My Friend Scott

Monday was already kind of a melancholy day here in our part of Charleston. They were laying to rest a Police Officer who was shot in the line of duty. I found myself watching/reading the news reports about the processional/service, praying for his family, and giving thanks for those who protect & serve.

And then I got a text from my good friend Buck Wardle simply saying, “Call me, it’s an emergency.” I called and he told me the news, our good friendScott Gamel had died. Honestly, all day long it felt like someone had punched me in the gut.

Scott was my friend. I’ve known Scott since I was 16. Actually, that’s when I first met Buck & Scott. Back then, as everyone knows, they came as a pair. They were traveling for ACC (with Laurie Bryan Wardle & Vicki Gamel – wow, talk about a great team) and like so many others, I was drawn to them. They became my life long friends.

So many Pastors today talk about their “Board of Advisors”. I’ve never had anything official like that – I’ve just had these guys and few other really good Pastor friends (Michael DiamondGary Thompson) that I talk to at least once a week, share the ups & downs of life/ministry with, speak truth into each others lives, laugh together, and encourage each other. Scott was a part of that group for me. He was one the groomsmen in my wedding.

Scott was larger than life! FUNNY, oh my gosh, he was funny! He could imitate every Professor at ACC and everyone else for that matter! And he was Smart/Funny too! If you knew Scott, you know what I mean. Man he was smart – so well read! If you were playing any kind of Triva/Pop Culture Game you wanted Scott or maybe Melissa Stinson on your team! To this day, when I’m preparing for messages or studies and I have questions about anything, I still call Scott & Buck – why they let me tag a long with them is still mind boggling! Don’t tell anyone, but we even share each other’s messages from time to time! Well, that’s not quite true. Scott & I could preach 2 sermons from one of Buck’s! And what an obnoxious Alabama fan! I can still remember going to a Bama/Georgia game with Scott, David Workman, and I’m not sure who else, but thinking all of us Bible College Boys were going to get the crap beat out of us because of how loud & obnoxious our friend was in Bama’s last minute victory!

And let’s just be honest, back then, Scott (and Buck) WAS obnoxious. He was arrogant, narrow minded, and legalistic. He was just so smart and funny about it (and I wanted to be just like him). But then that’s what makes Scott and his life so truly amazing and beautiful. The GRACE of God just got ahold of him! And you all know what I mean. I’m not sure exactly when or how it happened. Maybe it was just life or a process or failures or his wonderful wife & children. But got a hold of him it did. Still smart, funny, confident? You better believe it. But now that TRUTH was also full of GRACE – just like Jesus. And we’ve all been a witness to the results. And I am and will continue to be a better man for it. I love you Scott. I love you Vicki. You & the boys will be in my prayers! Carry on New Hope! Scott would expect nothing less. “May the GRACE of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13:14 (NIV)

Our Big Day on Sept. 21st & How You Can Help!

Dear Coastal,

For the last couple of weeks, we’ve been talking about our next “Big Day” coming up, Sunday, September 21st.  I wanted to explain what a “Big Day” is and share with you what you can do to help make it a success.

Obviously, every Sunday is big here at Coastal in the sense that every Sunday is important, every Sunday we share the Gospel, and each week we encourage you to invite and bring your friends.  But a “Big Day” is a strategic day on our church calendar where we tell everyone to pull out all the stops, do whatever it takes, and make that extra push to get your friends to church!  Usually on a “Big Day” we try to break the next attendance barrier and gain momentum for continued growth.

There are several obvious “Big Days” on the calendar – Christmas Eve & Easter come to mind.  We usually put a “Big Day” somewhere in early February.  The holidays are over and it’s a great push for the New Year.  Lately kicking off the Summer with “At the Movies” has been huge for us too.  The Fall “Big Day” works because Summer is finally over, kids are back in school, Labor Day has come and gone, and the football season has started.  What does all that have to do with getting people in church?  One word – routine.  People are back into a routine and they aren’t traveling as much.

So, on Sunday, September 21st we are kicking off a brand new series called, “The Story of My Life.”  Everyone has a story.  Every story matters to God.  It’s the decisions you make every day that determine the story you’re going to tell.  So, live a story worth telling.  During the series we’re going to do our best to emphasize the life change that we regularly see here at Coastal.  Each Sunday we’re going to show a video testimony of a different family/individual.  We really believe that this is going to be a powerful series.  And we’re going to end the series with a Baptism Service!

So what can you do to help make September 21st a success?

  1. Pray every day.  Pray for the people you are inviting.  Pray for all the people our church will be inviting.  Pray for people to come to know Jesus.  Pray for me & my messages.  Pray for our staff.  Pray for our volunteers.  Pray for the mailing that we are sending out to all of West Ashley.  Ask God to give you His eyes and His heart to see people and situations the way He does.  Beg God to draw people to Himself through our church.
  2. Come and participate in our church wide Prayer Walk on Friday, September 19th, 6-8pm.  Bring your friends and family and walk together around our campus, stopping to read Scripture and pray at 10 different stations.  It’s going to be a very powerful and moving experience.
  3. Fast for one week.  For the week of September 14-20 we are asking our church to consider participating in a Fast.  Let me try to answer a few questions you might have about fasting:  First of all, what is fasting?  Fasting is abstaining from something physical for a designated period of time, for spiritual purposes.  Many times in scripture people fasted from food.  But  today, I also believe it is possible to “fast” or give up something else, for example:  television, social media, meat, caffeine, sugar, certain activities/habits, etc.  What is the purpose of fasting?   The primary purpose of fasting is to focus on God and to center our attention on Him. In doing so, we glorify God (Zechariah 7:5).  Fasting can also reveal non-essential things that control us and take precedence in our lives.  It can increase the effectiveness of our prayer and bring guidance from God in decisions (2 Sam. 12:16; Acts 14:23).  Again, the idea is to give up something physical, that you personally would notice or feel, that would remind you to focus on God.  Don’t forget that the purpose of fasting for Christians is not to focus on whatever it is you’re giving up.  The focus is not on ourselves – grumbling and complaining about being hungry (Jesus warned against that) or whatever it is that we’ve denied ourselves.  The focus is on our relationship with God.  Our physical need is to drive us to and remind us of our total dependency on God.  It’s to help clear your mind so you can focus in prayer – in this case praying for the people in your life who need Jesus.
  4. Invite!  Make a personal goal to invite and bring so many people.  Use our series invite cards.  Use our little “You’re Invited” business cards.  Send emails.  Send personal messages on facebook and other social media.
  5. Fill out a “Story of My Life” Testimony Card.  Each week in your bulletin there will be one of these cards.  Share a few sentences of how Jesus and Coastal has changed your life.  We’re going to pin these cards on a large “picture frame” on display in our auditorium.  With your permission we’re also going to post them on a page on our website.  This will be an awesome witness to other people on just what a difference Jesus can make in your life.
  6. Consider serving!  A new series & new people means we need more and more volunteers.  If you’re not already serving somewhere, it’s time to jump in!  We need you!  Our 1st Impressions Team is a great place to get started.  Give Chris Ranew our 1st Impressions Ministry Leader a call or send him an email – 706-941-2044, chrisranew@gmail.com.  Our Children’s Ministry could definitely use more volunteers in Nursery or in any of their classes.  Call Janet, our Children’s Ministry Leader or send her an email – 843-442-8299, janet@coastalcommunitychurch.org.  Honestly, all of our Ministries need more volunteers!  Give Julie a call at the office and we’ll get you connected – 843-571-1777.
  7. 4 Things to Consider on the day of the “Big Day” itself – parking, service time, seating, & name tags.  Parking:  the further away you park, the better.  Please park at Oakland and save the closer parking for guests.  Service times:  the key is come to the service that your guests are coming to.  BUT THIS IS IMPORTANT, if it does not matter, PLEASE come to the 8:45am or the 11:45am service!  The 10:15am service is already standing room only sometimes.  Seating:  no matter which service you come to, PLEASE sit to the front and center of each section.  This makes more room for people as they come in.  Name Tags:  just like we did for “Name Tag Sunday” we’re going to ask EVERYONE (not just guests) to wear a name tag.  There will be Name Tag tables set up around our campus with pens and name tags.  This is a fun way to encourage everyone to meet someone new and to learn people’s names.

Whew!  I think that’s about it!  September 21st is going to be AWESOME!  People are going to come to Jesus!  I think we’ll break 500 that day!  Like I’ve said Coastal, let’s work, invite, and share like it all depends on us.  But then let’s fast and pray and ask God like it all depended on Him.  And then let’s walk by faith and trust God with the results!

Forever & Always All In!

Pastor Chris

The Story of My Life

On Sunday, September 21st, we begin a brand new series at Coastal called, “The Story of MY LIFE.”  The idea for the series is that everyone has a story and every story matters to God.  It’s the decisions we make today that determine the story we’ll tell tomorrow.  So live a story worth telling!  During this series we’re going to be highlighting real stories of life change from within our own church family!  It’s going to be awesome!  Start praying now!

Prayer Walk

On Friday, September 19th, 6-8pm, Coastal is having a Prayer Walk on our campus to pray & prepare for our Big Day – the kick off of our new Fall Series, “The Story of MY LIFE” on Sunday, September 21st.  Bring the whole family and walk around our campus stopping at 10 different prayer/devotion stations.  At each station you’ll be instructed what to do and what to pray for.  This will be a great time of prayer & fellowship for our church!  Make plans to walk with family, friends, LIFE Group, or Ministry Team.   Don’t miss it!

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