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

by Brian C. Hughes, Senior Pastor

Monday, August 30, 2010

Balance not so good?

I got this today in a leadership eblast I subscribe to thought it was quite interesting:

"Not only is work-life balance nigh on impossible to achieve, even if you did manage to achieve a perfect state of equilibrium, it wouldn't necessarily fulfill you anyway. Balance is the opposite of movement. When you are balanced you are stationary ... at a standstill. This precarious, motionless state is not worth striving for. It's the wrong life goal." Marcus Buckingham, Find Your Strongest Life. p. 154.

This makes a lot of sense. In most weddings I do, I say, "just when you think you've got it all figured out and discovered the perfect equilibrium, a new job opens up or a baby comes or a car dies or someone gets sick..." And then I go on to say that the 'moving target' is part of the adventure of marriage.

The moving target is also part of the adventure of life. Nothing stays the same. Everything is constantly changing. We know this! So, why is it such a shock that we have to constantly make adjustments? Why are we surprised to re-learn that finding perfect balance and staying there is impossible?

It makes total sense.


For September all screen print short sleeves are reduced from $8 to $6 to make room for long sleeves.

All pocket t shirts are reduced from $13 to $8.

Only what’s in stock. Visit the PCC store next Sunday!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Tomorrow at PCC

Tomorrow at PCC is going to be an unusual day. The drama was shot by our own folks as a video, and it is outstanding! The service flows extremely well, the music is very good, and the message is relevant. I'm very excited about church tomorrow and hope to see you there!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Do you Get the Weekly Email?

There is a weekly email that is automatically sent out to everyone who wants it. It lists various events that are coming up in the near future for the church. I get this email every week and usually scroll through it in 5-10 seconds, grab what I need and delete it, so it's not like it fills my inbox.

I would encourage you to make sure you are getting this email, because it will help keep you informed about what is happening at PCC.

If you do not get this email but would like to, click HERE or go to and you'll be set up in seconds!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

PCC 2011 Calendar of Events, etc.

A couple of folks have asked me the same question, so I bet there are others who are wondering, too. I thought I'd answer it here. The question is, "Why didn't I know about the celebration for Jimmy and Brenda Boggs?"

Nobody is mad, they're just wondering where they missed the communication.

The event was really planned and executed by some folks at our Westchester Campus who work side-by-side with them every Sunday. The idea was that Jimmy and Brenda have gone so far above and beyond, with such incredible attitudes, that folks just wanted to thank them.

And they wanted it to be a surprise! That's where the communication became a challenge. We couldn't broadcast it because it would ruin the surprise. Only a small group of folks knew about it. I couldn't even tell the Steering Team, since Brenda serves there. It wasn't that there was any attempt to make the event exclusive, simply that our opportunity to tell people was limited.

Now onto calendaring and events and more communication...

We are preparing a 2011 PCC Master Calendar now. If you have events or lead things or do things that you feel should be on this calendar, please send those to Lori Wheeler at We've never planned this far out before and I think it will help a lot with communications. We'll let everyone know how to find out about the churchwide 2011 events sometime in the 4th quarter of this year.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Experiment of 4 Pastors

For the past 3 Sundays, I have rotated around with 3 other pastors of innovative churches (and 3 of my closest friends). I was at Atlee in Mechanicsville, then Mountain View in Culpeper, and in Virginia Beach at Coastal yesterday. All of these churches have some things in common:
  • Our Sunday morning experiences resemble each other. We all have good bands, play upbeat music, use audio and visual technologies, do dramas, and have casual atmospheres.
  • All of our churches are intentional about reaching people who are far from God.
  • All of our churches have similar leadership structures.
But we also have some differences.
  • Some have their own facility, others meet in rented locations.
  • Some of these churches lean towards more worship music, others more towards presentation music.
  • Some have longer, teaching-style presentations, others leaned into the experience or narrative-styled teaching.
  • Some have 60 minute services, others 70 or 75.
  • Some use dramas almost every week, others had very skilled video crews that produces high quality videos every week.
  • 3 of the 4 churches are multi-site, but we do them very differently.
  • And, of course, our teams are different, our processes are different, and our philosophies are different.
The point of this experiment was to learn and grow. As a pastor, I feel like I have just completed an intense, 400-level graduate course on "The Sunday Morning Experience"!

I have learned so much about how other churches operate and about my own delivery, study and preparation and leadership. All of this informs and shapes what I do, and it will make me better. But if it stops there, we won't have capitalized on the experiment and received the maximum return on the investment. It isn't only about the 4 of us, but about our teams.

Our teams have learned a lot, too. They've learned about how the other pastors work, what they do differently, and they've collaborated together. Getting them together into some kind of dialogue about the experience is serious goal for me. It's difficult - our churches span a distance of 200 miles, and getting a large group from 4 churches spread out that far together is difficult. But it's something I'm trying to do.

I hope you have found this exchange to be a rich experience. I'm sure there were things you liked and things you didn't, but, if I can be frank, that wasn't the point. The point was to help our churches (including our pastors) learn what we can do better, adopt the best practices, and raise the bar.

And I believe that is exactly what is happening.

The 4 of us will get together in Virginia Beach on September 9 for the day to talk about what we learned, what we saw in each other's churches and the experience as a whole. There is a high level of trust there, so we are able to speak the truth in love about each other and our teams. It would not be helpful if all we did was to say the great things we experienced (and there were LOTS of great things!). There are other things that only an outsider would notice that can be improved or noted at each church. We will share these things with each other, too, and in that way we will help make each other better.

Finally, I have a thousand questions to ask these guys. For example, Coastal has a Saturday night service that is identical to their Sunday morning services, but they use a different band. I want to explore that with them, why they went that route, and the pros and cons they've encountered (because we are toying with a Saturday evening service at PCC). I want to ask Mark some questions about their worship style that I thought really worked for them, and Jeff some things about his powerhouse tech group, and about their camera setup. These are just examples of scores of questions I have.

So, please pray for us as we continue to seek out God in this - because I am convinced that we are better when we are learning from each other and not operating in a vacuum.

All that said, I am really looking forward to being back at PCC on Sunday. I've really missed our church.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


My Dad's retirement party was Thursday of this week. He has been an engineer with the City of Chesapeake for 36 years! I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

It occurred to me that my Dad has always been the fan, never the celebrity. He came to our games, to the plays I was in, cheered us on in the milestones of our lives. Specifically, he was there to celebrate the most significant moments of my life. The births of each of my children, my wedding, my ordination, my graduations, my first and last days at my former church, the launching of PCC, the dedication of our building. I could go on and on, but when a significant moment comes, Dad comes to cheer me on.

The question came without warning: When do we ever cheer Dad on? I'm sorry it's taken me 40 years to see this glaring deficiency. Maybe you can see some hole like this in a relationship in your life.

It took a lot of effort to hold back the tears, as the City Manager, the City Engineer, and other dignitaries talked about the contribution my Dad had made in their lives and careers, and in the community I affectionately call 'home'. I looked around and saw a huge crowd from my family, gathered there to cheer on the quiet celebrity who has always been among us.

It's about time that Dad was the celebrity. It's an Emmy he has long deserved, but that has been awarded to others (mostly his kids and grandkids) for decades. Finally, he was recognized for his unmatched contribution. There is no one in my life like him, and it is an unspeakable blessing to call him Dad.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Jimmy and Brenda Boggs

Last night was a very special night for PCC. Last night, we honored Jimmy and Brenda Boggs.

I couldn't be there (I'll talk about why tomorrow), so I thought I'd take a minute on this forum and do what many did last night - share my own experience with them and why they are unique at PCC.

The Boggs' first came to PCC a few years ago. That I cannot remember the exact moment is notable, because they came and checked out our church without an agenda. They didn't compare everything with their previous church and tell us how we were better or worse than that. They didn't criticize or even offer advice for improvements. They took the time to get to know us a little and make sure they understood.

THEN, they helped. They plugged in and started serving. Their attitudes were always positive. And it quickly became evident to me that Jimmy and Brenda were the kinds of people that filled your bucket. After being with them for a few minutes, you walked away feeling better about yourself, better about your circumstances, and more optimistic that you'd be able to overcome whatever challenges you faced.

I heard Jimmy share the story of Weatherford Memorial Baptist Church. Weatherford sits on the corner of Belt Blvd and Hull Street. It was, at one time, in the center of a thriving suburban Richmond community. But slowly, the community changed, became much more urban, and church members moved out to Chesterfield and other outlying areas. The church declined in attendance. More importantly, it ceased to be relevant to the urban, largely African American community that surrounded the church. Eventually, it became clear to Jimmy and Brenda that a dramatic shift had to happen. Either the church had to change and adapt in order to reach the people around the property OR it would die. And it could die in 2 ways: a slow, pathetic death as one member after another left or passed away until finally there wasn't enough money to keep the lights on; OR, it could die in such a way that left a huge legacy - continuing the Kingdom work that it began many years before.

Jimmy and Brenda Boggs were major voices at Weatherford, leading the church to disband and give the entire property to St. Paul's Baptist Church, a huge, predominantly African American church. Their hope was that Lance Watson (Senior Pastor there) and his team could do something for the Kingdom with the building. And did that ever happen. Almost immediately after St. Paul's launched it's satelite campus in that building (becoming a multi-site church with video teaching), over 1,000 people from the surrounding community were there every weekend worshipping and learning about God!

Because Jimmy and Brenda are two of the most forward, innovative, creative thinkers around. And their eye is always on what God is stirring up. They aren't held back by 'the way we've always done it', but are motivated by "what's Biblical" and "What will be effective at accomplishing what we set out to do"

So, one day a couple of years ago, we're in the hallway of Powhatan High School loading trailers after church and thinking about our move to our new building. Jimmy subtly mentions to me that he feels a continued presence on the eastern end of the county or in western Chesterfield is important. I get a little animated, "After SIX years of loading this trailer. SIX YEARS of unloading it. SIX YEARS of pulling it. We're all tired of it. After all that, who in the world is going to keep doing it???"

Jimmy never missed a beat. Without any hint of condescension, Jimmy simply said, "I will." I'll never forget that conversation for the rest of my life. It sounded a whole lot like Isaiah's word in Is 6 when God asks, "Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?" and Isaiah replies, "Here am I. Send me." And Jimmy proves it every Sunday, aches and pains not withstanding, Jimmy is there, hauling equipment into and out of the movie theater at Westchester, with a smile on his face, thankfulness to God in his heart, passion for people his motivator, and always a great attitude.

Jimmy and Brenda Boggs are two of the most sacrificial people I've ever met. They give and give and give some more. Both of them are highly respected leaders, so that when they speak, we listen. They've earned credibility through good leadership and sheer grit, and I'm personally a better pastor and leader because of them. It has been a privilege to learn from them and serve them here at PCC these past few years.

PCC would not be the same without them, and I thank God that He sent them here.

Way to Go, Jimmy and Brenda. We love you!

Friday, August 13, 2010

To tell the truth?

Recently, I did a message at PCC about the balance between truth and love. I referred to Jesus' words in Matthew 7, commanding us to remove the plank in our own eye before we try to remove the splinter from someone else's. I got the following question:

"How does the "plank in your own eye" edict apply in situations where someone needs to hear the truth?"

Here is my answer:

My first question is rhetorical: "Who cares what you say if the intended audience doesn't hear it?" In other words, if they aren't listening, then our words make no impact. My feeling is that you have to earn the right to speak truth into someone's life.

Let me confess that this has backfired on me many times. I've sat down with a person in whom I've invested enormous time and energy, told them the truth about some area of their life that they needed to change or improve, and instead of receiving it well, I saw them accuse me of all kinds of malicious intent.

So, in the end, I have to ask myself this:

1) Have I really invested enough in them to feel I have the right to speak truth?
2) Is there any personal motive or malicious intent?
3) Is there any plank in my eye that I need to remove first?
4) Are they at a place where I can reasonably expect that they will hear my words?

If I can answer yes to 1 & 4 and No to 2 and 3, I should speak truth to that person.

And while there have been notable exceptions like I mentioned above, most people respond well if I apply the 4 questions above to the situation.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Back from the PCC Staff Retreat

I'm sorry that this blog has been uncharacteristically quiet for the past 10 days. I have had back-to-back leadership events: The Leadership Summit was last Thursday and Friday followed by the PCC Staff Retreat Sunday through Wednesday. I’m a little tired, but also excited about what God has been up to these past few days.

In 2006, I was together with my pastor friends, Jeff Boggess, Mark Jenkins and Hank Brooks (who are all speaking at PCC this month). As usual, the conversation was dominated by church talk and we often talk about how to best lead our staffs. Hank gave me great insight into how he does staff retreats and I knew it was something I needed to do. Our first one was in 2007, then again in 2008. We skipped last year because the economy was so bad. And, were it not for a very generous PCC family who let us use their lake house, we might have had to skip 2010.

We accomplished a lot on this staff retreat. Eleven staff members went and we were able to agree to and flesh out the details of a unified Rallying Cry for PCC for from now through January (I'll share more on this in the coming days).

We also got a lot done relationally. The first part of our retreat was all about building trust and overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team. I strongly encourage you to get and read this book by Patrick Lencioni. Click here to get it.

We have a wonderfully gifted staff at PCC. They love our church, they work long hours and make major sacrifices to help us accomplish our mission. Most folks will never really understand what we do, but I am incredibly thankful and feel blessed to be surrounded by such potent leaders. If you'd like to know a little more about our staff, click here.

Our church will soon reap the benefits of this productive time together by members of our staff, and I'm thankful for the concentrated team building and other work we were able to get done.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

“PowerJam Peace Prize”
During the month of August, PowerJam children at PCC (Powhatan Campus) are focusing on the virtue of Peace. We will present one “PowerJam Peace Prize” during each service for the first four weeks of August. This award will be given to kids who have been nominated by their parents (or other adults) for promoting peace at home or any other place. The nomination will be done through a short write-up about how the child proved that he/she cared about others and promoted peace. This can be emailed to

Trey Timberlake was our first PowerJam Peace Prize winner last week. He was chosen because after attending PowerJam on July 25th and upon hearing about the upcoming Peace Talks for August he went home and began promoting peace right away. Trey declared July 25th official “Brother’s Day” in the Timberlake home. They celebrated that night with a camp-out together in one room and talked and played peacefully. They plan to continue the tradition. His mother said that recently the four brothers have had trouble getting along and was thrilled with his efforts to promote peace. Sweet child, sweet story.

More nominations (more stories!) are coming in! Looking forward to awarding more kids this Sunday.

May God fill our children, and us, with PEACE! If you have any questions please contact me, Anna Holland, at

“So let us do all we can to live in peace. And let us work hard to build each other up.” Romans 14:19, NIrV

Anna Holland
PowerJam Director