3 things we've learned starting a church

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A wise church planter told me that church planting would depend more on God growing my heart than God growing His church. “Jesus will always build His church. It’s up to us if we allow Him to grow us in the process.” I’ve taken those words to heart. The last 30 months have been some of the most exciting and exhausting of my life. I’ve enjoyed incredible highs and endured lonely lows. I’ve fully realized my capacity and limits. I’ve come face to face with my faults and weaknesses. While it’s still fresh, I’d like to share some broad insights that I’ve gained over the last 2+ years. In the coming weeks I hope to share more specific insights. Here's my first 3.

We can’t do anything alone

Whether you’re leading a group, managing a team or pastoring a church, you need someone who is pouring into you. I have a coach, an accountability network and close friends that keep me honest. I’m prone to do things on my own. It’s hard to let people do what I can do myself. Even more difficult to let people get close enough to know me. I believe there are 3 types of people we need in our lives:

  1. THOSE AHEAD OF US: You need someone who’s been where you’re heading. You need their insight and encouragement. You need their honesty. Many will tell you theory. these people will tell you experience. It sounds like “here’s what I’ve seen…” more than it sounds like “here’s what I think…”
  2. THOSE BESIDE US: Who do you have in your corner that’s doing what you’re doing? Most of you know I have been blessed with some real advantages. Kevin Bass is my unfair advantage. When he’s working with you he makes everyone look good. He’s also a super encourager of people. You need some friends who are in the thick of it with you. People you can count on. People who love and accept you even though they’ve seen you at your worst. You need someone who can keep you humble and accountable.
  3. THOSE BEHIND US: The kingdom isn’t just for you, today. It’s been entrusted to us for the next generation, tomorrow. Who are you strategically spending your time with? Who can you mentor, encourage and lead? Someone needs your expertise, experience and guidance. Don’t be selfish and spend all your time with the first 2 people I mentioned. Find someone to help along the way.

 

We need all the support we can get

We planted through a denomination. We received training from multiple organizations. We meet often with individuals from different movements for leadership development and encouragement. We wish we could figure everything out on our own. We can’t. Well, maybe we could, but it would take decades. We’ve been blessed to take years of experience from other planters/planting groups and repurpose it for our context. If you're trying to lead within your own knowledge, experience or skill, you're capping yourself. There are people who've done what you're trying to do. Reach out to them. We bought coffee and meals for countless pastors, leaders, planters, business owners and coaches. Every one of them has something different to offer. It's been said, "Show me your 5 friends and I'll show you where you'll be in 5 years." I want to encourage you to get out there and build or find a network that can support and develop you. If you're trying to lead a church, plant a work or start a business, you'll need different networks for different things. There are leaders I spend time with for spiritual wisdom. There are planters I depend on for specific insight into an issue I'm facing. There are church planting groups I depend on for training and support. There are hundreds of individual sponsors who pray for our ministry often. All of these networks work together to build Jesus' church in our zip code. Find a network. Work the network. It's 2018. There's no excuse for trying to do something with no support network.

Nothing can replace

your relationship with Jesus

My backyard is my favorite spot. When I gave my wife a tour of our backyard in 2013 it wasn’t much to look at. I didn’t take her inside the house that day either. Nothing good would come from her seeing that wreck. The brick cape cod at the end of Tyler Crescent had been empty for a few years. The previous owner had abandoned it mid renovation. There wasn’t a kitchen. The yard looked like a jungle. I had to rent a bobcat to tame that jungle. She and I arrived in the late afternoon to see the sunset. That’s all this house had to offer: a view. But I knew. This would be the yard we’d enjoy. This would be our next home. This jungle was where I’d spend some time alone with God.

Over the last few years I’ve had some long afternoon talks with God in that backyard. Occasionally I’ll be mowing, raking or plugging while we talk. Often, I’m just pacing around as God works to soften or direct my heart. I’ve had some difficult conversations with God watching the sun set in my yard. I’ve enjoyed some incredible answers to prayer walking in circles on our little piece of Portsmouth. I’ve been blessed with an incredible spouse, great training, strong support and a next-level team. To be clear, I've got more than a few unique advantages. None of those advantages can ever replace my personal relationship with God. Your relationship with God can take you farther, longer than any unfair advantage in your skillset. Your (lack of) relationship with God can also undercut every advantage in your skillset. Get a team. Find a support network. But trust God, not the process.

 

Grand Opening: what really happened?

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Warning: this is a data nerd post. If you like numbers and details read on.

Restore you did a tremendous job yesterday. We had record attendance and record decisions for Jesus. This morning I went through all the connect cards to pull some data. I want you to see how God used your invites and our resources to reach people last weekend. It's always good to see where our resources are best allocated.

Let's dive in.

We had 102 guests complete a connect card. (Here's a pic of our connect card)

We always want to see how guests heard about our church. Not every guest indicates how they heard, but many do. Here's the data:


35 guests were invited by a friend (8 trusted Jesus)

29 guests received a postcard (4 trusted Jesus)

13 guests saw something on Facebook (3 trusted Jesus)

11 guests saw a billboard, yard sign or banner (1 trusted Jesus).


Do you see it? The best (and cheapest) method to reach people is by simply inviting someone. God used friends and family to change lives Sunday.


The story behind the data:

I received a Facebook message from one of our worship team members. They told me how nervous they were because they'd just invited a long time friend to come with them to grand opening. I met their friend Sunday. This morning i had the privilege of letting our worship team member know their bestie indicated on the connect card they'd trusted Jesus. You never know how God could use a simple invite. 


It doesn't end here. This is just the beginning. We are surrounded by opportunities. Start planting seeds now. Easter is ~60 days away. Who are you inviting?

-Pastor Marc

 

How to help us make Grand Opening awesome

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5 THINGS WE NEED TO START DOING

Invite someone you already know: stats show almost 9 out of 10 people will come if invited by a friend.

Pay it backward: Take an invite card. Pay for people behind you at drive-thru. Leave an invite card for them.

Put out a yard sign: Pick one up at church Sunday. Put it in your yard.

Love your co-workers: Buy donuts or sweets for your co-workers. Hand them an invite card.

Get Social: Share our posts on Facebook. Like and comment on Instagram. Post selfies with invite cards and postcards you get in the mail explaining you're going to the service.


5 THINGS WE NEED TO DO ON 1.28.18

1. Park in the back or off site if possible (y'all are already doing this well).

2. Attend the early service (we expect more guests at 2nd service, but who knows :)

3. Sit toward the front. We all want a back seat. Leave them for guests.

4. Arrive early. We expect lines at kids check-in (earlier you check in, the better for everybody).

5. Be friendly. We are all on the welcome team 1.28.18. Make everyone feel welcome.


Generosity during the month of August

Generosity is more than just giving money. Sometimes we need to take some time and invest in our community in a simple way. All month long, we'll be accepting school supply donations for Parkview Elementary. Bring those supplies and make a difference in one of our local schools. I love coming to church with something in my hand to give to God and something to give to our community. At Restore we are passionate about living out our faith in real tangible ways that share the gospel and love of Jesus with our community.

Here's why:

When I'm GENEROUS, I'm more like Jesus

When I'm GENEROUS, I'm investing in people not stuff

When I'm GENEROUS, God can use me to be salt and light in a dark world

So bring those school supplies, Restore! Let's make a difference right here in our little corner of Hampton Roads.

-Pastor Marc

Candle-Like Christianity


There is Nothing better than a good candle

Often I am joked anytime I bring up how much I enjoy a good candle. I understand that it's not a, "manly" thing to enjoy, but here are several reasons why I think it's preposterous to think any person can't enjoy a nice candle.

  1. Pleasing aroma- Obviously the main purpose of candles in the age of electricity is for their scent (or for those times the electricity goes out). 
  2. Flicker of the Fire- I have always loved watching the flames on candles dance. There's something peaceful about looking at the flames, and seeing a resemblance life in them. Although, I understand that they aren't alive, they still resemble life in a way with the warmth that they provide and the movement that they make.
  3. Illumination- What candles were intended for at the start. They bring light to the darkness. 

Okay, so what's your point?

The light Of the world

In John 8:12 Jesus said of himself, "I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

In Ephesians 5, Paul writes to the church telling them to, "Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good, and right, and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord." 

Jesus is the light of the world. + We follow Jesus. = We ARE the light of the world. 

To God, there is nothing better than a good candle-like Christian

I believe heaven rejoices over every soul that comes to know Christ and chooses to follow Him, and it pleases our Father in heaven. When we accept Christ, we are born into a new life in the Spirit and through the Holy Spirit we provide warmth to all people. Finally, with this new found hope in Christ we provide the light in a darkened world. 

In Christ, we have the light to show the lost, the way

The purpose of light is to illuminate the darkness. Without the light there is only darkness. Without the light we can't see between right and wrong. The light shows us the good in everything, but also reveals sin. It's hard to look directly at the light, sometimes it's even harder to look at what it reveals. 

There is power in the name of Jesus. Let's use it more and more each and every day.

How do I get more from my time with God?


It's amazing how quickly my week flies by. I have a tendency to get busy and before I know it, the week is gone. When I'm super busy, though, I always find time for what's  important and necessary: eating, sleeping, spending time with people that matter to me. If I'm going to have a relationship with God that challenges and changes me, I've got to make Him a priority. When my best friend reaches out and wants to get together to talk I find a way to make that happen. I want them to know they matter to me. It's obviously a priority.

Here are some ways we can make God a priority in our lives:

-Speak to Him daily. 

Set aside some time, maybe on your way to work or the gym. Talk to God. He's listening. We speak daily to those we love: spouse, kids, closest friends. We have a great opportunity every day to speak to the creator of the universe. Use it. 

-Set a meeting with God that has top priority

More than just daily interaction, set aside an appointment with God. Pastor Marc likes to grab coffee by himself on Thursday mornings. It's his time to spend just alone with God. Build a space in your week to meet with God. 

-Have a plan.

Don't just wing it. Select a book of the Bible to work your way through. Use a reading plan on the Bible app. Use the reading plan on the Restore Church app. There are numerous ways to get more out of God's Word: commentaries, devotionals, podcasts, etc. 

I hope these quick tips help you have a deeper relationship with Jesus.

What our Words are Worth

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Have you ever wondered what it would be like if someone wrote down everything that you said in a single day? Sure, today might've been a bad day for someone to jot those words down. I understand. How about on your good day? Did you make it without saying some of those "bad" words? Did you make it without having to save yourself with a lie? Did you have trouble talking about that guy at work who just irks you? 

Maybe you got through your entire day without doing those things. Now here's the real question.

What if someone wrote down everything you've ever said in your entire life?

That changes things.. drastically.

Talk is cheap.. or is it?

Wars have come and gone, people have been killed, and families have been ruined all by the power of words. Words may not be a physical weapon, but they are the cause of so much pain and conflict. One thing is for certain, talk is NOT cheap. It is costly.

In Matthew 12:36 Jesus says, "I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."

Every. Careless. Word. How then should we speak?

The building blocks of life.. in Christ.

Sometimes living for Christ can be difficult, but God already knew that and he prepared a way for us to persevere. It's called the body of Christ. It's us Christians, living alongside one another, building each other up in love and faith. 

We can't take back the things that we've said, but we can change the way that we talk. Our words seem light leaving our lips, but they hold a much heavier weight than we can comprehend. Even when no one hears them.

Speak in love. Speak to encourage. Speak in Truth.

Here are several verses on how we should speak:

Ephesians 4:29

James 4:11

James 1:26

Proverbs 26:20-22

 

Restore Kidz

I love the time and effort that our volunteers put into teaching Restore Kids about God and His love for each of them. Sunday, our volunteers used sign language and teeth brushing to kick off the new Element of the Month, Faith!

There is not much that challenges me more than teaching kids something that I have not mastered myself. Faith is something that I am still learning about on a daily basis and I trust you are as well. What a great reminder that our definition, confident trust in God, is to me. I am thankful for the confidence I have of my life here and hereafter in Christ. 

I am also thankful that living by Faith is a choice and not a requirement. We serve a God who loves us and gives us a free will to accept or reject Him. It is a personal commitment to choose to live by faith rather than a requirement. 

Miss Monique used sign language to teach the verse this week. Why not take some time with your kids and see how much sign language they can teach from Sunday!

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Take time to listen to the iParent Podcast so you can come up with ideas of how to use daily scenarios to reiterate things your child has learned. 

Restore Kidz Update

I snapped this picture while some of our Volunteers Kids helped set up for Kids Worship during the first service. I love being a part of such an awesome group of Christ Followers.

I know parenting is crazy busy and brings lots of struggles but I would like to challenge you to take an opportunity this week to teach your kids about Grace. Do something special for your kids (give them ice cream; let them stay up 10 minutes late; etc.) and tell them that you are showing them Grace by giving them something they didn't earn and therefore don't deserve. This will go a long way in teaching what God's Grace to us looks like.

This past Sunday, several of your kids recited this Bible verse from memory. We even had a 5 year old say the verse. Please take time to learn this verse with your kids and more importantly to discuss its meaning.

Mr. Caleb taught in Kids Worship this Sunday about the importance of growing up. He used several illustrations to reference how things grow. Everything must grow (plants, animals and humans) in order to survive life. The same is true for Christians. If we don't grow in God's Grace we will eventually fall away because of our lack of spiritual maturity. 

I pray that we are parents who are growing in God's Grace and teaching our kids how to do the same. 

  Have a great week!

Have a great week!

I am not for Me


Sometimes I just really love me some me. I also like spending time with me. Every once in a while I like to treat me to dinner (more often than not it's dinner at the drive-through). I tell me that everything is going to be just fine and that me is the most important person to myself. But here's the kicker,

Life is not about ME.

Ouch. I don't like the sound of that too much. I kind of like the thought of me being my favorite person. But living for Christ means so much more than living for myself.

Who are you for?

God has given grace to humanity through the death of Jesus, who paid our sins in full with his blood. The phrase that I teach in our kids worship is, "Grace is getting something you don't deserve." There is nothing that we could have ever done to make God give us grace, but God willingly and lovingly gives grace to us freely. All we have to do is accept that beautiful gift by believing that Christ died for our sins.

Yet, Romans 12 encourages us to not stop there.

Here are several things that Romans 12 says of Christians:

  1. Present your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God,
  2. Do not be conformed to this world,
  3. We are one body in Christ made of many members,
  4. Abhor what is evil: hold fast to what is good,
  5. Bless those who persecute you: bless and do not curse them.

This chapter is so encouraging on how we are to live for Christ, and how we are to live in love with one another. What a beautiful reminder to know that this life is not about me, but about us worshipping Him.

How does this apply to me?

Some days I get so stuck in my ways and tired of being me, but I realize that most of the time I'm living for me, and not solely for Christ. There are even times when I pray only for myself and what I need. Though this isn't wrong to do, if all I do is pray only for myself and no one else, instead of the body of Christ or for those unsaved, every time that I pray then I'm living more for me than myself really thinks. I often pray for things that I want rather than things that God knows that I need. 

In Christ, we as believers should PRAY for one another and LOVE one another.

I am not for Me. I am for Christ.