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Living Life In 3-D | Discover, Develop, Deploy

Jun
01

You may have been wondering how things are going with Way Beyond. For the last three weeks, I have been talking with individuals and groups about our Way Beyond campaign to purchase and build out the new building.  (If you have questions, we hope our FAQs help.)

Several people have asked, “So, how’s it going?”  Not, “how’s it going” with the enthusiasm you would have when running into a long, lost college buddy.  It’s more like your query after a friend’s just walked out of a root canal: “So, how’s it going?”

I am having the time of my life!  How many times in your life have you seen God clearly at work, and then had to privilege to invite other people to join Him? Nothing is more exciting than telling the story of God at work.

Our building story has God’s fingerprints all over it!  Most people live a lifetime longing to be part of something bigger than themselves.  Sometimes, people project God into their activities, wishful, but not confident that God’s power is being revealed in their lives.  When I share the Way Beyond story, people see God has done more than we could have asked or imagined!  God is honored.  People are enthusiastic.

For many years, NL leaders prayed God would make this first building project happen.  We prayed that God’s activity would be so clearly that everyone would know it was by His hands, not ours.

As the old hymn says, “I love to tell the story of Jesus….”  NL’s building story is the story of Jesus and His love.

Brett Andrews, Lead Guy

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May
28

In my last post,  Called To Make Disciples,  I wrote about the idea of discipleship being more than just creating consumers in the church.  We are called to create something more than that.  The church has fallen short in this mandate.

We have made converts.

We have created productions.

We have built thinkers.

But we have often fallen short in the disciple making department.

Before I go any further,  I want everyone reading this to know that I am no expert.  I don’t claim to have all the answers.  I am simply speaking from my own experience.

My wife can create some beautiful things.  She is unbelievably talented in so many areas.  It is nearly impossible to select from her many abilities a proper example for this blog.  And without meaning any disrespect, I want to talk about a recent meal she created.  I came home to a most glorious smell.  My senses ran away with me as I enjoyed the fragrance in the air.  We sat to eat and on my plate was a fantastic dish.  There was a chicken stir fry over rice, with Dr. Pepper to drink of course.

Now, there is no way that I could tell anyone else how to produce that meal.  Why?  Because I have no idea how my wife created something so delicious.  The only way that specific meal will be passed along,  is if my wife tells someone how she made it.

Or shares with them the ingredients.

Or invites someone to eat with us and walks them through how the meal is made.

You see,  we can’t make disciples,  if we aren’t disciples ourselves  first.  Making disciples must begin with disciples.

Making disciples requires that we come alongside people.

We give them the ingredients.

We walk through life with them.

We share in the mission of Christ along with them,  not above them looking down.

This requires followers of Christ who are committed to first becoming like Christ.  Followers of Christ who are committed to His cause and mission.  Followers of Christ who will give their all (Mark 8:34), everything they are to become like Christ.  And this is no ordinary journey.  Discipleship is all about a continual process of becoming more like the One we claim to love and serve.  It’s about following Jesus into His mission, the mission of reaching people with a message of hope,  grace & forgiveness.

We have been invited in to this mission.  And the only way the mission, “Go and make disciples of all nations,” can be accomplished, is if we take discipleship seriously.  We can’t make disciples, if we aren’t disciples ourselves, first.

So what do these disciples look like?  And why is it absolutely essential that you become one?

This and more in future posts.

What do you think about disciples (who they are, what they do)?

Stan Rodda
Haymarket Guy

May
20

Making disciples of Jesus Christ is an impressive and daunting call.  It’s impressive and daunting because it calls us to develop and equip someone to do something that we ourselves could probably do.  It’s the old, “If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself,” idea.  Don’t think discipleship is hard? Give this a try.  Ask your three-year-old to carry her plate of spaghetti to the sink after dinner some night.  I did.  Do you know what happened?  That’s right.  Spaghetti noodles all over the floor just in front of the sink, plate upside down and a fork under the counter.

You know, I could have carried that plate to the sink myself.  I could have done it and there wouldn’t have been an extra mess to clean up.  It would have been so much easier to just do it myself!  That’s why discipleship is hard.  We are called not only to bring others to Christ through a discipling process, but we’re also called to let go.  Discipleship is about us letting go of control because ultimately, we can’t do it all ourselves.

What I’m trying to say is this …

How will my daughter ever learn to carry her plate to the sink if she isn’t allowed to make a few messes?

How will people ever learn if we are continually spoon-feeding them the answers?

If the church isn’t in the process of making disciples, then what have we been making all these centuries?

We have been creating consumers.

We have been enabling spiritual immaturity.

Some view the clergy as the elite and the laity as those who “need” us.

So we spoon-feed for too long.  Then something happens.  One day it all changes.  The sermon isn’t quite up to par.  The music is a little off.  Life group didn’t have the same “oomph” tonight.  And suddenly, the people aren’t being fed.  So what happens?  You begin to hear things like this:

I just don’t feel fed here anymore.

The pastor just isn’t reaching me.

I just don’t feel the Holy Spirit here like I used to.

I need deeper sermons to help me grow.

I need someone to carry my spaghetti to the sink for me.

We are called to make disciples of Jesus Christ.  Disciples look like people described by Jesus in Mark 8 when He says, “If you are serious about discipleship, you must deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me.”

And I can tell you with 100% certainty, carrying a cross is much more difficult than a plate of spaghetti.

So, what are you helping create? What are you becoming? Consumers or Cross-carriers?

Stan Rodda, Haymarket Campus Pastor

Apr
22

Hearing my grandmother pray was as normal for me growing up as watching Cal Ripken play shortstop.  Most often, her prayer was more of an exclamation acknowledging God’s goodness, “Thank You, Lord.”  Or, “Oh, thank You, Lord.”  She was thankful in good times, and in painful times—such as, when I was around.

But, it was her prayers in her final months that I will remember most.  Unable to walk, tied to an oxygen tank, rarely able to escape the four walls of her room, her prayers were as intense as before.  “Lord, forgive me.”  (I’d think, “Buddo, what kinds of sins are you committing in this hospital room?”)  Yet, even in the last months, she was aware of the weakness of her heart, and prayed with David, “Create in me a clean heart, O God.  Renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Then, she prayed, “Lord, help me to serve You fully today.” Even when imprisoned by her own body, she prayed with St. Francis, “Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.” The moment I heard that prayer, I smiled, thinking, “Good for you, Buddo!  You know your life matters to God—even to the last breath.”

Only after she passed away was I able to appreciate the power of those prayers. How often do you see people get “old and cranky”? After the funeral, we visited the nurses who cared for my grandmother the last six months of her life.  More than one spoke of her unusually gracious spirit.  One wrote to me that Buddo was the first patient she always visited when on duty, because she so enjoyed being with her.  I think my grandmother aged so graciously because she continually asked God to purify her heart.

Two days after the funeral, I was stopped on the street by a man whose wife served my grandparents as a Hospice volunteer.  (He recognized me because they had spent over an hour at the viewing and had attended the funeral.)  With the aggressiveness of a used car salesman, this normally reserved man stopped my progress.  He wanted me to know how much they had grown to love my grandparents.  “My wife says that in all her time with Hospice, she’s never served a nicer family.”  My grandmother’s prayers were answered.  Even in her final months, her Christ-like attitude and winsome spirit made her an instrument of God’s peace.

Apr
19

What is the key to happiness? Wealth? Career success? More & Better stuff? According to this recent column from the New York Times, the answer is … relationships. The paragraph that jumped out to me is the 6th from the end.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/30/opinion/30brooks.html?pagewanted=print

What do you think? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Brett Andrews, Lead Guy

Apr
15

My family has been blessed by every comfort and prayer offered during the recent loss of my grandmother, Lois Hessler.  In time, you may get tired of hearing stories from my experiences over the last few months.  Today, I’m going to share my observations about funeral visitations.

The Monday after Easter, we welcomed people for visitation at the funeral home.  A few people were clearly at ease, because they were very close to our family.  Most people weren’t quite sure what to say.  That’s okay.

When visiting a grieving family, let me reassure you that in that moment your presence means more than your words.  The best thing you can say is, “I’m sorry.  I’m sad for your loss.”  Then, follow up with a question, “Can I help you in any way?”

In those uncomfortable moments, avoid clichés like, “We know she’s in a better place now.” After hearing that 58 times, it loses its meaning.  By all means, don’t say stupid things like, “Doesn’t she look good?”  If you are pleased with the mortician’s work, that’s fine.  Say, “Didn’t they do a good job with her?”  But, hearing 134 people say, “Doesn’t she look good,” simply increased my temptation to say, “No. She doesn’t look good. She looks dead!”   My grandmother’s life was in her eyes.  Her eyes were closed.  Her life was gone.

The highlight of visitation hours for me was talking with people who wanted to recount days gone by.  Linda & Sue Martin (yes, they have married names; but they’ll always be “the Martin girls”) grew up with us at the lake.  Together, we retold lake stories.  I brought up their dad, Bruce, who died a few years ago, and how he was always quick to laugh.  They shared of how Bruce always conducted a bed check every night, and the scream that awoke the house one night when a neighbor lady was borrowing one bed he checked.  Together, we laughed and grieved the loss of Buddo as part of a greater loss we all feel as we watch that generation pass away.

Others shared in the same way, recalling fond stories about my grandparents, and how they made a difference in their lives.

The Bible tells us to “grieve with those who grieve.”  Being uncomfortable is normal.  Be genuine.  Don’t feel the need to say something meaningful; it will usually sound trite.  Pray. Be personal. Focus on the ones grieving, not on your own discomfort.  And God will make you a blessing.

Brett Andrews, Lead Guy

Apr
01

Fine, I’ll admit it.

I like to get away.  I want to spend time alone when I’m really trying to focus.  When things are getting intense, or I really need to dive into my relationship with God, it is best done alone.  It doesn’t really matter where, just that I’m alone and can focus on preparing myself for whatever God has in mind and getting right with Him.

Things for Jesus on Tuesday night were similar.  That night, the final Tuesday night of His earthly ministry, He separated Himself from everyone.  Scripture says that He went away to the Mount of Olives to spend the night.

He knows what’s coming in a couple of days.

He knows He is going to die for all mankind.

He knows He is going to be the payment for our mistakes.

He is getting right with His Father.

He is preparing for what God has in mind for Him.

He is preparing spiritually for the task of saving the world.  A task that God has ordained for Him since before time.

Luke 21:37 (NLT) – “Every day Jesus went to the Temple to teach, and each evening he returned to spend the night on the Mount of Olives.”

So, what about you?  Could it be, that God is preparing you for something?  Is it time for you to maybe get away from the rush of everyday life and step onto your mountain?  What better time than a week like this to spend some time with God, preparing for what He has in mind?

Have questions about your next step?  Comment below.  Let’s talk.

Mar
18
New Life is proud to support a new church plant on the Las Vegas strip.  Ten years ago we sent Vince and Jennifer Antonucci to plant a new church to reach the lost people of Virginia Beach.  Last year they moved to Las Vegas to plant another church to reach those who live and work on “the strip”.  They launched publicly this weekend and we are thrilled to share Vince’s reflections on their launch:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

So our first “weekend” of Verve gatherings is complete. I know a lot of people around the country who have been supporting us in all kinds of ways are wondering what happened, so here’s a review:

  1. Overall, I thought things went awesome.
  2. Our building barely got done on time, which was stressful, but it looks great.
  3. All of our creative elements came together and, I thought, were very cool.
  4. Our band rocked. In fact, last night we went over (at the invitation of a manager) to the Hard Rock because they are showing interest in booking our band. (I’m not kidding. Sunday was only, I think, the sixth time they had played together, but after hearing them the Hard Rock is talking about maybe having them play. Wild.)
  5. I thought the message was clear: No matter who you are, no matter where you’ve been, no matter what you’ve done, God loves you with a perfect love.
  6. For people new to church, there was probably a whole lot of Jesus in the message – I just counted, I said “Jesus” at least 41 times. Hard not to talk about someone who loves you that much, and who has changed my life so dramatically.
  7. We didn’t count people from out-of-town (and there were a lot). We also didn’t count the adult volunteers in our Children’s Ministry (figuring they would obviously all come to one of the adult services, and we didn’t want to count anyone twice). We tried not to count anyone twice – so, for instance, people like me who were at all the services were only counted once . So our attendance number should be a pretty accurate count not of how many people were there, but of how many people were there who might actually come back next week.
  8. The total number was 277.
  9. A cool thing is that we designed it to be a “Grand Opening Month” rather than a “Grand Opening Day.” So instead of doing all our advertising before the first Sunday, we have spread it out from March 8 to April 3. So we’re assuming we may get almost as many new people the next few weeks as we did this week.
  10. I was surprised that we received 67 Connection Cards on Sunday morning. (Still haven’t heard about Monday night.) Those 67 cards probably represented about 140 people. I assume that someone who fills out a Connection Card at the end of the service enjoyed the service, and is planning on coming back.
  11. A bigger surprise is that a bunch of new people left not only telling us they’d be back, but saying they’d bring their friends with them, and even asking for invite cards to give out.
  12. Maybe the best thing were the comments we received. TONS of people were raving about their experience. “I didn’t know church could be like this.” “I’ve been waiting for this my entire life.” “Is it really gonna be like this every Sunday?” Several people left in tears. (Good, not bad, tears!) And I’ve received some amazing e-mails from people who felt like their one experience has already begun to change their lives.
So … one weekend down, couple thousand to go. Thanks, so much, to everyone for all the support you’ve given us and helping to make this dream a reality. Vivalaverve.
Mar
11

It is a question that can be asked in many different ways. It’s a question about your journey. How did you get where you are? What things have happened in life that have brought you to where you are now?

Not only where you are at in life, but how did you get to where you believe what you believe? What elements have shaped your view of the world?

The question is; What’s your story?

I want to hear from you. Comment me anything you want, no limits. Why do or don’t you believe in God? What has led you to that point? Why have or haven’t you given up on church? How did you reach that conclusion? How do you view Christians or people of other faiths and what brought you to that conclusion? Good or bad. No holding back now. Your voice matters and I want to hear from you.

What’s your story?

Mar
08

Many of you received this via snail mail, but one of our resolutions this year is to communicate better with you, so we thought we’d try and cross our I’s and dot our T’s … Wait, is that right?

Anyway, have you ever had a nagging thought like, “Did I forget to pass along some necessary info?”  (For example, did I tell my wife I’m working Valentine’s evening?  Did I tell my supervisor I’m taking Monday off?  Did I tell the cleaning lady about my pet python who likes to sleep under the sofa cushions? ) We sometimes get so involved in doing our daily activities only to realize that we missed the important for the urgent. So what is important at New Life right now? Here’s a short list:

  • We recently had a financial audit conducted and you will be happy to know that we passed with flying colors! What exactly ARE flying colors?  Why are colors better if they’re flying? I’ll Google it later but I’m pretty sure it’s good.
  • Stan Rodda started as the Campus Pastor for Haymarket right before Christmas. He is off to a great start and is getting to know the peeps at Haymarket campus.
  • We are completing a 2009 Annual Report, which we plan to distribute around Easter.  Yes we know by then we’ll be a full quarter into 2010, but we have a lot going on… hence this letter.
  • For 14 months we have been working on a better way to communicate the Vision/Mission for New Life. We will introduce that in the annual report.
  • The Bud Building project is well under way;
    • Our attorneys have worked diligently and we were granted quasi-public use of the facility. We can now use the building for many groups (like CYA, Chantilly Soccer or other public groups).
    • We have hired two consultants to help us with financing and determining the best way to get the most people using the facility.
    • We have submitted a minor site plan, which identifies 230 +/- parking spaces, landscaping, entrances and exits, etc.
    • We are well underway with our architect identifying ministries like Kidzone and Students, our weekly meeting space and the fields that will attract people outside the church.
    • Brad Melton is working hard to get the mechanical, plumbing and electrical plans prepared for the facility.
    • Creed is having ongoing conversations with groups interested in using the facility as well as all the subcontractors and professionals involved.
    • There are a lot of moving parts to this project. Please realize that our vision is to help people discover God. This building will be a place where we can interact with people in the community who are far from God. We want to be the church they think about whenever they have a spiritual need.

In addition to all these important activities we are busy preparing for Easter at each of our campuses. Our church planting efforts continue and are in the process of some significant change.  We could fill pages to provide you with updates and will do so when we send out our 2009 Annual Report. If you have any questions about New Life please feel free to email or call.  We would be happy to talk.