August 2009

Last Thursday my best friend Greg lost his dad to a massive stroke.  Jim English was not only the dad of my friend, he was my friend.  I’ve gotten to know him over the last nine years and looked forward to visiting him as much as anyone.  He was the type of guy that always had a story to tell and a dry sense of humor that would keep you laughing.  He was the only person I knew who made ribs that I’d actually look forward to eating.  He had the biggest collection of Jeff Gordon memorabilia that I’ve ever seen (hey, nobody’s perfect).

At yesterday’s memorial service I witnessed the legacy of Jim being lived out before all of us.  At least 600 people packed the church as a testimony to the man that had impacted so many lives and so many generations.  As Greg said during the eulogy, “The best words to describe my father are these: he loved God, and he loved people.”  I heard story after story of Jim’s service in the church, of his care for his pastor, of his ministry to senior adults, of his humble, unassuming desire to help.  Jim was the volunteer that all pastors would love to have: he drove the church van and carried umbrellas on rainy Sundays and organized big events because he got to, not because he had to.

Jim was a family man whose character and charisma was passed down to Jimmy & Greg and his four grandkids.  He and Lue had been in love since they were twelve years old, and fifty years later he’d still get a gleam in his eye when he talked about her.

I’ll miss Jim, but I don’t grieve for Jim, because I know that right now Jim is doing what he loves to do, and that’s worshipping his God.

A few years back our media team produced a great video called “The Set Up Fairy.”  If I were more technologically adept I’d put it up here so you could see it, but trust me when I say it was chock full of awesomeness, and not just because yours truly made a cameo appearance as a short-tempered Connections Pastor who had the tendency to mutter under his breath and kick Coke machines for sport.

The basic gist of the video was that church doesn’t just happen.  It takes a team of volunteers to set up, tear down, provide childcare, park cars, make coffee, clean sinks, greet first timers, sing in the choir, and run the sound.  But have you ever thought about what would happen if those people simply ceased to exist?

  • As complicated as our parking system is now, think about what it would be like if the parking team wasn’t there to help new guests find a church building that looks nothing like a church building…especially when all of the buildings around us are identical.
  • The Summit has roughly 10,524 babies under three months of age.  10k babies screaming in a worship service?  It could happen if no one was manning Summit Kids.
  • There would be no 150-voice choir to bring the glory of heaven down to our little warehouse…not that it would matter, since the soloists couldn’t belt it out loud enough to compensate for the fact that no one was working the sound system.
  • Pipe and drape…you know, that black flowing stuff that makes you feel like you’re worshipping in a haunted house?  Yep, that’s going to be your problem.  Hope you can stand on your tippy-toes to get that junk down.
  • Two words: No.  Coffee.

Continue down the list: no one to help new people find out more information, no one to get you connected to a small group, bathrooms that smell like you-know-what, and nobody to refill Pastor J.D. with his mid-sermon fuel of Mountain Dew and Slim Jims.

Everybody notices when something is left undone, but the problem with our great teams is that they always get it done, no matter the trial, sacrifice, or amount of time they’re investing in just making it happen.

But what if they didn’t show up?  Is the cost too much to bear?  Better yet, what if those people hadn’t been there the first Sunday you came to the Summit?  Would you have stuck around?

The cost is steep, and that’s why we need you.  Step up and serve today.

Want to know more?  Check out one of our Frontline events throughout the month of August or sign up for more info on specific ministry teams here.

It happens in marriages.  It happens in jobs.  And it especially happens in churches.  Vision drifts, passion wanes, and people find themselves stuck in a rut with no way out.

The problem is often not the rut.  The problem is that we can’t even see the rut.

If you want to diagnose your rut, answer these questions:

  • Have you served in a regular, ongoing capacity in some ministry in the last six months?
  • If the answer to the above is “yes,” are you excited about showing up for your ministry?
  • Can you state in one sentence why your ministry exists?
  • Do you regularly listen to or read about needs in ministries, but shrug them off, saying, “Someone else will take care of it?”
  • Have you ever talked about how the church has failed to serve you in some way?
  • Has church become more about you than it has about God?  Than it has about others?

The obvious answers you should have given are “yes” for the first three and “no” for the second three.  But if your answers were reversed, you might be in a rut.

Ruts happen.  It’s what we do with our ruts that matter, and it’s knowing we’re in a rut that’s really important.  In the words of that great theologian and revived pop icon G.I. Joe, knowing is half the battle.

I pray that you’ll discover your rut and rediscover your passion.  Life’s too short to live in the ruts in a church as great as the Summit.  Stand up, be counted, and serve!

Want to know more?  Check out one of our Frontline events throughout the month of August or sign up for more info on specific ministry teams here.

It’s Volunteer Week both on this blog and the Brier Creek AM Campus blog.  Want to know more?  Come to one of our Frontline events or go here to sign up for a ministry team.

Here are some quick stats to get your Tuesday morning off to a great start (statistically speaking):

  1. One in four British children do not play any sort of organized sports.
  2. One in four American adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given calendar year.
  3. One in four orders of super-sized McDonald’s french fries actually have Filet-O-Fish particles in them.
  4. One in four people in the U.S. are age 18 or below.
  5. One in four Nebraska school children have the middle name “Wayne.”
  6. One in four attempts to lick a frozen flagpole will actually cause your tongue to freeze to the pole.
  7. One in four households have been a victim of identity theft in the last five years.
  8. One in four Indian immigrants who call Canada “home” will send money back to India this year.
  9. One in four people who attend the Brier Creek AM Campus are serving on a ministry team.

In case you’re keeping track, #1, 2, 4, 7, and 8 are actually true statistics (I know that because I got them from Google).  #3, 5, 6 are inventions of my own brain, because one in four statistics are made up on the spot.

And sadly, #9 is most definitely true: according to a recent survey of our AM Campus, only one in four attendees serve in ministry either on Sunday morning or at another time during the week.

At first, this statistic is very sobering, because we’re a church where serving is one of our core values.  However, when you consider that one in two AM Campus attendees have been here for one year or less, that stat isn’t quite as overwhelming.  For 50% of our people not to jump right in and serve makes sense when you consider that they’re still getting a feel for what the culture of the Summit Church actually is.

That’s why I’m so excited to highlight the opportunity for people to step up and serve.  Maybe you’ve attended the Summit for just a few months and it looks like everything is a well-oiled machine.  Maybe you’ve been here for years and you’re currently taking a break from service.  Whatever position you find yourself in, hear this plea from your Campus Pastor:

We want you.  We need you.  We want to partner with you!

There are no fewer than 300 opportunities for you to serve…beginning this Sunday.  You can be a part of Summit Kids.  You can join up with the First Impressions Team.  You can sing in the choir or run a camera with the Production Team or do almost anything else your heart desires!

Please consider how you can serve this fall.  Don’t sit on the sidelines any longer.  And if I can persuade you by using peer pressure, remember that all the cool kids at the Summit are serving.

…at least one in four of ’em, anyway.

Starting this morning over at the Brier Creek AM Campus blog, I’m running a series of posts that will (hopefully) cause an army of would-be volunteers to rise up from their fuzzy chairs, storm the hallowed halls of cyberspace, and demand to serve in some capacity this fall at the Summit’s AM Campus.

Over on that blog, I’ll be somewhat more diplomatic, because I should behave myself.  Over here on this blog, however, I realize that many of you are loyal readers, or at least tune in daily with the same morbid interest that you check the obituaries so you can say, “What will the fool say today?”

So tune in over there, and keep checking back here each day for the straight-up inside track on what’s going on with our volunteer teams for the fall.  And if you’re interested in serving, check out one of our Frontline events throughout the month of August or sign up for more info on specific ministry teams here.

Since this blog’s inception I’ve had a link to Crummy Church Signs in the “You Need to Read” section to the right.  It was with a tremendous amount of sadness that I logged on a couple of weeks ago and read of Joel’s decision to discontinue that blog.

Although I’ve never met Joel, I shared his combination of frustration / horror / humor over the fiasco that is known as the ch__ch marquee.  (What was missing from that sentence?  U.R.)  I’ve long said that giving a church a marquee is like giving a crocodile a baby…eventually something is going to go horribly wrong.

While I’m sad to see Joel go, I’m glad he’s going to leave the blog archives up for a while, so go there now and get a final dose of disgust with the way we market our brand of Christianity to a watching world.

But before you do that, check out this picture I snapped last summer and never got around to sending in to Joel…


Below is the full text of an e-mail I received earlier this week from one of our Brier Creek AM Campus deacons, and I reprint it with his permission.  Gang, this is the whole reason the First Impressions Team exists: to intentionally design an experience that takes a guest and eliminates all distractions, thereby exposing them to the gospel.  Great job, team.  I’m proud of you!

°   °   °   °   °


I just wanted to tell you what a great job I thought the 1st Impressions Team did yesterday. My Mom attended for the 2nd time and was blown away at the extra effort that went on in the rain to deliver the Summit experience. We were greeted by a parking team member going commando (no umbrella) with a smile on his face and a walkie-talkie in his hand, showing us the way to the drop-zone in front of the sanctuary.  We were then greeted (much to my Mom’s amazement) by a team of folks with umbrellas waiting to help them get my Mom, Wife and Infant out of the car under the cover of umbrella to get into Church.

Needless to say she was really impressed.  This top-shelf level of service continued all the way to our seats on the front left side of the Church.  There was a special touch of care from door to door.

We talk about the importance of showing God’s love from the moment one of the 1st Impressions Team Members sees a Summit guest.  It could not have been more evident than it was yesterday that the team has really embraced that attitude.  It is things like that that make an unbeliever scratch their head and wonder what could make someone go to all that trouble on a Sunday morning.  Hopefully this is the first of many revelations that my Mother has in wondering what is different about Christianity.  Please know that my wife and I really appreciate the dedication and service that you and our 1st Impression put forward each week.  I am honored to be a part of such an amazing Church and to see how God is moving in this place.

Many Thanks,
Blair and Aubrey Graham

I never thought I would be drop kicked and punched in the throat at the same time by Rev. C.J. Mahaney.

If you’re not familiar with Mahaney, he’s a pastor in Maryland, a prolific author, and is normally a very godly man, except for that one time last Monday night when he did the aforementioned throat punch / drop kick.

The assault came as I was reading a series of blogs by Mahaney titled Biblical Productivity. I was reading them more out of frustration than anything else, because I was in the middle of having an overwhelming moment / panic attack / pity party as I looked at my calendar for the next several weeks and the ensuing horror that would accompany the thing called my schedule.

In short, Mahaney came off the top rope on my self-sufficient ideas of busyness in my world.  He reminded me busyness does not equal diligence, it does not equal faithfulness, and does not equal fruitfulness.  He helped me to think of life and work in the realm of roles and goals rather than to-do lists and checklists.  He blew up the idea of scheduling-as-normal and made me consider what it is that my dependence rests on: not a schedule, but God himself.

I’m still sore from Mahaney’s attack.  I still have much to think about in light of this new way of looking at my busyness.  And I commend to you this series of posts, because it is seriously some good stuff.  But when you’re black and blue and bleeding from your eyeballs, don’t say I didn’t warn you.  C.J. ain’t no slouch.

Start the journey here.

I tell you, people, sometimes this blog just writes itself.  Below is a picture of my receipt from yesterday’s lunch.  Imagine my surprise and delight when I got back to the car and looked at what I had actually ordered.

So I want to hear from you…how would YOU caption the picture below?  Give me your comments…I threw in the first one to get the ball rolling.


(By the way, if you’re too confused to comment, click here for an explanation on why Oprah was on my receipt…)

Just in case you missed it, yesterday saw the close of a huge chapter of the Summit’s history.  After feeding thousands of people, setting up hundreds of tables, and repeating the process dozens of months, the Starting Point Luncheon is no more.

SPL began back in the mid-90’s under the cool hand of Rick Langston.  Back then it was known as “Discovering Homestead Heights” (the church was known as that too…not the “Discovering” part, just the…never mind).  Then when we went all Summit on folks, it changed to “Discovering the Summit.”  A couple of years ago, it morphed into the currently-known “Starting Point.”  But through it all, two constants have remained: we’ve gathered new friends over a plate of food, and we’ve shared the gospel in an attempt to introduce one more person to Jesus.

So the big question is, what’s next?  Is that it for Starting Point Luncheon?  No more lasagna, no more pot roast, no more filet mignon (you mean you missed that Sunday?)?  Here are a few ins and outs to help you know what’s coming next:

  • Beginning in September, the Starting Point Luncheon will morph into a Starting Point Reception. It will take place after each of our three services (on the first Sunday of each month), rather than one time at the end of the morning.  This option will give new guests the chance to get some immediate gratification and not wait upwards of 2-3 hours, as they are doing now.
  • Our pastors, staff, and table hosts will continue to drive the Reception. Part of the magic formula of Starting Point is the people behind it.  We’ll continue to have a rotation of people available after each service to meet, greet, answer questions, and get people connected.
  • Starting Points Part 2 & 3 will continue as normal. Both of these classes will now have a new home in the soon-to-be-refurbished Suite 111, but they’ll continue to happen on the two Sundays following the Reception.
  • Starting Point Marathons will continue to happen at Cole Mill, West Club, and Brier Creek Evening Campuses. Although you’ll see some changes coming in the next few months with the SP ministries at these campuses, for now it’s business as usual.

Yesterday was a bittersweet day, but I’m very excited about the future of this ministry.  Please join me in praying for these changes, and the myriad of details that have to happen between now and the launch in September.  And if you’d like to be a part of Starting Point, you can!  Contact Adam Moore for more details.

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