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

by Brian C. Hughes, Senior Pastor

Friday, December 31, 2010

You Can Still Help

Church was cancelled last Sunday for most PCC people. It was really cool that 130 people came to Powhatan. I was surprised - I thought we'd see like...TEN. And over 100 computers tied in to the online service. It was really neat.

But that still means that 80% or so of our normal attenders didn't come to church either physically or virtually. Among other things, this dramatically affected giving.

Normally, giving is up and down - part of the normal cycle of a month. But this was the last Sunday of the year, and a very low offering will have a pretty dramatic impact. Our two largest budget items - building payment and staff - still happen, even if we don't have church.

Today, you can still help! If PCC is where you call home or a place you love and can support, let me encourage you to give today. It's December 31, and if you postmark your envelope today or give online today, your giving will be reflected on your 2010 giving statement, making it a tax-deductible contribution for this year. (see below for addresses)

Thanks for your help and for your support of our church. God has done some remarkable things in 2010, and that is sure to continue into next year!

Give online by clicking here.

Mailing Address:
P. O. Box 834
Powhatan, Virginia 23139

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Proverbs 30

I have been reading Proverbs for a couple of months now. One chapter every day - whichever chapter corresponds to that day of the month. It's convenient, since there are 31 Proverbs (or chapters).*

Today, I read the 30th chapter. Written by Agur (I don't know anything about him). Somewhat weird, especially the beginning. Here's a guy who says he's gotten no wisdom and doesn't really know or understand God...and then he goes on to say, "Every word of God is flawless..." and other praises. I haven't figured this one out yet.

However, the reason I write about it today concerns Agur's deep thinking. He takes his time to ponder the way 'things' are - in nature, in life, in relationships.

"There are three things that are never satisfied...the grave, the barren womb, land - which is never satisfied with water." (v.15-16)

"There are [four] things that are too amazing for me - that I do not understand...the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a snake on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a maiden." (v.18-19)

I don't think enough...ponder enough. I don't sit on the front porch in a rocking chair and consider enough. I don't listen enough to the voice of God speaking through the creation and the world around me. Proverbs 30 is helping me...even though I may not understand every part of it. Maybe it can help you, too.

*there are actually many proverbs contained in every chapter, so I prefer to say that there are 31 'chapters' instead of 31 'proverbs'.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Social Media Christmas

As promised, here is the video we showed at church today...I recommend reading Luke 1-2 first, if you haven't done that recently:


PCC is only having ONE service today: 11:15 at the Powhatan Campus. You can see the online service today at You can go there directly by CLICKING HERE.

No church at Westchester and no 9:30 service at Powhatan.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Snow Sunday?

As you probably know, they've been talking about Christmas day and Sunday snow for the whole week. Today, they are saying it's less likely, as the storm seems to be taking a more easterly track. Still, we will post ANY changes we make due to weather in several ways:
  • this blog
  • local tv (especially channels 12 and 8)
  • twitter
  • facebook
  • the website
  • the church phone voicemail message
  • an email to everyone in our database
If we were to get a ton of snow this weekend or any other weekend, we will at least have a live broadcast on the internet (assuming we have electricity), like we did twice last winter.

Hope to see you tomorrow at the Christmas Eve services!


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Eve and December 26!

You do NOT want to miss the VERY special Christmas Eve service we have planned, called God with Us. I'm really excited about how moving this special evening will be. And, for the first year ever, we have 3 services (the first 2 offer childcare).

Invite your friends! At this service, we will share the message of Jesus Christ in a very non-threatening, simple way that people will understand, regardless of their religious background.

Second, you can help. We need folks to help with parking, greeting, and childcare. I know this is a very busy night for many families. This service is a great gift to our community. Lives will be changed. Why not make helping out at one of the services a family event for you and your family?

Finally, the day after Christmas is Sunday and we have a GREAT service lined up for you. We'll continue some Christmas music and have a fantastic celebration together!

Hope to see you there Christmas Eve and next Sunday!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A few questions about Luke 1-2:

  • After reading Luke 1-2, name the things you know about:

  • Which characters in the Christmas story are NOT in Luke's account (who is usually in the nativity scene that is not mentioned by Luke)?
  • Why was Zechariah unable to speak?
  • There are 2 songs in Luke 1 sung by 2 different people. Who are they? Why are they singing? What is their message?
  • John has a unique way of greeting Jesus the first time he 'meets' Jesus (from his mother's womb). What does he do?
  • Elizabeth and Mary were both unlikely candidates for motherhood. Why?

Don't limit your family time to these questions. Work through the scripture.

And also consider the 3 things we talked about today:

  1. How are you making the paths straight for Jesus to be in your life?
  2. Is there someone around you to whom you can give some time, and help fill in their valley this Christmas?
  3. Is God calling you to give to families in need this year - helping level their mountain of need or hunger or pain? Where should you give? There are lots of options - from individual families to the Salvation Army. You can also give to those folks through PCC. Click here to give through our website. There is an option for 'help others in need' and 100% of your donation would be given to a family in need of help.

Hope this helps you prepare for His coming this Christmas!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Help

If you are interested in helping some families in need this Christmas, Mary Ellen Freeman is coordinating the effort. We have more families to help than we have resources at this point, so if God has been nudging you about this, now is a great time. Contact Mary Ellen at

Thanks for what you can do this Christmas.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Need help planning for a service...

We are looking at the January 2 service, when we will 'look back' at 2010 and pick out the memorable moments. I was hoping you could help.

What were the really memorable moments? I need more than just a particular Sunday, but something specific. So far, I've thought of things like:

When I taught from the cage on the final Sunday of Wild Goose Chase
When we had the service 'in the round'
Launching Westchester
Our first Sunday in the Building
We helped some new, upcoming artists this year - like Nathan Wheeler and Alex Sabatini.
John Ivins and Beth Brawley Stoddard both did some teaching
The pastor swap in August (which included 'coffin' Sunday)

Tell me about the cool, memorable, or even the 'bad' moments we may have had. Tell me about a particular song, drama, video, teaching, etc. This will help us choose the right moments to highlight as we pause to look back before we turn the page and look forward. Last year, this was a really cool service, and -with your help - it will be again this year.

Email your ideas to or simply post a comment on this blog.

Thanks for your help!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Finally...excitement about Christmas has come!

Every year, I struggle with Christmas. Every year. It's not the shopping, decorating, spending and eating - although those things certainly get to me from time to time - but it's a burden I feel. I want to say something fresh and new and exciting. I've been coached to just 'tell the story', but I want it to be seeing it for the first time again.

Christmas this year was a chore...until this week, when the light finally came on inside of me and I saw things I had never seen before. I'm (finally) so EXCITED about Christmas @ PCC this year! Let me give you a little preview:

This coming Sunday, I'm going to talk about THE real meaning of Christmas. Now, to be sure, every pastor in America will have a 'Jesus is the Real Reason for the Season' message. But this is not it, I assure you. You don't need to come to church for that. You've already heard it. Many of you already believe it. But I think I have discovered a better answer - a more complete answer - to the question, "What is the real meaning of Christmas?" It starts with Jesus, but it ends somewhere else. That ending - that ultimate reality of Christmas - ought to change the way we think and it should change the way we live our lives. On Sunday, I'll share my discovery with you.

December 19th, I'm going to talk about preparing ourselves for Christmas. Not the 'am I finished shopping' version, but the more spiritual variety. This may sound a little cheesy to you, but Christmas is serious business, from God's perspective. Humanity was preparing for decades, even centuries for Jesus' birth. So, are there ways that we can use these few days to be better prepared for what God wants to do in us? Even for people who are not yet convinced that Jesus is for real, if you are open to the notion, you can prepare yourself to hear what God wants to say to you this Christmas. We'll see the Bible's idea of how that works and I'll give you some practical things you can do in the final stretch before Christmas.

Christmas Eve. This has become one of the most incredible evenings of the entire year for our church. Our team, under Sandy Sabatini's faithful leadership, has been working on this event for months. This Christmas Eve will be a simple, familiar reminder about what God has done for us, and we will have and intimate, private moment to respond to Him.

The day after Christmas is a Sunday, and that day I'm REALLY excited about sharing from 2 obscure characters in the Bible that I've never taught about before. They responded to the coming of Jesus in the days after He was born and then we never see these 2 folks again. God wants to show us something significant through their rarely discussed actions. I can't wait to share with you what God showed me!

Don't miss Christmas at PCC this year! These next few weeks are going to be great!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas Eve and Blue Christmas

Just to be sure everyone knows...

Christmas Eve, we will have THREE services, all of them will be at the Powhatan Campus. 4:30pm, 6:15pm and 8:00pm.

Tonight, our Blue Christmas Service is at 7pm at Winfree Memorial Baptist Church in Midlothian.

Thursday, our Blue Christmas Service is at 7pm at the Powhatan Campus.

Looking forward to seeing you!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Hodgepodge of Things...

We had another very exciting day at PCC today. Lots of cool changes happening, lots of buzz. I'm really glad that Beth Brawley Stoddard and John Ivins both stepped in for me in the past few weeks. Teaching every week takes a lot of energy and time, and their work allowed me to do some other kinds of leadership that I needed to do one week and take a vacation the other one. I'm planning to be the teaching pastor for the next several weeks now, and I'm quite excited about it!

  • Today, I taught about prayer in a tongue-and-cheek way, by teaching 'How to NOT hear God speak.' 3 things: Do all the talking (see Rom 8:26-27, Matt 6:7-8; Be a spoiled brat (see 1 Sam 8, Phil 4:6, Ps 37:4); and Maximize the Distractions.
  • This coming week, we are having our Blue Christmas services. You don't want to miss this special service, offered Tuesday and Thursday evenings. For more details, see our website
  • Plan to spend Christmas Eve at PCC! Come to one of THREE services offered that evening.
  • Get involved! For our church to keep growing and reaching people, we need everyone to get in the game! Sunday mornings are exciting at PCC. We need folks to help at Westchester, and if you live on that end of town, consider going to that Campus. At least check it out if you've never been. At Powhatan, we need shuttle drivers and folks who like working with kids from infants through 6th grade.
  • Finally, a way you can pray for us. We're now seriously considering what the time slot of the 3rd service should be and the format. We're also starting to seriously pray about our next campus. While launching that campus would still be months (or years) away, the Spirit is moving us today. Pray that we would clearly hear God speak, and have the courage to move when He says.
So many folks are finding their place and their home at our church. Isn't that awesome?! God is really up to something!

Change is coming. Always. Because we're on the move!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Shotguns, Expos, and other activities

You may not know that, while we are in our building, we still have a good bit of debt on our building. We are looking for ways to reduce the debt and, ultimately, pay it off.

One of the major ways this happens is through our Fundraising Team. This incredibly potent group of folks has worked tirelessly - and still does - to raise money for our building through special events. Led by Kim Wooten, this team has enabled more of our offering funds to go to ministry by helping raise money that improves our facility and pays the debt.

Their efforts have raised thousands and thousands of dollars - like, probably over $100,000.

The current project is a raffle for a shotgun. Last year, this was a huge success. Here is an email I got today from Kim, please take a look to see how you might participate.

Hi Everyone -

Thank you all for helping support the building fund by taking a book or two of tickets to sell to your friends and coworkers for the Browning Shotgun. You are helping to bring in funds for our building and are putting your face on our church name and some will see that as a direct invitation to come check us out. Not to mention, in Powhatan, some think that a church that raffles off a shotgun is just the kind of church they will fit in.

There are still 33 books of unsold tickets in our possession. Our small but mighty team needs your help! If you know of someone in our church that can take a book or two, please encourage them to see us on Sunday. If 33 people took a book of tickets to sell over the upcoming week, that's $1,650 for the building fund.

The gun retails for $1,400 so a $5 donation to the church is a great deal!

Thank you for your help with this fundraiser!

Kim Wooten

You can contact Kim at

Saturday, November 27, 2010


I tried something this past week that I haven't done in a long time. Actually, I don't remember ever doing it before, though I might have 10 or 15 years ago and just don't recall.

I tried to take a vacation but never leave home.

Normal vacations, for me, always involve leaving...going somewhere. Skiing. Disney. Mountains. Beach. It can be nowhere...somewhere...anywhere other than home. But this week, we needed to cook on Wednesday, family coming in, leaves to blow, house to clean, etc. So, we decided to just stay home.

Apparently, lots of people do this all the time. I guess you develop an aptitude for it...but I STINK at it! I worked on Monday. "Just a few emails to finish up," I said. Then a few things came up here and there. (One was very urgent and important, most were not). And today I find myself ramping up...except I never really ramped down!

So, I've decided that I don't vacation from home very well. Maybe someone could teach me how?

The week was good, though. And I hope yours was, too!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Spiritual Markers

Called through Circumstances

God speaks in 4 primary ways. He gives direction into our lives through: The Bible, Prayer, Circumstances, and the Church. These four avenues work in conjunction with each other, and will consistently convey the same message. Taking one avenue by itself and ignoring the others is a recipe to miss the voice of God. You have to look at all four. One may be neutral. In other words, you may look at one of these ways (the Bible, for instance) and not feel like you are getting any direction there. But the other three will all point in a common direction. More often than not, though, God uses all four.

I want to give you a little info today about how circumstances have been a powerful tool that God has used to speak direction into my life, and show you how you can do the same.

For me, circumstances are most important at major crossroads. In his book, Experiencing God, Henry Blackaby talks about how to identify spiritual markers. These are moments when major events occurred in your life and, in the process, you had an encounter with God of some kind. You may not have recognized the encounter at the time, but you see it now as you look back.

For me, there are several pieces that help me understand God's direction for me. Here are 10 of them:

1) I was entertaining, teaching, acting, mc'ing, singing, speaking and generally always in front of people since I was a little boy.

2) My family didn't go to church, but my Grandfather introduced me to Jesus when I was very young and he took me to church when he could (he lived half an hour away). I loved going to church with him.

3) On the many Sundays when he couldn't pick me up - as early as when I When I was 5 or 6 - I would go outside, climb the swingset, and pretend like I was preaching to a crowd. I only knew one Bible verse: Psalm 37:4, which is imprinted firmly in my mind to this day. Today, when I run into one of the neighbors who lived on our street 35 years ago, they almost always remind me of that.

4) I was baptized when I was 16 in a church I went to with a friend. No one from my family was there. I don't have any ill feelings about this - my parents both attend church these days, and I say this not at all to dishonor them. But the circumstances of this event help point me in a direction, seeing that God wants to use me to reach and support others who have similar circumstances.)

5) My undergraduate degree is in business, and I owned businesses and had one that was a spectacular failure (mostly by my own doing). I know what it's like to have a business run your life, work 100 hours a week, be overwhelmed by stress, etc. I encountered God in a special way during my business meltdown, and it has been formative for me.

6) My parents divorced when I was 9.

7) I'm the oldest of my siblings. I think and behave like an oldest child. I am married to an oldest child. Both of my parents are (functionally*) the oldest in each of their families. (there's some good in that...and some not-so-good, but it is a circumstance that God uses to speak direction into my life).

8) The only seminary I considered was the one in Richmond, because of it's location. It happens to be a school that helped me soften my tone, be less condemning and see God's involvement in the world differently.

9) Experiencing God was a study I was doing in 1997 when I had a special encounter with God.

10) On a mission trip in Panama in 1997, God spoke to me clearly about going into church work vocationally.

If you've made it this far in this post, you're probably bored to death. Our own stories aren't all that exciting to everyone else, but I give you these as an illustration. Let me connect some of the dots now.

When I look back on my life, many of the major moments and the encounters with God point to me doing exactly what I'm doing today. My confession? There are some days when I daydream about getting out of church work. Yes, most days I LOVE what I do, but some days, I would love to bail. And when those days come, these spiritual markers help me hear God's voice clearly: I was made for what I'm doing right now. I'm in the center of the bullseye. I wasn't always in that spot, and I can tell you that when you are doing what you were made to do, it's a feeling like no other.

This is NOT just about ministry. I believe God made people for all kinds of work - electricians, managers, teachers, technicians, engineers, medical folks, construction workers, drivers, finance people, and even politicians. :-)

And it's not just about work...think about the people you can most help or most minister to...single moms or people who've lost a spouse; wealthy people or only children; people who grew up in church but hated it or those who never went... The list goes on and on. I know this: God wants you to inventory the spiritual markers of your past so that you can better understand what he wants for your future...and for today.

Hope this helps you see and understand circumstances and spiritual markers!

*The study of Birth Order is fascinating and has been pioneered by a leading marriage and family counselor who is also a Christ follower. If you are interested, I encourage you to get and read The Birth Order Book, by Kevin Leman. Click here to see it.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Reading the Bible

Today, I talked about some tools you need to effectively read the Bible. It was a 'hard' kind of message for me to do, I confess. There was just so much information. But it seemed to help folks, and our church is all about connecting people with God. You cannot fully hear from God and fully develop your relationship with Him apart from reading the Bible.

Here are the tools I discussed:

1) A commentary. Study Bible's have these built into them. A Life Application Study Bible has commentary on the bottom of each page. You'll see a line. Above the line is the Bible, below the line is the 'commentary'. Remember, the commentary is someone's interpretation of the Bible and important background information. I try to read the Bible, then - if I don't understand what's happening - read the commentary for help.

2) A concordance. This is a 'look up' tool. It's usually in the back of your Bible, and functions kind of like an 'index'. I can look up a word (for example: love, heaven, hell, Jesus, Jerusalem, Peter, healing...) and it will tell me where those words appear in the Bible. So, when I think, "I know the Bible says that God will give us rest, but I don't know where," I can look up the word 'rest' and it will tell me.

3) A plan. There are lots of Bible reading plans you can use. An unlimited supply of daily devotional guides are out there. A few I like are by Max Lucado and I also highly recommend The Life Journal. Warning: If you do a 1-year through the Bible plan, you will spend a good bit of time reading every day. I would love for everyone to do this, but I think it would be better to take 3 years and do it consistently than to attempt 1 year and quit after a month. The point is that you spend time in the Bible every day, or at least 5 out of 7 days a week.

If you don't have a plan, you might start in Matthew, read 1 chapter every day (there are 28 chapters). Use the SOAP method I spell out below.

4) A journal. I highly recommend a journal because it will help you focus and not wander. Use the following acrostic that spells the word SOAP:
  • Scripture. As you read, some verses will jump out at you. Write those verses down or some key words, etc.
  • Observation. Write down your questions. Ex. "God, why would you want the entire town wiped out? Why did you tell them not to eat... Where did David go... How did Peter feel..." I write down my questions. I also write down my observations. "That's odd... Wow - look at how God provided for them... I never saw that promise before... "
  • Application. How does this text apply to my life. Some days, this is easier than others. But there is always an application. Sometimes it's direct. Proverbs 12:18 says, "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." I can apply that directly. Other text have to interpreted through time. But I'm not doing this on my own. All the while, I'm asking, "God, how do YOU want me to apply this to my life?" I'm hearing God speak through the pages, words, story, and teaching of the Bible."
  • Prayer. I write out my prayer. This is a short prayer, sometimes a list of people I'm praying for, and often includes the scripture and application for the day.
A more complete explanation of SOAP can be found through the Life Journal or by going to

I hope this helps you. Now, go meet with God!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Help for families this Christmas

It’s that time of year again… the Christmas shopping season! And once again, we have the opportunity to help at least 15 children who otherwise might not get any Christmas gifts.
As part of Middle District Baptist Association’s “Christmas Store”, PCC has been assigned to help 15 children and we need you or your Small Group to adopt them. Please consider helping a child in need.

Each child that is adopted will need to be provided:
  • one outfit per child consisting of a top, pants, socks and underwear
  • one age appropriate toy
  • a Christmas stocking (filled)
Donations of coats, books, toiletry items other miscellaneous gift items are appreciated.

If your small group would like to adopt a child, please contact Angela Meadows at or look for the small Christmas tree next Sunday.

There is not much time to shop…..all donations must be received by Sunday, November 28th so let Angela know as soon as possible and she will assign you a child and you can start shopping!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Wisdom from the Proverbs

NOTE: I wrote this yesterday, but didn't post it until today because I wanted to honor ourveterans yesterday.

In my devotional time today, I read Proverbs 11. I'm reading one Proverb every day, whichever one corresponds to that day of the month.

There is a lot to this book of the Bible. These are words of wisdom. Some constitute absolute promises from God. Others are basic rules of life - generally accepted wise counsel. All of them are intended to instruct us in faith and the matters of faith, and should affect how we live.

When you read a chapter in Proverbs, the verses seem to jump around from subject to subject. So, I try to ask God, "Lord, as I read your word today, let me know what you want me to focus on and show me how it's supposed to apply to me and my life." Today, there were several parts of chapter 11 that jumped out. Here's one of them:

One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.
A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.
(Proverbs 11:24-25, NIV)

When I read this, I immediately thought about PCC. Like every organization, PCC has suffered the effects of a global financial crisis. People are out of work, have reduced incomes, and prices on things like college and gas don't seem to be going down.

But a number of folks have heeded the truth of this Scripture. People are giving even when it hurts - and they are seeing God replenish, renew and reward them for their faithfulness. This doesn't mean that God will replace dollar for dollar what we give. But it does mean that - when we consider blessing in it's entirety - you cannot outgive God!

October was the best giving month in PCC's history. People gave generously, and it makes our church more healthy. We spend less time worrying about how to make the ends meet and more time focusing on real ministry, which is what our church is all about.

To all of you who give freely, thank you. Thanks for your faithfulness to God and to our church!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thanks to our Veterans

I grew up in the post-Vietnam era. Until the brief display of power from the US military in the first Gulf War, I never really knew a time of close military conflict for our country. There were clashes we were involved with here and there, but in far off lands - places I couldn't name and certainly couldn't locate on a map. Growing up in Tidewater, I had lots of friends who's parents were in the military, but none of them were in battle anywhere (that I knew about, anyway). I knew that people had fought in WWI and WWII and Korea but nobody really talked much about it. And when I was a kid, it seemed like we had a gag order on Vietnam. Bringing it up alway brought an anxious tension in the room. I didn't know it then, but our country was trying to figure out how to deal with the emotions of Vietnam.

But the older I've gotten, the more aware I've become of the price American soldiers have played to ensure our freedom and our prosperity. My Dad fought in Vietnam. He has a Purple Heart for a massive injury to his leg when he stepped on a landmine. It should have killed him. It should have at least taken his leg. Miraculously, my dad walks today. Sometimes we talk a little about that war and his experience there. It must have been beyond words. I've read books on WWII - my Grandad served there in the Army.

And I have a friend from Powhatan who has fought in Bosnia and Iraq. Suffering from PTSD, he talks of his experience with great effort to find the right words and to keep from breaking down.

And our Powhatan Campus Pastor - Chauncey Starkey - is a veteran. A retired Air Force Sergeant, Chauncey served away from his family several times. He's helped me to see the sacrifice our soldiers make.

There are many people in our community who pay or have paid a very high price for us - they are all around - ordinary folks doing an extraordinary thing.

I've often said that God is bigger than nationality. He loves our country, but God is not an American.

But I sure am thankful that I am.

Thanks to ever Veteran who has served us. Today, we solute you!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


We are changing our Powhatan Campus service times!
Effective Sunday, December 5, our service times will be 9:30 and 11:15 at Powhatan.
Westchester will still meet at 9:30.

Our hope is that making this change will shift some folks from the late service to the early service. Currently, our late service (11am) is full, and we're almost out of chairs and parking spaces and children's space. We think that some people will come at 9:30 who are currently unable to come at 9:00.

This is A GREAT THING! "More people" are not a problem...they are our purpose!

So, Invite someone to church! Seeing more and more people is not a burden or an's a privilege. The Bible says that when we've been faithful, God will increase our responsibility (see Matthew 25). So, keep inviting people to church. Who is around you that God is nudging you to invite? We won't single them out or put them on the spot. And if they aren't used to going to church, then PCC is just for them!

One of the things people have grown to count on from PCC is change. We've changed locations 3 times in 8 years. Changes in personnel. Changes in style, level of excellence, emphasis. Our ministries have changed. We've stopped doing some things, started doing others.

An ability to change quickly is one of the reasons we've grown. We can respond to what is happening around us, and we can do it in real time. We specifically designed our church structure to make it easy to make changes.

That's not a license to make reckless decisions. We've often taken a lot of time to think through and pray about decisions. Sometimes you have the luxury of taking your time. Other situations, not so much.

As part of our rallying cry to all work together so that we are prepared for 1500 people, our staff worked hard looking at various scenarios, and we surveyed the church to see what would work best. More changes will still come out of that work in 2011. For example, a 3rd service is likely, and other ideas are also on the table for how we can grow and reach more people. But for now, we are changing our service times, effective December 5.

4 Ways You Can Help:

1) Serve! You can be a MAJOR part of making a difference in the lives of families by serving inPCC Kids. This is one of the areas where we have the greatest need because we are growing the fastest. Susan Hughes comes home every week talking about the exciting ways that kids are growing closer to Jesus Christ! You don't have to have tons of skills and you don't have to memorize the Bible - you just have to love God and love children! We also have positions where you don't have to interact directly with kids if that's not your thing. Email her at

And how about considering Guest Services? We need people who can smile, greet, open doors, park cars, escort folks with umbrellas on rainy days, serve coffee, usher folks to empty seats, serve in the bookstore and at the information table and generally welcome people. Email for more information or to say 'yes'!

2) You can take the shuttle. We're still trying to get some additional parking done that will give us 80 spaces. At least until that happens, folks who love our church can park at Powhatan Middle School and ride the shuttle to the church. I know it's inconvenient, but it's only 1 mile, the shuttle runs constantly from 6:30am til 12:30pm (and often until after 12:30 when there is a need), and it makes a BIG difference!

3) You can come to the early service instead of the late service.

4) You can go to Westchester, especially for folks who live in Powhatan East or in Chesterfield. Westchester is really growing. There is a KILLER AWESOME band there, with a full children's program, great coffee and SUPER COMFORTABLE seats!

The bottom line is that God is at work, and it's great to be along for the ride!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Reflections on Today and this past week

What an AWESOME day it was at PCC today! The level of excitement and energy around our church is electric. I know I've said that several times lately, but it really is true. It's also contagious, as person after person 'catches' the vision, tells their friends, and comes to church! Here are some of the highlights from today and from this week:
  • One of the things I love most about our church is our ability to be authentic. My cage is Fear. Fear of being left. Fear of rejection. Fear of being hurt. For folks who think it unspiritual, un-pastor-like, or inappropriate for me to talk so openly about my struggles, all I can say is that I'm me, and I'm just going to be me. And here's my statement on the subject: I don't like being afraid, but I do like being able to talk about it.
  • This was one of the BEST series' we've ever done. I just can't say enough about Wild Goose Chase. Hundreds of hours went into it, but we really helped some people. I'm so proud of all the folks who poured their hearts and souls into these past 6 weeks!
  • I've not heard the final count, but we had to be around 1200 people today, between both campuses. At Westchester, there were 130 people! At Powhatan, we ran out of parking spaces at 11am...and almost ran out of chairs in the big room. And the early service is really filling up, too. (tomorrow, I'll make a BIG announcement about a change in service times!)
  • PCC's Westchester Campus launched PowerJAM today, the ministry for elementary aged kids, and it was a great success!
  • It was windy and cold. I would go out and greet folks under the Portico, and then come back inside to warm up. Once, I noticed the parking crew...and the thought occurred to me, "I bet they want to come in, but they don't." Those folks stand out in the freezing cold, smiles on their faces and gloves on their hands, greeting and parking because they believe in what we do and because they care about people! I hope you thank them. You might also consider serving with them! (Call our office or email if you're interested)
  • The ending to the service at the Powhatan Campus today was a great moment. Building the cross with those cages was a really awesome experience, and I think God spoke to hearts and changed lives. I'm so glad to be a part of PCC. Today's service was truly a team effort. God gets every ounce of the credit, of course, and I'm glad He is doing His good work through the people of our church.
  • We had a PCC101 class today and I got to spend some great time with folks who are excited about our church and want to know more.
  • The PCC Membership Banquet was last night. I had to miss it because of a death in our family and we had to travel to South Carolina. It was the only one I've ever missed. But I heard that it was very inspiring and a really unifying time, with great food, great music and a great vision casting message from Dennis Green, our Executive Pastor.
  • We had a defining moment with our Creative Arts team this week - which includes the technical crews, support folks, band members, leaders, etc. This defining moment led us to remind ourselves that God sees the best in us, so we're going to believe the best in each other! The spirit of our team today - the attitudes and the teamwork - were at an all-time high, and God honored that to make for a compelling hour.
  • My week had some unexpected hiccups in it, so I didn't get to blog about the marriage retreat. But let me say here that last weekend's marriage retreat was the best one I think we've ever had. It was unbelievable, and it was a first time experience for many of the couples who went.
  • Finally, let me tell you that the next series is really going to be a great 'next step' for so many folks who have broken from their cages and are now ready to do whatever God tells them to do. You won't want to miss being...'Called'!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Encouragement for Pastors

I got to spend some time today with some pastors and church leaders. We talked about leading during seasons when you are spent, empty, and depleted. It's very clear to me that lots and lots of church leaders are in the red zone, and I know many pastors who are ready to get out of the game. Most of these are gifted leaders, communicators, coaches, counselors, and pastors. Most should remain in ministry, but they simply have nothing left. They're burned out and completely fried, as the demands of ministry have depleted their resources. Some are angry and deeply hurting. Their families are sometimes a mess. Their spiritual lives are often shallow (I know this is particularly a surprise to all non-pastors). They regularly ask, "how could happen to me?"

Overwhelmingly, the average person has no idea why vocational ministry would create such a scenario. But almost every person who works for a church and EVERY senior pastor knows exactly what I'm talking about.

Pastor, God didn't lead you into the ministry so that he could hurt you. He led you there because He called you. He gifted you. You don't have to live this crazy, nutty, insane life anymore. But to get there, you also don't have to leave the ministry. Getting healthy will require significant changes in the way you the way you live. These changes will be painful initially, but they will lead to a more effective leader and pastor in you, AND a more healthy result in the people you lead, teach and serve.

Be encouraged. Ministry doesn't have to hurt you. God wants you to be whole and healthy.

  • I strongly encourage you to read Leading on Empty by Wayne Cordeiro.
  • Get back to Scripture. Read it every day. Pray until God is finished speaking.
  • Take a Sabbath. Not just this week, but Every Week. Exceptions happen, but they should be rare.
  • Take ALL of your vacation. Don't leave a single day unused or given up.
  • If you've been in ministry for more than 6 years, take a Sabbatical (6 weeks to 3 months). Don't say it cannot happen. Don't say the church cannot live without you. They can. Even if they don't know it...they need to learn how, and they will if you'll let them.
  • Get with some other people who really 'get' you...where you can vent, unload, and let your hair down (for me, that's strictly figurative). If you don't have any idea who that might be, email me at
People are counting on you. Your family is counting on you. And you are NOT alone, even if you feel that way.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Steering Team nominees

The Steering Team is one of the most critical roles here at PCC. From our earliest days, I knew that we needed to gather a group of leaders who could help guide (steer) the church through good times and challenging series. I was smart enough to know that I'm not that smart! The Bible makes this clear:

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!...Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12, NIV)

I personally assembled the original Steering Team, and since 2003, the Steering Team has carefully and prayerfully considered and selected the new additions. This is the only elected position in the church, and they serve for 3 year terms. It is so important to get this right, because the Steering Team sets the tone for unity in the entire church. My experience with this group has been extremely positive, and they have done their job - rising to the occasion during the critical seasons at PCC.

This year, we
asked Tony Tomandl and Sarah Wagner to join the team, and the church is
scheduled to vote on them on November 6 at the Annual Meeting.

Here is a little about each of them:

Sara Wagner grew up in Powhatan, and starting attending PCC in 2002. Sara serves in First Steps (with some of the cutest kids in Powhatan), and helps with drama stuff, and sometimes leads small group. She likes to do active/outdoorsy stuff, and she loves ZUMBA! Currently, Sara is at MCV in Nursing School, hoping to eventually work in pediatrics. She grew up in church, and says "God has always been a truth in my life" - but she is discovering more deeply what a relationship with Jesus looks like. We baptized Sara in September, 2009.

Tony Tomandl (the one in red) is a former CPA with 20 years of public accounting experience. He is married to his best friend from the 3rd grade, Cheryl, but he says they waited until after High School to actually tie the knot! They have 1 daughter and 2 sons. Tony and Cheryl came to PCC in 2008. Let me allow Tony to describe his spiritual journey in his own words:

"I was brought up in a home lead by godly parents who were faithful to take me to church and lived their faith. For me, I never doubted the existence of God – he was just irrelevant to me. Life was all about me, my wants, my pleasure, my career, my everything. There was nothing I withheld from myself and there was no price too high to pay for my success. I was an elder in the church we attended, while just under the surface I was as an alcoholic, destroying my marriage and totally miserable. In 1985, Cheryl and I attended a “spiritual” retreat that I really didn’t want to attend. It was at that retreat that I met Jesus in people that loved me and in the middle of the night I prayed “God, I have made a total mess of everything, please take my life, I give it to you.”

This journey is challenging, never boring and I have so far to go. There have been times of growth and set back, victory over sin and failures and exhilarating highs and discouraging lows. This I know for certain; that God is good and his loving kindness is for ever. One critical thing I am missing and my desire at this time is to develop a true friendship here."

We are very blessed to have these two high capacity and dedicated leaders willing to serve on the Steering Team!

It is NOT about you...but it IS about you?!

Anna Holland, one of our staff members who heads up PowerJAM at PCC, sent this really cool article. Since I occasionally get some flack for using the statement 'it's not about you', I thought the perspective here was helpful to me, and might be for others as well.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Survey Says...

As our church continues to grow, we are carefully considering the implications for the future. One area we are investigating is service times.

We'd love to hear from you, so we put together a quick survey for your input. If you attended this week's service at the Powhatan campus, you had a chance to fill out the survey; but if you missed it and would like to weigh in, you can!

Click here and follow the directions. The survey will only be open for a few days, so don't delay!

And thanks -your input is very helpful!


PCC Members Meeting and Agenda Forum

Every year, PCC has ONE 'business meeting'. If you've never been to this event at our church, and right now you are having painful flashbacks of other church business meetings, let me encourage you to take a deep's all good.

When we started our church, we wanted to facilitate great, healthy discussion that leads to unity of purpose without promoting unhealthy division. So, we have our business meeting in 2 parts.

Part 1: The Agenda Forum. That is tomorrow evening at the Powhatan Campus at 7pm. You can see more about the agenda by clicking here. At the Agenda Forum, we simply discuss and address questions about items on the agenda. No 'voting' is done. That is saved for part 2.

Part 2: Annual Membership Meeting celebration. That is Saturday, November 6, at 6pm. YOu and your family are invited. We will have a great meal (the church provides this catered dinner), some good music and a unifying theme. The voting takes place in the opening of our evening and literally lasts about 1-2 minutes, because the discussion has already happened at the Agenda Forum. Most of the night is a celebration with good friends and great food!

Please email Lori at to let her know you are coming to the Annual Membership Meeting so that we can have a count for dinner.

Now, here are some notes about the budget, which you can see by clicking here:

Some notes about the 2011 proposed budget:

1. What we sent to the church was a master budget that is based on an increase in attendance and, therefore, giving. In addition to that budget, I have also given to our Staff and Steering team a scaled down version of the budget that we will operate under effective January 1. Attendance and giving has improved in recent weeks, and as that continues, we can move more and more towards the full budget. In the meantime, we’ll operate under an important rule: we don’t spend what we don’t have. If you’d like to see the ‘January 1’ operating budget, you can go to this google doc. I have highlighted in YELLOW the operating January 1 column.

2. I put the 2010 YTD income on that google doc for general offering, as of 10/17/10.

3. The staff expense line is actually not being reduced from what we actually spend today. In fact, there is an increase there. What you see for ‘budget’ was before we made some reductions last year. We are not planning on any cutbacks or salary reductions.

Please feel free to email Chauncey, Dennis or me if you have questions.

Thanks for your commitment to PCC!


Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Cage of Guilt

It was a great day at PCC today. We offered a very good experience, God moved, we chased the Goose, and I think some folks finally were freed from the cage of guilt. The drama was especially powerful. I know it was a hard subject...heavy and difficult for some to engage. But for those who struggle with guilt and who stuck it out, I think we were able to give them some answers.

Here are some of the notes and scriptures that I used, in case you want to do a little more study:

I referenced the condition called "superior autobiographical memory" and specifically mentioned Brad Williams and Jill Price. Those who have this rare condition remember ever detail of their lives. One of the statements I made was, "When it comes to confessed sin, if there’s one thing God doesn’t have, it’s superior autobiographical memory."

The message was based on the story of Judas Iscariot. You can read about Judas in Matthew 26-27 and Luke 22.

There were 3 things I encouraged folks to do who are in the cage of guilt:

Confess the sin. 1 John 1:9 (NIV) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Psalms 103:12 (NIV) as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our [sins] from us.

Commit to God. Romans 6:22-23 (NIV) But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Claim the New You. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Hope this helps!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Today was an Exceptional Day

I just got home from one of the best days I can remember having at PCC in a long time. It really feels like we have a lot of momentum right we're firing on all cylinders. Here are some of my thoughts from the past week:

  • Powhatan Campus was different today! It was quite a surprise to most folks who came to Powhatan today. A portable stage was assembled in the middle of the floor, and the chairs were in 'the round'. From my perspective, it was very, very effective. I felt like I was having a great conversation, connected and fully engaged. I thought our music was high energy, the sound was awesome, the lights were cool, the video work was as good as I've ever seen it. I would love to do that arrangement again...but I would also like some feedback. So, let us know what you thought.
  • PCC's Westchester Campus continues to really grow and shine. The quality of the picture and sound is exceptional, the band there is very good and has a lot of energy. We have more and more folks who are settling there - many who have only been to that campus and consider it 'home'. It's a good crowd (over 100) and growing. The core team there is especially dedicated and has an incredible attitude. I was at a WC Core Team meeting Thursday evening and I continue to be so impressed by the hunger and tenacity of those leaders.
  • Midlothian Festival. I was on a Steering Team retreat Saturday, so I couldn't make the Midlothian Festival. PCC's Westchester Campus had a booth, some games and movie tickets to give away. Dennis Green said that he thinks we must have talked to a thousand people. That will bear fruit in the coming weeks.
  • Care Team. Katherine Ramsey, Rachel Huff and I led a Crisis Care Training today for about 20 folks from the Care Team. Rachel started, trained, led, and grew the most effective care ministry of any church I know. Today's training led to fantastic conversations and I'm so impressed by the dedicated and high capacity folks on that team.
Incredible things are happening at PCC...stay tuned. Greater things are still coming. God is up to something!

Monday, October 11, 2010

10-10-10: A Break in the Routine

Yesterday, PCC did some things it had never done before. It was a true break in the routine, and based on the feedback I've gotten, I think it produced the desired affect.

The Powhatan Campus. For the first time, I was on a screen at the Powhatan Campus for the message. I mean, I was only on the screen. I had recorded the message earlier from the stage, and then we showed it Sunday morning. As we planned for talking about the Cage of Routine*, we wanted to disrupt the routine. We did get some good, technical feedback that is very helpful. But the experience for most was positive. And the point was made: When your spiritual life becomes so routine that you don't have to think about it, it's time to disrupt the routine. God built the Sabbath into the routine to break the routine. We wanted to break the routine that we have at PCC.

The Westchester Campus. Also for the first time, I taught live at Westchester. It was a ton of fun, and I really enjoyed meeting some folks I've never met and seeing some familiar faces and old friends who have made the Westchester campus their home. The music was a 10+! The attitudes of those who are there serving early in the morning - setting up, tuning up, etc. - was awesome. They smiled and cheered and you almost got the impression that they loved being there...even at 7am. I was personally overwhelmed by the spirit that this group of folks.

Break the routine this week in your spiritual life! Or maybe it's just time to step it up by reading the Bible every day, getting a new devotional book and using it every day, praying with your spouse or kids, joining a small group (yes, there are many that you can still join), getting a new Bible, listening to some different music...the list of ways is endless!

*The Cage of Routine comes from Mark Batterson's book Wild Goose Chase, which we're studying together now. You can get the book at our resource table or at

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Breaking the Cage of Routine

I mentioned that there are several things you might consider doing to break out of the cage of routine. What we're talking about here, of course, is routine in your spiritual life. If you find your spiritual life is stale and suffering from the consistent dullness of steady routine, you might try:
  • Fasting. Fasting is a way of focusing on God by not eating or by not doing some kind of activity. People fast from sweets or soft drinks. I've heard of people fasting from sex (though this really needs consent from your husband or wife). But the most effective fasts I've ever done were ones that involved all food of any kind. My fasts have only been 24 hour fasts, but they have been powerful for me spiritually and definitely helped me break from the cage of routine. I highly recommend Bill Bright's tiny booklet on this called 7 Basic Steps to Successful Fasting & Prayer. This was the roadmap for me to fasting. You can find it on Amazon by clicking HERE.
  • Pray in a different way. For a while, I would walk by myself around the neighborhood and pray while I did. It was fresh and different. Recently, I started writing one prayer every day (see the next item on my list and you'll see what I'm talking about)
  • Daily Devotional Time needs a fresh look. I found my daily time with God to be stale recently. So, I adopted a short-term technique that I read about in Wayne Cordeiro's book Leading on Empty. In it, he suggests that - since there are 31 proverbs - You should read one every day, which ever one corresponds to that particular day. Today is the 10th, so I read the 10th proverb. And then I'm journaling using the acrostic SOAP: I write key verses from the Scripture, I write any Observations I note about the scripture, I write the practical application to my life from the Scripture, and I write my prayer - which has to do the Scripture, but also goes beyond that.
  • Read a different translation of the Bible. I normally read out of the NIV. Sometimes, when I feel stale, I read the Message, the New Living Translation, or occasionally the NKJV.
  • Worship in a different way. When I was in seminary, one of my assignments was to go to some churches outside of the norm for me (I think I had to go to 3) and write a paper on them. It was fascinating. I gleaned a lot about what kind of church I felt called to be a part of. But more than that, I learned to worship in new ways and ways that were even uncomfortable for me. It was a healthy break from the routine. You don't have to go on a Sunday or necessarily miss a PCC service (though I think we could forgive you :-) ) You could find other service times or go to one of the early PCC services and catch an 11am somewhere else. Just a thought.
Do you have some ideas, too? Or some experience of breaking free from the cage of routine? Post a comment here and help us learn from your experience!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Helping others at Thanksgiving

A couple of folks have approached me recently asking about helping families at Thanksgiving. They also mentioned helping families at Christmas.

We are aware of a few families connected to PCC who are really struggling this year and will have a hard time putting together a nice Thanksgiving meal. If you are in a position and feel led to help, drop me and email or a FB message and we'll try to make some connections. This kind of work really helps people and it says something about God knowing of their strife and caring enough to act.

Thanks to those who've already reached out to help. Let me know if you would like to do this, too. And if you happen to be a family in need, let me know and we'll go to work on getting you some help this Thanksgiving.



Saturday, October 2, 2010

Update on Thematic Goal

Updating our Progress
By Sammy Frame, Associate Pastor

PCC's Thematic Goal (to prepare our church for a January average attendance of 1,500) continues to take shape and grow. Our staff continues to make progress and move forward on implementing a strategy outlined by our 5 Defining Objectives that we believe will prepare us to equip, connect, and serve such an increase in attendance. We will spare you the detailed discussion that happens and continues to happen, but we hope your interest is spurred enough to ask questions and get involved in helping us meet this important goal.

So a quick overview of our Thematic Goal's Defining Objectives:
Defining Objective #1: Answer Interim Financial Questions (team lead: Chauncey Starkey)

Summary and Updates: This team has done a good deal of analysis to understand the current state of PCC's finances and how that relates to resourcing the Thematic Goal. This team continues to brainstorm ideas and implement the most realistic of those in order to adequately support PCC and our Thematic Goal efforts as we prepare for increased attendance.

How you can help: Chauncey is currently working to put together a team of highly motivated, creative, resource-motivated individuals who could lend their ideas, support, and time to accomplishing this objective.

Defining Objective #2: Addressing Critical Building Issues (team lead: Dennis Green)

Summary and Updates: Obviously, the building remains unfinished with much work to be done (small and large projects). Yet progress is apparent and happening. Many of the larger projects here require licensed contractors and significant resources to accomplish. We continue to work toward additional funding to accomplish these tasks. Here are some items currently completed or being worked on:
  • Cove base (similar to base boards) are being put down (even as you get this e-mail).
  • Ceiling tiles are largely done, though some spaces still need to be finished with cut tiles.
  • Interior doors continue to be finished.
  • An Atrium Decor Team under the leadership of Lori Wheeler has begun meeting to put together a more welcoming, comfortable, aesthetically-pleasing space.
  • New signage is being designed.
  • Consultations with PCC Kids is happening to determine additional space for a burgeoning number of kids.
  • Additional floor tiles in the stairwells will be laid in October.
  • The partitioning of the Multi-Purpose Room has been planned and waits on resources to turn half of it into a family room for Sunday morning services.
  • Grass is growing around the building.
o Here are some big ticket items that continue to wait on additional resources:
  • Parking Lot - a plan exists for an additional 80 spaces on site. An estimated $17,000 would enable us to generate those spaces.
  • Sound in the Auditorium - our Audio/Technical teams have done a masterful job of providing great sound on Sunday morning, but do not have the necessary equipment to make it the best it can be. An additional front-fill sound system would help us remove the holes and dead spots which currently exist in our sound.
  • Landscaping - a good bit of work remains for the Powhatan campus (the Westchester campus has immaculate grounds) including adding trees, additional grass, and mulching. With additional resources we plan to have a volunteer day to work toward making the Powhatan campus more aesthetic.
  • Sidewalks and Portico - Driving beneath the front portico remains a priority for our guests and sidewalks helps everyone, especially those who have a handicap. An estimated $12,000 would put a drive beneath the portico and cover the cost of sidewalks on the front of the building.
How you can help: First, volunteer. Many items at the building are small and would require minimal training to complete (doors, ceiling tiles, etc.). Second, join Chauncey's Defining Objective team (see above). Third, support financially.

Defining Objective #3: Reevalute Services/Scheduling/Programming (team lead: John Starkey)

Summary and Updates: This team has worked hard to assess the current capacity of PCC's services (especially with a growing children's ministry) and the need to go to a 3rd service or an alternative form of programming. An online campus as well as a live-feed option to the Westchester Campus remain under the purview of this team. They have also developed a survey to gather data and input on the need/desire for other service opportunities.

How you can help: Ensure that you take the survey that you will receive in the coming weeks. Your input will help us determine the need for additional services and programming. Volunteer to help process and analyze the survey results. Connect with John, Angie, or Beth with ideas or suggestions.

Defining Objective #4: Leadership Development (team lead: Beth Brawley)

Summary and Updates: The Leadership Development team has already put into place a "Leadership Essentials" small group that will work toward preparing and equipping future PCC leaders. Additionally, this team remains focused on identifying potential leaders, equipping them, and putting them into a new tier of leadership at PCC that will expand our capacity to include, connect, and equip more people. Finally, they are developing a plan to change the culture of PCC to an "ICNU" environment where leadership development is the norm.

How you can help: If you consider yourself a leader, would like to grow in leadership, or would like to expand your leadership role here at PCC, sign up for the Leadership Essentials small group. If you're not already serving somewhere at PCC, get involved by signing up for an Impact group at PCC. Encourage folks with leadership potential by letting them know you see that in them ("ICNU") and encourage them to use their gifts at PCC.

Defining Objective #5: Developing a Clear Connection Pathway (team lead: Susan Hughes)

Summary and Updates: A growing church requires that we clearly, efficiently, and effectively help people connect to the vital ministries and discipleship opportunities at PCC. This team continues to develop and refine a pathway that helps people move from just attending on Sunday to investing and growing in a relationship with God. The team has outlined a rough scheme already and continues to think through problems and issues it might pose. They also have researched other churches and continue to gather data on PCC to better shape a pathway that works for our church.

How you can help: Share your experience of connection here at PCC, whether good or bad. Help us evaluate how effectively or ineffectively we have communicated the opportunities to connect. If you have creative, artistic, or communication gifts, volunteer to assist us with designing and unrolling a unique pathway that clearly communicates how to connect and grow at PCC.

Finally, the staff's work of team-building from the summer's staff retreat continues. On Wednesday, September 22nd the entire staff spent a day at Carter Mountain near Charlottesville to build on the foundation we laid this summer (no, we did not go apple-picking). Team unity and transparency remains our goal and so we have purposed to set aside one day a month to continue that work. Following up on an exercise we did together on the staff retreat, we spent the day evaluating the progress of each staff member according to their own goals. Additionally, we collectively evaluated our church on 12 points made in an article (related to the Thematic Goal) that Brian handed to us in advance. Wednesday, September 29th's staff meeting continued this work by building on Patrick Lencioni's talk from this year's Leadership Summit. Lencioni challenged each individual to create a "stop-doing list" that would clearly identify items one needs to stop in order to be more effective. The staff has agreed to submit their own lists at an upcoming staff meeting.

Many thanks,
Sammy Frame
Associate Pastor
Small Groups and Guest Services

Thoughts from Dennis Green

From Here to There
By Dennis Green, Executive Pastor
(written on 9/26/10)

A couple of hundred PCC’ers gathered together tonight at out Powhatan campus. We had a great time of worship, information and inspiration. (If music at PCC is your main thing, you will want to come to these quarterly meetings!) Brian laid out for us what the next six months will look like and invited Lindsay Harris to the stage to take us through our Thematic Goal. (More on Lindsay and our Thematic Goal below).

In his presentation, Brian talked at length about getting “from here to there”. Maybe that language is familiar to you. We just finished a series by the same name. The premise is simple, but, at the same time, powerful. As an organization- WE ARE HERE and we believe God wants us to GO THERE! Brian asked a compelling question. Why not stay “here”? After all, “here” is good. “Here” is helping some folks. We like “here”.

Circa, Spring 2006. PCC is “here”. Growing like crazy, baptizing people, great music, lots of energy and excitement – Why do we need to leave “here” and go “there”? Yet, that is exactly what Brian was feeling. The need to move PCC “from here to there” became paramount. PCC could provide a powerful and meaningful Sunday morning experience, but there needed to be more.

Enter Sammy Frame. A smart, good-looking (in an Eastern European kind of way) guy PCC hired to bring an effective and vibrant Small Group ministry to PCC. The metamorphosis has been remarkable. PCC went from a church WITH small groups to a church OF small groups. Small Groups permeate every part of who we are at PCC and who we hope to be.

About eighteen months ago, Lenny Harris began attending a small group. Lenny was struggling in his personal life and in his marriage. He found a safe place with this small group. His small group embraced him, loved him, allowed him to share and ask questions at his own pace. He began to heal. He began to allow God to transform him. Soon, Lenny was not the same person he had been just a few months earlier.

His wife Lindsay noticed.

She came to check out this small group too. Transformed, too, you ask? PCC baptized Lindsay this past June.

Why was Lindsay on stage and what is a thematic goal anyway? Thanks for asking. Thematic goal is a term used in some business circles and describes an overarching corporate theme or goal that is used to help organizations focus and be unified in their efforts. Our staff recently spent some time working together to identify our thematic goal for the next six months. (For more on specifics of what our thematic goal is, click here)

Lindsay was on stage walking us through the details of what we are doing and how we are getting it done because Lindsay is on our staff now. You already know she has been leading Worship at Westchester since our opening Sunday. She still does that. She works closely with Beth Brawley Stoddard each week to develop and deliver excellent worship experiences at both campuses. But she does so much more. Our staff asked her to use her education (MBA) and business experience (Project Manager) to lead us through this thematic goal experience, and she readily agreed. She often says that she will do and serve in anyway she can. Oh yeah, did I mention that Lindsay is UNPAID staff. Working for PCC full-time since March – unpaid. Did I mention that her life was transformed?

Finally…made it to my point. Thanks for hanging in there with me. Lenny works hard every week, sacrificing, so his wife can work persona non grata ( free of charge) at PCC. Brian said tonight that Lindsay was a “gift from heaven”. They both are. It’s a team effort. They are both such a huge blessing, and, they received huge blessings because of…a small group…because of…the work of Sammy Frame and his Small Group Leadership Team…because of…PCC’s willingness to leave the comfort of “here”, and go to “there”.

If experience is any indicator, this journey “from here to there” will be exhilarating and exhausting; maddening and motivating; incredible and indelible. The “Lennys” and “Lindsays” we don’t know yet are counting on us, and they don’t even know it.

Join us, won’t you? It will be worth it!

Finances and Attendance

One of the questions that came from our CORE meeting last Sunday had to do with our Thematic Goal and our church's finances. For the next few months, PCC's staff and other leaders are working on positioning our church so that we are ready for an average Sunday to have 1,500 people attending at our two locations. This goal is not about getting 1,500 people, but rather is about being ready for them. That many people have already come, but we didn't have some of the things in place that we needed for them. Our children's area was very crowded when we opened our building and we don't have a full children's program at the Westchester Campus. We don't have a clear connection pathway to help assimilate people into the church. Our facility at the Powhatan Campus wasn't complete. We don't have a systemic leadership pipeline.

So, we're working on these things because we believe (and the data obviously shows) that these folks are coming, we just need to be ready for them.

One of the questions raised was about finances. When we get to 1,500 in average attendance, giving obviously increases. This is not the goal, but it is a byproduct and helps relax some of the burden we feel now to more fairly compensate our staff and pay down the debt on the building as well as fund ministries. I do not think that we'll have excess money or that we'll not feel some pressure financially. That's a reality for us. But I do think that it will ease up a little as attendance rises and giving goes up.

By the way, the 2011 budget looks much better than 2010 did...which isn't saying a whole lot, but we'll take any relief we can get!

You can see more about PCC's finances through our website or by clicking here.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Building Finish List

At the CORE gathering on Sunday, there was a lot of interest in our building and how we had prioritized what was left to be done. Here is a list of the priorities. There are many things that we would like to do that are not on this list, but this is the 'short list'.

  • Complete Septic System.
  • Additional 80 gravel parking spaces installed on-site.
  • Student Trailer handicapped ramp, siding, foundating skirting and sidewalk so that we can get a CO on it and start using it.
  • Sound and lighting systems completed.
  • Repair lower parking lot.
  • Landscaping.
  • Cove Base (trim at the bottom of the sheetrock).
  • Concrete Apron and handicapped sidewalk.
  • Snow Diverters for roof.
  • Wood trim finished in office suite.
  • Welcome table finished/coffee table constructed to match.
As we discussed the other night, we also would benefit from paving the rest of the parking lot. It would add a lot to have a playground and a grand piano (yes, I'm serious).

The bottom line is that we have to work with the funds we have, and we have to pay our bills along the way. I know that everyone does not get excited about these details, but there seemed to be a lot of interest, so I hope this sparks some ideas. Thanks for being so faithful to PCC!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ever wonder what is happening in PCC Kids? I just wanted to share some exciting things that have been happening with our kids and their families:

* In June, 7 children were baptized in the James River. 12 more gave their lives to Christ and were baptized in our September baptism - WOW!

* A dad started coming to church because his kids were so excited about being at PCC on Sundays. He said he just had to 'check it out' to see what was so great. AND, since then, his parents have started coming with them too!

* A seven year old went home after hearing a Bible story about peace and proclaimed July 25 as "Brother's Day" in his household (there are all boys in his family).

* A preschooler visited PCC one Sunday, then woke up on Monday and asked his grandma if he could come back to church that day!

* When asked what the Bible verse of the month was, little 5 yr old Sam repeated the verse from this month, then proceeded to state LAST MONTH's verse word for word with the correct reference!

* A four year old went home one Sunday and started 'preaching' to his toys with his Bible in hand (even though he can't read it yet). He told them that God loves them and Jesus wants to be their friend! Could this be a future Brian in the making?!

God is doing some AMAZING things and more are yet to come! And we know that more children will be coming too. We know that by the fact that we have had 5-10 new children each week throughout the summer.

We would love to have you be a part of our growing team (either in Powhatan or at Westchester) and I'm asking you to pray about that opportunity. You can be a part of impacting these kids lives and making a difference in bringing them closer to Christ!

Thanks for praying about it! If you'd like more information, you can contact Susan at or call the office, 598-1174.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Why Study a Book?

Someone recently asked the question, "Why are we studying a book?" They went on to say that they felt we should not study a book, but should only look at the Bible. In the most respectful of ways, I want to address that question here.

First, I'm glad that folks are hawkish about ensuring that PCC remain founded on the Bible. I believe the Bible is God's special revelation to us and is our authority on matters of faith and the practice of faith. There is nothing wrong with someone wanting to be sure we have not moved away from the Bible.

Secondly, from its earliest beginnings, the church has relied on leaders and scholars to help interpret the Bible. I have on my shelf today classics from Thomas Aquinas, Thomas a' Kempis, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Augustine, Irenaeus, and other early church leaders and thinkers. They help us put the Bible in a context closer to the original writings and see how God used scriptures in a different era.

Third, more contemporary thinkers help us apply the truths of Scripture to our setting today. We've applauded Rick Warren's interpretation of the Great Commission and the Great Commandment in his book, "The Purpose Driven Life", which we studied in the fall of 2004. We championed John Ortberg's deeply introspective work, "God is Closer Than You Think" in the fall of 2007. And we worked really hard to understand what the Bible says about doing life together as we worked through "40 Days of Community" in the fall of 2006.

Every one of these books was a deep teaching on the Bible.

Wild Goose Chase is no exception. It is a study on the Holy Spirit, rooted firmly in scripture, which is throughout the book. This book is a study on what the Bible says about how to more fully live under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

Nobody objects when a couple buys a book to help them better understand what the Bible says about marriage (like Eggerichs' "Love and Respect" - a very good study on Ephesians 5). We applaud parents who read Biblically based books about how to raise their kids. We run to get books that help us live closer to the Bible's intent as better men, women, teens, employees, etc.

In the same way, that is what we do every fall. It's a fresh way to look at the Bible...but we are still looking at the Bible. I've never spoken a message that was not firmly grounded in scripture, referred to scripture and taught scripture. Never. And that is still the case in this series.

We're helping people in this series. They'll follow the Holy Spirit more closely and better understand God's will AND they will know the Bible better than ever. We'll never go wrong like that!

Hope this clears up some of the confusion.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Reflections on Sunday

Sunday was a fantastic day! We kicked off the Wild Goose Chase series AND we gathered again in the evening. Here are some highlights, from my perspective:

  • The stage was AWESOME! It's the best the big room has looked since we moved into the building. Debbie and others exerted TONS of energy and SCORES of hours putting all of that together, and it really paid off. Way to go!
  • The bands at both of our campuses really ROCKED!
  • Ron and Don were BACK!
  • We've sold like 250 books! (I'll do a post about Wild Goose Chase this week and why we are doing a book study).
  • The worship at our CORE meeting was fantastic, as was the Q & A.
  • Lindsay Harris did a GREAT job on the presentation of the Thematic Goal. Just when we think we've discovered all of her gifts...(and she can sing a little, too)
There is so much more that I could say, but I'm going to try to do a series of posts to answer some questions that are floating around, so keep your eye on this blog.

Great things are happening at PCC!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Reading Schedule for Wild Goose Chase

I am sorry that I did not publish before now a reading schedule for Wild Goose Chase. People have bought hundreds of books, which is a humbling thought. There are obviously a lot of people who are going to follow along while we Chase the Goose. I should have made the reading guide clearer.

Here's how it will go:

We will do the 6 cages in order, beginning this coming Sunday (October 3). So, since most small groups are meeting this week, I would read the introduction chapters this week and have a 'get to know you' small group this week.

By next week's small group night, read about the first cage, and so forth. In this way, I'll 'introduce' the cage on Sundays while you are reading about it and then we'll all discuss the cage with the full information and having thought about it at our small groups.

I think we will get a maximum benefit of the Bible's teachings and God's interaction with us in this way.

Enjoy the Chase!