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

by Brian C. Hughes, Senior Pastor

Monday, September 2, 2013

Happy Anniversary, PCC!

It's hard to believe that it has been ELEVEN years since PCC began.  Eleven years ago on Sunday, September 1, 2002, which was also Labor Day weekend, we had our very first service.  So much has happened in that time.  Much like a person who is different after eleven years of life and experience, our church has also 'grown up' a bit during these formative years.

Can I take you back for a minute and do a little reflecting?  

What I'm about to tell you is not exaggeration.  It happened just like this...

I was the pastor of a small country church in the northwest corner of Powhatan, near the Cumberland County line.  The church building rises from the horizon as you drive towards it, surrounded by farmland and timber as far as the eye can see.  It's a stunning sight, really.  I learned a lot at that country church, but since I really didn't grown up in church, I seemed to connect especially well with people all around who didn't have much of a church background either.  Over a couple of years, I came to realize that God was calling me to start a church just for them.  It would be a church that didn't ask outsiders to conform to lots of traditions they didn't understand, wear clothes that they didn't normally wear or fake their way into churchlife by hiding who they were or pretending they didn't have problems.

Instead, this new church would specifically target people who didn't go to church, but who were still interested in spiritual things.  We guessed (correctly, it turns out) that if the church could learn to speak their language, we could re-engage the church in the spiritual conversation that was happening outside of the church.

We knew that we were going to attempt something that was controversial and unprecedented in our area.  But on paper it also appeared to be reckless.  We had no money, no people and no planning.  Let me explain....

My last day as the pastor of my former church was the second Sunday in August, 2002.  One week later, Susan and I hosted a meeting at the Powhatan County Library for anyone interested in helping launch this new adventure.  About 60 people came.  To this day, I'm still not sure how some of them found out about it.

I stood in front of those folks and told them we would plant a church like none of them had ever seen.  They all nodded their heads like they knew what I was talking about, but not one of them had a clue.  I didn't either, really.

All I knew was that there were thousands of people around us who needed to know the Truth of Jesus Christ, and I was willing to do anything to make the introduction happen.

Two weeks after that meeting, with almost no planning, no money and a very small group of people, we stepped into the greatest act of faith of my life, and on September 1, 2002, we had our very first Sunday service.  148 people came that day and I still don't know how most of them heard about it.

The second Sunday, we had 189.  Then we settled to around 130 and grew like crazy from there.  Some years we grew 70%, 50%, was an intense insanity that was fun like I never knew, because people were coming to know Jesus like I had never seen.

We knew pretty much nothing about starting a church, so we were winging it for just about everything...making decisions like soldiers on a battlefield in real time, based on actual conditions - which changed by the day.  We were nimble and were able to size up every situation quickly and pulled the trigger on whatever we had to do.  We all ran around like people needing a double dose of Ritalin!

It became obvious on that first day (and pretty much every day since then) that God was in this new and crazy idea.  He brought people to PCC - many of whom had either never gone to church or had not been in many years.  I remember meeting a young, single mom in her early 20's who had never been to church in her entire life.  She was the first of her kind at our fledgling congregation, but she would not be the last!  Our dream and prayer of reaching many people who wanted to know God but didn't feel welcome at 'normal' church was becoming a reality.

Fast forward 11 years.  Over 600 people have been baptized.  In 6 days we'll have three physical campuses and an online campus averaging 1300+ people in church every week, including almost 300 kids.  We've learned more than we could cram into 3 books.  For example, we learned how to do church on a ridiculously small budget.  We learned how to make good music.  We learned how to reach teenagers.  We learned how to raise up a fantastic staff and leadership.  We learned how to deal with a crisis.  And we learned how to analyze and respond to the culture.

We have a lot still to learn, and there is still a lot we don't know.  But we're sure of this:  God is still in the dream, and He is still answering the prayer!

So I just wanted to say Happy Anniversary PCC!  I'm so thankful that I get to be a part of this movement, and I'm totally excited about what God is going to do next!

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