That’s right, our first night of VBS was quite a splash! It didn’t just rain – the bottom dropped out all night long. I wonder if this is how it is year round in places like Seattle. The reality is however, we need the rain. But as things were getting started Janet and I were wondering what the effects would be on attendance. It was actually better than I thought both for the first night and the rain. We had 55 children here at VBS last night! And you know what else, this blows me away, we had 46 adult volunteers (now of course, not everyone can be here each night)! From Nursery to Games (which had to be brought inside – great job Andy & Miranda) to Snacks to Crafts to the Classrooms to Worship and Registration, there were volunteers everywhere! Way to go Coastal! I am so proud of you. Now I realize that’s quite a high ratio of adults to children, but if you’re reading this and would like to volunteer your time this week to potentially change a child’s life, come to VBS. We’ll find something for you to do. We could use a few clean up people each night after everything is over or the next morning – empty trash, clean bathrooms, straighten up chairs, etc. But most importantly, pray and invite. I’d like to see at least 75 different kids here this week! And then on Sunday let’s pack it out! Park on the Fellowship Hall side of the building, sit to the front, and move toward the inside of aisles. Warmly welcome our guests and go out of your way to make them feel at home. My message will be on parenting and we’ll see a video of the week and hear the children sing a few of their songs. It’s going to be a rockin’ day!
Today’s service was a little different than usual – which was great! Our Missions Team that went to Jamaica shared about their experience. They did a great job. Cameron was funny. Twila was heartfelt. Jeremiah was passionate. And Jeremiah is an awesome videographer who really keeps getting better and better. This coming year he’s talked about shooting several of our own videos for our service. Be on the lookout for those.
I don’t tell Jeremiah this enough, but he’s really doing a great job. It’s an honor to have him on my team. And that’s what we’re building here at Coastal – a staff team (more about that later this week). On top of being our Youth Pastor and developing that ministry team, he and Cyndi have one of the best Small Groups in our church. He’s also served with our Praise and Worship Team and now with our Worship Presentation (our computer in the back). And on top of getting married and going to camp, he led a group to Jamaica this summer. I’m sure he’s been a little overwhelmed at times, but he has a servant’s heart, he’s open to feedback, and he keeps learning and growing.
Now the reality is – that’s ministry. We always do more than our “job description.” It’s not a punch a clock type job. It’s a calling. But left unchecked, long term that’s a recipe for disaster – being spread out doing many things well, but not doing those few things we’ve been called to do with excellence. But not only is that a recipe for disaster for me and Jeremiah, it’s also a recipe for disaster for the church. Our church will never grow if the mindset (the church or the Pastor’s) is one of the Pastors doing all of the ministry. That of course comes back to Pastors doing our primary calling – equipping people for ministry (Ephesians 4:11-13) – not doing all the ministry ourselves, but building teams, training others, and then releasing them to do it.
Wow – I got sidetracked for a moment there didn’t I? Actually, there’s just so much on my heart lately that it’s spilling over. God is doing something special at Coastal and I just feel honored to lead, watch, and be a part of it. His dreams and plans for our church are so much bigger than mine, but He is expanding mine daily. This Fall we are going to be marching forward and taking this community for Jesus! Coastal is no longer going to be the best kept secret in Charleston – the word is getting out!
Back to today. We keep having more and more visitors and not only that, but they’re coming back! Our giving has also improved! Did you hear that Coastal? It’s the Summer and your Pastor said that our giving is up! Do you know why? Our church is growing and people give toward vision! Don’t let up Coastal! Pray. Build relationships. Invite people. Build teams. We closed out today’s message by reminding everyone that we’re all missionaries and that VBS is a great opportunity to reach out to children and families. That’s right – VBS begins tomorrow night, 6-8PM. Who are you bringing? We had several teachers come tonight and get their rooms ready and several others help decorate. Well that’s it for now. If you’re here this week, come to VBS and bring kids! This coming Sunday our kids will sing some of their songs and my message will be on parenting.
My family got me tickets to this game for my 40th birthday earlier this month. I can’t wait! ESPN! Monday Night Game! Bowden Bowl Clash! My son Christopher and I are going to have a blast! Anyway – just sitting here tonight longing for some Saturday College Football. There is nothing on t.v. on Saturdays and not a lot to do on a rainy day like today. So what do you think? 10 wins? Top 10 finish? Major Bowl? I know, I know, I’m pathetic. I’ve already got some bets (not that I’m a betting man) riding with my Georgia & South Carolina friends. Yes, I do have Bulldog & Gamecock friends. I consider it a high calling to reach out to those lost wayward souls. How about it? Are you ready for some football?
Wow! This is so crazy it’s comical! Another Coastal Baptism at the Beach has been postponed due to severe storms. If the Weather Channel or any local meteorologists need weather forecasting, save your money and throw away all your satellite Storm Tracker gizmos. Instead, just check with Coastal to see when the next Baptism at the Beach is scheduled. And not only that, but earlier this week there was this crazy announcement:
“DHEC found the bacteria after testing it on Tuesday and put up signs Wednesday around the access area at 5th Avenue East on Folly Beach warning beach-goers about high levels of bacteria in the water. They say it’s just a precaution and re-tested the water on Wednesday. It’s the first time they say this has ever happened at Folly Beach.”
Whatever that was all about is gone – DHEC gave the clearance. One of these days we’re going to have to look into a baptistry at Coastal – portable or otherwise (at least for the winter months). It would be so cool to have an outdoor partially covered patio with a fountain like pool for baptisms. But honestly, I still love going to the beach. There’s just something special about burying the old man of sin in the watery grave of the ocean and having a cheering crowd along the shore. I believe this happened so that we could make room for more! So this is Pastor Chris signing off for WCCC Weather. See you tomorrow morning!
Our family loves the Athens Salad at Athens Greek Restaurant on James Island. Every so often we HAVE to have one. Yesterday was one of those days. Janet called me as I was heading home and said, “How about a Greek salad for dinner?” That’s all I needed to hear. I turned around and headed out to James Island. On my way there I called and placed my order (I have their number on my cell phone). As I was paying my bill, the young girl at the counter said, “It’s Tuesday.” “What?” I said. She repeated, “It’s Tuesday.” I thought she was bemoaning the fact that it was only Tuesday and she was living for the weekend. “Yep, it’s Tuesday,” I said.
But then it dawned on me – she was commenting on my t-shirt. You see we have new Coastal t-shirts that read, “These ARE my Sunday clothes!” On the back it simply has our website address. (She probably thought I was some old goof ball who has a different shirt for every day of the week and got confused.) So for about two minutes I had the opportunity to tell her what the shirt meant. You can come as you are to our church. And then I told her that I was the Pastor and sometimes this is exactly what I wear on Sunday mornings. “Really?!” She was shocked. I asked her if she had a church that she went to – she didn’t. I invited her to ours. “I just might,” she said. Who knows? But all I know is that it only took a simple walk across the room (or counter).
I am so jacked about our church wide campaign, “Just Walk Across the Room,” starting August 12th. Pick up the material and begin reading the book this Sunday. Sign up for the Small Groups that will be meeting at the church for four consecutive Wednesday nights beginning August 15th. And Coastal, if you don’t have a new t-shirt, pick one up on Sunday. The Fall is almost here and it’s going to be wild! We are going to start seeing the fruit of the Spring and Summer in greater ways! Intercede. Invest. Invite. Include. See you on Saturday at Folly Beach County Park!
My daughter Lydia got her driver’s license today! She is so excited. And I have to admit I am too. We went to the DMV on Leed’s Ave., which is always an experience in itself. Shots, Dentists, DMV (anything with with blood or the potential for blood) – these are all my job. Janet gets too nervous and the kids seem to do a little better with me – it’s my lack of Motherly compassion. But today I was a little nervous for Lydia. I told her that it didn’t matter if she didn’t pass – lots of people don’t on their first try. But truthfully, I prayed she would pass. She is so responsible and really is a good driver. I just wanted it for her. I told her to simply relax and drive. (I also told her not to fart, they deduct points for that.) Well they called her number and off she went with the Tester. I called Janet as she turned left onto Leeds. When she got back I saw her parallel park perfectly. As she walked back to the building she gave me the thumbs up – she passed! I was so excited I wanted to scream! We went back inside for the picture. They had trouble with the camera and had to take it four times. I asked the attendant if Lydia broke the camera. The whole event was a Daddy/Daughter experience that I will forever cherish. Congratulations Lydia! I knew you would pass – now run to Wal-Mart and pick up a few things for me.
Well, we closed out our series, “Reel to Real” yesterday. The movie was “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.” The main idea of the message was that everybody needs a Fantastic Four in their life – everybody needs to be a part of a Small Group. The message came at just the right time as we are promoting our next series, “Just Walk Across the Room.” It will be a four week church wide campaign, beginning August 12th on Sunday mornings, and then everyone coming to the church for four consecutive Wednesday nights, beginning August 15th, for a DVD teaching in a large group setting and then breaking up into smaller groups for discussion and application. It will be a great way to get new people into small groups and launch new groups for the Fall. It’s also all about listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit to reach out with the love of Christ to the world around you. I can’t think of a better series to close out the Summer and get us ready for the Fall.
But back to Sunday. Our attendance was back up a bit. Not only are we having visitors, but return visitors. Coastal, remember to park on the Fellowship Hall side of our campus and then sit toward the front of the auditorium and move in – up and in. This helps our guests, your friends, have a better experience when they come to Coastal. And as always, welcome those who are new and go the extra mile to make them feel comfortable. Last week, the Claude’s seemed to connect with one of our guests, and invited them out to lunch after church! In other words, just like I said yesterday, when someone comes to Coastal, it’s a team effort. When someone decides to make Coastal home, it’s a team effort. When someone comes back home to God, it’s a team effort. And when someone gives their life to Jesus Christ – it’s a team effort!
We also gave away more stuff at the end of the service and I think we had a greater percentage of cards filled out than ever before. Now, I’m not stupid – I realize it was because we were giving away the Captain Jack Sparrow cut out, the Spidey cut out, and all the posters (next week we’re giving away a car – my 91 Toyota Corolla that finally bit the dust for good last week). But what was cool yesterday was all the positive comments about this series. We even had one young child write, “I love our church.” We also had a new family commit to the August 15th small groups at the church and others commit to baptism this Saturday! Way to go Coastal! Again, great team effort!
So, this series will definitely become a Summer tradition here at Coastal. But what this series has done for me personally is to remind me to be a better student of culture – again, not to imitate culture, condemn it, or to embrace it, but to engage the culture. I want to be like Paul in Acts 17:16-34. His heart was “deeply troubled” by what he saw, but he used their practices to point them to Jesus. He engaged the culture. Pastors are trained to exegete Scripture, but to rightly communicate it, I need to exegete the culture in which we live. I find myself looking at things just a little bit differently now. When I read, watch, or listen to something I wonder what does this say about our world? What is the trend here? What is the underlying need? How can I use this to point people to Jesus? Invite and bring someone to our baptism at the beach this Saturday, 5PM at Folly Beach County Park! This Sunday, our Missions Team will be reporting on their trip to Jamaica. It’s going to be a great weekend! I can’t wait!
This week, out of the blue, I got an email from an old friend – Norman. We corresponded, exchanged numbers, and made plans to talk this weekend. I’ve known Norman since I was about 5 years old when he rode his Big Wheel down to my house. We lived down the street from each other. We were the same age and became best friends. Those were good times – walking to the Elementary School together, building Forts in the woods across the street from our house, playing sports, spending the night at each other’s homes, and riding bikes all over James Island.
When I gave my life to the Lord, the next day I made a list of everyone I needed to tell about Jesus. Norman was on the top of that list. When I got home from Camp Edisto I went down to his house, told him about Jesus and my experience, and he gave his life to the Lord and started going to church with me and C.W. and went to Camp Edisto as well. We drifted apart a little through High School. He had a very difficult family life.
I went away to college and got married. Norman made a series of very poor decisions and paid dearly for those mistakes. We talked once or twice during that time, but it’s been a very long time since we last spoke. He did a Google search, found our church website, and sent me an email. It was so good hearing from him tonight! He sounded just the same. We talked about the “good old days” and caught up on the present. He lives up in the great Northeast. His life has turned around 180 degrees. He’s married to a wonderful woman. He has 3 great kids. And they’re all involved in their church.
Norman’s story is one of God’s amazing grace. We can always start over. There is always hope. Tonight he told me how during the difficult times he blamed everyone but himself for his problems. And it wasn’t until he took responsibility for his own life that he made the turn around. Although he never forgets where he’s been, that chapter is over. And now the rest of his life has become the best. Philippians 1:6, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” God finishes what He starts. And God is never finished with us.
Talking to him tonight also reminds me that I need to do a better job of seeing all the “Normans” that God puts in my path. There are people all around who simply need a friend and need a friend to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Jesus changes lives! Norman, if you read this – thanks for the call! It was great reconnecting! I look forward to talking again!
This is a picture of Bryan Miller (the guy standing up – the guy on the floor had his cell phone go off during my sermon). Bryan is a S.C. State Trooper. He is currently in training (somewhere in Virginia I think), and in 4 more days he’s off to Afghanistan to train the Afghani Police. He will be gone for about a year. Bryan, his wife Ashley, and his daughter Brooke are active members of our church. In fact, we baptized Bryan and Brooke about two months ago at Edisto Beach. The Lord and Coastal has changed their lives. Just ask them and they’ll tell you. I am proud to know that men like Bryan are helping to make the world a safer place. Keep Bryan and his family in your prayers. Bryan, when you get back, I’m still counting on that “ride along.”
No seriously, He filled out a Connect Card today! Actually, it was my son’s sense of humor. Every week during this series, “Reel to Real” we’ve been giving away movie passes, Blockbuster gift cards, DVD players, movies, etc. by pulling Connect Cards at the end of the service. By the way, if you’re wondering about how to get people to fill out their cards – this has worked! We get more cards than ever before – visitors and members. Let’s just hope it continues after this series is over. And yes, Jesus won some movie passes!
We were definitely down as far as attendance goes today. But, the Summer is a great time for family vacations and travel so I try not to get too upset. It’s also a great time for churches and leaders to reflect, regroup, examine, plan, and prepare for the new year. But every Pastor in America would be lying if they didn’t honestly tell you that they’re ready for everyone to get back in town and get in the groove. We continue to have visitors each and every week and return visitors. We are really going to be rocking in the Fall!
The movie we used today was Harry Potter 5. For those of you who are in shock – listen to the message. For those of you still upset, get over it, and then go to another church. Actually, the message was about the spiritual battle we are in and the text I used was Ephesians 6:10-18. We are at war. We have an enemy who is intent on our destruction. But, ultimately we have the victory in Jesus Christ! And in the meantime, He’s given us the armor we need to resist and stand strong.
In the last two weeks, really with no notice at all, we’ve given over $1000 for our Missions Trip and the Crisis Ministry Homeless Shelter. It’s great to be a part of such a generous church. Janet has had many people the last couple of weeks volunteer for VBS, even several new people. The Mission Team comes back from Jamaica this Tuesday. I’m excited to hear all about their trip. We’ll probably be sharing that this Sunday.
Some of you might be wondering what we’re going to be doing next as far as our Sunday morning message series. Well, after “Reel to Real” we’re going to be doing a 4 week series entitled, “Just Walk Across the Room” based on the book of the same title by Bill Hybels. Check out the book and material provided for churches here. I’ll blog more about it later this week. And then we’re going to “blow the roof off” with our Fall series (beginning the Sunday after Labor Day) entitled, “Wild Ride!” It’s going to be an over the top opportunity to reach out to our community. We’re going to attempt some things we’ve never done! I am pumped! Well, that’s about it for now, it’s great to have Janet and the kids back. Oh, and Christopher – Jesus is at Coastal every week!