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

by Brian C. Hughes, Senior Pastor

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

6 Ways to Destroy a Movement, Part 3

Throw Out Insiders Who Are Trying To Help

Not only would Diotrephes avoid positive influences around him, he actually took steps to get rid of them. This would be the equivalent of a CEO, department head or manager firing subordinates who brought different ideas to the table. A good leader ultimately makes a decision. Sometimes it's a difficult one. Sometimes it's an unpopular one. Sometimes it plays out to be the right move, other times the wrong one. But before making that decision, a great leader will hear the various points of view, explore opposing perspectives, and try to look at the issue from all the angles.

Diotrephes wasn't interested in that at all. He was closed minded. And he was so convinced that his way was the only way to do things that he expelled others in the church who had different ideas. They were willing to 'welcome the brothers', so Diotrophes put them out of the church.

Really, if you think about it, this is the height of arrogance. It's bad enough that he wouldn't listen to them, but to have them removed...expelled...kicked out...Wow. It's just hard to articulate how terrible this is.

Certainly, people in an organization need to be able to get behind the leader's decision, whether that organization is a department, company, charity or church. Few people really get how hard leadership is. In other places where I am not the senior leader (I'm a part of several of these - the Powhatan Rotary Club, my kids' schools, the outside groups with which our church associates, etc.) I always support the decisions of that leader. If I cannot do that, it's time for me to get out. I mean it. And I've done that once or twice.

But provided that I can ultimately support the decision, I need to be welcomed to bring my perspective and ideas, for the good of the group. A leader who was unwilling to listen to my perspective would be a leaders I couldn't follow. He or she does not have to agree with me, but she does need to hear me. I can support most leaders like that.

Diotrophes wasn't like that. And he would have thrown me out of his church.

Tomorrow, I will finish this little series with Demetrius, John's alternative to Diotrephes.

Monday, July 26, 2010

6 Ways to Destroy a Movement, Part 2

Avoid Positive Influences

Diotrephes refused to 'welcome the brothers'. He didn't know them. They were new to him. He was anti-new, anti-change. Some people are like that. I get it. Frankly, though I have a high tolerance for change, there is a lot of change I don't particularly like. But I've learned to roll with the punches, because change is a part of life. Still, if I had my way, we would find the perfect sweet spot of life and just live there all the time.

Diotrephes didn't just resist change and new ideas and new people, he also resisted everyone inside his church who did. In other words, there were others in the church who did welcome newcomers and their ideas. Seeing that as a threat to his leadership, Diotrephes took some kind of action that prevented people in his church from welcoming 'the brothers'. In other words, Diotrephes resisted the positive influences around him.

Do you ever get grumpy? I do. When I feel good and things are going well, I tend to tell everyone around me. And when I am down, I let everyone know that, too. What's odd to me is that I have a tendency to 'want' to stay down when I'm down. Maybe I realize how much energy it takes to get out of a funk. I don't know. But when I'm grumpy, the last person in the world I want near me is a 'the sun will come out tomorrow' 'somewhere over the rainbow' positive-thinker. Just let me wallow in my misery.

I think Diotrephes was like that. There were people in his church who loved him, cared about him, wanted to help him see things differently...see the world differently. But like Ebenezer Scrooge, he didn't want these positive influences around him.

Think about the people you have surrounded yourself with. Are they positive influences? Do they bring you up or drag you down? When you are with them, do you find that you feel better about yourself, or do you have to go home and recover after a visit?

Don't be like Diotrephes. Choose good influences.

Final Note: I have a resource I would highly recommend to you on this subject. It's a book I've read many times that I consider to be a cornerstone of my own personal growth. It's called How Full Is Your Bucket.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

6 Ways to Destroy a Movement, Part 1

As promised, this is the first part of a series of posts here about 3 John.

First of all, if you would like to go a little further with 3 John, Bob and Jeannie Pino wrote an excellent, short, reflective study guide. Click here to see it.

Here is a summary of the indictment against Diotrephes:
  1. Maintain a 'Me-First' Mindset.
  2. Avoid Conflict Resolution.
  3. Spread 'Malicious Nonsense' (Gossip).
  4. Don't welcome new people into the movement.
  5. Avoid Positive Influences.
  6. Throw out insiders who are trying to help.
We get these 6 things from 3 John verses 9-10(NIV): "I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us. So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously about us. Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church."

I fleshed out the first 3 in today's message, which you can listen to by clicking here. I only had time to get to the first 3 things. In three posts on this blog, I'll spend a little time fleshing out the last 3.

Don't welcome new people into the movement

We see it again and again in all kinds of organizations. It's truly amazing how remarkably intelligent humans can be, yet how we repeat the same obvious mistakes over and over again. We could name hundreds of examples. Radio Shack had an opportunity to be the premier leader in the personal computer retail market. Woolworth's and KMart had a real shot at fending off the threat that Wal Mart posed to them. Circuit City could have remained in business and competed head-to-head with Best Buy. A seemingly endless list of companies that refused to welcome the 'new people' of the current or modern culture. They refused to see the world that existed, and instead chose to live in a day that had passed them by. And what did consumers do? Felling unwelcomed by dated atmospheres, they went elsewhere for their needs.

Unfortunately, it happens all too often in the church. Diotrephes was interested in circling the wagons and not allowing any new people - especially leader types - into his group. John says that Diotrephes "refuses to welcome the brothers." John had sent some church leaders to see how things were going, learn about what was working, and perhaps give some outside advice. Diotrephes would have none of it. Why? I suspect he felt threatened by such voices. But he needn't have felt that way if he was interested in the good of the church...because that's all the 'brothers' were interested in. If they were all focused on the same goal; if they agreed on the same mission; if they had the same purpose - then they could freely share new ideas without feeling threatened.

Everything is constantly in motion. My family is very different than it was even 5 years ago. So is the culture in which we live. So is our community. So is our church. If you're department, club, team, business or home is not different today than it was not-so-long-ago, it might be worth asking why? I'm not talking about a compromise on a core value. I'm talking about changing our methods, not our message.

Successful organizations stay true to their core values and their mission, etc. But they are constantly changing how they execute and live out the principles that make them them, because the culture and world changes. They hear, learn, listen and respond in different ways today than they did just a few years ago.

PCC will always welcome new people, new voices, new leaders, new ideas. We will never change our mission or our message but we will constantly adjust our method. It's what Diotrephes refused to do, but it's exactly what Jesus did do.

Where are you open to change? Where are you resistant to it?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

PCC Family Camping Trip!

We still have some slots for our camping outing at Bear Creek Lake next weekend. If you've never been there, it's a great campground, very family friendly. Click here to see some info on the campground. There is a cool beach-style sandy swimming area at the lake!

Here's the scoop:

Family Campout-Bear Creek Lake
Friday July 30-Saturday July 31 (We're only camping Friday night)
$5 per person
Register in advance at PCC
Contact Jessica Gray for details

We have a limited number of spaces, so sign up today!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A few prayer requests

Would you consider joining me in prayer for a few folks? This is not intended to be an all-inclusive list. Just a few folks that are really on my heart today.

  • Tony Tomandl. Tony leads an incredible ministry called CERI ( which seeks to help kids in Moldova, a very poor former-Soviet country in eastern Europe. It is the number 1 source for human trafficking in the Europe (forced prostitution, forced labor, etc.). Susan and I sponsor one of these kids. Tony is traveling in Moldova for the next 2 weeks. Pray for him, for his ministry, and for Cheryl who, I'm sure, is already awaiting his return home!
  • Bob Pino. He's a dear friend of mind and a great friend of PCC. His work both on the stage and behind the scenes has made a major difference. His friendship means the world. He's the kind of guy who just fills the room - he has a life and an energy about him that is electrifying. And he's really sick. Please pray for him and Jeannie today.
  • Kathy Ivins. Kathy is also really sick. Her husband, John, and their boys are hurting. They are good friends with incredible gifts and talents and presence. We're all still kind of in shock that Kathy is as sick as she is. Please pray for this family.
  • Allie Dulio. This little girl really needs our prayers. You can see more at It's never easy to know that someone you love is suffering, but it's particularly difficult when it's a child. Please pray for this special patient.
Thanks for being faithful in prayer. It matters. In a way we don't fully grasp and won't really comprehend this side of heaven, prayer somehow moves the heart of God. It matters, even when we don't always see the results we want. Scripture tells us to pray continually, ask for what we want and need, and trust in God.

Thanks again,


Monday, July 19, 2010

2 John Study Guide

Here's this week's devotional for 2 John. We hope it's helpful!

Jeanne and Bob in December, 2009
By the way, this series of devotional writings were written by Bob and Jeanne Pino. It's timely to request your prayers, as Bob will be undergoing gamma knife surgery Tuesday morning (July 20) for a brain tumor. Please pray for both of them, and thank God for the work he's done in their lives and the ministry they have done through these study guides.

2 John
This very short book in the Bible packs a huge punch telling us how we should live each day for Christ. This book has three distinct messages, the first two of which are most popular to those who preach or teach from this text:
-Love one another.
-Beware of false teachers/deceivers.
-How to experience the fullness of God’s joy.

For the next few minutes let’s take the time to read and think about the messages John was trying to convey as they relate to us today.

Can You Unplug?
Loving one another and the message to do so has been around for centuries, and is brought to our attention in the Old Testament book of Leviticus. It is then hammered home in the book of John when Jesus takes it from something we should do and makes it a command, that we are to love one another. This is very clear-cut, direct, and to the point.

John cautions us about false teachers/deceivers, whose main objective is to distract and separate us from loving and obeying Christ first, and then each other. John makes this point very clear in verses 9, 10, and 11. At this point, you may want to re-read those verses. As you look at these verses, realize that in John’s day, the only ways to communicate were face to face or by letter.

As you approach the third point, realize that the intention is to make you stop, think about, and take account for how this fits into your everyday life. What is shared may cause you to question, be offended, or maybe even be provoked to anger. If so, mission accomplished! (Proceed with caution…and prayer!)

Verse 12 presents us with the importance of how God’s word is communicated and how we communicate with each other. John tells his readers, “I have much more to say to you, but I don’t want to do it with paper and ink. For I hope to visit you soon and talk with you face to face. Then our joy will be complete.” NLT

Did you catch it? The words that John had to share were so important that he did not want to put them in writing, but wanted to share them “face to face” so that the joy of the message would be experienced by him and those who heard it.

Ask yourself the following questions:

-Are you so plugged in to your cell phone, IPad, Facebook, Twitter, email, etc., that your face to face communication with those you love and others around you has diminished?
-Have you sat down in a restaurant with your spouse, children, or a friend to have a meal together and have had to stop to answer a cell phone or text a message to someone else?
-Have you sat in that same situation, trying to discuss something important that’s going on in your life, and had to wait while the person you were with was screening calls or texts during the conversation?

Recently, while in a small neighborhood restaurant, I noticed a couple with a teenage daughter and a younger son, maybe 4 or 5 years old. The father and mother were both on their cell phones; the daughter was texting; and the young boy was stuffing ketchup-covered French fries up his nose! These people, if asked, would probably respond that they have several meals a week together as a family, and they are satisfied with the fact that they are physically together. Should we truly be satisfied with this level of communication? John’s intent was to help us realize the importance of what goes into face to face communication that cannot be duplicated in any other way. If I’m talking to you and I stop the conversation to take a phone call or receive/send a text, I am saying that you are not as important to me as the person that’s attempting to communicate with me. Those who live this way would tell you they are multi-tasking. That’s another devotional for another time!

Well, there you have it! Are you offended? Angry? Ready to track down the devotional writer and hit him upside the head with your laptop? Don’t misunderstand the message here: Technology today is mind-blowing. Our ability to use the internet and all the associated peripherals to get the Word of God out to the masses is amazing. But please, let’s not forget to sit down as often as possible with those we love to give God glory and build each other up in our faith.

Plugged or unplugged? Where are you today?

Here’s a challenge for you:
Over the next 24 hours, make a notation every time you receive or send a text message; you receive or send an email; you receive or make a cell phone call. Look over your list and decide which ones were absolutely necessary and important, and which ones were merely distractions from face to face communication with family, friends, loved ones, or time with God. Then determine whether or not changes need to be made, and seek God’s direction in making those changes.

PCC Fall Marriage Retreat

It has been a few years since we did a Marriage Retreat...and several folks have been asking me about doing one. So, here are the details:

NOTE: THIS RETREAT IS LIMITED TO 22 COUPLES, and we already have some people signed up, so there is very limited space. If you would like to go, I recommend that you reserve your spot quickly.
  • Date: Friday, October 29 to Saturday, October 30.
  • Time: Begins with dinner on Friday and will end at approximately 3:30pm on Saturday.
  • Price includes: Hotel room, dinner Friday and breakfast & lunch on Saturday, a book and conference materials, snacks, etc.
  • Cost: $199 per couple.
  • Deposit: A non-refundable deposit of $50 per couple is required when you sign up. The remainder is due on September 4.*
  • Where: Crossroads Conference Center in Lowesville (about 1.5 hours from Powhatan). We'll be staying in the Ukrop Conference Center.
  • Topics: Communication, family systems, help for frantic families, and we'll have a lot of fun.
THIS RETREAT IS LIMITED TO 22 COUPLES, so you will want to book your room asap. Make the deposit check out to PCC and put "Marriage Retreat" in the memo line. You can give it to me, Lori Wheeler, or just put it in the offering plate.

You will really like this facility. Susan and I have done marriage retreats at this place many times, it is the perfect place for one. Very private, very quiet, very nice. This will be the peak of the leaf season, too.

For those of you who have never been on a marriage retreat and wonder if it is 'weird', let me assure you that it is not. Sure, we want couples to stretch a little, learn and grow in their marriage and toward God, but there is nothing weird or freaky. It's a very positive experience and non-threatening.

Let me know if you want to reserve a spot.


*if you want to go, but need a little more time to pay than is provided here, we may be able to work something out. Email me at

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Parking at PCC

Last week, to everyone's surprise, we ran out of parking at the Powhatan Campus during the 11am service. We thought, being July, that there was no need for the shuttle. I agreed with this decision, but it was the wrong choice. I personally went to every car I could, as they waited in line and before they were sent to the shuttle lot, apologizing to every person I could. We got some shuttles going, but by that time we had already sent the wrong message.

The message we want to send to every guest is "we are ready for you...we have planned for you to come...we have a place for you." Studies show that adequate, attractive parking is one of the most significant ways that guests make their impression of a church. We should have known better. I should have known better.

So, here are 2 things you can count on, and a couple of requests:

1) There will be a shuttle at the Powhatan Campus every week, until #2(below) happens. If you are serving during both services, PLEASE take the shuttle. If you are coming to the 11am service during the summer, PLEASE take the shuttle. It's really not a big deal and it runs continuously.

2) We have a plan to add 80 new parking spaces on site. We have a donor who has offered a $10,000 matching donation (if we raise 10, they will give 10 - more on that later), so we have our funding question answered. We are working through the county processes now to make this happen. Once we get these spaces in, a shuttle will no longer be needed.

1) Every week, we use my Expedition and the Stoddard's Suburban for the shuttles. They are getting a LOT of use because of this. It would be great to 'share the love'. If you have a big car (7-8 passengers) and would be willing to let us use it, that would be great.

2) If you can give to the parking matching donation and help us raise the other 10k we need, that would be awesome. Susan and I are going to give something (a special gift) above our normal giving to this. Every dollar we give is doubled, essentially, by the matching gift. So, pray about this and help if you can. Write, 'PARKING' in the memo line of your check or on the envelope.

3) Parking folks are really greeters. They are the front line - the first impression. It's a very important role here at PCC. Want to give some of your time to something that makes a real impact? Contact Sammy Frame for more info.

4) Consider the 9am service in Powhatan or the 9:30 service at Westchester. If you haven't tried Westchester yet and you live on the eastern half of Powhatan, OR if you haven't tried it lately, you might be surprised how good it is! Our music there is excellent and many have said that the message is better there...more intimate.

Finally, a quick note of perspective: Isn't this a great problem to have? We're not struggling to get cars here, we're struggling with where to park them all!! That is SUCH A HUGE BLESSING! God is at work, and what we do matters!

See you Sunday!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Can You Help with Food?

A member of our church lost her husband suddenly last Saturday. Nelson Bailey was only 68, but a massive stroke cut his life short. His wife, Charlotte, has been at PCC for several years.

The funeral service will be Saturday at 1pm. We need some help with food, if you can prepare a dish. You can drop it off at the church at 10:30 or later on Saturday. Other arrangements can be made or questions answered by contacting Linda Sifers at

Thanks for any help you can give.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Philemon - Go Deeper

As promised in today's service, here are a few questions designed to help you dig a bit deeper into the message from the book of Philemon. Feel free to print these out and work through them on your own time.

The final question asks, "Are you the same person today that you were a year ago?" We'd love to hear from you; leave a comment below and share any thoughts you might have.

Paul’s Letter to Philemon

Philemon was a prominent Christian, probably a member of the church at Colossae, and the owner of a slave named Onesimus. This slave had run away from his master, and then somehow he had come in contact with Paul, who was then in prison. Through Paul, Onesimus became a Christian. Paul’s letter to Philemon is an appeal to Philemon to be reconciled to his slave, whom Paul is sending back to him, and to welcome him not only as a forgiven slave but as a Christian brother.

“Once a _____, always a _____!”

Have you ever used the above expression, or heard someone say, “Once a thief, always a thief?” In the book of Philemon, we read an interesting story involving three people. Each one had an encounter with Jesus and they were never the same. You can fill in the blanks above a number of ways, and we find that whatever we write, we are confirming how society labels people by what they have done, not by who they are.

Person #1: Philemon
Philemon was a businessman, slave owner, and a respected member of his community when he encountered Christ. He became a very prominent Christian who even had the church at Colossae meeting at his house.

Person #2: Paul
Paul was a member of the Jewish high priesthood whose main objective was to persecute Christians and stop the growth of the New Testament church. He not only persecuted them, but put to death those people for their religious beliefs. On his way to Damascus he encountered Jesus Christ (Acts 9). Christ changed his mind, his heart, his soul, and even his name, from Saul to Paul. Paul went on to become the very first missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ. He also became famous as the writer of over 2/3 of the New Testament in the Bible.

Person #3: Onesimus
Onesimus was a slave. Philemon was his master, and once Onesimus had run away from Colossae and found his way to Rome, he was now charged with stealing his master’s property…himself! He was thrown into prison, where he encountered Paul. After spending much time with Paul, Onesimus learned about Christ and became a new creature.

When the time came for Onesimus to be released from prison and returned to Philemon, his master, Paul wrote a letter on his behalf. In the letter he told Philemon that Onesimus had accepted Christ, and he asked Philemon to accept Onesimus back, not only as his slave, but as his Christian brother.

Think about it!

1. Have you ever been labeled a thief, a liar, or anything else based on something you did? If so, how did you feel about it? How did you overcome it?

2. Is there anyone in your life (family, friend, co-worker, church-goer, etc.) whom you have labeled, and they are now dealing with the consequences of that labeling? If so, how do you feel about that, now that you’ve read the story of Philemon and Onesimus? What will you do about it?

This week as you read Philemon, ask the Lord to show you how to overcome being labeled, and help those that you have labeled to find who they are in Christ.

If you’ve encountered Christ, it should show by the love you have for one another and your own story on how Christ took you from what you were to what you are today. Are you the same person today that you were a year ago?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

3rd Online Church

My 3rd service from last Sunday was at 11:15 at This is an innovative church that is one of the fastest growing churches in America. Many leaders from PCC have been to NewSpring for their Unleash conference. They are based in Anderson, South Carolina, so Susan and I go there when we go to Greenville to visit her family.

NewSpring really knows how to do excellence! They were in a series called Family Vacations, another summer series. This one focused on families, of course, but they made it really fun. It was kid friendly...they had made a cartoon about a family planning for and getting ready to go on a vacation. It was VERY relevant. And neat, too. Like the bumper sticker on the car was from NewSpring, and video served as a neat transition to the Bible story about Cornelius from Acts 10.

Wow! The stage was a beach scene from some Caribbean island and it was incredible. The music was even 'tropical', too. They introduced us to 2 'families' the 'McEvilsons' and the 'Goodmans' and did a contest kind of thing, all wrapped in a drama of sorts. It was SOOOO creative and engaging. I was hooked from the start. The hostess did her part extremely well. She never talked about 'church', but rather the 'resort'. Everything was in character. And the hostess took us to the main theme quickly: God has a plan for my family.

The play was a little corny, and there was some video during a sing-along song that they got the crowd to stand up and sing to. THAT was when I realized that the kids were all in the auditorium together with their parents. Even preschoolers. The play would have totally kept the attention of the kids. The backgrounds for the songs were beach themes, the moving backgrounds were fish swimming, etc. Very cool. With the kids in mind, it really worked. The lesson it taught was excellent and would have been good for kids and parents alike.

A couple of things NewSpring didn't do that surprised me: 1) there was no countdown. If you didn't hit the play button on the page, it wouldn't take you to the live presentation. I didn't know that and nothing told me to do it. I finally figured it out and went to the service late.

Secondly, there was no chat room or online connection. I was simply watching, not participating in any way. I was a spectator. I think this is by design...even the tab says 'Watch and Listen'. Given this philosophy, I think they are achieving their goal. (this is not a criticism, it's an observation. I LOVE NewSpring and am simply pointing out that they aren't attempting to have an interactive campus).

So, evaluating and applying, I found the play concept, beach theme, set design, acting, cartoons, etc. to all be excellent ways to bring kids into the service and teach a Biblical concept that everyone in the room could understand. Further, all the music was prerecorded, so this gave the band a break, along with the teaching pastors (Perry Noble was not there). The online experience itself was not where I think PCC will go, but I did learn a lot from it. I think we will adopt some of what I learned from NewSpring next summer at PCC.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

2nd Online Church Experience

Dennis Green has done a huge amount of research into this online church thing. He told me that Barefoot Community Church, in Myrtle Beach, had one of the best experiences and was a leader in this area. So, after attending at 8, I raced over to at 9:30. Along with a countdown to the service, there was a lot of patriotic quotes and flags.

They started right on time, just like Lifechurch did, and went straight to the worship leader. Immedia
tely, it was obvious that the quality wasn't as good as lifechurch. However, I don't think that's a f
air comparison. Nobody can do it as well as Lifechurch because of the millions of dollars they've invested in equipment.

Anyway, the quality wasn't poor at all at Barefoot. It was good camera work, good sound, good picture. Definitely more our league. In some ways, I like the chatroom for Barefoot better than Lifechurch's.

I especially like the tabs for prayer, the online connect card and the YouVersion Bible reading plan tab.

The chat room wasn't very active, though. I was one of only 4 people there. There was very little conversation. The teaching pastor was good and engaging.

Dennis tells me that the campus pastor has 'meeting' times where she is online at certain times that she announces and you can go there and talk to her casually. Of course, you can also chat live with her by appointment on facebook.

I thought the online experience was good, but it was too long (75 minutes) and wasn't all that creative. I think you can do long if it's creative, but long and un-creative = a little blah. Let's see what happens at 11:15 at NewSpring. I'll talk about that tomorrow.

Monday, July 5, 2010

I showered and dressed in a pair of jeans and a tshirt, just like I was coming to church. It was a cool morning, so I got my coffee and plugged in my laptop and sat at the table on my front porch. It was a little weird, as neighbors walked by I wondered what they thought. "shouldn't he be in church right now?" they must have been asking. Little did they know: I WAS in church right now!

The first church I attended yesterday was at 8am. They were doing a series called dinner & a movie, started with the campus pastor and a professional chef and a quick breakfast recipe (1 minute) - VERY creative! Went from there to live worship - they have such an awesome band - and really cool.

I really like how they put the CD cover under the viewer of the song that they are playing, so if you like it and want to click on it and buy it, you can easily do it.

I also really like the tabs to click on that are adjacent to the viewer. Because of this, you don't have to navigate away from the viewer in order to see message notes.

One of the things that jumped out to me was the REAL nature of the online community. As people entered into the chat room, the entire community welcomed them. And some spoke to each other much the same way as would happen in the hallway or atrium at a physical campus. Very cool and engaging. You aren't just watching, you are THERE.

The streaming was PERFECT! No delays, no jumping. (They use satellites and spent a gazillion dollars on it). The sound, lighting & camera work was stellar. The band encouraged you to participate in worship (sing and clap) no matter where you were - even if you are connected with a computer. I found it to be weird at first, but then, when the whole online community got involved, I found myself singing and worshiping with people all over the world. Some would even 'sing' the words as they typed them into the chat room. very cool. Very community.

The band was way cool, of course, and very good. But they also did 'old' music, with salsa. Like they did the song, "I Exalt Thee", but there was a break in it where they just cranked it up. Simple. Recognizable. But also attractive for those who are not used to church.

A tab gave you the option to 'watch in low quality' in case you don't have a lot of bandwidth.

When Craig Groeschel (Senior Pastor) came on, he briefly and gently invited folks to give, and under the viewer was a cool and soft giving tab. If I wasn't committed to PCC, I would have given right then and there. Craig also nudged folks to set up a regular giving (automatic). Didn't feel threatening at all (but I may be biased).

The movie they examined was "Walk the Line" about Johnny Cash.

He asked the question "How many of you like country music?" and under the viewer was a button to click to raise your hand and say 'I like it'. Incredibly engaging.

They played a long (7 minutes) clip from the movie. Some 1st timers at the church got upset and began to get vocal in the chatroom, started to say it wasn't really church. The community then kind of rallied to nudge and gently help those folks. One posted a link in the chatroom to help them see who is and what they are trying to do.

There were several really powerful spiritual conversations happening in the chatroom. You had to multi-task in order to pay attention to the chatroom and watch and pay attention to the viewer at the same time. It was a new way to learn and 'go to church'.

At the end of the service, they gave an opportunity for folks to give their hearts to Jesus. After a prayer, they did a 'what's next' link. It was really cool. I clicked the link. We definitely need something like this. Check it out at

I've always resisted a 'God in the Movies' series. But this message was very good, wove in and out of scenes in the movie, and Craig was shot 'on location' in various places - not on a stage. It felt a lot like a good summer church service. Maybe we should do a series like this next summer.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

My online church experiences

I return to the stage at PCC next Sunday, July 11. I was at PCC 2 weeks ago, but Beth was the teaching pastor. I was on vacation last week, and heard that Tommy Adams did a great job. Today, I had some options. I wanted to come to PCC, but felt I had some research-type work do to. One of the ways we make ourselves better is by learning from others. So, today, I attended three other churches. Yes, Three. And I never left my home.

All three were online campuses. And all three were different, with some common elements. I am going to write about each of these and post one up every day for the next three days.

First, I want to talk about our own online campus. I frankly thought we'd have one by now, but it's more complicated than I anticipated. Yes, we can go live, today, right now. But to do so with our current equipment and on a free service would mean a low quality production that was frustrating for the end user. So, what would happen is a bunch of people would check it out, realize it was a waste of time because of the delays, poor quality, off-synch sound/video, etc., and would never come back to it. We value excellence for a reason: you usually get one shot. We have to make that first impression count.

So, we're waiting. We have one piece of equipment to get...the cost of which is a few thousand dollars. And we have to subscribe to a quality hosting service. But based on what I've seen today, I have no doubt that it will be worth it. I think you'll be convinced, too, when you see the results.

I close with a note to the skeptics: when we planted PCC, we were way out on the edge of normal. People said it would never work in Powhatan and predicted our quick and hard fall to failure. But that didn't happen. God was in it, different as it was and still is. And because of that, 400 people have been baptized and our church is strong and vibrant. Don't underestimate the power of the multi-campus and online-campus strategy. People came to know Jesus Christ today and connected in real community through their computers from their homes. We can be a part of what God is doing there, and we will.

Tomorrow, I'll talk about that first church I went to at 8am.

We need Help!

You may not know it, but the building is still under construction. Specifically, and at the top of the list, is the Portico (the covered drop off). We own the materials (like $40,000 worth). We just have to finish it and put it up. Here's something I got from Robin Manes about how you can help:

We got all of the large timbers power washed today and will complete the A Frames on Monday when the guy will be there to lay them out and flip them.

I have one belt sander (Thanks Kirk) and could really use 2 to 3 more. If you have one we'd love to borrow it if you're comfortable. I would like to get these sanders some time on Sunday cause I'm hoping we can get more of the sanding done after church on Sunday. I'll be at the Westchester until 10:30 and then I hope to get some calls on my cell phone of those who can help with belt sanders or whom can loan theirs out. If you don't have one but know someone who does, please see if you can borrow one for me. We will be very careful with it and will return it in good condition. I can lock it in the PCC trailer to keep it safe.

MONDAY: We still will need lots of people to stain, two power washer people and one power washer (machine). We will need belt sanders for this day as well. We will start 8:30 and go atleast until 12:00.

PLEASE call my cell before you come so know someone will diffently be at the church. This is all taking place in front of the trailer and some may be on the paved parking lot.

Robin Golden Manes
804-598-0283 (home)
804-598-8861 (office)
804-839-3453 (cell)