A strategic decision for Walls Down

One week ago today we made a strategic decision regarding Walls Down Church.

When we set our “start date” (January) back in March we were sitting in David Putman’s office at Mountain Lake Church in Cumming, Georgia. It was the “ivory tower” experience of church planting. There was so much we could not have known sitting there in the epicenter of the church planting world!

Since arriving at our new home in July we realize that we underestimated how much time it would take to develop relational credibility in this community. It turns out that it takes time to develop trust… imagine that. 😉

There are two key issues that we have become aware of:

  • This is a very religious community. There are many churches in the area and much familiarity with religiosity. When we tell people “we’re starting a new church” or when I tell people, “I’m a pastor”, their eyes glaze over. BUT when we begin telling them about Walls Down, their eyes light up! What we realize is that people are not interested in another religious institution BUT they are interested in the vision of Walls Down! They are interested in discovering the life Jesus promised! We need more time to tell them about Walls Down.
  • The problem is that there are no glaring problems. Oh, don’t get me wrong, there are problems here, just not the kind that are readily obvious. We live in a community of young families and experience the same economic issues everyone else is experiencing. (Nearly one out of eight homes is either seriously behind on mortgage payments or in foreclosure (the national average is 1 out of 10)). The people of our area are just like anyone else in terms of the life issues they face. The issue is that most of these issues are not issues that people are just going to come out and say, “I’m having an issue here!” It takes time to develop trust and credibility with people before they will let us behind the facade… and that’s where we want to be.

At this point in our journey we realize that we have not had adequate time to establish trust and build relationships. Because relationships are the foundation of a healthy church we made a strategic decision – we are prolonging our start date and therefore will not be starting (aka “launching”) in January.

So where do we go from here?

This decision grants us time! Time to:

  • Continue building our pastoral staff. I’m making calls, visiting with, and entertaining multiple prospects that I am hopeful of working with in the coming months and years.
  • Continue building our “Start Team.” This team of people will help us start Walls Down Church. Our goal is 40 committed, passionate, engaged adults who will pray for, give to, and work for the birth of a church that will tear down the walls that keep people from the life Jesus promised.
  • Re-strategize based on what we’ve learned. We’ve learned some great lessons about marketing, building relationships, “making the ask”, and some other key lessons. We are moving forward based on what we’ve learned from our experiences over the last six months.

In the meantime we will be:

  • Taking field trips with our start team to other portable churches (e.g. churches in high schools, theaters, etc.). This allows our team to see how portable church is done well and what it takes to get it done! It’s a great vision casting and team building opportunity.
  • Doing monthly projects with our start team (e.g. projects in the community, and projects to build community)
  • Connecting regularly to dream, plan, recruit, pray, learn, and build momentum
  • Building relationships in our community both on a personal and organizational level
  • Communicating regularly with our team through various methods (Facebook, e-mail, face-to-face, etc.)

When will we start?

We have established five benchmarks and identified three strategic starting dates that we are looking towards. If we have met our benchmarks by those dates we will explode out of the gate. If not, then we will look to the next date. I am more interested in creating something that lasts than I am having a great one night stand in the church planting world. We will do this and we will do it well and we will, with the help of God, build a church that does one thing until Jesus comes back – tear down the walls that keep people from the life Jesus promised.

Several people have wondered if I’m discouraged. The answer is an unequivocal NO! Sure, I wanted to start in January, but that would be like giving birth to a premature baby! If we started now we may make it, but we’d not have a healthy birth, and almost certainly, we’d create a culture of desperation that I’m not interested in perpetuating. I’m not interested so much in day one as I am in year twenty. I want to start well so we can minister well over the long haul. I want to give birth to a full-term baby (for you literalists, I’m speaking figuratively here), and this decision enables us to do just that, so no, I am not discouraged.

I’ll be sharing more about this decision in the days to come, but for now thanks to all of you who are traveling with us on this journey!

God bless you a ton!

Some Walls Down waddup

It’s coming together!

  • We have a team from Mountain Lake Church coming up this weekend to help us present two Re-Think Money conferences – one for churches (on Saturday) and one for the public (on Sunday). They’re also helping us get the word out about Walls Down Church! I can’t wait to see my friends from Atlanta! We’re putting last minute touches on the agenda for them and you can bet that some Cincinnati Chili is on the list! Yea Baby!
  • I’m looking forward to seeing my friend and the president of Re-Think Money, Casey Graham! If you haven’t re-thought money… this dude is the man to connect with! He has changed my life. I love him in a very manly, rugged, brutish, macho kind of way.
  • I really want to serve with other churches in our area… not against them. We’re not in competition. While we will be different in our approach we will be working for the same cause – to make Jesus famous in a good way!
  • I’m looking forward to preaching again. Next week I’m going to start a 3-week teaching series in which I’m going to talk about three gifts that Jesus gives that will change our lives forever!
  • To start a new church you must be able to endure extreme adrenaline surges, last minute cancellations, disappointments, unexpected surprises, and mini miracles on a regular basis. It’s a great way to live!

I used to be a pothead

Last week I had the opportunity to visit my old home… Westfield, Indiana.

As I drove around that small town I reflected on what God has done in my life and was renewed with optimism for every person! The transformation in my life is incredible!

I moved out of my parent’s home when I was seventeen and moved into a series of different residences with different dudes. The last place I lived was in a trailer park in Eagletown, Indiana. These days of my life were marked by guilt, depression, disappointment, rage, and hopelessness. I smoked a ton of pot, drank what I could afford and tried many other alternatives to dim the pain and quiet the echoes of loneliness in my heart. None of it worked.

And then I found Jesus. Since then my life has taken a turn for the better. Sure, I still wrestle with attitudes, etc. that aren’t exactly Christ-like, but I like to say, “I’m not what I’m gonna be, but I’m a whole lot better than I used to be!” Thank you Jesus!

Here’s some pics for the journal:

The trailer park I lived in…
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The lot and the porch where I used to live (our trailer was crap so they probably burned it as soon as we moved out!)
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The truckstop I used to wash dishes at (My license had been suspended so I had to drive to work illegally every day! I looked for the shortest drive possible… this was it.)
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I was embarrassed by my life. I lived in a crappy trailer with holes in the floor and no heat other than what we got from a single kerosene heater! I worked at a truckstop scrubbing pans for $6 an hour and was regularly humiliated when my friends would stop in to shoot pool and see me scrubbing pans and mopping floors. I was ashamed of how I talked, the habits that controlled my life, and the depths to which I had sunk.

Today I am a new man because of Jesus Christ. Today I am ridiculously optimistic about people. I believe that Jesus can transform anyone and that He wants to lead us into a “rich and satisfying life” (John 10:10)… and that’s why I am starting a new church, Walls Down Church. I’m not the first to be changed by His love, and I won’t be the last!

Walls Down at the YMCA – the weekend in pictures

Here are some pics of what the Walls Down setting looks like at the YMCA Express:

Pulling up…

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It’s a YMCA…

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The first sign you see on your way in…

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Coffee and some encouragement for the day…
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When you go to the bathroom you’ll see one of these…

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When you walk into the room where we’re meeting with our start team you’ll see this table… (uhhhh, usually there’s candy in the dish too! I apparently captured this pic pre-fill!)

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Then you’ll sit down with the other start team members and we’ll pray, learn about the Walls Down vision and dream about what God is going to do beginning in Maineville…

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These are the amazing people that make it happen every week…

My bride, Sherri…

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Rindy (on the left) and one of our amazing Start Team, Kelly…

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Dan and Matt Walton… two amazing young men that I’m proud to serve with! (In this pic, Matt is setting up the projector and Dan is overseeing the pipe and drape. These are two very responsible young men whose commitment level, passion, and skills make me proud to be their pastor and friend.

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And finally… someone has to play with the toys in the nursery! My four little ladies! I love them and am grateful for their forbearance with daddy as I work to start a new church!

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And that’s what it looks like to be starting Walls Down Church!

Looking for a worship leader

Hey guys!

We are looking for a worship leader… but not just anyone who can sing and strum.

We are looking for someone who can connect the dots from the secular to the sacred. Someone who is as comfortable with rock and roll as they are with religious music. Someone who can start with music that unchurched people are familiar with and take them on a journey from where they are to where God is calling them to be! Someone who is cutting edge, exciting, encouraging, and believes in the power of Jesus to change people’s lives! Do you know anyone like that?

Please put us in contact with them! They can reach us @ 513-677-3320 or e-mail us @ office@wallsdownchurch.com.

Thanks for traveling with us!

Tearing down walls… one dollar at a time

wall breakingIn less than sixty days Walls Down Church is going to explode out of the gates and begin demolishing the walls that separate people from the life Jesus promised.

We know that Jesus has promised a “rich and satisfying life” to everyone who believes in Him (see John 10:10), but there are a TON of people who are not experiencing this life.

There are a few reasons that people have not experienced this life:

  1. They have never made that step of faith and began following a leader they cannot see.
  2. They have tried religion/church but found it to be nothing more than a time waster on Sunday morning.
  3. They have not realized the temporal and eternal benefits of surrendering control of their lives to another leader… Jesus.
  4. The Christian faith has been misrepresented by bumper sticker Christians and consequently turned people off.

And the list goes on…

Walls Down Church has been appointed by God to do one thing… tear down those walls that keep people separated from Jesus!

And now we need your help.

Our plan is to explode out of the gate on January 4th. We are going big and that costs money.

We will tell people that Walls Down Church is here… that costs money for the direct mail, yard signs, posters, give-aways (e.g. the Re-Think Money conference that we are paying for everything including the calculators that people will use during the conference), etc.

We will explode out of the gate with a rocking worship band… that costs money for speakers, mixing boards, video equipment, computers, etc.

We will make our children’s ministry environment better than the Chuck E Cheese’s… that costs money for the sound equipment, floor mats, lesson plans, etc.

We will create an environment on the weekends that feels like Starbucks, sounds like a rock concert, and has the results of a Billy Graham crusade… that costs money for the lobby furniture, Bibles, lights, etc.

We will create a familiar, exciting, encouraging, life-changing environment where people will meet Jesus. The power of addictions will be shattered, separated husbands and wives will be reconciled, people living with guilt from old secrets will experience freedom through forgiveness, men who disdain church will get involved to the surprise of their wives and friends, communities will be changed as a result of the power of Christ working through the church, church planters will be trained, churches will be planted, missionaries will be sent, and everyone will know that Jesus is at work. This is what God has called the church to do.

The need is obvious… the time is right… The only thing missing is you.

Will you help Walls Down Church explode out of the gate on January 4th?

How? You can give an online offering to the Walls Down ministry by clicking here. This link will direct you to a secure PayPal site where you can give your offering. All offerings are tax deductible and will go towards the demolition effort of tearing down walls!

Please know this, every gift is important! There is no gift too small, and certainly no gift too big!

One of the most amazing lessons I’ve learned over the last year as we’ve raised our salary is that the much of our most consistent support has come from people who are giving the $20 – $100 dollar gifts.

$1, $5, $10, $20, $100, $1000, $10,000, $25,000 … every offering that is given will be used to get the army ready to tear down those walls!

So, click here… give an offering… and help people discover the life Jesus promised!
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