leaving the church.  But I can tell you…college students aren’t leaving the church.  They are just leaving your church.  Try giving them timeless truths about a great God who loves them with an authentic love through His Grace and has a purpose in 2012 for their life.  If you want to reach college students, just tell them about the God of Scripture…that will be enough.

How is your church reaching college age students?  

The Uncomfortable part of Church

16 01 2012

Our 7 month old daughter Addy is growing up so fast.  Friends and family did warn us that these weeks and months will fly by in the blink of an eye.  Recently, we’ve added vegetables to her meal time.

A few months ago, we introduced her to rice cereal and oatmeal, which we gave her from a bowl and spoon.  She absolutely loved it, so much so that she would swallow one bite and then open her mouth as wide as she could with her tongue straight out ready for the next bite.

We assumed that she loved to eat (which we were correct) but we thought that meant she would love new foods we offered (boy were we ever wrong).  When Addy took her first bite of green beans, her face showed a little confusion and concern with the new flavors.  But after a few bites, she didn’t want anything to do with the green beans.  In fact, there were times where she wouldn’t even open her mouth to take a bite.

I believe that we can do the same thing with church.  When we go to church on a sunday morning, when we sing the songs that we like and are familiar with, and the pastor gives a good encouraging and uplifting message, we love it.  In fact, we want more of it!  Some would even open your mouth wide open to beg for more of that.  But, what about the days we go and hear a challenging and convicting message…one that doesn’t really make you feel comfortable, but pushes you outside of your comfort zone (and I’m not talking about style of worship, contemporary/traditional, etc…).

Here’s what I know about the local church.  It doesn’t exist to make you and your family happy.  The local church isn’t a product to be consumed.  As a follower of Christ, there are things that are incredibly encouraging and remind you of the blessing of a relationship with Jesus.  But, there are also things that will push you outside of what’s comfortable.  The question is, are you going to respond to challenge the same way you respond to encouragement.

How do you respond to tough and challenging parts of Scripture?

How can you be more eager to be transformed by Jesus even when it’s going to make you uncomfortable?

One of the Hardest Things I’ve Ever Done

12 01 2012

Brandon, Kara, and Addelin Reed

Giving my money to the local church that I’m a part of was one of the hardest things that I’ve done in my faith journey. That may come as a surprise to you, since I’m a pastor on staff at a local church. So let me explain…

For the past year, I’ve given a portion of my income to my local church. But, I gave because I had to, because I’m expected to. And if we’re being honest, that’s probably the reason you give too. And if you are like me, I didn’t like giving away my money. But here’s what I found out when I started giving a percentage of my income away: God takes care of every need I have, WITHOUT EXCEPTION.

Here’s a bit of background of my family… My wife Kara is now a full time stay at home mom, which also means that we are now a one income family. We spent long nights praying about the decision for Kara to either stay at home as a full time mom when our daughter was born, or go back into the work-force. This was a really difficult decision because we, like most families, have lots of bills coming in every month that have to be paid (Electricity, Water, Phones, Medical Bills, Prescription Meds, School Loans, and many others). After months of praying together, we decided that it would be best and that God wanted Kara to stay home as a mom. This also allows her to volunteer more with Grace and have time for more ministry here in Clarksville. But, that also meant that the monthly income for the Reed family was chopped in half (insert gulp here).

Shortly after our daughter was born, and while Kara had been out of work for almost 6 months, I really felt God leading us to take the percentage that we were giving when we were a two income family, and bump it to a higher percentage as a one income family. Since we have become a one income family, the end of the month and beginning of the month have been stressful for our family financially. It seems like when we get to the end of the month, only pennies remain in our bank account.  

I’ve always thought that giving more would increase my faith in a God who will provide for my every need, and my family’s every need. I believe that is true without question… and I’ve experienced that. But, during this chapter of my life, with our giving going up when our income went down has taught me even more than that. I feel like God is giving and blessing me with wisdom on spending every penny well for our family, and teaching me how to make wise and Godly purchasing decisions for our family. There are things that we as a family enjoyed doing (weekly movie nights at the theater, nice meals at nice restaurants, concerts, home decor, etc…) that we didn’t really need.  

Over the past 6 months, I’ve seen that because we’ve trusted God with our giving, and since we’ve gone up in our giving, God is stretching me, grinding away the rough spots, and molding me into a better man, a better leader, and a better follower of Jesus. I’m not writing this to brag about my giving. In fact, dollar wise, we don’t give a ton. But, the percentage of my income per month is a TON of money to us… especially now.

God is working in my heart and in my life to make me more sensitive to people and more generous in my giving around this community. Just because you don’t make a lot of money in the job that you are in doesn’t mean God can’t use the percentage you give to reach people for His Kingdom. God was so generous to us when He gave us His son Jesus to pay the bill that we owe for our sins.  

How will you trust God with your finances?

How will you be generous?