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

by Brian C. Hughes, Senior Pastor

Friday, October 31, 2008

Quite Simply, "Yes"

Marc Chewning, Robert Moroney, Elijah Schiarelli, Joseph Freeman, Andrew Basic

Last summer a team of students and adult sponsors went to Cherokee, North Carolina for a week of work projects and mission work. Like most trips of this nature, those who went came back with much more than sore muscles and finished projects. God dealt with people and, in one particular case, infected a group of five young men in an unbelieveable way.

Marc Chewning returned from Cherokee knowing that he wanted to do more to help others know and understand the love of God. Shortly after arriving back home in Powhatan, he was mowing the grass. A bird skeleton was lying in the yard; he noticed it and thought to himself, "That's gross." He passed the skeleton again and was suddenly impacted by a powerful thought.

"How many times do we do that same thing with people? Notice, think "that's gross", and turn and walk away..."

Marc couldn't shake the thought of hurt and broken people who were ignored and left in need, often by those who claim to follow Jesus and his command to "love your neighbor as yourself."

After a flurry of communication with some of his partners from the Cherokee mission trip, Marc felt certain that God was speaking, and clearly calling them to go. They weren't sure where they were to go, but the compulsion to act was undeniable.

With the strength of their conviction and the boldness that comes from an encounter with God, these five guys starting moving. In spite of the fact that they weren't sure exactly what was ahead, they unashamedly began to declare that God had called them, and they starting looking for the next step.

Their journey led them to the front steps of the International Mission Board in Richmond (in spite of several wrong turns and a brief period of being lost), where they simply walked through the door and made themselves available. They were warmly received and graciously encouraged, and it was there that they received clarification as to the path before them.

Marc Chewning, Elijah Schiarelli, Joseph Freeman and Andrew Basic are going to spend their Christmas break in China. They will work within the specific guidelines of a Mission Board project, but what they will do is not as important as the fact that God spoke, and they said, quite simply, "Yes."

In response to the need for an adult chaperone, David Samuel also said "Yes", and he will join them. Robert Moroney will be unable to travel to China, but he said, "Yes" to the call to support those on the journey from home.

This trip is not inexpensive. Part of saying, "Yes" includes a committment to raise funds for travel. There are other basic expenses for the journey.

This is where we can help. Quite simply, say "Yes" to the opportunity to support this team financially and with prayer. There are a few specific upcoming opportunities:

  • China Mission Carwash at Brusters on Saturday, November 1st, 9:00 - 1:00. This is a great time to actually meet these young men - and let them wash your cars!
  • China Mission Day at Allen's Chinese Restaurant. Tell the cashier that you are dining out to support the China Mission Trip, and they will donate part of your check total to help support the trip.
  • China Mission Ice Cream. Bring your church program or bulletin (PCC or any other church!) to Brusters on Sunday, November 2 and Sunday, November 9. Buy ice cream and give the cashier your church program. In return, Brusters will donate $1 to the China Mission Fund!
These minor opportunities add up and can make a tremendous impact on the efforts of these young men to make this journey. If you are unable to participate in this way, feel free to simply write a check and mail it to China Mission Trip, Powhatan Community Church, P.O. Box 834, Powhatan, VA 23139. Every contribution makes a difference.

We are excited about the privilege of partnering with these young men who heard a huge challenge from God and said, quite simply, "Yes."

Will you?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Fair Trade

Today, we talked about James 5:1-6.  I was especially affected by verse 4: "Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty." (NIV)  Originally, this was intended to reiterate the Jewish law requiring that poor workers be paid every day for their work.  This idea was taken from the Law of Moses 'Do not hold back the wages of a hired man overnight.' (Leviticus 19:3b, NIV) and 'Pay him his wages each day before sunset, because he is poor and is counting on it. Otherwise he may cry to the Lord against you, and you will be guilty of sin.'  (Deut. 24:15, NIV)

This teaching isn't literally applicable to most of us.  Even if we do have employees, our culture pays people weekly, biweekly, or even monthly.  But I believe that this scripture still applies to us.  I have been convicted through this text about what we purchase that is produced by exploited people who are not paid a living wage.  While our country protects workers with minimum wage and other labor laws, citizens of other countries are not so fortunate.  How can we know that what we purchase at a grocery or discount store was made by an employee who was paid fairly and treated humanely?

This is easier said than done, but there are a few resources.  Click on the links below for more information.

Ten Thousand Villages, a non-profit resource where you can buy merchandise and crafts from people in developing countries and know that they are paid a living wage.
The International Justice Mission, whose mission is stated as follows:  "International Justice Mission is a human rights agency that secures justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression."  There are ways that you can get involved and you can learn more through their website.

There is much more research that can be done.  Please share what you find so that we can all benefit from your research.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Guest Blogger Ray Crews

Guest blogger Ray Crews is a member of the PCC Steering Team as well as a volunteer on the Production Team.  Ray is also a blogger; you can check out his blog here.

Here's some great insight into the workings of PCC's Small Group Leadership Team, of which Ray is also a part (he's a busy guy!).

The A Team

In 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These men and women promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Powhatan underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire... The A-Team.

Do you belong to a successful team? I do.

I belong to a group called the Small Group Leadership Team, which works to assist my friend Sammy with the Small Groups program at Powhatan Community Church where Daleen and I attend. As a rule, I am a sucker for a good cause and unless I stop myself, I will pretty much always say yes when asked to volunteer for something. So, when Sammy asked me to help him, I don't think I even paused for a second before saying, "Well of course, I'd love to be on your team!"

For those of you who don't know, Small Groups is, in my opinion, where our church resides during the week in-between Sundays. Ours is such a large church, there is no way the church staff can work with everyone on an individual basis, and there is no way people can really form meaningful relationships on just Sunday mornings. Also, in my opinion, there is just not enough time for an in-depth discussion on some pretty deep topics in a one hour service, one morning a week. So, Small Groups were formed to bridge that gap. They are small groups of folks who usually get together during the week to just talk, eat, keep tabs on one another, and help each other out when needed. Of course, these small communities also do studies on the bible as well as other topics such as financial management, relationships, etc. Basically they do what I believe can't be done in an hour on Sunday mornings... build relationships/community, and have more in-depth discussions in a safe, comfortable environment.

So, the Small Groups Leadership Team is responsible for helping my friend Sammy with planning activities for the small groups community, providing training for small group leaders, finding new people to lead and host new groups, and get people who are interested plugged into a group that will suit them.

As a team, I would say like all teams, we have had our high points and low points. There have been times where I think we have been on our game, and times where I've felt like we're spinning our wheels and not going anywhere. We are friends, but there have been times of conflict. But the whole time, I have felt good about the people on the team. Everyone is committed to moving this thing forward and making it grow. I have no doubt about that.

Last Monday evening, Sammy and I met up and talked for a couple of hours. We're both some pretty busy guys and it had been a while since we just sat down and talked. We were both very honest in our discussions about our team and and we talked about what we had done well and what could be done to strengthen our team. And then, like many discussions we had before, our talk shifted into a more upbeat tone as we began to talk about what we could do to make the Small Groups program at our church grow and improve. This is the part when I think our team is at its best, when we start brainstorming ideas about possibilities. Everyone on our team is kind of a dreamer and I think everyone begins to smile a little more when the ideas begin to flow (I know I do). The best part is, nobody on out team is all that negative when it comes to the pouring out of ideas. We are a bunch that instead of asking "Why?" always asks "Why not?".

On Monday night, we exchanged several ideas which I think were great. I know others on the team have also met with Sammy and I'll bet they have also contributed some good stuff. The bottom line is that after thinking for a couple of days since our meeting, I am now a lot more energized and positive about our team and what we are doing than I think I have ever been, and it feels great. In fact, now I feel like I'm the one not doing enough and I need to catch up. It really feels awesome.

I am excited about this team I am on and I think we are going to make some pretty amazing things happen in the next year. In fact I know we will and I'll definitely be telling you about it here. I'm just thankful to be on a team with people who are willing to work together as a small community, a small group if you will, to build up something that involves people and relationships in such a positive way. I think when it comes to what we do, we are definitely the A-Team. However, I am still working up the courage to get a mohawk, a bunch of gold chains, and start saying "I pity the fool...."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Innovative Church Network

Innovative Church Network

You may not know that PCC is one of the churches that helped form the Innovative Church Network. It started as a way for me and other staff and leaders to connect with other churches like ours. I became friends with Jeff Boggess from Atlee Community Church in Mechanicsville, Mark Jenkins from Mountain View Community Church in Culpepper, and Hank Brooks from Coastal Community Church in Virginia Beach. Each of these guys is the Senior Pastor at their church. We hit it off and felt that we could really understand each other and the highs and lows, challenges and triumphs of leading a new and different kind of church. We talk regularly about staffing, our families, balance, teaching, structure, leadership, church growth, finances, buildings, multi-site, education, and everything else under the sun. We’ve usually spend three days in the summer together with our wives talking, having fun, learning from each other, and planning the ICN.

The Innovative Church Network came out of our desire to help other pastors and church leaders to find what we have – a common bond with others in churches that are different from those around them. Specifically, the ICN caters to churches that either reach unchurched people, or churches that want to. We favor peer-to-peer learning, through guided discussions that give us all a chance to gain insights through each others’ experiences. While we hope to employ technology to help us in the future, we currently physically meet once per month, from September through May, at Atlee Community Church. We do not meet in December or during the month of Easter. We meet from 10-2 and lunch is served, but has to be purchased.

In October, PCC’s staff led the discussion, which was about building teams. Breakouts included ideas about building trust, mining for conflict and building a team from scratch. We also invited Tim Kinnell from Powhatan Mennonite Church to come and share from his experience leading his church from a committee structure to team based ministry.

This really is a unique opportunity for churches like ours and it is well worth the effort. I’ve heard more than one pastor now say that they would not still be in ministry if it wasn’t for the support and friendships they’ve found at this network. If you’d like more information about the ICN, you can contact our office or Desiree Henderson at DHenderson at coastalcommunitychurch dot com. If you are able, I hope you will come and be a part of this sometime soon!

Brian Hughes

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Resist the Devil

Last week, we discussed James 4:1-10.  v. 7 says "...Resist the Devil and he will flee from you." At the end of my message, I told a story about a man who stared down a mountain lion.  I said that resisting the Devil was active and intentional.  We had to stare down the enemy when we are being tempted.  

But I didn't tie this together well.  I meant to quote Peters words, "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8, NIV).  This would have helped you to see why I told the story of the mountain lion and my feeling that resisting the Devil is active.

Sometimes I just don't wrap it up well.  This is one of those times.  Hope this helps add some clarity.

p.s.  The photo above is not a picture of me, though sometimes that guy does stand on my shoulder!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Churchwide Letter from Brian Hughes

October 1, 2008

Dear PCC Friends,

A couple of weeks ago, the topic of our weekend service was called “Making Ends Meet”, and we focused on Jesus’ words about money:

“So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:31, 33-34, NIV)

Jesus charged his followers – then and now – to focus our lives on what God wants and trust Him to care for our needs. Worry about money and material things is a distraction from the best life that God wants for us.

But Jesus is not telling us to bury our heads in the sand and ignore reality. Being a good steward means recognizing our financial reality and living within our financial capacity. That’s why I’m writing to you today…because it is important that we all recognize PCC’s financial reality. First, the good news…

From our inception in September, 2002 through 2007, PCC’s income increased 479%![1] That’s an average increase of over 100% each year for 4 years. In 2003, it took two months to receive what is now given in a single Sunday! During that same period, average attendance at our weekend services tripled and today we typically see almost 1,100 people each week! We have baptized almost 300 people; given tens of thousands of dollars to people in need; sent scores of volunteer missionaries to 3rd world countries, to Mississippi, and to help people in our own backyard. We’ve hired an incredible staff, bought land, started building, and planted a new church.[2] It has been an incredible journey and God has blessed us in ways we couldn’t imagine six years ago.

Now for the harder reality. It is no secret that our country is facing an economic crisis. The housing market is in the worst condition in at least a generation. Food and fuel prices are at or near record highs, while the supply of money and credit is at or near record lows. Banks, financial institutions, and other large companies are failing. These and other factors are starting to trickle down to the average person…and that affects our church. People are seeing their jobs eliminated, their incomes reduced, their retirements evaporate. It is hard not to worry, isn’t it? I find myself fighting the urge to be anxious about it all and to worry…especially about our church. I have to remind myself that Jesus told us not to worry.

But He did not tell us to ignore reality. So, I need you to be aware of the reality of PCC’s financial condition. First and foremost, we are financially sound. We always have been and we always will be. I and the other leaders of PCC have been committed to this from our very first day. We have practiced solid financial management policies. We have relatively low debt[3], and all of that debt is related to our building. We also have excellent audit controls in place.[4]

One of the primary reasons we are in good shape is that we are careful not to spend more than we bring in. As I mentioned earlier, our income increased dramatically from 2003 to 2007. But in 2008, the rate of increase slowed dramatically. Since our attendance is still high and all of the other measurements are strong, we can safely conclude that the troubled economy is affecting our people. For example, while September had the 3rd highest attendance in our history, it also saw the lowest per capita giving since May, 2006. This means that people, on average, are giving less. Again, I think it is safe to say that the economy is affecting giving at our church.[5]

How will this affect us? Well, again, we are committed to living within our means. Since actual income continues to be far below our budgeted income, we are soon to face some really tough choices. We are in the middle of our building project and that will move forward as planned. That leaves us with few alternatives. We have to eliminate every expense that is not absolutely necessary. We’ve been doing this for months. We also have to consider cutting back on our staff expense – either by laying off folks or reducing already below-market salaries…or both. Every staff member is aware of what is happening. This is not where we want to be, but it is where we are.

The church, like any family, goes through trials from time to time. That is what this is. You can help. If PCC is valuable to you and you have not been giving sacrificially, I ask you to consider doing that now. If you have not made a commitment to the REACH Campaign to help pay for our building, I ask you to consider that, too. From now to the end of the year (for three months), Susan and I are going to be exceptionally frugal and we will use our cost savings to make an additional contribution – beyond our normal giving and beyond our REACH commitment – each month. Perhaps you can make an extra contribution for the next few weeks, too.

We need to face reality, but we need not worry about it. We need to do what we can to persevere, but we need to trust God for the results. I’m choosing to be joyful in this trial, and I hope you will, too. There are many great days ahead for us!

Thanks for your partnership,

Dr. Brian C. Hughes
Senior Pastor

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” (Mal 3:10, NIV)

“Consider it pure joy… whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4, NIV)

[1] 2007’s undesignated income of $655,199 compared to 2003’s undesignated income of $113,154.
[2] Amelia Community Church. PCC is the primary church sponsor in this church plant.
[3] When our building is complete, we will owe approximately $3.5million, which will be roughly 3 times 2009’s income. We are aggressively paying off that debt.
[4] Go to for more information about our financial processes.
[5] It is important to note that most churches are reporting a decline in income. Our income is actually up, just not as much as we thought it would be.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


It's time!  We are so excited about this week's upcoming ImpACT project!

We'll be going out in two waves this Sunday (October 19) - one after the 9:30 service ends, and then again after the 11:00 service.  There will be directions, liability release forms and more information in the hallway after each service.  You must have a signed release form on file to work; if you signed one on October 12, you're good to go.

All of our projects are in the Bell Road/Powhatan Lakes area.  There will be Porta Potties and dumpsters set in place; although we encourage you to bring a lunch to eat before you start, the Grubworm Team will be set up at five different locations to provide hamburgers, hot dogs, chips and drinks.

We have some specific needs for equipment this time, especially for pressure washers.  It would also be helpful if you could bring these items:
  • extension ladders
  • hammers
  • lawn rakes
  • garden rakes
  • shovels
  • lawnmowers 
  • weed eaters
  • safety glasses
  • gloves
Everyone needs to wear appropriate work clothes and closed toe shoes.

This is a wonderful opportunity to step outside of ourselves, to put our faith into action and to make a tremendous and tangible difference in the lives of people in our community.  We encourage you to show up for worship and then go out to serve.

Any questions?  Feel free to call the PCC office at 598.1174.

See you Sunday!

BY THE WAY:  PowerJam kids will have a chance to make a difference today as well! They are packing shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child. These boxes bring joy and hope to children in desperate situations around the world and each contains a booklet explaining the good news of God’s love. During the morning services the kids will make cards, wrap boxes, then fill them with all kinds of treats. Please remember to being the supplies that morning. Also each box must have the $7 shipping costs included. If this is a financial burden, friends and siblings are encouraged to pack a box together or help make cards. We will have shipping envelopes and wrapping supplies there for everyone.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It's Rising Up!

With the current state of the global economy and the challenges of rising prices, many of us are thankful these days for employment.  A steady job and the opportunity to work and earn a paycheck is something we sometimes take for granted.

Several skilled laborers are working diligently to build the facility that will be our first permanent "home".  We are grateful for these people who are using their time and talents to bring this dream to life.  We are also thankful that we are able to provide an opportunity for these folks to support their families through gainful employment.

Take a moment today to pray for these folks.  Although it's doubtful that you know them by name, God knows them; and their hands are guiding into place the pieces of a building that will allow us to "bring up there down here".  We are fully committed to the vision God has given us to reach people who have been unaffected by traditional churches and guide them to become fully devoted followers of Christ.  We believe that this structure will allow us to reach further, deeper and wider - and to continue to do exactly what God has called us to do.

Your prayers matter.  Your voice matters.  Your contributions matter.
As I pulled in the lot this morning, I found myself cheering out loud in the car!  What an awesome sight!

The cross continues to stand firmly where it was planted when we broke ground.  This is a constant reminder of why we are devoting ourselves to this mission, and Who we live for.

"Servants, do what you're told by your earthly masters. And don't just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you'll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you're serving is Christ."  Colossians 3.23-24  The Message

Why PCC Doesn't Do an Invitation or Altar Call

Why Doesn't PCC Do an Invitation or Altar Call?

by Dr. Brian C. Hughes

Senior Pastor

It is a question that many people have asked me through the years.  I get asked this question regularly, especially from those who have had significant exposure to church, since most traditional churches do an ‘invitation’ or ‘altar call’ every week.  The answer is a reflection of our understanding of the culture we live in today.  Let me explain. 

Let’s say that you could plot someone’s spiritual journey on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the moment when that person crosses the line of faith and accepts Jesus as the Lord of their lives.  Forty or fifty years ago, most every non-Christian in the United States had lots of exposure to Christian teachings.  They not only had heard of Jesus, but they had been to church, to Sunday School, to revivals.  Everybody went to church, even if they weren’t Christians.  That was just what people did.  So, the average non-Christian was probably a 7 or an 8 on that scale.  It wasn’t a long journey to get from where they were spiritually to the place where they were ready to commit their lives to Christ.  A passionate plea from a respected pastor following a moving sermon accompanied by a moving hymn was effective.  Or a church revival service.  Or even a knock on their door and a visit from a deacon or the local preacher.  Non-Christians just didn’t have that far to go to become Christ followers.  

Things are different today.  People don’t go to church and aren’t expected to go to church.  There is no peer pressure.  The result is that we have at least one generation of folks who have little or no exposure to church, to Biblical teachings, or to Jesus Christ.  They aren’t unspiritual.  In fact, they are often very open to spiritual truth and they are often asking spiritual questions.  However, on the over-simplistic scale, they are more likely to be a 2 or a 3 or a 4.  They have a lot farther to go to be ready to cross the line of faith and trust Christ with their lives. 

Now, added to that, we know from extensive research (and from our own experience at PCC) that people today do not want to be put on the spot.  Unchurched people want to be anonymous.  They want to slip into church and slip out and check out claims of faith at their own pace and on their own terms.  By singling them out, we turn them away and they are very unlikely to return.  Unchurched people repeatedly say that they want a non-threatening, no-pressure environment to explore spiritual questions.  If we pressure them or put them on the spot, they will not come back.  And remember, because they are not as far along on their faith journey towards Jesus, it is very unlikely that they will cross the line of faith in one visit to church.  If we don’t get them back repeatedly, for a long period of time, they are unlikely to commit their lives to Christ.  

All of this is fine, and it answers the question ‘why don’t we have an altar call’, but it doesn’t answer the question, “how do we call people to commit their lives to Jesus”.  Several ways. 

1)   Come to Jesus Sundays.  Unchurched people tell us that they come to PCC for a variety of reasons.  Our children and youth programs are outstanding and kids love being a part of the activities and events designed for them.  Also, they tell us that they love the music, that church is not boring, and that the messages are relevant and meet them where they are.  Consequently, they come back.  We strategically plan times when we specifically talk about what it means to cross the line of faith and why they should commit to Jesus and become a Christ follower.  Then, I will lead them in a prayer of commitment.  Finally, I challenge them that, if they made that decision today, to not leave until they tell someone.  I invite them to tell me and I tell them where I’ll be.  I also point out other people on our staff or in leadership.  And I tell them they can share their decision with a friend or someone else they know.

2)   Baptism.  I tell everyone that Believer’s Baptism is where you ‘go public’ with your decision.  This is the Biblical model (see Acts 2, 8, 9, 10, etc.)  There were no altar calls or church service invitations in the Bible, but simply calls to follow Jesus.  (I’m not saying that it’s wrong to have an altar call, simply that it’s not wrong to not have one).  The place where that new believer tells the world is at their baptism.

3)   Small Groups.  This is where real community happens.  Small Group leaders are the real pastors of our church.  And Small Groups are the real church.  We say this is where you can ‘know and be known, love and be loved, serve and be served, celebrate and be celebrated.’  It is here that people often explore spiritual questions in safe, intimate settings, and where they often are guided to faith in Jesus.

4)  Personal Invitations.  This is how it worked when Jesus was here and how it worked in the early church.  People were excited about their faith in Jesus Christ and they invited those around them, at opportune moments, to also know Christ.  We won't change the world with church services.  We'll change it when people who say they love Jesus place themselves strategically in places, friendships, and situations where they can share their faith in natural, non-threatening ways without coercing and pressuring people.  This is what Jesus had in mind in Matthew 28:18-20.

The bottom line is that what we do works.  It works not because we’re right and everyone else is wrong, but because we’re doing exactly what God has called us to do.  We believe that Jesus understood and responded to the culture of his day, not changing his message, but constantly changing his method.  He said that He came for the sick, not for the healthy.  In six years, we’ve baptized almost 300 people, most of whom were adults and most were not going to church anywhere when they came to PCC.  In fact, half of the people in our church each week weren’t going to church before they came to us.

So, I hope this gives some insight to why we do what we do, and why we do things a little differently.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Parenting the Video Game Generation

Parenting the Video Game Generation
By Susan Hughes
Children's Pastor

As a parent, I am constantly aware of the TV shows, music, games, teachers, and friends that have an impact on my children. Of course I want the best for them. That may mean sometimes making choices for them – choices to not watch a certain movie or show, choices to encourage a certain friendship or discourage it. But often I am guilty of not leveraging the greatest impact in their lives – myself.

In a conference this week, I learned that the average 5th grade child spends just 40 hours a year at church, but 500 hours a year playing video games! WOW! I was convicted. Even though I am the children’s minister, my kids don’t spend much more time at church than that. And do my kids really spend that much time playing video games? Probably so. So what can I do? If I want faith and God to be an important part of my kids’ lives (and I do), then I am going to have to do more than just bring them to church on Sundays (unless they start making some Christian video games – yeah right). I can beat myself up and wish that I was a better parent, or I can take steps to make an impact on their spiritual development that complements that 1 hour on Sunday.

PCC wants to partner with parents. We want to make it easy for you to have a Godly influence in their lives. That’s why we print "take-home" pages every week:

In the First Steps with Jesus area (birth-K) your child should get a "Small Talk" page every week (or every month if they are in the youngest class). This page is designed for you to review the key concept and gives ideas for spiritual conversations at home.

In the PowerJam area (1-6th grade) your child should get a "Fridge Door" and a "God Time" page. The Fridge Door is designed for you to talk on the way home about the spiritual concepts that were reviewed in their small group at church. If you don’t have time to do it right away, stick it on your fridge and do it over a meal one day during the week. The God Time card encourages kids to spend 5 minutes with God on 4 different days during the week. Older kids can do this on their own and younger kids can do it with a parent.

I can promise you that a mom or dad who talks about the Bible or who prays with his child at night (even if it is not every night) will have a lasting impact in the life of a child! So… you don’t have to be a Bible scholar or think of these spiritual conversations on your own.

We want to help you be the best parent you can be and we want kids to grow spiritually too!
And, I’d love to hear about your conversations!

Sunday, October 12, 2008


More Thoughts on Listening
by Dr. Brian C. Hughes
Senior Pastor

In church today, we explored James' teaching on listening "My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry..." (James 1:19, TNIV).  I mentioned that I would give you additional resources before the end of the day.  First, I wanted to make available a few of the phrases I used.

Peter Drucker says that the most important element of communication is what is not being said.  Stephen Covey says to listen for feelings, not just listen with your eyes, not just your ears.  He also says that we affirm feelings through empathic listening, which is not a form of agreement.  Covey's '5th Habit' is "seek first to understand, then to be understood." 

Our job is to seek out spiritual truths through the pages of Scripture.  James tells us to be quick to listen, but he doesn't tell us how.  We have to wrestle with listening if we are to become good at it - like any muscle you might strengthen with exercise.  Covey, Drucker, and others provide us resources to improving our listening skills and living out James' teaching. 

Like learning to be proficient in math or fluent in a foreign language, there are critical elements to learning to be a good listener.  The first is information.  You and I have been trained to speak, write and read, but few of us has had any real training in listening.  We need some basic teaching.  For that, I recommend Steven Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.  While only habit 5 deals specifically with listening, I find that all seven habits help me in this area.  So powerful is this teaching that I bought the book on CD and listen to it every year, in January, as part of my personal growth plan.  First published in 1989, the book has now sold over 15 million copies in 38 languages.  You can find this resource at and you can find information about the 5th habit at

The second part of the learning comes in the form of practice.  You can't stop with knowledge, you have to change the way you listen (or the way you don't listen).  So, find someone you can trust and say, "I want to be a better listener.  Would you help me?  Tell me when I am not listening to you, when you don't feel heard, when I start to make the conversation about me."  And then let them coach you.  Over time, you will find your skills improving.

I'd like to hear about your experiences if you want to share them, so give me some feedback.  I'd love to listen... 

Saturday, October 11, 2008


One of the most powerful messages I have ever heard was from Jamie Rasmussen called 'Life Isn't Fair, Nobody Owes You Anything, But God Loves You Anyway'.  A long, rather daunting title - but a true and powerful message.  

It's true that life is not fair.  We discover this truth through experiences and through observation.  Many of us are in the midst of painful struggles even now that illustrate how difficult life can be when things seems unfair, unjust or just wrong.

A foundational part of faith rests in the hope that there is someone who understands, who holds things together, who has the answers; that there is someone with us in the midst of our most difficult, incomprehensible days.  It is often - and sometimes only - when struggles come that we are able to dig into the core of that faith.

New Life Church in Colorado Springs learned to lean deeply into these truths recently.  The very public moral failure of their senior pastor, coupled with unimaginable violence at their church, combined together to give the entire church community - and even the world - cause to question and doubt their faith, their calling, and even their God.

They sought answers, from a God who is big enough to handle any questions.  And their answer came, in a way that provoked an unbelievable outpouring of worship.

Thanks to Jan for sharing her own thoughts...

Friday, October 10, 2008

Budgeting at PCC
by Dr. Brian C. Hughes
Senior Pastor

When PCC first began, there was no track record, no history at all. Therefore, there was no way of knowing – or even guessing – how much money might come in each week. From September, 2002 through December 2002, the Steering Team met with Brian (who was the only staff member at that time) to approve the outflow of monies that had come in since the prior meeting. As you can imagine, this was an inefficient system. However, as I already mentioned, there was little choice.

By the time 2002 came to a close, there was at least some measure of how many people were coming to PCC and what giving was like. A budget for 2003 was designed and approved. Since then, the budget process has evolved to allow for our changing situations. What I intend to do here is to give you some information about our current process of budget creation, approval, and procedures for mid-year budget adjustments.

Every ministry in our church is supported by someone on our staff. This doesn’t mean that the staff do all of the ministry (not even close). It does mean that each ministry team leader has a staff member whose job it is to coach, encourage, and support them in their leadership. In August of each year, staff members begin to compile budget requests and needs from ministry team leaders. With much prayer, we try to assess the effectiveness of each ministry and program, determine if changes are needed, and discern the direction in which God is leading us. On a date set by Dennis Green, our Executive Pastor, the staff turns in their budget requests. Dennis asks questions that results in further adjustments and then creates one unified budget proposal, which he gives to me. I ask more questions and more adjustments are made. The proposal then goes through a review process that includes the Finance Team and Steering Team – more questions are asked, more adjustments are made and, then, it finally gets mailed to the membership of the church for their consideration at the annual members agenda forum and annual membership meeting, at which time the final budget is approved.

This may sound like a long, bureaucratic and inefficient process, but it ensures several things. First, it is thorough. By taking a good bit of time, we have time to pray, study, and think through each ministry and each financial commitment. Second, it ensures good checks and balances. These multiple layers make it so that authority is spread out and that there is broad support. Finally, it provides for a good bit of feedback and dialogue between ministry team leaders, staff members, the Executive and Senior Pastors, the Steering Team and the membership. The process may be long, but it is intentionally so in order that we have a chance to refine and revise at each step.

Of all the things we’ve developed, this is one of the most effective processes in our church. If you have questions about our budget or the budgeting process, I invite you to contact our church office and ask to speak to Dennis Green or Chauncey Starkey, our church Administrator.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Put On Your Hard Hats!

This was a VERY welcome sight today - the big yellow crane has been unleashed and is, as I type, working hard to move steel into place for the first permanent structure for Powhatan Community Church!

The energy and excitement here at the work site is palpable.  Even the workers are grinning and cheerful as they buzz around in their Bobcats, set mortar and fasten steel beams.  You can't help but be excited by what is happening here - especially in light of what God has already done!

Chauncey Starkey is the Project Manager for the building, along with his other responsibilities as the full-time Church Administrator.  He spends much of his time pouring over blueprints and plans and doing his best to ensure that the building process is proceeding as planned.

The primary task for these fellows today is setting the second story beams in place as the crane moves them into position.  They are focused on the job at hand; over 20 workers are here today, each with a specific task and area of responsibility.

Here, masonry workers are preparing the front of the stage in anticipation of pouring the actual floor within the next few days.  Sawing blocks kicked up huge clouds of dust and dirt.

It's exciting to see this part of the building taking shape, knowing that very soon our musicians and teaching pastors will be standing here leading us in celebration and teaching us from God's word.  Just last night, music and tech team members stood out here on the 'stage' before our rehearsal to pray for the church and the ministry that would take place in this room.

The workers are a fun and cheerful bunch; as I roamed around with the camera, this fellow gave a shout and said, "Take a picture of ME!"  He posed for us and I dutifully snapped the photo, while his co-worker laughed and said, "We ain't gonna replace the camera if you break it, man."

We are giving sacrificially and generously to make this building a reality.

We are getting a great opportunity to impact and invest in lives in a way that will resonate for a lifetime - and beyond.

...Go after God, who piles on all the riches we could ever manage—to do good, to be rich in helping others, to be extravagantly generous. If they do that, they'll build a treasury that will last, gaining life that is truly life. - 1 Timothy 6.18-19 The Message

Each of us has a hand in this project.  Interested in finding out how you can help?  Need more information?  Contact us at (804)598-1174.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Mighty To Save

If you have attended PCC in recent months, you may have heard "Mighty To Save" during one of our worship sets.  Like many contemporary worship songs, there is a story behind the song - and it's powerful.

In this case, the story is extremely pertinent to many of us.  As we talk about perseverance and staying focused on Christ, it's encouraging to see and hear how such faith is lived out in the lives of others.

Take a look at this short video about the composer of "Mighty To Save", Laura Story, and her husband, Martin.