Prayer and Fasting (part 1)

Leading up to February 22nd – when we publicly launch The Edge Church – I want to be in a state of fasting. Not only will a detox and healthy choices help my physical body but I want to press into God more intensely leading up to this launch so that my spiritual body will be full.

Planting a church is spiritual. Sure, it’s hard work – inspiring people to be a part of what God’s doing here, wrestling vendors, raising funds. Those are all very challenging and a normal part of church planting. But the most important, most overlooked, most critical aspect to planting a church takes place in the unseen – in the spiritual realm.

Anyone can lead others. Many can raise funds for good causes. Most people can organize events, work with vendors and pull together details to accomplish a goal. Few people can do all these things together to plant a church. Fewer still are those who are called to plant a church!

Think about the spiritual elements of planting a church. God works in the hearts of people and through the events taking place in a given area. Then God births a calling and vision in the heart of a person or persons to reach that area for Him. God also draws the hearts of people He’s pre-ordained to be a part of launching the church. God inspires others to financially give to this vision, He draws more people toward the church and He relentlessly works through people who have given Him control in order to birth the church – His beautiful bride.

Planting a church is a deeply spiritual endeavor! And because it is, we have to pursue God now more than ever before. Not because we “should” but because we simply can’t do it without Him. It is his Holy Spirit that draws the hearts of men and women to God. His love softens the hearts of others who are needed to make church happen – school representatives, church supply vendors and potential givers for the church.

As of yesterday we are four weeks away from launching. Each week Karen and I are going to pursue God more intensely through fasting.

I want to challenge you to pursue God like never before in this pre-church launch season. If you’re reading this then you’re a part of our story – really God’s story – to plant this church. Take a next step; join us as we abstain from things (fast), pray and pursue God leading up to February 22nd.

In part two, I’m going to share what we’re doing, specifically, to pursue God in this season. Will you join us?

Update & BIG News

On Thursday, December 18th we had an incredible Interest Gathering at Knightdale Rec Center. It was there that I shared some critical updates as we press on toward our launch Sunday.

Some of the updates I shared are:

  • The securing of Knightdale High School is all but done. The only thing we’re waiting on is a final approval of our revised contract with the school. After that, and once we write our first rent’s check, we’re locked in!
  • We wrote our first large check to Portable Church Industries (PCI) to get the process started on their end. Now, the equipment is in the manufacturing and design stages. They’re top-notch and provide some fantastic equipment. (Here are some pictures).
  • Being inspired by another planting pastor, together we prayed a very specific prayer – that God would send a person to give who’s never given before to The Edge Church. That same day, we had someone give a sacrificial donation! I called my pastor friend back and said, “let’s pray that same prayer again!”. The next day we had a church in Leesburg send us a check for $2,000!
  • Financial update: we still have roughly $50,000 due to PCI, $15,000 due for used PCI equipment, $14,000 for a projector, speakers and other critical supplies, $18,000 for marketing, website design and other upcoming expenses

I shared that for us to reach the goal of launching strong, it’s going to take several things. It’s going to take the continued generosity of outside givers and churches. (If you’re reading this and that’s one of you, thank you so much for helping us reach people in Wake County.) It’s also going to take the generosity of our launch team – people who understand the concept of giving God a portion back of what He gives to us financially. Tithing (10% of what we earn) and giving an offering (anything above the 10%) is going to help enable The Edge Church do what God has called her to do.

One of our core values is that we want to restore hope in the local church – and part of doing that is by sharing openly what’s going on. Transparency is critical. So I have to be open and honest about The Edge’s financial needs.

I’ll be honest again: it’s going to take a number of miracles for us to raise those funds. We’re looking at some significant numbers – figures that are impossible without God.

It’s a good thing God doesn’t have the same ledger book that I have! He isn’t short financially and He isn’t incapable of doing above and beyond what we could think or imagine. Furthermore, God’s will is for The Edge Church to launch strong and reach many for the sake of Christ! We’re actually fulfilling God’s will and vision for Wake County as we plant this church.

A day after our Interest Gathering, our generous sending church wrote us a check. Rather than trying to describe it to you, I’ll let you simply view the video they created when they wrote not one, but TWO checks to their new daughter churches.

Isn’t God good?

#GodsGotThis

Our Sending Church

The heritage of something is always important. Whether it’s a person’s heritage, a business’s heritage or especially a church’s heritage; it matters. If you were investing in a business, wouldn’t it matter if the CEO was personally mentored by Warren Buffett or the President of the United States?

If you were going to entrust your kids to another adult for childcare, wouldn’t it matter what sort of upbringing and family that person came from? I wouldn’t trust someone to watch my kids when they had a criminal record for abusing children, would you?

The Community Church in Ashburn, Virginia is a large part of our spiritual heritage at The Edge. There were churches, training and education prior to Community Church that helped breath life and vitality into the vision that ultimately evolved into planting The Edge Church, but Community has a special place in our heritage.

Community Church is our spiritual heritage. Under the leadership of Pastor Charlie Whitlow, this church has equipped us and spiritually invested in us – blood, sweat and finances!

They’re cheering us on and celebrating with us all that The Edge has and will do. Take a look at their update video for 2014:

#bestyearyet

Living Life on the Edge

We’re planting a life-giving church and there’s nothing like it. It’s tough to describe everything that’s involved in giving birth to a church in a place that has a need for a vibrant, growing, healthy church. Yet I get asked questions all the time along these lines. They look something like this:

  • How do you get people to come to your church?
  • What do you do with your time? Do you have another job too?
  • How do you survive financially?
  • How are things going? (Questions like this are progress report inquiries and are often the toughest to answer because so much is immeasurable!)
  • How does all this work?

I know answering them is part of what we’re doing – and we enjoy talking about things with folks! But the deeper answer to all of this takes more time to explain.

The answer lies in our story. Not just the story of the Brown family moving to Knightdale but the unfolding story of our team – people who are joining us financially and/or physically. The answer lies in what it means to live life on the edge.

live on the edge

Disclaimer: if you’re living comfortably in life right now, this post will probably irritate you. And if you’re living life on the edge, you’ll probably turn this post into fuel that will continue to drive you toward your destination, whatever that might be.

Our Personal Story

The story of the Brown family moving here is quite simple: pretty much our entire lives were flipped upside-down. It’s like the Fresh Prince of Bell Air – his life went from living in the ghetto with his single mom to living at a gorgeous estate with his Uncle, Aunt, cousins and butler. Everything he and we knew changed in an instant.

In early 2014 our lives were comfortable. We had a steady paycheck, solid health insurance, a great new home, friends and family nearby. Everything was comfortable.

But God had different plans. He wanted to take us to a new place in life and getting there demanded that we risk everything. He wanted us to live life on the edge.

Later in 2014, God called us to a place where we knew no one. We had no health insurance, no steady paycheck, no income, no guarantees. We had to relearn everything – where to get a great haircut, where to get great food, which mechanic shops to trust. Heck, we still use our GPS to get around! We are 100% outside of our comfort zone as a family but confident this is exactly where God would have us.

Our Team’s Story

There are many who, like us, are living life on the edge. There are a number of families who moved with us down here, leaving behind the richest, big-award-winning county in Northern Virginia. There are some who have left jobs. And it goes without saying that the entire launch team is leaving behind everything they knew to chase something bigger than themselves.

There are also many who are giving financially to The Edge Church. These critical people are also teammates – people who have courageously stepped forward. There are college students, single moms and unemployed people who have given sacrificially. I’m reminded of Jesus’s story of the woman who gave two small coins. She gave so little yet it was all she had to live on. Wow! That’s living on the edge!

Your story

God has a pre-written story for your life, too. If you’re breathing then God has a plan for your life! A few thousand years ago, Saul participated in many killings of Christians. Despite this, after Saul gave his life to Christ (and was renamed Paul), he wrote:

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (source)

In light of his past, why would Paul say something like that? Because God has a specific plan for each of us, despite our past.

King David, who’s life story included an affair and murder (among other things), wrote a wonderful poem about God knowing us even before we were born (source). He wrote that God knew us even before we were born – every complexity of our lives and our yet-to-be-discovered story!

God has a plan for your life too. And for those of us who consider ourselves Christians, it’s inevitable – God will call us out of our comfort zones in order to take us to that place He wants us to get to. “Faith” by definition requires a risk: it’s an evidence of things not seen.

But Christian or not – God has a plan for our lives and it’s going to require a risk for us to get there.

In my next post I will be an invitation for you, our readers, to live life on the edge so that you can get to the place God has for you. In the mean time, I challenge you to wrestle with how God is calling you to live life on the edge. Where have you sought to protect and to maintain control? Where have you stepped back instead of pressed in? Where have you settled for good when God desired for you to get to great?

cgjung quote

 

The Local Church is Failing

Here’s a bold statement: the local church is failing. Local Christian churches just aren’t “winning”.

I make that statement with all due respect to the many incredible men and women of God leading the church today. But let’s be honest…as a whole, Christian churches are hurting.

Allow me to elaborate…

  • Every year 4,000 churches close their doors (source). In fact, some people believe 8,000-10,000 churches closed their doors in 2013 (source)
  • 50% of all churches didn’t add new members between 2010 and 2012 (source)
  • Only 20% of churches are growing today. And out of those 20%, a majority of them are “borrowing” members from other churches (it’s called transfer growth).

church borrowing jpeg

  • In an average year, 1/2 of all existing churches will not add a single new member through what’s called conversion growth – when someone comes to faith in Jesus Christ
  • The United States is the #1 country for receiving missionaries (source)
  • 3,500 people leave the church every day
  • The United States is one of the least churched nations in the world (source)
  • The number of churchless Americans has doubled in the last 20 years
  • Out of those who don’t attend church in America, 75% said it was because they either, “find God elsewhere” or because, “church isn’t relevant to me personally.”
  • Millennials are leaving the local church in droves (source)

(Additional sources for you fact-checkers: source1, source2, source3, source4. Sobering thought: those figures include Catholic churches, Protestant churches, Mormon churches, 7th Day Adventists, etc.)

Looking at all the church statistics above, I wonder how many Americans are going to a growing church. Out of that number, how many have a church that’s healthy? Out of that smaller number, how many have a church that’s experiencing conversion growth? How many people go to that type of church and walk away uplifted, encouraged and challenged? How many are actually looking forward to a weekend experience at church?

WOW. Folks, we are failing. There’s no way around it.

I don’t have a desire to try and explain why I believe the church is declining. That would take years and isn’t where I’m going with this blog.

I made that bold claim and seek to shed light on the issue because I believe that The Edge Church will be an agent of change that will reach Wake County for Jesus Christ.

Did you read that last sentence? It’s pretty important and I believe it’s as big as my opening statement. I believe that The Edge Church will buck the trend, experience conversion growth, draw a younger, diverse crowd and be a source of strength and inspiration to many. I believe that The Edge Church will strengthen marriages, benefit local communities, equip and bless parents and support outreach and government programs.

How are we going to do that? In a world that’s increasingly hostile toward Christians and the local church, how can we be an agent of change?

By living out our mission: accepting people where they are and taking them where God wants them to be.

accepting people where they are taking them where God wants them to be

That’s what God has called The Edge Church to do and to be. That’s who we are. That’s what we’re about. That’s our mission.

How are we going to accomplish that mission? By staying true to who God has called us to be as a local church. It takes strategy, intentionality, humility and so much more for us to accomplish everything God has in His heart for us to achieve.

There are a dozen core principles that we embody. Stay tuned for a post on them.

But for now…we have to admit that something needs to change. We can do better.

Life on the Edge

As I (Pete) have been wrestling with the vision that God is providing for The Edge Church, I have observed some sizable challenges we have faced as a family. I feel as if these challenges are meant to play a role in a larger narrative. It’s the idea of living life on the edge and it’s part of the larger narrative of The Edge Church.

Prior to launching out on this church planting adventure, we had our third child. I could stop the whole story here – having a third child, a son after two daughters, is a game-changer. We are now running a “zone defense” instead of man-to-man.

We had recently bought a wonderful townhouse. It was in a great neighborhood, we got it for a fair price. I enjoyed my job and we felt like we were in a good place. Life was good.

But sometimes the biggest enemy of greatness is good.

Then God showed us His plans for us to plant a church. Almost immediately we had to sell our house after having lived in it only one year (and try to at least break even). I had to wrestle to finish my Master’s degree (by appealing to the dean for an exception to the program). We were on our knees praying often about where God was leading us, knowing all the while that the train was leaving the station whether we were ready or not.

Finances were tight and we didn’t know what the future held. All we knew to do was to pray and seek God.

That’s living life on the edge. And unbeknownst to us, God was also taking our Northern Virginia launch team out of their comfort zones too. It’s no easy task to pack up an entire single family home and move another state away. But try doing it while on crutches after an excruciating, painful accident. Try moving as a single woman, saying goodbye to a secure job with a bright future. Try leaving everything you’ve known for several decades; try leaving what you’ve known for your whole life.

It’s not easy to say goodbye to all your friends that you’ve known and the jobs you have and the houses you made home only to move to another state where you know literally no one.

That’s the short version of what God has been taking our launch team through. And I believe it’s because our stories will be grafted into a bigger story of what God wants to do through The Edge Church. I believe God is personally crafting and molding our stories – stories of what it means to live life on the edge – in order to form the deeper DNA of his local church here in Knightdale.

We still have the amazing challenge of finding new places to call home, new favorite restaurants, new mechanics we can trust, new friends, new jobs. But seeing these challenges in light of the bigger picture makes this whole thing feel like more of an adventure than a stormy mess.

For those who remember the game Oregon Trail it’s like finding out your wheel broke and, rather than giving up, you try to figure out how to craft a three-wheeled wagon to get you moving again!

OregonTrail-BrokenAxle

God is crafting our story for His purposes and His ultimate glory. We simply  have to submit to this crazy adventure and surrender our will for His. That’s what it means to live life on the edge.

Momentum is Building!

There have been many exciting things taking place here in Knightdale and we can’t help but recognize that God is building momentum. I (Pete) wanted to share some of these updates in order to encourage and excite you – much in the same way it encourages us!

We’ve Moved…

The team is moving to Knightdale! Two families are now moved in with more coming! Because of this, we had our first team meeting in North Carolina. No more Northern Virginia team meetings…

There is another awesome family who is excited about The Edge Church’s future and who has made the decision to move to the Raleigh area to be on the launch team! We are excited to welcome aboard…..Billy and Christine Massey (and their two precious daughters)!

We’re Getting More Official…

We’ve opened bank accounts, incorporated and are pressing on toward 501(c)(3) status. These steps, and several more like them, are critical in allowing us to progress toward our church launch. The next step will be securing a payment processing company to begin to receive funds (credit, debit, e-checks, etc) on an on-going basis.

We had our first board meeting a few weeks ago.

I have been meeting with a number of local pastors. I believe networking is critical for many reasons, the most important of which is so that we can join together with other churches to meet the needs of this community. The world sees too many examples of Christian segregation – denominational splits and racially divided churches to name a few. What an incredible witness to not see other pastors and churches as “competition” but to see them as partners together in the larger narrative that God is authoring!

We are now an ARC church! Being in the ARC network is an incredible blessing and an honor. We successfully finished our 3.0 interviews and are awaiting word on our who our coach will be.

I plan to share more about ARC’s vision for churches in a future post.

Word is Getting Out

As we have been sharing our story and what we’re doing, we have met people who are excited. In fact, we’ve had several people share that they’ve been, “praying for a church like this” to come to this area. Awesome!

God is Providing

God has been making a way as we’ve pressed forward. In fact, our prayer has been that God will not only bless our efforts but that God will be a blessing to those around us. We have prayed this for our realtors in NOVA and we continue to pray it for people we come into contact with here.

On that note, I’d like to leave you with an email we received last week:

Hey Pete,

Thanks for your assistance earlier! So far, this month [we] have had 4 homesites go under contract. I’m working on getting 5 by the end of the month so you and Karen can have even more neighbors…!

Oddly enough, things were sort of slow before you guys moved to the neighborhood. Now it’s entirely different!! Guess you guys are my good luck charms!! It’s like you “blessed” the neighborhood. I’m being totally serious by the way. Have a great evening and thanks again.

Next Steps (Blog and Church)

Since arriving in Knightdale, we’ve had the privilege of meeting so many wonderful people. We’ve meet some down-to-earth neighbors, folks in the real estate business, install technicians, construction workers and strangers in the store! It’s amazing how we never intend to share (and often don’t disclose) what we’re doing and yet these amazing conversations come up.

Why not tell people what we’re doing? Well, it depends on who we’re talking with. If we’re talking with a neighbor then we don’t feel a sense of urgency to share what we’re doing because, well, they’ll probably find out eventually anyway! Not only that, but when I (Pete) share that I’m a pastor, the whole tone changes. Now my new mission is to try and dodge the question of what I do for a living for as long as possible! Doing this allows people to feel at ease about being who they truly are – something everyone shouldn’t be ashamed of regardless of what company we’re in!

That, my friends, is one of the core values of The Edge Church – acceptance. If we can’t act ourselves at church, where can we? Certainly many of us feel we can’t act like ourselves at work or as we’re out shopping. We somehow feel this need to put on a facade and act like everything’s okay. I want to put others at ease when they’re around me and I want the DNA of The Edge Church to do the same. There’s no need to hide the fact that we haven’t figured life out yet or that life isn’t perfect for us. We are all in the same boat.

More on the DNA of the church later…

 

Blog Updates

In the near future, Karen and I will create a contact us page that will help us connect with YOU, our readers, supporters, friends and future church family! Chances are, we’ve already connected or else you might not be on our blog in the first place. Regardless, we want to continue the dialogue and grow in our relationships with each of you.

We are also working hard to create the ability to invest in what God is doing in Knightdale. Some might call this simply a “donate” button or page which is technically correct. I believe it goes beyond simply donating funds, however. I believe when you and I invest in the kingdom of God we get a return that’s immeasurably better than the gift we give. If you are short on faith in this area, borrow mine! Jesus’ half-brother James said it well when he said, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

And doesn’t our ability to give financially come from God anyway? He gives us the health we have to earn a paycheck, He gives us favor at our job, He watches over us and provides for us. Regardless of how much we own or how much we accomplish in life, we can’t forget that God owns it all and we are simply His money managers.

Finally, we plan to INCREASE blog frequency. Without going into all the details, Time Warner fumbled our original install so we went with AT&T. When AT&T informed us they no longer offer DSL to our neighborhood we were forced to go back to Time Warner. We’re being told we will have internet on July 28. In the mean time, I blog to you here from the public library!

 

Church Updates

We had an incredible blessing from friends at Community Church. After one of our sending services there, I had a wife approach me wanting to help. She works for a religious organization and they needed to increase their donations for their fiscal year which was ending very soon. I was able to go on to their website and pick out materials for our church!

Just yesterday those materials came in – we had four boxes shipped to us! They included a Bible study book that’s great for small groups, many NLT Bibles and Spanish Bibles! Each of these books will be handed out to people in the Knightdale/Raleigh area who need to discover or rekindle a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.

New Book Gift

Donation to The Edge Church

Donations like these, along with incredible conversations with people estranged from God pour fuel on the fire of what we’re doing in Knightdale!

Finally, we are still waiting to hear back from North Carolina about our incorporation files we submitted for the church. We hope that will come through soon as it holds up several key steps we need to take in the immediate future.

Onward and upward!

The Eagle Has Landed

We have arrived! We moved in on July 8th and have been steadily unpacking and making our house feel like home. Karen and the kids have been troopers through it all – never once have they complained about having to move.

We had so many friends and family members help us with the move on both ends to whom we can’t say “thank you” enough.

Now that we are here, we are hitting the ground running. Imagine moving to a place where you know barely anyone and you have to start from scratch. Now imagine launching a business eight months after you arrive! It’s crazy; and with us alone it’s impossible.

We still have to use GPS to know how to drive around town and we’re trying to learn the ins and outs of the area. Cheapest gas spots, reputable grocery stores, good babysitters, honest mechanics; these are all things we once took for granted and now have to relearn.

Yet I suspect this has been a part of God’s plan all along. We have been talking with everyone and usually the conversation starts off with us saying, “We’re new here” and leads to questions about the above challenges we’re facing. Then we start talking about life and some amazing conversations have arisen because of it.

I had a wonderful time meeting and talking with a guy named Danny at Lowe’s. He was shopping for weed killer and I was shopping for something that would nuke all bugs (because they’re everywhere here). It was awesome hearing his life story, getting to know him and sharing with him what we’re doing in Knightdale. I’m going to grab coffee with him next chance we get.

We also had the Directv crew come out and install TV in our home. They came with a crew of three guys and they were a riot! We hit it off and they loved what we’re doing in Knightdale. The lead guy (Terry Hawkins) insisted that he would be our first church member. Those guys were awesome!

Beyond that, we’ve been meeting every neighbor we run in to. We’re talking about scheduling a few events (poker night, play dates, neighborhood BBQ) to have more opportunities to meet our neighbors.

And finally, this week has been filled with wonderful rendezvous with friends and family from Northern Virginia. We have been telling everyone that we’re open for visitors and can serve as “home base” for those who are moving down here. This last week we’ve hosted everyone on the current launch team who will be moving down from VA with us for this adventure.

Tom and Sheree Bloch bought the house two doors down and will be moving in about a week and my parents (Steve and Jackie Brown) just had their offer accepted on the home next to us! We already discussed the possibility of having the town’s largest slip and slide in our three backyards when we combine them! Karen Sherline also came down with Teresa Matthews to explore the area and determine where she (Karen) will move.

How you can pray:

1-      That the ongoing transition of the whole team to the Knightdale area would be smooth

2-      That providential relationships would continue to develop

3-      That our group dynamic would continue to be healthy as our launch team expands

4-      That our launch team would expand

5-      That North Carolina would complete our business incorporation application so that we could proceed to receive funds from those who have verbally committed to doing so

6-      That our internet would be installed (Time Warner mishandled our order; AT&T at first said they cover our neighborhood then they said they didn’t.)