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

by Brian C. Hughes, Senior Pastor

Friday, February 27, 2009

A few random notes

There are a few random thoughts floating around my mind to unload:  

  • Someone let me know that they found The Love Dare books for $8.19 each at Cosco.  That really is a great price.  But the book is worth $100 if that's what you have to pay for it.  Get it.  Read it.  Do it.  You won't regret it.  And while you're at it, watch the movie Fireproof.
  • We really could use a lot of help tomorrow at the church house building site.  This project is a key way that we are going to pay for our building.  Let me put this a different way:  We won't be able to pay for our building if this project isn't successful.  And key to this project's success is completing it with no labor costs.  Please come out and help us.  It is at corner of Deep Run Road and Boone Trail in Cartersville (23027).  Mapquest at 
  • Lots of people want to know when we will actually move in to our new building.  The answer is, we don't know for sure.  The building is likely to be complete in August.  If I was forced to place a bet, I'd bet on our big opening day to be the Sunday after Labor Day, but don't quote me on that.
  • Speaking of dates, you ought to plan on a couple.  April 11, the PCC Band plays at the County Seat Restaurant in the Village of Powhatan. Reserve your seat now, at the restaurant in person or by calling (598-5000), because it's definitely going to sell out. And on April 25, we will have our big Randy Lawson Memorial Concert at the High School.  We'd love to sell out the auditorium.   This is one of the best events all year.  Make it a special evening, and get your tickets soon.
  • On April 26, right after the 2nd service, we'll have hot dogs and drinks at the new building and we'll have guided tours of that new facility.  The dogs and drinks are free and the tours will be fun.  Bring your family and see what we're about to call 'home'!
  • It would be hard for me to overstate how excited I am about this coming Sunday's service.  The topic is raw and meets us right where we are.  God is going to move and grab us and do something remarkable.  We'll leave moved, stirred, shaken, and open to think beyond the small bubble in which we live.  Bring your neighbors and friends, your family and your coworkers.  Sunday will be a really big day that you won't want to miss.
Well, that's enough for today.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

myquestion: Is PCC Going Multisite?

Last week, we invited folks to ask questions about our church through a special email address. All of them were fantastic, thought provoking questions and we've tried to address them in a number of ways.

One question had to do with some conversations we've had in the past few months about our church moving towards a multisite strategy. You may have no idea what that is, so let me briefly explain before specifically address our intentions regarding the future of multisite for PCC.

Multisite is basically the idea of one church meeting in more than one location. Perhaps the best way to understand it is to understand what it is NOT. The traditional way to plant new churches is to create a completely independent church, give them some funding and perhaps some people, wish them well, and turn them loose. They are on their own. Their success or failure is entirely in their hands. There are pros and cons to this model, and there are many success stories (we are one of them). However, one important statistic is that over 50% of new church starts fail. Some studies show that number to be as high as 70% or more. Having studied this and having been a part of planting other churches, I understand why. There simply isn't the degree of commitment. This sounds bad, but it's true. When push comes to shove, I'll bleed, beg, go hungry and homeless to make PCC work. And though my commitment level for other churches we plant may be high, it won't be that high.

But when we have a satelite location, it is a part of who we are. It's not a separate entity - it's PCC. The multisite phenomenon has been bearing out the higher commitment in the results: satelites have a startling success rate...well above 90%.

So what, exactly, is 'multisite'? Well, it's where a church would take it's DNA and replicate it in another location. Not a different church, but the same church - same mission, same style, same focus. There are tremendous efficiencies (we call these economies of scale) because you don't have to have duplications in many administrative functions like you would if you created a completely separate church. Therefore, it's a more effective use of Kingdom Resources, too.

If you want to see some churches who are doing multisite really well, look at:
  • Seacoast Community Church in South Carolina
  • in Oklahoma
  • Granger Community Church in Indiana
  • National Community Church in Washington, D.C.
  • NewSpring Community Church in South Carolina
  • Community Christian Church in Illinois
There are plenty of other churches doing this really well, but these are a few that I look at regularly.

Why would we consider doing this? Well, we are drawing people from a long way, for one thing. At our last 101, there were folks from Buckingham, middle Henrico, Chester, Short Pump, Cumberland, Mechanicsville and everywhere in between. We're clearly scratching an itch, but people will have a hard time driving that kind of distance indefinitely. Being able to establish a PCC presence closer to some of these areas would allow us not only to meet the needs of those folks, but would allow us to broaden the reach.

So, I've begun to think about our building like the center of a hub. What if we had a location in Goochland, Midlothian, Cumberland and even Chester? I'm just dreaming - I don't know how to pull this off, but some churches are reaching hundreds and thousands of people through this model and still reaching people in their own community. They are leveraging their DNA - the DNA that God gave them. They are allowing God to 'multiply the loaves and fishes''s very exciting, if you think about it.

Now to the question. Are we going to do it? I have no idea. We have the first right of refusal on an unbelievably great location to the east (right at the intersection of Routes 288 and 60). We've paid no money and committed no money. We're still investigating. Some of our leaders are going to NewSpring Community Church in about 10 days and part of our time there will be spent investigating the multisite idea. Dennis Green and I spent a couple of days at National Community Church last fall looking at the concept. I've been reading about it.

But at the end of the day (and this is very important for you to hear) we aren't going to move on this or any other bold new direction for our church until we can answer this question: How are we going to pay for our building? Right now, there is still some uncertainty as to how we will pay for the final bill on our building and how we will get the debt paid off in a reasonable period of time (say 5-8 years). Dennis Green works on this every day. It's one of his primary roles. And there isn't a day that goes by that it's not on my mind.

If the economy hadn't gone south and affected so many people - our people, too - I probably would already have led our church into a multisite strategy. But we were in the middle of our building project when things went south in the economic world. Until we can answer the financial questions surrounding our building, ensure that we are on absolutely solid ground, know that our staff is going to be able to be paid fairly so that they can effectively do their jobs without having to worry about putting food on the table, I won't lead us in any new initiatives like multisite.

But that doesn't mean that I won't get us ready so that once part A is done, we can pull the trigger on part B.

Whoever asked this question, can I say, "way to go!" Thanks for asking.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Pictures of Folks Who Helped Today

Yesterday and Today, a number of people came out to help our house building projects.  If you haven't been reading the updates on this blog, I would encourage you to start with my post from January 31 and keep up from there.  This is an important part of our strategy and we really need your help.  Especially right now, when many of us have fewer dollars to work with and less money to give, we can still help pay for our church building with our time. (This doesn't mean we don't need financial contributions, and I am very grateful for those who can and do continue to be faithful with REACH Campaign commitments).

Anyway, here are a few of the great pictures from yesterday and today...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Is Building Houses a Distraction for PCC?

(This post refers to the project referenced in the January 31 post entitled "Good Things Are Happening")

One really good question that people frequently ask me is this:  "Isn't this whole idea of building a house a distraction from our core mission?" The answer is surprisingly simple:  Yes it is.  No question about it.

Let me take you back in time to the weeks leading up to our church's first Sunday.  I had extensively researched why people don't go to church and knew that one of the top reasons was the perception that the church was out to get peoples' money.  To overcome this, I resolved that we would never pass an offering basket at PCC.  Instead, we would simply put offering boxes at the back of the room and encourage anyone who felt so led to put their gifts to the church in there on their way in or out of the service each week.  

Attendance at PCC grew exponentially.  Giving, on the other hand, was dismal.  It wasn't that it didn't grow at all, but that it didn't keep up.  The hard reality is that people expect a church to do certain things and the larger the church, the more money it takes to do them, but the money simply wasn't there.  We were dying before we had hardly begun, but you would never have known it because there were hundreds of people coming every week!  People just didn't put money in those boxes for all kinds of reasons.

So, I went to our Steering Team and said, "We have  to start passing an offering basket each Sunday."  Their passionate reply:  "NO!"  "No.  Brian, don't you remember that unchurched people say that they don't come to church because they believe the church just wants their money?"  

In other words, they were asking this question:  "Won't passing the basket be a distraction from our mission?  Won't doing this deter some from coming to our church?"  The answer was surprisingly simple.  Yes it will.  No question about it.

But we had to weigh the cost vs. the benefit.  If we die right here, in this gymnasium (we met in the elementary school gym at that time), because we run out of money, how many people won't be reached?  Or, to put it another way:  How many people would we otherwise reach if we are able to keep going who we won't reach if we die?   We had to put that question against this one:  How many people will we turn away because we will confirm their stereotype that all we want is their money by passing an offering basket?  

We decided that some, in fact, would walk away.  And we were right.  Some left and they never came back.  They thought we betrayed our promise, diverted from our purpose, and distracted from our mission.  I lament those losses.  Every one of those people matter.  I grieve that they felt betrayed.

But as I look back, I can't help but to think of how many more came to church because we were able to remain viable.  And how many of those came to know Christ?  The answer:  Hundreds.

Now fast forward to these house building projects, and our original question:  Is this activity a distraction?  Yes it is.

It takes some energy for me and others to do these projects that we could otherwise be putting towards reaching and serving people.  Frankly, I'd rather be doing those things.  I'm not called to be a builder or a fundraising expert or a finance guru or a dealmaker.

But we also have to consider the cost.  The economy went south in the middle of our building project, which dramatically hurt most of our folks' ability to give to our building program.  Further, the end of the PCC Building project is quickly coming and we have a bill to pay.  To do nothing would put our church in jeopardy.  We weighed the cost of the distraction vs. the benefit.  The obvious benefit is money.  These projects, because they are done largely with volunteer labor are hugely profitable.  

But the benefit is not just money.  Imagine the emotional freedom of knowing that we are able to pay our bills.  Most people can relate to the burden of wondering week in and week out how they are going to pay their mortgage.   So, solving the problem was a distraction on the one hand, but it also  allowed us to be less distracted because we no longer had to worry about how we would get this monkey off of our backs.

All of this is to say that I believe the benefit is worth the cost.   Would it be ideal if some wealthy benefactor just donated a few million and we could get back to the one thing we are called to do?  Sure.  Absolutely.  Let me know if you want to be that person.  Otherwise, I'm just glad God gave us the gift of creativity, some talented and skilled people, and a healthy sense of discernment.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

We need your help

First, read the post from January 31, called 'Good Things are Happening', if you haven't read it already.  It's long, I know, but it will help you to understand what we're doing.  

Then, if you can and are willing, we need your help.  This week we're beginning to frame these houses.  We'll be framing at least one on Friday and Saturday (maybe both).  We need lots of people.  You don't have to have any skill - and everyone can help.  This is a way that you can make a real difference in paying for our building, so if you can join us on Friday or Saturday or both, please come out and help us.  It will be fun, there will be lots of us there, and you will know you are making a difference.

Also, if you are able to help any other time this week, we need some help with block work and a few other things.  Please contact Dennis Green at Dennis dot Green at Powhatan Community Church dot org.

I'll be there all day Friday and Saturday, along with my Susan and my Dad and a couple of my teenagers.  Looking forward to seeing you there, too.

The Love Dare

Today, I talked about the Love Dare book.  Coupled with the movie, Fireproof, it's one of the most powerful relationship and marriage building tools I've ever seen.  I can't overstate how much I urge everybody to go get this book, watch the movie (which is available for rent at the movie store) and spend 40 days taking the book seriously.  You can get more info at and you can find the book just about anywhere.  It's a NYTimes best seller.

Let me know how it goes.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

What You See Is What You Get

If you were at PCC today, you saw a powerful video about image and beauty. Here it is, with thanks to creator Nick Caster.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

God Stories

Recently, Angie Frame shared a few "God Stories" with the staff and her leadership team, demonstrating the ways in which she's seen growth and evidence of God moving in the lives of students at PCC. Here are a few examples:

Facebook Notes 25 Random Things About Me
A current craze on Facebook is the "25 Random Things About Me".  People write any 25 things about themselves that they want and share them with the Facebook community. Look at how PCC and its student ministry made the lists of a few kids:

"I go to the best church in the world, PCC."
"I love Jesus, He's the man!!"
"JAM is my favorite thing during the week to go to."
"I love my small group."
"Phusion and JAM get me through the week."

An anonymous student gave Angie his Christmas money when he learned that she was going to be part-time at PCC. He wrote a long letter about how much Sammy and Angie have meant to him and his spiritual growth. The gist of it was that they'd devoted their whole lives to serving other people, even when they are often ungrateful, and he figured it was time for him to serve them.

World Changers Knoxville
On the morning of the deadline to register, there were 30 spots and 15 people. By the end of the deadline, 30 spots were filled and we had to call to see if we could get some more! Eleven students who’ve never been on a trip with PCC before have signed up. Four adults who’ve never been on a trip with PCC before have signed up. Our guest speaker for the fall retreat saw on Facebook that PCC was going, and she wants to come along. Three college students are also attending!

If you are a student in 7th - 12th grade, Phusion Student Ministries is a great way to get plugged into doing life as a Christ-follower.  If you are an adult looking for a place to serve, there might be an opening for you in student ministry.  Either way, it's a great way to connect with others and be part of the exciting, life-changing things happening at PCC!

Interested? Want more info?  Contact Angie Frame (