September 2011

Let’s stretch this out just a bit longer…if you didn’t see the recap in one of our weekend services, here’s a link to it, courtesy of the lovely and talented Josh Sliffe:


Church at the Ballpark from Josh Sliffe on Vimeo.


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Photo credit: Brian Fleming Photography (Except for the first three photos. Those were taken by me with the help of Steve Jobs.)

We’re too doggone busy.

We max out our schedules, stay too long at the office, try to cram too much in our off hours, and microwave our pop tarts.

But nowhere do we exemplify “busy” more than at church. Specifically, the Summit Church. Specifically, the Brier Creek Campus of the Summit Church.

Every Sunday, we tend to get there late and rush out immediately after. We want to beat the traffic, beat the Methodists to Bojangles, beat the childcare workers who sugared our kids up on Cocoa Puffs and now they’re climbing the walls instead of taking a nap. (The children. Not the childcare workers.)

Something tells me that’s not the way church is supposed to be. And this weekend, we’d like to introduce you to the antidote.

It’s called Church at the Ballpark, and it’s a rare opportunity for you to practice the spiritual discipline of relaxing. All five of our campuses will come together for a great worship service, and we’ll have plenty of margin before and after to do a whole lot of nothing.

If you’re thinking about arriving in time for the service, don’t. If you’re thinking about heading out immediately after, don’t. Plan to get there early (9:30 at the latest) and hang out afterward (we’ll have cotton candy). Meet some old friends. Make some new ones. Clear your calendar and enjoy your Sabbath.

I’m excited about the worship service, but I’m almost more excited about the opportunity to see the church be the church to one another. I hope to see you there!

You can’t really live in the Triangle area and not know about Church at the Ballpark. For the first time in a long time, the Summit Church will gather together in one location for worship. All of our campuses from across the Raleigh-Durham area will gather at Durham Bulls Athletic Park this Sunday, September 18th. We’ve spent months planning this event, and in four days…it’s here.

Fun stuff for kids? Yep. Wool E. Bull in a go kart? Uh huh. T-shirts fired at high velocity into the crowd? You betcha.

And that’s just before the worship service. We’ll worship as a family, learn as a family, celebrate Jesus as a family, and proclaim the gospel to our city as a family.


I just heard from one of our young professionals who said she’d planned on being out of town for months, but the appeal of this weekend has caused her to cancel her plans at the last minute. Perhaps you should join her! Grandma will understand. Your boss won’t fire you. Your team will play another game on another day.

You can help us promote the Park by changing your Twitter picture or Facebook profile using one of these logos. Send a Facebook invitation here. Hand out inviter cards like a crazy person. Point people the website for up-to-the-minute information. Make this sucka go viral.

That’s right. I said sucka.

We put together a brief video so you can find out all you need to know about Sunday. Yes, that’s me. No, those aren’t skinny jeans. And yes, I think I needed a slightly looser shirt or a tighter camera angle.

Church at the Ballpark INFO from The Summit Church on Vimeo.

See you at the park!

There are so many details we’ll never forget about that day: where we were when we heard the news. How we heard it. Who we were with.

We’ll never forget the shock, the horror, the tears. We’ll never forget holding our kids just a little closer. Calling our parents to check in with them and tell them we love them.

We’ll never forget the days and weeks of endless news coverage. Stories of loss. Stories of heroism. Revelations of who had done this to us.

We’ll never forget how our lives changed in an instant. Even if we knew no one who perished, we know that some of our freedoms did. Much of our naivety did.

There is much we’ll never forget, but there is much we’ve already forgotten.

We’ve forgotten that America didn’t lose its innocence that day. None of us have ever possessed innocence to begin with.

We’ve forgotten that we possess in ourselves the same impulses that drove our enemies. We may not act on those impulses, but we most certainly have them.

We’ve forgotten that this wasn’t only about hijacked planes and falling towers, but that those things pointed to something deeper within the human condition.

We’ve forgotten that this wasn’t us vs. them. America vs. a terrorist cell. Christian nation vs. Islamic radicals.

We’ve forgotten that our hope doesn’t lie in secure borders or stronger airport screening measures or a new and improved executive branch of government.

The gospel points us back to what we’ve forgotten. It reminds us that – just like the men who flew planes into buildings – we are the owners of idolatrous, deceitful hearts. We crave power. We lust after control. True, that may never manifest itself the same way, but the self-seeking desire is most certainly there.

The gospel reminds us that we don’t find our hope in the heroic efforts of the brave men and women who ran into crumbling buildings, who took controls of a doomed plane, who comforted those who were mourning. As deep as our gratitude runs towards those heroes, they must point to a greater Hero…one who died to save us, but then rose to rescue us.

The gospel reveals that terrorists needed a Savior. Heroes needed a Savior. Victims needed a Savior.

And so do you.

And so do I.

Today we mourn those who were lost. We give thanks for those who sacrificed for others. We show honor to those who are still fighting for our freedom a decade after the attacks. But we also must remember what we’ve forgotten:

Jesus is our hope.

I realize that our adoption news is so last week, and I also know that some of you are afraid that this is going to turn into an adoption crusader blog. You know: the kind where I tell stories where Russell Moore and I team up as a Batman and Robin-like duo, making baby runs to third world countries where we steal mopeds and raid orphanages and bring back infants by the dozen.

(Sorry, too much pizza too late at night. I’m having those weird dreams again.)

But I had to say one final word about our Haven and then I’ll leave the subject alone until at least the next blog post. Or until she does something cute. Whatever.

The following is the video of our announcement on Sunday, August 28. This was the last service of the day, so we’d seen two sides of Haven. The first side was 10:30 AM Haven: bright-eyed, cheery, grinning at the crowd. The second service was 12:30 PM-is-past-my-naptime Haven…and you’ll see what that looks like in a moment. (Hint: it’s cute.)

This video actually serves as a mashup of the two services. The full director’s cut of the 11:00 service is first, followed by the latter half of the announcement in the 9:00 service.

Yes, I know many of you who read this were there, but this is much cheaper than mailing our families a DVD.


Haven’s Intro from Summit Brier Creek on Vimeo.

Thanks to Julian Milano for capturing the footage, and Josh Sliffe for the edits!

I’m usually not a huge fan of chain Mexican restaurants. Oh sure, the food is usually good and my family digs ’em, so I’m there quite a bit. But overall, it’s not what I’d choose. I can’t handle the cacophony of “Welcome to our Mexican restaurant with the catchy one-word title!” being yelled every time someone walks in the door. I think the menus are far too complicated when the reality is you have two choices: rice / beans / chicken on a tortilla or beans / chicken / rice on chips. Why not just say, “I want it on chips, in whatever order you choose to serve it up.”?

Editor’s Note: Congratulations. You’ve just become your own grandfather. Lighten up, old dude.

But recently we tried the newly-opened Qdoba in Brier Creek. (Is it Cue-Doba? Kwadoba? Silent Q, just “Doba”? The world may never know.) Our experience there was good: the service was fast, the food was presented in an acceptable order of layers, the people were nice, and Jason Gaston didn’t get us thrown out of there by demanding a venison burrito.

But it was the experience after the meal that really caught my attention. As we were taking our trays to the trash, the young employee that was cleaning that area simply asked, “Sir, how was your meal today?” He stopped what he was doing, looked me in the eye, asked a clear question, and upon my answer, continued to engage: “I’m certainly glad you enjoyed it. I hope you’ll come back soon!”

That was it. But that was enough. In a segment of the food industry that typically hires solely based on a person’s ability to mumble and avoid eye contact, this particular fast food place won me over with that simple interaction. When the guy who collects your plastic baskets out of the trash can has the ability to focus on the win, then your entire restaurant will win. This kid was not the manager, nor the assistant manager, nor the son of either of ’em. But he was polite, he was proactive, and he engaged customers until the very last moment.

How about your organization? Whether you run a Mexican restaurant or serve the local church, can your people focus on the win and capture vision from top to bottom? Is everyone from your CEO to janitor bought in to serving your guests and keeping them coming back?


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