Thoughts on life, leadership and the movement called the church by Brian C. Hughes, Senior Pastor

by Brian C. Hughes, Senior Pastor

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Clock Is Ticking...

Don't forget - there's still time! So far, almost 200 folks have taken 20 minutes to share their thoughts about spiritual growth and PCC through the REVEAL survey. However, we're only about halfway to our goal, and the window of opportunity closes on February 4th.

Nothing is more important to our church than your spiritual growth; but we need your imput!

Need help? Call the church office for assistance - we'll set up the survey for you on the office computer and help you navigate the process as necessary!

If you've already participated in the REVEAL survey - thanks! We appreciate your time and effort! If you haven't, please take the time to do so before February 4th. This is an undertaking that is most effective if we all share our thoughts!

Access the survey here; click on 'take survey now' or read the highlighted information in the text box on the front page of the website.

Thanks for doing your part to further God's work through PCC!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

PCCfit Update

Thirty-one people attended the PCCfit kick off meeting on Sunday - and then fourteen of us gathered at the Powhatan Library for our first Fitness Class! We're on the move!

It's not too late to get involved - but be sure to sign up on your own for the actual 10K! Check out for details. Registration closes SOON!

If you'd like to be part of PCCfit, we have several options available to you:

Meet outside the Powhatan High School track 20 minutes after the second service is over (we'll run a course, not the track!)
Meet at the Powhatan Y parking lot, poolside, 4:30 pm
Meet at the Powhatan Library in the large conference room, 4:30 pm
Meet at the PHS track after second service

For a copy of the PCCfit training guide, email us (

Our goal is to try to keep to the guideline of walking/running 3 times a week, cross training once a week, and resting 3 days a week.

Some folks want to get together at other times during the week - that is GREAT! The idea is to work toward this goal individually and together. We are coordinating information for everybody who is participating to stay connected and perhaps plan workouts together.

For more info, leave a comment here or email us.

Stay focused - and get strong!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Our Building, our Staff, and our Future...

We are crossing a pretty important line. It may not be all that important in reality, but it's at least significant psychologically. It's the 1000 line. For the past 3 Sundays, we've had over 1000 people in church each week. And not just barely over, but significantly over. Two of the past three Sundays were at or over 1100. This is only part of the story. On any given week, only about 60% of a church's regular attenders are actually there. The other 40% are away for all kinds of reasons - nobody is in church every single Sunday. So what that means is that not only are we crossing the 1000 attendance line, but we are also crossing the 2000 regular attenders line. That's a lot of people!

What does it mean? Well, in PCC 101 we talk about the structure of the church. Every church has one. Some structures promote growth, some restrict it. Some promote unity, others create division. Some maximize ministry, others maximize maintenance. In a growing church, the structure must be pliable, flexible, and changeable. The structure that worked well for us at 700 people will actually hurt us now. We have to be willing to respond to what God is doing around us.

This means not only adding more leadership and staff, but changing the fundamental leadership paradigm. Let me explain.

For the life of our church to date, I have been the point person for almost every major decision. To be sure, we have really awesome leaders who run ministries from students and children to small groups to worship to care to guest services to communications to administration to technology to facilities and on and on I could go. But when push came to shove, I've been involved in a very hands on way in almost every single critical decision - hiring, moving, building, budgeting, etc. I've been involved almost every time there was a problem, a conflict, or a potential stumbling block. I've made some poor choices and some good ones. But the point is that I've been involved in almost all of them.

You may not really know how much time this takes, but you can surely see that the bigger we get, the more of these kinds of things there are to work on. And I have become the bottleneck. In some ways, I've actually done what I always said I would not do - stand in the way of our church's mission. It wasn't intentional, but it is time for us to shift the paradigm.

Let me back up a minute, though...

Last May, we saw this coming. I asked the Steering Team to let me bring in a consultant who was very successful in planting churches. He is Doug Murren and he planted one church from scratch and it grew to over 8000 in average attendance. He has consulted with many churches and we knew he could help us. Doug spent 2 days with us, interviewing leaders, talking to the staff, etc. He had prepared for the trip by reviewing our history, our growth, our structure, our mission, and our data.

His conclusion was decisive. He said that we would not be able to continue growing much longer without an Executive Pastor (he said other things, but this was at the top of his list). This person would be someone gifted in management, analysis, and the details of implementing a strategic plan. Most Executive Pastors come out of the private sector - from business and corporate life. They are more likely to have an MBA than a degree from a seminary. They are passionate Christ followers, to be sure, but the set of skills you are looking for are not the same as for the senior pastor.

Almost everyone who heard Doug's presentation agreed that this was a very important and necessary move for PCC. But we frankly did not have the money. With the building that we are constructing, we have to balance the staff budget with ministry needs and with the need to pay for the new facility. So, we waited. The Steering Team was involved in every conversation I had with potential people to fill the post, but the conversations were mostly casual. Without the finances to make an offer, we just took our time.

After we hit our latest growth wave in November, we turned up the heat on this important decision. And now we are very close to bringing someone on board. He will likely start on a part-time basis and we'll phase him into a full-time role as we are able. He will begin by taking over the staff oversight responsibilities. But his job will not be simply to shift the workload around.

You see, I have frankly never been a gifted manager to our staff. It's not that I didn't coach and manage and help them with their work, but it's that this is just not my gift. Now fortunately, we have a really great staff. They are able to work with independently and with good leadership and initiative. They know when to come for help or advice. Still, with the right person in this role, we are going to be better than we are today and even more effective. This means that we will be positioned to grow further, care for more people, and be more healthy.

More information will come to you as I know it, but I wanted you to know that we were making progress on this.

"But," you may wonder, "is it really a good idea to add staff when we aren't yet in our building?" I'm glad you asked.

This picture was taken in November. I wish I could tell you that there was concrete and steel and a roof there now, but you probably know that the property looks the same today as it did then. But while the rainbow is no longer there, the promise still is. And it's a promise you can count on.
We thought we would be under roof by now. Unfortunately, the way the law works in Virginia, the court has to approve any borrowing that an unincorporated church does. When we voted unanimously in the fall to build this building, we sent the paperwork to the court for approval. However, the judge felt that the language in the official motion was lacking. So, we had to re-vote. That meant that we had to go through the official time for calling a special membership meeting. We voted again - unanimously, of course - and sent the paperwork back to the judge. But then it was Christmas and the order sat somewhere waiting to be signed for several weeks. Finally, just a few days ago in fact, we got it back. With this authorization, our trustees can now sign the documents with the bank and with the builder. We're about to get started. I know you are frustrated. I have been frustrated, too. But be just a little more patient with us. There is about to be a major change on that piece of land!
And if you haven't yet considered or committed to the Reach Campaign, I would ask you to do so. This is the primary way we are going to pay for this building. We have almost $900,000 in 3-year commitments, but we are still short of the goal. Please pray about this. Every commitment matters!
Now back to your question about staffing vs. building. I think that we have to be very careful not to look at these as opposing each other. Our church has always been committed to people, to growth, to reaching those around us who are far from God and outside of other churches. We cannot and will not set that mission aside. But we also must build the building. We have made aggressive commitments inside of our budget towards the building, and we will keep those commitments. At the same time, we will continue to do what is necessary to have a vibrant, growing, healthy church by adding ministry expenses, staffing, missions, etc. It's "both/and" not "either/or".
I am grateful for every person who has come along with us on this journey, and for those of you who just started. Together, we're changing the world.
If you have any questions about this, I encourage you to post it on this blog. We'll talk as a community and perhaps your question will get the conversation going.
See you Sunday,

Saturday, January 19, 2008

"Stick With Me, Friends!"

Humans were created with a spirit, mind and a body, designed to work together as a whole. As we seek to become healthy emotionally and spiritually-as discussed in our current series, Under Pressure - it’s important to remember the physical component. It's important, not only in an effort to achieve weight loss goals or improve our appearance, but to incorporate physical fitness into overall good health.

God wants us to think of physical fitness in spiritual terms. Living out a commitment to God includes honoring the bodies He has given us.

“…didn't you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy
Spirit? Don't you see that you can't live however you please, squandering what
God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of
property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So
let people see God in and through your body.” (1 Corinthians 6.19-20, The

Part of our commitment to encourage people in their spiritual journey is a new endeavor called PCCfit. Our initial efforts are built around the upcoming Ukrops Monument 10K Race. Whether you’re a running or walking veteran or a first-timer, we want to help! Our focus is encouragement, accountability and a free T-shirt!

PCCfit has designed a program to help and encourage you, to be used in conjunction with the Y training team (if you so desire) or simply to enhance your personal preparation for the race.

Here’s what we’ll do:

  • Weekly training for the 1 Mile Kids’ Run, led by Tricia Tiller. The cost to register for
    the First Market Mile is only $10. We will be using the Fit For Life Kids Challenge which is a program that encourages the kids to run 26 miles over the course of a 10-week period. You can pick up a running log at FMB or print one on-line. Kids receive incentive prizes at the 5, 10, 15, and 20 mile marks.
    • Weekly training run/walk, led by Laura Koelzer and Shelly Milburn. Time and location will be announced the week of January 20th.
    • Weekly Fitness Training Classes, led by Personal Fitness Trainer Roseanne Gutmann (call Roseanne to RSVP,405.3820). Classes will begin the week of January 27th.

PCCfit activities will not conflict with the Y Training Team activities, but can be an alternative or addition to your training if you choose to participate with the Y. Our hope is that by training together we can offer one another encouragement – not only to accomplish our physical goals,
but to incorporate a desire for good health into other areas of our lives. We can hold one another accountable – which always improves success rates! The best part will be the chance to run and walk together on race day, with our PCC friends and family cheering us on, knowing that we are
‘pressing on’ towards a goal that has great benefits for us personally and for our community!

Check out what Paul said in Philippians:

“I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am
well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for
me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all
of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to
Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back. So let's keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you'll see it yet! Now that we're on the right track, let's stay on it. Stick with me, friends. Keep track of those you see running this
same course, headed for this same goal.”
(Philippians 3.12-19, The Message)

Register for the race today at on the Sportsbackers website (click for a direct link)or through the YMCA training team. There is no charge for PCC training.

Plan to stay after the second service on January 27th to get final information about PCC training - and invite a friend!

Questions? Ready to sign up? Email or call 598.1174.

We’re off to the races!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

You Are Good is Israel Houghton's dynamic, passionate interpretation of Psalm 136 - and it's my all-time favorite worship song. Without fail, the lyric and the music help me connect with God in praise unlike any other. There's just something about guitarist John Shepherd says, "It's just a great key."

It is. And because I love it, because it's such an awesome vehicle for me to worship God, I get really into it! And, in doing so, I hurt myself.

It happens every time we play this song.

The photo above is of my fingers, the knuckles scraped raw from the six or seven glissandos that are peppered through out You Are Good. You know that moment, right before the chorus? People from every nation and tongue/from generation to generation...

Right before we tear into the next line - We worship You/hallelujah, hallelujah/we worship You/for who You are - I always go for the glissando. There are better, safer ways to execute this flashy piano move, but in my fervor, I usually just drag my hand across the keys.

I do so, knowing it's going to cost me. By the second service, it's hurting a little bit. By the time I get home, the flesh on my knuckles is raw and bloody, and it hurts. A lot. I can't wash dishes, because it's excruciating to stick my hands in the soapy water.

After a day or two, the new skin grows over the injury. It remains tender for about five days, but new growth replaces the old and I just keep on going.

Today, I couldn't help but think of the spiritual applications. There are a few for me, personally, but I guess the one that resonates the most is this: today, worship cost me something.

You see, because I get to make music - my skill - for God - my passion - with people I really love - my community - it's hard sometimes to see where Sunday morning worship costs me much of anything. I love every minute of it. It's the sweet spot of the week for me, every week. And what does it mean to worship God when it feels so good? When it's easy? When it just feels good for me? Is that really worship?

Worship is not about me. It's about God. We are called to worship him, and that requires setting aside our own needs to focus on Him. In His infinite mercy, He allows us the luxury of enjoying our worship. He's given us music and rhythm and bodies to use to praise Him. But, ultimately, the focus must be on God.

And it's not just about Sunday morning - not about showing up for church and singing or playing or listening and being friendly. It's about an entire life that's lived with God at the center. It's about Jesus infusing everything I am and everything I do and say.

I worshiped with a bit of wild abandon today, and it left a scar. It's nothing that won't heal - but while it's still raw, I pray that God will use this tiny bit of physical discomfort to remind me that He is worthy of all my worship - whether is comfortable or not. My relationships, my finances, my internal life - it all belongs to Him. And I pray that I can be as uninhibited in those areas as I am while pounding the piano.

Praying the same for you -