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

by Brian C. Hughes, Senior Pastor

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Change in Children's Ministry for Sat evening services

We will NOT have any children's ministry or childcare for the Saturday evening services after June 11 (so, effective June 18). We are hoping to resume children's ministry for Saturday services after the summer. Please spread the word.

If you have questions or want to talk or if you'd like to be a part of helping us grow our Saturday campus, please let me or a member of our staff know. You can find our staff by clicking here.

I posted a video on Facebook where I flesh this decision out a little (it's only 4 minutes). You can click here to see it.

Thanks for your support on this decision and for our church! Great things are happening at PCC!

Monday, May 30, 2011

How 'bout THEM Apples?!

I was really surprised today. Surprised with a very cool gift. It isn't my birthday or a special anniversary. It certainly isn't Christmas. But I got an awesome gift anyway.

A little background first...

About two months ago, I started having some trouble with my laptop. I got it fixed, then it broke again. In the meantime, I got a little mini (netbook) to tide me over until I could figure out what the long-term plan was. Frankly, there really isn't any money for new laptops and I was just trying to get by.

Then my mini got infected with a nasty virus - a malware that threatened to steal my identity. I had never been the victim of identity theft. It was scary. Yesterday before church, I was pretty distracted by it, worried that some faceless person was out there living it up on whatever he could buy with the Brian C. Hughes credit line.

So, before church yesterday, I was lamenting my situation here and there, but especially with some of my colleagues on staff like Chauncey and Beth. I've had a lot of trouble with computers lately, I vented.

And then, today, Beth calls and asks to meet with me face to face, and...immediately. This is almost NEVER good when someone requests that kind of meeting! You can imagine the kind of thoughts that traveled through my mind, but Beth assured me it "wasn't bad".

Susan and I went straight to Beth and Tony's music store, where they both presented me with a huge basket of apples. Wow. That is important. But under the first layer of apples, I noticed a bag, and after digging to get to it, I noticed the boxes. White boxes with an Apple emblem on them.

Turns out, some good friends chipped in to get me an iPad, instigated and orchestrated by Beth Stoddard! I've never had any machine like this one. It's like your first ride in a limo after driving a Pinto your whole life. Even the packaging said, "quality". I think it's time I leave the dark side...I'm probably going to say goodbye to the PC world now.

But not before I say Thank You to those who pitched in to help make it happen (I don't know who you are, except for Beth). You really made me feel appreciated and honored and special. This is an unusual surprise, and I am really, really grateful.

And a special thanks to my good friend Beth Stoddard, too. I was at a rare loss for words as the apples peeled back and revealed the Apple, but it was a really overwhelming and incredible thing you did for me. Thank you for the way you honored me today. I'm so glad we get to be on this journey together!

So, this is me-signing off, with a huge smile, heartfelt thanks, and a little more pep in my step, iPad. :-)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Few Thoughts about this Weekend...

It was a great weekend at PCC! Of course, Memorial Day Weekend is historically low attendance, and that was certainly the case this year! It was our lowest attendance since July and the first time we've seen attendance go below 1,000 since August. But it was predictable - the weather was mostly good and it's hard to resist a 3 & 1/2 day weekend! (And a good bit of folks were able to join us online from the river, beach, pool or lake.)

Those who were able to be at PCC today (either physically at one of our campuses or online) got to participate in some really great music, the pinnacle of which was an unbelievable song that closed the service, written by our own Lindsay Harris. That song is not just's awesome! You'll hear it on the radio some day. Can't wait to get some great original music recorded for a PCC album!

We dealt with a difficult subject today in talking about hell. Plenty of churches take it on, but I think God has uniquely equipped PCC to handle topics like this in a way that feels less judgmental to someone who's not used to going to church. I'm not trying to make hell sound like a vacation spot. Rather, I am trying to create a forum where people are willing to approach these tough subjects with an open mind. This requires that they set aside their pre-conceived notions about the church, based on their previous observations and experiences. To get there, I usually lean into the conversation with that person by trying to ease the tension somehow. That's why I began with the Far Side cartoons and pushed the envelope a little towards the end with the...'expressions' about hell that are part of our vernacular.

I'll post most of the scripture references I used as well as some of the basic emphases of the message in my next post.

It was a good weekend at PCC. I think we may have helped some folks. Using both our best work and the work that fell short - God showed up. He always comes through!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Thinking of a new study...

A few weeks ago, as we led up to Easter, I did a series on this blog on the book of John (called it "Easter Soul Prep" and you can read the entire series on this blog. To see the first day, click here). Pretty much every day, we took one chapter of John at a time and finished all 21 chapters at Easter. For those of us who participated, it was a really good and meaningful part of our spiritual lives for those 3 weeks, and there was a good deal of very healthy discussion. For me, it served as a devotional time that was not a part of preparation for messages. Having some of you say you were counting on my posts was a healthy accountability for me, too.

Several have asked me to do it again, and I am sensing God nudging me that the time is right, so I'm eyeing some books:
  • 1 Corinthians. 16 chapters keeps it concise. Paul covers a lot of topics, including unity, heaven and hell, sin, the way for the church to be healthy, gifts from God, etc.
  • Genesis. One of my favorite books. An endless list of spiritual truths doused with familiar stories to most people. 50 chapters makes the commitment long, though, especially through the summer.
  • Proverbs. 31 Proverbs make it perfect for a month. Many, many great things for us to talk about and hear from God about.
I'm open to something else. But these are the pieces I'm kind of pondering. Let me know if something strikes you or if you have another idea. But do it quickly, because I think I'm going to start on Wednesday, June 1.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Friend who Calls Again...

I have a very close friend who is the Senior Pastor of a church like ours. This is someone who knows me well, and we've earned the right to poke around in each other's lives to help keep our lives healthy. We have permission to ask questions - sometimes hard or uncomfortable questions - to ensure we're not pretending, living duplicitously, or wearing a mask.

So Monday he calls me. We usually talk every week or two - sometimes about nothing, other times there is an agenda or a specific reason that's church related. "I'm just calling to check on you" he said. (this was prior to yesterday's blog post, by the way). "I'm good," I replied. I shared some frustration I was having with message preparation and a couple of other church things and shared a piece of personal good news I had gotten. But twice more during our 15 minute conversation he asked, "Are you sure you're ok?" I peeled a layer each time, but pretty much ended where I started - "I'm ok. I'm doing well."

Later that evening, my phone again and his name was on the screen. "I had to call you back," he said. "Since we talked earlier, I kept thinking about our conversation and...I'm just not sure you were completely honest with me earlier about being OK. I'm not sure you're telling me everything."

Everybody needs a friend like that!

A real friend calls again. He or she risks ticking you off by making that statement: "I'm not sure you told me the truth." And some people do get offended by such a question. But smart people would never rebuff such an inquiry from a good friend, because we understand that their motive is to help you take your mask off...and sometimes you don't even know you're wearing it.

I wasn't deliberately hiding anything...but the call pressed me to take a harder look, talk through some things, and see what I previously was missing. He prayed for me and I hung up and thought, "Now that is a good friend."

Real friends call again. If you don't have a friend like that, be deliberate. While this is true for everyone...Pastors - this is especially a message for you, because I know many of you don't have a friend who calls again. That kind of friendship won't usually happen for you on its have to be intentional. Those kinds of friends are around, and even though they take time to develop, they are worth it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A little...blah

When I was in sales (20 years ago) one of the lessons I learned that has served me well is this principal: Business is always good. Always. You might have not had a sale in 2 months, but if someone asks, business is always good. You don't have to fabricate data or lie about your production. But business is always good. why? Because no one wants to buy from a salesperson who is on his way out, can't sell his product, or is just miserable. They want to do business with someone who believes in their product and sells it like crazy. Business is always good.

Along the way, though, I learned to undergird that attitude with truth. You can still believe in your product while admitting it's a tough season.

Pastors of churches like PCC, as authentic as we can be, often hide behind the notion that 'business is good.' The last vestige of mask-wearing for innovative church pastors involves 2 areas: marriage and the blues. We can admit to struggling with temptation, sin, parent issues, being flawed, etc. But these 2 things...well, we just don't want to talk about them.

So, I thought I'd venture out a little and say, "business is still good, but I'm kind of struggling anyway."

You see, creative types tend to move in 'seasons' where everything is good sometimes and everything not at others. It's not really grounded in circumstances or even reality. Sometimes, everything is a disaster, but I feel great. Other times circumstances can be incredible, but I feel...blah.*

This is one of those seasons. I'm a little overwhelmed...a little tired...a little unsure of some decisions that need to be made...a little lacking in direction. As I described it to a friend, I feel a little unsteady. It's not a long term thing and I don't need a thousand pieces of advice about how "the sun coming out tomorrow" and "just whistle while I work". It's a short season and you just have to work your way through it. I'm not miserable. Nothing is particularly wrong. I'm just a little...blah. It's ok. Even the pastor can go through these times. (Yes, men have these seasons, too. They just don't know how to talk about them. Hopefully, someone reading this will feel inspired to share a little about what they're going through with a spouse or friend.) There is no shame in it. It's just part of life.

And, just to be sure we're clear, business is still very good!

*having struggled with depression in the past, I'm always aware that it can happen again. I'm quick to intervene if I see some red flags and have friends and family that serve as an 'early warning system', too. There is a difference between being 'blah' and being depressed, though one can lead to the other. Pastors who struggle with this should read Wayne Cordeiro's Leading on Empty.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Scriptures on Heaven

Today, I made reference to a LOT of scripture. Thought I'd recap here in case you wanted to look some of it up.
  • John 14 is a critical chapter in my thinking on this subject. I really think you should read it.
  • Matthew 4:17
  • Romans 6:23 says that “the gift of God is eternal life with Jesus Christ.”
  • 2 Cor 4:18 says, “we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
  • 2 Cor 5:1-2 says “Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dewelling…”.
  • WHEN will Heaven happen? I referred to Jesus' conversation with the thief on the cross next to him in Luke 23. I would also refer you to the account in Matthew 17:1-8 of Moses and Elijah appearing with Jesus on the mountain. They were not laying 'in state', but were present with Jesus (presumably from heaven). I also noted 1 Cor 15:52 to note that something happens when Jesus returns.
  • Speaking of Jesus' return, you can read about that in John 14, 1 Thess 4:16, Mark 13, Hebrews 2, 2 Thess, just to name a few.
  • 1 Cor 15:40-58 will give you a taste of what Heaven will be like.
  • Finally, how do you get into Heaven? I refer you to John 14:6, John 3:16 and Romans 10:9 for the answers.
More discussion about heaven later...

Friday, May 20, 2011

Is Tomorrow The End of World?

Tomorrow is the latest installment in a long list of predictions about the end of the world. May 21, it is said, is our last.


OK...PROBABLY Bull. May 21 could be the day, but if it is, those predicting it wouldn't know about it. Jesus is quite clear about this - you will not know the hour or the day. Parables like the 10 bridesmaids (and many others) paint a clear picture: we will not know a definite day, but we will know the season. It seems to me that every generation has thought they were in the 'end times' or the last days. I often feel that way, with what is happening in the middle east and earthquakes, flooding, etc. But those things are NOT new to our generation, even though they feel as if they are worse.

The bottom line is that I do believe Jesus will return. John 14 sites Jesus making his return very clear. But my role as a Christ follower is not to expend energy trying to 'time the market', if you will. Rather, I should live my life EVERY day like Jesus could return today. I don't always do this. I confess that truth. But I try, and I get better and more consistent the more I travel on this journey. One day, I'll be with Jesus - either because he came and got me or because I take my last breath and go to Him. Either way, I don't really know when that will be - it could be any second. I want to live my life like I'm ready for it no matter when it happens.

People invest WAY too much energy trying to figure out when Jesus will return, when he made it clear that we won't really know. Why not spend that same energy sharing the good news of Jesus in innovative, relevant, and effective ways. Why not make a dent in poverty. Why not help feed some hungry folks, help a kid who needs an adult in their life, etc, etc, etc.

Don't spend much energy on this - the 'pinpointing the end times' debate misses the point.

So, let's live every day like it's our last and work every day like the world depends on us, because it does. Time is critical...we just don't know exactly what time it is.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Learning, Fixing Stuff and Being a Dad

My TV broke. It was an off-brand, 44" LCD that I bought about 5 years ago. But a few months ago, it started having some problems. The colors would get distorted in all four corners of the screen. Then it would take some time to 'warm up' before the picture would come on. Then it would take longer until it took like 45 minutes.

And it turned off in the final minutes of this year's Superbowl!

So, I Googled my make and model and learned that others were having similar trouble with the same TV. There was a fix - replace 4 capacitors (C28, C32, etc.) I was lost. I wouldn't know a capacitor if it hit me in the face.

So, I did...nothing. The thing just sat, unused, in our living room, which we never used anymore because there was no TV.

But the other day, I decided the threshold of pain was high enough. I went to YouTube and 'went to school' on capacitors. I asked Chauncey Starkey, a colleague on our staff who used to work on these dumb things. I went to Radio Shack and bought a solder gun, solder, capacitors and a solder wick. Joshua and I took the thing apart, took the board out, created a make-shift work table out of cardboard...and fixed it. I've never soldered anything in my life.

And it worked.

And now, I'm a TV repair guy. Yes!

Joshua, my 9 year old, was my big helper. I got to be a good Dad and I got my bigscreen TV back AND I saved the replacement cost of hundreds of dollars.

And it feels pretty good.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tomorrow's Ad May Raise Eyebrows!

"Hell No!"

Tomorrow, we run an ad in the Powhatan Today and the Midlothian Exchange to promote the series we start next Sunday (see the headline on this blog for a hint). It's a series about heaven and hell, what happens when we die, and how you get to either one. This is on a lot of people's minds, given the new best selling book written by a very popular pastor (Love Wins, by Rob Bell) who was on the cover of Time Magazine's April 25 issue. (By the way, the series is not based on his book, but the timing was influenced by it.)

The ad that runs tomorrow may seem a little...provocative. I'm sure that there is a person or two who will think it inappropriate. There is a method to this kind of advertising, though. The first goal is to grab the readers attention and have them read the rest of the ad. The second goal is to have them be intrigued enough by the rest of the information that they will come to the event, buy the product, or otherwise try out what you are advertising. For the record, I was part of the design team on this ad, and I approved it with great excitement.

Last Sunday's message is a good common ground for us. (You can see it by clicking here) Our mission is to reach people who do NOT go to church. Those folks are very interested in the topic we're addressing in this series, but they are NOT interested in the same ol' churchy hell-fire-and damnation sermons. We needed to communicate that this would be different. These ads will do that.

So, I just thought I'd get in front of the eyebrows on this one. At PCC, people are coming to know Jesus. We'll do whatever it takes to reach them.

See you Sunday.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011


I am frustrated with email today because I'm not getting all of them. For some dumb reason, it just recently started happening. And it hangs over me - I find an underlying ongoing anxiety, as I wonder, "who thinks I'm ignoring them when I truthfully never got their email?"

So, if you could help me out here...if you sent me an email and never got a response, send it again. I'll get the problem tracked down by Monday and be...less anxious. :-)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Paving the Parking Lot!

There is a way you can make a real difference with a special gift to PCC. We know that folks (new folks especially) value good parking. Our parking lot is not...but it can be if we all work together!

We received a commitment for up to $20,000 in a matching grant from someone in the church. If we can raise $20K to go with it, we would have $40K and could pave the worst parts of the parking lot. This past Sunday, a family asked me about the parking lot. I gave them the update. They gave me a check for $1,000!

We have about $6,000 raised towards that initial goal. $14,000 more and we can get some paving done! Not all of it, but a good portion. We'd be well on our way.

Come on...Let's do this! We CAN do it!

Personally, susan and I are going to give $185 towards the parking lot for each driver in my home (4 of us) over the next 4 months. I have to make a little sacrifice during that time, but it's worth it.

Be a part of something that will make a difference! Help us pave the parking lot at PCC!

To give now, click here.

Thanks for your help and for doing what you can!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Help Victims of the Tornados

The Alabama community is in very dire need of our help from the tornados last week. They
are not expecting to get power back to the community for at least 6 weeks. I found out about this opportunity and wanted to pass it to you. Look at the bottom for contact info for any questions you have:

The folks from Abilene Motor Express will be dropping a empty tractor
trailer at Old Dominion Insulation 5/3/11. I would like to get this
Trailer Full by Friday 5/6/11 with items from the list below. This
would make sure that driver could make the trip in time for the folks
from surrounding communities to unload.

Any Cash Donations will be used to buy Pallets of canned food and or

Please help us get this truck loaded before Friday. We will unload and
Palatize all items rain or shine. Please feel free to get your Church

Drop off Times Tuesday-Friday 9:00AM-7:00PM

Old Dominion Address:
12764 Oak Lake Ct
Midlothian, Va 23112

List as seen below in email:

1. Wet wipes.
2. Diapers.
3. Gallon Water. They have small bottles they need big (Pallets)
4. Can food. (Pallets)
5. Towels and wash rags. (Pallets)
6. Toothbrushes & toothpaste.
7. Soap.
8. Deodorant.
9. Charcoal.
10. Any personal hygiene products.
11. clothing (any size)
12. Small Tents
13. Big Tents
14. Batteries
15. Tarps of any size
16. Baby Food
17. Any other Item you could think they would need.


Jeff Davoud