Archives: Vortex

It’s Just A Season

It’s Just A Season

Every year we take one of the first portions of the year and dedicate it to prayer and fasting. It’s our simple way at Vortex to put God first as we enter in a new season. 

It’s interesting because, essentially those 21 days is a season within a season, a moment within a more significant, grander moment. 

There are lots of seasons within seasons.

I probably enjoyed this year’s fast as much as I have any to date. My wife and I worked as a team. It really elevated our levels of communication at home. We were continually trying to figure out how to make it work, and I really believe it helped us along the way! 

I’ve grown to enjoy the pursuit of being healthy. Our diet post-fast won’t change dramatically. We’ll have some options when it comes to meat, but we’ll still be regularly eating pretty clean. 

There are things I missed, but not that much. I’d say this is the first year that I haven’t had an “I desperately need to eat THIS THING after the fast is over.” 

As the fast neared its end, I’ve mourned it a little. 

This season within the grander season of a new year is coming to an end. 

That the thing about seasons: Seasons start and they end. 

There are seasons we live in for a long time. Some that come for just a short while. Some are pleasant. Some are quite difficult. 

But… all seasons end. 

If you’re in a season that’s been pleasant, rejoice. But… Also, know it’s going to end. There are less pleasant circumstances coming your way. Don’t let that take away from your joy in this season, but also don’t let your guard down. This season is going to end. 

If you’re in a difficult season, know that this to will not just pass, it will end. You are not trapped. It will not be this way forever. It’s a season, and seasons change. 

So, embrace that. Embrace that your season will change. 

Embrace that the pleasure may not last forever, and that’s ok.

Embrace that the pain won’t endure. There will be pain. Use it. Let it motivate you to take the next step in your journey towards this season. 

This truth is both comforting and challenging, but at its heart, it is ultimately liberating! This gives us permission to find joy in this season, whether pleasurable or challenging, because God is in control and it’s just a season! 

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What season have you been going through? How does the knowledge that this season has a beginning and ending change the way you approach navigating through the season? 

It’s Lonely

It’s Lonely

During this blog series, I’ve shared what I didn’t know about planting a church when I started the adventure to plant Vortex Church in Albemarle, NC.

Most guys who strike out to start a church come from a similar context to me: they were on staff at a church doing something awesome for Jesus.

It’s so easy to overlook something that’s obvious: when you’re on staff at a church you’re typically surrounded with significant relationships. To be on staff at a church, the church would need to be larger in nature. There’s a large pool for relationships. From that, most church planters live in a significant community prior to their transition.

That was my story. We had fully integrated into the community we lived. We had a ton of friends in our church and outside of our church.

I played kickball in a league in our city with a bunch of people who never went to church, and I loved it. I played golf with men from our church on a regular basis at their invitation. I had coffees and lunch meetings with people that I was mentoring and leading.

Life was full of significant relationships.

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It’s Harder Than You Think

It’s Harder Than You Think

Anything worth doing is not going to be easy.

That’s the truth in life, and that’s the truth in church planting.

As I coach other church planters, I’ve noticed that that are a lot of us that approach this without a lot of respect for the work it’s going to take to sustain a move of God.

Throughout history, all great moves of God have been a lot of work for the people involved. In the mid-19th century, the great preacher Charles Finney led revivals throughout the US in what became known as the Second Great Awakening. During that time whole communities would be converted into active believers.

Before Finney led revival meetings in towns, he oversaw massive efforts of prayer networks throughout the communities. This methodology would later be replicated by Billy Graham Ministries in his crusades.

Too often we’re caught looking at the harvest, and neglect to understand the work that it took to sow the seed and prepare the field.

Here are a few observations on the work of planting a church…

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It’s Going To Hurt (Part 2)

It’s Going To Hurt (Part 2)

When you start a journey, it’s always exciting.

The first few steps of a run, the first few miles of a road trip… there’s always a sense of wonder and expectation.

The same is true of the journey to plant a church.

It started with good dreams: helping people find a meaningful relationship with Jesus, seeing broken families healed and the lost being found.

I neglected to understand this important fact: to see all that happens we would have to gather a bunch of sinners together, build relationships with them, and watch Jesus move in their lives… since we are practically incapable of doing any of that in their lives!

I didn’t expect to get hurt when we started out on this journey, but planting a church is a journey filled with pain.

Here are a few observations on how it hurts…

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What I Learned When My Wife Was Pregnant

What I Learned When My Wife Was Pregnant

One, primary lesson in dealing with pregnant women, as a man, is to never tell them, “I know what you’re going through.”

You can’t compare the experience of having a child grow inside you to having a kidney stone, having surgery, or even having ate too much. A pregnant woman won’t have anything of the sorts.

If you attempt such comparisons, you’re likely to suffer the wrath of a woman unlike you have ever suffered before. And for good reasons. What we experience as men, even in ‘similar’ conditions, is nothing like the experience pregnancy provides.

With that risk in play, I would like to share one thing I learned from my wife during her pregnancies:
Growth is uncomfortable.

From my perspective, I’ve never seen my wife happier than when she found out she was pregnant. Those two moments were packed with love and joy and faith and the satisfaction of a promise fulfilled.

But then the baby started to grow.

And as much as she was already in love with our children, the discomfort was evident.

There’s two places that I see this truth emerging right now:

1. In Our Personal Stories.

We all have one common desire: to be comfortable. We want to comfortable in our relationships, in our careers, and in our finances.

“Comfortable” rarely produces the kind of life that we find satisfying. Life requires tension, because all good stories have great conflict.

I’m pretty sure that most of us avoid responding to Jesus because it’s going to be uncomfortable. But… Growth is uncomfortable.

2. In Our Church

We’ve been here before, and by God’s grace we’re there again. Our church is growing, and as it grows it’s going to be challenging.

Growth produces change.

And let me be honest about this… we want to grow!

Here’s a few quick reasons why we want to grow:

  1. God’s given us a message of faith, hope, and love that we want to share with as many people as possible.
  2. As long as there is one more hurting family, one more lost family in our city, our church is not big enough.
  3. We want to invite people that are far away from God to join us on a life-giving journey to be changed by this message.

But change is uncomfortable.

That means that over the next season, as our church continues to grow, you can expect things to become less comfortable.

The first way this will happen is what we call “overlap”. It’s where events happen at the same time, on the same day, or on the same weekend. If you’re the family that’s been attending every event, it’s going to require some adjustment. That change is going to be uncomfortable.

The second thing that will happen is our church is going to become less “personal”. As of October we’re averaging around 250 people in attendance each Sunday. That means no matter how involved you, we are all becoming a smaller percentage of the whole.

I had an incredible moment yesterday: I saw someone at the grocery store wearing one of our church’s T-Shirts and I had no idea who they were! That’s amazing! I love that our churches reach is getting that wide!

So… what do you do when it gets uncomfortable?

I think we could all take a lesson from my wife during her pregnancy: Don’t complain, allow the discomfort to point you to the promise, and trust Jesus with it all.

You can, even in the middle of discomfort, enjoy the journey!

4 Things To Expect As We Go To Multiple Services

Multiple_Services

This Sunday we’re transitioning from ONE service to MULTIPLE SERVICES at Vortex!

We desperately need to increase our capacity to reach more people, so this is just us trying to be faithful to what God is doing in our church.

We want to reach more people, because we believe that there are more people who DESPERATELY NEED to be touched by the powerful, life-giving message of Jesus.

I wanted to share a few things to expect as our services change…

1. Services will not be as long.

We’ve targeted our services up to this point to be about 75 minutes, but now we’ll be shortening them by about 10 minutes to help with the turn-around between two services.

2. We’re tweaking the order of service to make sure the important things stay a priority.

We’ve always done an opening song followed by a small welcome from one of our Pastors. That’s going to change. Now, one of our Pastors will be on stage a few minutes before the service starts to welcome you

Once we start service we’re jumping right into worship. This is actually going to result in a slightly longer time of worship (moving from 15 minutes to about 20 minutes). So, if you’re the person that LOVES worship, get there on time!

3. The sermons will be slightly shorter.

Many of you don’t understand the work that goes into our sermon preparation throughout the week. We rehearse and time our messages so that we can be prepared for Sundays. Typically we’ve tried to craft messages to be around 35 minutes, but we’ll be taking about 5 minutes out of that.

You might be thinking… “Hey, that five minutes is important!” I agree with you, so that’s why I’m going to be working hard to make sure everything God would have me to say be said each and every Sunday. It’s just going to take more time to trim it down and draft the right way to say it all.

4. You won’t see everyone every week.

This past week I asked you to indicate which service you’d be attending on Connection Cards, and the crowd split right down the middle. And… That’s a healthy thing!

If visiting with your church family is a priority for you…

  • If you attend the 9am service, make plans to stay a little later and visit with your friends as they arrive for the next service.
  • If you attend the 10:30am service, get there a little early and greet your friends as the exit the earlier service.
  • We’ll have coffee service during the entire transition between services, so make the most of that time!

One last request…

Would you consider praying daily for our church as we prepare to make this change?

You matter to Jesus, and He will listen to you prayers.

Pray that God directs us, that He uses us, and that He continues to save people and reconcile them to Himself through Vortex.

Thank you so much for praying and partnering with us to see lives changed!

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