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

by Brian C. Hughes, Senior Pastor

Friday, July 31, 2009

First of the Month Building Update

Hopefully you have received the letter that was mailed to every family on the PCC mailing list this week. Some people let me know that they got theirs today. In it, we promised an update on this blog on at least the 1st of every month, though I intend to do it more often than that. Today is Aug 1 (can you believe it?) so here is what we know that is new at this point.

First, as was mentioned in the letter, the meeting with the mediator occurred on July 16. We thought we would hear a response this week from the former builder about a possible framework for a settlement that was proposed on July 16. We were told we would get some kind of a response in 10 days. Earlier this week we inquired through our attorney about the status, but as of the writing of this post there has still been no response from the former builder either directly or through his attorney.

Second, the letter was from the PCC Steering Team. Though they signed it, I want to be sure you know who they are. The current members of the PCC Steering Team are: Brenda Boggs, Carol Brooks, Ray Crews, Tim Dickson, Anna Holland, Rachel Huff, Brian Hughes, Shelton King, Angela Meadows, John Tiller, Matt Towler and Andy Vaughn. The Senior Pastor serves perpetually on this team. The other members are elected at the annual membership meeting in accordance with our bylaws and serve for 3 years. They are charged with protecting our church and they are on the frontlines of any tenuous situation like the one we are working through now.

During the past couple of weeks, we have:
  • Worked with the electrician and they are mobilizing again
  • Routed the septic line out of the building
  • Contained the mold, removed damaged sheetrock and treated affected areas
  • Sealed the building so that no water can get in
  • Secured the building
  • Met with Powhatan County soil and erosion control folks and developed a gameplan and timeline for some of the soil work left to be done
  • Had some trees removed behind the office trailer to prep for the earth moving operation
  • Retrofitted site to be OSHA safe. Put up temp handrails where needed, barricades as required, signage, and proper lighting
  • Waterproofed first floor walls and elevator shaft that should have been done by the former builder. These are walls where moisture was coming through and contributing to our mold issues
  • Dug out, formed and framed pads for HVAC units. On the surface this does not seem like a lot of work but it represents a LOT of work
  • Installed hundreds of feet of piping to attach our gutter downspouts to allow proper runoff of rain water
  • Laid out and dug footings for Portico Chere. Waiting on county inspection next week and we will pour the footings
  • Worked on loading ramp in rear of building. Filled ramp with concrete and stone. (not completed yet but getting there)
  • Formed and poured sills for doors in upstairs wing. This was a major reason water was coming in the building
  • Went through hardware package to get ready to put hardware on exterior doors (doors need to be painted first – met with Leader of Aesthetics team on colors for door frames – should have color by Sunday and corresponding paint next week)
During the next couple of weeks, we intend to:
  • Begin the process of finishing the installation of the heat and air systems. This will take a few weeks to finish, because a mechanical permit has to be secured from the county
  • Finish installing the final exterior windows and doors (frames and glass)
  • Schedule the erection of the timber frame Portico
  • Investigate and make decisions on alternative flooring options to save money
  • Investigate and make decisions on options regarding the plumbing trim-out (fixtures, etc.)
  • Mobilize the bulldozer so that we can move the dirt from behind the building and do the rough grade
  • Hire an OSHA consultant to be sure our building site is in compliance
  • Hire an outside, independent engineer to issue an opinion on the state and quality of the building construction at the time the former builder stopped working
  • Coordinate with the attorney to move from the mediation part of our dispute to the arbitration process. (A settlement can still be reached during this period, but this way we are ensured to begin the timeline on the next phase of the resolution procedure and, therefore, we ensure the process will happen as quickly as possible)
Don't forget about the important meeting we told you about in the letter. August 18, 7pm, at the Village Building in Powhatan. This is immediately next door to May Memorial Baptist Church in the Village. Call our office if you don't know where that is.

Thank you for your ongoing support and prayer during this season. By the way, I have personally and professionally learned a lot through this, and some of the learning is still in formation. Are there some things I would do differently if I had it all to do over again? You bet! There will be a time of broad reflection to talk about what we've learned when this is over. But the good news for me is that God uses trials to help shape us and to prepare us to help others. I'm grateful that God sends people to encourage us during these times.

A special thanks to all of you who have gone out of your way to reach out and tell us that you are with us!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Back in the Saddle

Well, I'm back from vacation and trying to get caught up. Should have posted something here days ago, but digging out after vacation can be a little...overwhelming. Here are some things that are on my mind:

  • Vacation was great. The water was warm, the weather was mild, the sky was sunny, and the beach was perfect. I'm so grateful that we have such an awesome staff that I can go away now with no worries about our church. I didn't take my laptop and, therefore, didn't check my email and left my phone in the car while I was gone, which is somewhat of a milestone for me.
  • It felt so good to be back on the stage on Sunday. With a death in the family together with a scheduled out of town wedding and then vacation, I had been away 3 of the previous 4 Sundays. I was really missing our church and I missed teaching.
  • Last Sunday produced a multitude of incredible conversations. For all of those who were uncomfortable, let me assure you that we absolutely connected with folks who are searching for God. Many have expressed to me that they felt respected and it it left them wanting to continue their quest to know God. They are open to the truth about Jesus and are glad to be on their journey at PCC.
  • Today, several members of our staff toured the new Westchester Commons Regal movie theater (at 288 and 60) for a possible eastern campus for PCC. This was extremely exciting and generated a lot of conversation about the possibilities.
  • We go to look at another potential site in Chester on Thursday.
  • Tomorrow, we have a one-day staff retreat working through a strengths assessment. Should be a great day.
  • We make progress with our building every day. A letter should arrive in the mailbox of every person on the PCC mailing list this week to update you on where we are and what we expect will happen next.
  • I'm really pumped about our next series...some really cool things that will be extremely attractional for seekers and folks who don't like church. Invite your friends!
  • I'm also excited about getting to speak at some churches that are special to me and to PCC in the coming weeks - Amelia Community Church and Coastal Community Church (in Virginia Beach)
  • Susan and I got to go out on a date last night...ate at Tripps (what an awesome place) and then bought a movie that looked great and came home to watch it. Crossing Over with Harrison Ford, Ray Liota, Ashley Judd. Looked great on the cover, but it was terrible. Don't waste your time.
  • Next week is the Leadership Summit. One of my favorite events all year. I'm so pumped about it! There is still time to go if you want to go with us, so let me know or call the office or yell or email or something...we want you to be there!
  • The PCC housebuilding project is almost finished and there are some very interested folks looking at it. I would call it a huge success. We certainly learned a lot in the process, too.
I'll have some posts about several of these things to follow up and provide more details, but wanted you to know a little about what's going on with me and our church.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Our World Changers have arrived in Macedonia.

They are blogging here.

Check it out and leave them a comment!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Need some help with food...

A very pivotal figure in Powhatan life passed away this week. Mary Harris was 89 years old, the mother of our own Mary Margaret Dickerson and grandmother of Mary Elizabeth Dickerson. Mrs. Harris was a lifetime member of our community and was an incredibly generous example to everyone.

The funeral is tomorrow and we need your help with food.

If you feel led to contribute food for the Dickerson family following Mary Harris's funeral, you may deliver it to Red Lane Baptist tomorrow, ideally b/w 2:00 and 4:00, but someone will be at the church beginning at noon if you need to deliver earlier. The funeral will be at 5:00. If you are attending the funeral and would like to help with the food end (setting up, boxing, etc.) you are more than welcome. The kitchen in Red Lane is in the basement of the church; I would go in through that bottom, side door. Follow the hall until you can turn right. Go down the ramp to the kitchen.

The family is so appreciative of your support, as is Red Lane. Many of their cooking folks are in Norfolk on a mission trip, so they are thrilled that we are helping with food!

Thanks for your care for this family!

Relying on God to Multiply

I suppose that most of us can relate to beginning a day and looking at all that you have to get done and thinking, 'there is no way'. That's how I feel today. I have 36 hours to finish 4 major writing pieces, make a couple dozen contacts, respond to a couple hundred emails... And then there are a bunch of personal things to take care of - banking, packing, cleaning, checking the oil.

I leave for vacation soon and am feeling the normal pressure that I always feel before I go on vacation. But I can't get that text out of my mind from Colossians 4: 'Make the most of every opportunity' 'Redeem the time'

God is the God of all things...including time and including physics. If He can multiply 5 loaves and 2 fish to feed thousands of people, than he can multiply my work to go farther than it would normally go under my human hands alone.

Maybe you have felt like I feel this morning...perhaps you feel like that today. Pray that God would help you take a deep breath, form a little smile, and trust Him to be the multiplier of faithful efforts.

Help us make the most of every opportunity today, God. Help us redeem the time.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Working with Leaders

I had a really great meeting last night with our Steering Team that went really late. But it was so good to be with them. Most people have no idea how important that team has been over the life of our church. They have navigated some of the most difficult waters our church has experienced and guided us masterfully to follow God every step of the way.

When we go through difficult seasons, God always opens doors to make good things happen out of bad situations, but we have to see and seize those opportunities. Putting two texts together helps this make sense to me:

"...we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28, NIV)


"Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity." (Colossians 4:5, NIV)

The Steering Team helps keep me looking to God for positive things to happen. They prompt me to ask: "How can I make the most of this opportunity to promote the Goodness of God in the midst of struggle?'

Am I the only one that has to make a conscious effort to do this?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Note From Beth

You may have noticed that this blog has been very quiet lately. I thought I'd sneak over and hijack it...

Perhaps Brian has run out of words; could it be?

Who knows for sure? He does have a LOT going on, and in spite of all the interruptions and crises, he DOES manage to stay focused on the things that matter. He is more excited about our upcoming series on Colossians (coming in August!) than I've ever seen him. Things are cranking back up at the building site, and plans are in place for a terrific time at the upcoming Leadership Summit.

I will say this: for the first time in history, he is SO FAR AHEAD in service planning that we have time for some REALLY creative brainstorming in our production meetings....

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Update On PCC Student Ministry

Here's an update on what's going on in Student Ministry from Angie Frame, Minister to Students at PCC.

Summer Student Ministry

Our student ministry, Phusion, is running fast and furiously this summer. Forty-one high school and college students and adults went on a mission trip to Knoxville already this summer. A week later, another team left. They are at a camp in South Carolina right now called Passport Choices. Next week the Macedonia mission trip departs for Europe. Whew! Makes me tired just trying to wrap my mind around it, and jet lag isn’t even an issue yet!

In the midst of all that travel, we are still offering some local ministry events. It’s summer, so we’re taking a break from our weekly small groups and our program (FOCUS). Instead, we’re offering events that students can come to, but more importantly that their friends and families can attend, too. Our summer schedule is designed for students to be able to come and have fun, even if they’re new. It’s a great, unintimidating time for students to invite their friends. We also welcome families and parents! Last Sunday we went to the movies together, and some parents and younger siblings came with the teenager.

Here are the remaining summer events. Hope to see you and your family there!

July 12 Bogey’s Sports Park 3-7
August 2 Laser Tag (RSVP to 598-1174 by July 12)
August 9 Karaoke @ Powhatan Village Building
August 16 Lake Party @ the Huffs’ home
August 30 Shaving Cream War @ the Hughes’ home

For more information about any of these events, please contact Angie Frame - PCCangie{at}gmail{dot}com or 598-1174.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Dinner With Old Friends

I only keep up with one friend from my high school days. Just one. Actually, Will and I have known each other since the 3rd grade. Will and his family were pivotal in my spiritual journey, as they were involved in their church (my family didn't go to church). They invited me to be a part of church life. It was in their church that I was baptized when I was 16. Will and I were in each other's weddings, too, and we have lots of cherished memories together. We can go long spells without talking and then just pick up where we left off.

We hadn't seen each other in over a year, but a couple of months ago we put some time on the calendar and the day finally came. He and Lynn and their 4 kids came over last night. It was such a great time. I especially loved watching our kids play and getting in the middle of it all with them.

As I reflect on my own words from Sunday, it reminds me that I just don't make enough time for friends. Note that I didn't say I didn't have enough time. We all get the same amount. No amount of money can buy even one additional second. But we are capable of 'making the most of every opportunity.' We took the opportunity...we 'redeemed the time' and it was good.

I'm looking forward to Wednesday when some folks from my small group will catch up (not everyone can make it) over some burgers. We break during the summer, but it's good to see what's going on with each other. We're redeeming the time.

How about you have some friends you need to 'redeem the time'?

Monday, July 6, 2009

God Speaks

One of the methods that God uses to speak to me (the one He usually uses) is to say the same thing through multiple, independent sources. So, a pastor who's blog I follow might say something and then somebody in my small group might say the same exact thing and then I'll read some piece of Scripture that says that same thing again and then I'm driving and see a road sign that says the same thing again. Finally, I respond, "OK, God. I hear you now."

Well, I just heard something clearly. Let me explain how the puzzle came together.

1. For the past few weeks, I've been thinking that, maybe - just maybe - we've gotten a little distracted from our basic, core mission - to reach people who are searching for God. I feel like I've been a little distracted from it in my personal life (I don't have as many friends who don't go to church or who aren't sure about Jesus as I used to) and, frankly, I feel like we've been a little distracted at PCC. We're still doing it, so don't get me wrong. We're just not doing it as well as we could be.

2. Yesterday, I really felt that God spoke to all of us through the scripture from Ephesians: "Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. (Ephesians 5:15-17, NIV, emphasis mine). We thought about what it means to make the most of every opportunity, and the focus was mostly on our individual choices about how we each spend our time.

3. I started thinking: What does it mean for the church to 'make the most of every opportunity'?

4. In the service yesterday, I got to meet two ladies who were there for the first time. They worked together at a local business and came to PCC on their lunch break! (because someone invited them, by the way)

5. This morning I get up and read from Colossians again. This is part of the text I read today: "Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity." (Colossians 4:5, NIV, emphasis mine)

To me, that was like God saying, "Look, I've been trying to get you to refocus your life and the church. PCC was created for a purpose. Keep your focus on the outsider and make the most of every opportunity." What does it mean for us to make the most of every opportunity when it comes to the way we approach and treat those who are not yet inside the church? What does it mean for us to refocus to our core mission and our core purpose?

Isn't it cool when God speaks?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

More thoughts on Redeeming the Time

John Ortberg wrote this not long ago in Leadership Journal. This is an excerpt from that and it is very applicable to what we discussed today. I think you'll find it worthwhile:

"Redeem the time," Paul says, "for the days are evil."

Or maybe it's me.

I have been thinking a lot about two of Jesus' agricultural metaphors regarding ministry over the past few years.

First, "Put your hand to the plow and don't look back." I have been doing that in my ministry. I have had an extremely strong conviction that I am to follow my calling in the place where I am and not waste energy thinking about other possibilities. I'm convinced I will grow in ways I would not otherwise if I put my hand to the plow and don't look back.

Second, "My yoke is easy and my burden is light." This one has been harder. I have faced difficult staff transitions and change navigation and new multi-site planting and fund-raising and often felt in over my head. I have often felt myself preoccupied and weighted down, and yet I feel as deeply called to what I'm doing as I ever have.

How do I put my hand to the plow but live with the easy yoke?

Several weeks ago my wife pulled me into the bedroom, closed the door, and said there were a few things she wanted to talk about. She said she was kind of afraid to bring them up. She had a list.

I was not happy that she had a list.

She began: "When our marriage is at its best, we are sharing it together. We share division of labor stuff. We partner together around the house—our kids see this. We each know and care about details in each other's life and work. To be honest: it feels like that's been slipping. It feels like you have been becoming so preoccupied by all the things you have to do, by all the demands you think are on your shoulders, I'm kind of missing the you I most want." …

She said: "When you are fully present…light, breezy, spontaneous, fun, ready to listen, alive to joy—I love that man. I need that man. I haven't seen that man around much lately."

It took me a couple days to process this talk, because pouting is more or less my spiritual gift, and I had to get that out of my system first. But I thought about the kind of life she was describing. I know that life. It's like I've been waiting for circumstances to change so I can live that kind of life.

I'm not waiting any more.

I started praying. God, I need some help. Ideas started to come. I need some wisdom, some accountability—and I watched God start to bring some of that into my life. I knew I needed either a therapist, a spiritual director, or an executive coach. And I finally landed on the best choice and started moving forward. …

And then, this thought: I can do this. I can set aside the weight of unfinished tasks and unsolved problems when I come home. I can be fully present and alive even though everything around me is not settled down. Each moment I can choose this; I can ask God's help with it.
And it's been like a mini-revival. I find myself thinking, when problems arise, Bring it on. Each problem is, among other things, an opportunity to exercise this muscle, to make it stronger. And if I forget in one moment, I can begin again with God the next.
I've been struck by how this can be done by anyone, anywhere. …

I want to live with my hand on the plow.

I want to live under the easy yoke.

I want to redeem the time.