Monday, March 31

Monday thoughts

I'm not sure what to think of Mondays.

I'm not one to dread Mondays or to hate getting out of bed on Monday. I look forward to starting another week, reflecting on Sunday, and getting back in the swing of thing. My hesitation on Mondays is because I am the only one in on Mondays and the office is very quiet. Too quiet. Apparently I like people and I work better when there are others around. One of the things I like most about ministry is 'team work'. I love the team environment we have as a staff. I love seeing other teams around the church, like "the team that pulled off the seniors dinner Friday night", "the team that pulled off the Alpha retreat on Saturday", "the worship team that takes us into God's presence on Sunday", "the team that pulled off the Alpha supper and course on Sunday night", "the sound, media, tech and lighting team that makes us sound and look good each week", "the team that works on the series we do and the creative elements". There are a ton of people on a ton of teams around our church. The neat thing about our teams is that we aren't competing against each other, we are all pushing the same vision down the field. That's very sweet.

We started the "Comfortable" series yesterday. Thanks to Valley Ridge Furniture we had a VERY COMFY chair on the stage that I got to dive into and preach part of my message from. Yesterday's challenge was to remind us that it can be very easy for churches to get comfortable. We've had an awesome year, but we can't rest, let up, stop, or get comfy. We have to keep things moving forward because there are thousands of people all around us who don't know who Jesus is.

Yesterday was also a big day for our family. Autumn turned 8 yesterday! Woo Hoo. We went home after church to open some gifts (she got the Fur Real cat that she wanted) and then it was off to her favorite restaurant - Swiss Chalet. We ran into Shane and Heidi Hoyt and their kids and ended up sitting together. Bonus!

1st Wednesday is this week!! We'll probably do 2 more 1st Wednesday's - April and May - so 'get them while you can they're going fast'! This week's theme is 'worship...a close encounter'. The spaghetti will be hot. The music will be right on. The atmosphere will be awesome.

Thanks to all of you who signed up for "givearip", our email database for meeting needs. You'll get an intro email from me this week. We're going to be able to meet a lot of needs and show people what Jesus looks like. Can't wait! We own but it's nothing but a front promo page right now. In the future it will be the place for all the outreach we are doing. We care. We give a rip.

Saturday, March 29

Reasons Why I Love Our Church

- We aren't afraid to take risks! (Double Double, Staff, Budgets, etc)
- We are simple (no, that's not a slam, it means that we aren't trying to do everything we only do what we can do well)
- We serve great coffee. Take the church-coffee challenge, you'll come back to ours ;-)
- We invest in our kids! Staff, budgets, space, volunteers, etc. If you don't invest in kids, you are dying.
- Our music rocks. It's not Southern California or Texas, but for this part of the world we are very modern.
- Our Seniors support what we are doing. We have a great group of seniors and I know there are times when they think I'm nuts, but overall they see the good that is being done and they are on board. Hey, it beats shuffle-board!
- We're all about Jesus. You don't have to attend here for years before you figure out our vision.
- We have an awesome staff! I'm a total fan of hiring from within. Amy and Conard last year. Ruthie this year. Mark and I are 'from away'. :]

As you can tell, I am a proud pastor of a fine group of people who are doing their best to make a difference.

Wednesday, March 26

Easter '08

First of all, props to God for all that has been happening around this place. And while we're at it, thanks to God for raising Jesus from the grave. That was pretty cool and everything we have to celebrate is because of and for Jesus.

I knew I didn't have time to blog in the last couple of days, but I've had time to think about 'how' I was going to blog my thoughts from Easter '08. On one hand, some of you are dying to know some of the stats and on the other hand I don't want it to sound like we are boasting.

Good Friday was pretty much all that I had anticipated. Gayla and I and quite a few other Oliveters took in the 10:30 service that was mostly a combined effort between Corbett Ave and First. The place was pretty well packed. First did a drama called "Pilate on the Beach". It was really well done! Our service was @ 6 pm. We had around 150. Do the math and there were around 350 out to Good Friday services at Wesleyan churches in F'ton. We had some serious media glitches in our service and 'whaddya know' God still did some amazing things! The highlight of the night was seeing people 'jump' into faith in Christ and take communion. We have some people around Olivet who have recently accepted Jesus as their Saviour, and this is what it is all about!

Everyone knows that I love 1st Service, but they are going to give me a heart attack! By 8:55 there is almost no one there. By 9:05 we have 100 people! I'm sure that we'll get better at showing up to church a little early >hint, hint< but mercy it's scary to see an empty church just a few minutes before the service starts. :] Yeah, we had 100 people to our first service and 242 at the second. That's 342 (I know, I'm a math genius!). You should probably holler 'praise the Lord' right now and everyone at work will know that you are reading a blog instead of working. :] Again, numbers don't mean much if lives aren't being changed by Jesus. There is no point in getting a crowd unless the crowd gets the point. There were no gimmicks, hooks, offers of free cinnamon buns, etc. It was just a solid Easter service designed to help people understand why the empty tomb is so important.

One week before Easter we announced that we needed a 'larger than usual' offering to off-set some of our snow-Sundays. When it was offering time Sunday morning we stayed standing, continued to worship, and we gave around $15,000. This time, run circles around your cubicle, and everyone will think you've pretty much lost it! God gets all the glory. Awesome. I'm pretty much speechless.

God took our prayers, our efforts, and our desire for changed lives and he gave us an Easter weekend loaded with resurrection power. For some, it was an Easter that has changed their lives for eternity. Yesterday, Mark, Ruthie and I took some time to reflect on the way the services unfolded and to think about what we might do next year. Yep, planning for next Easter now while it's fresh in our minds.

New Series: "Comfortable" Starts this Sunday!! The BIG 'crawl in with a book and a cup of coffee' chair has arrived from Valley Ridge Furniture. (Thanks Kirby!) We already have people saying, "I need that chair!" We all want to be comfortable, but that's not necessarily what God has in mind for us. God wants us to be people of character and people of change.

It's snowing in Fredericton right now. That's not funny.

Saturday, March 22

Another quote

I haven't posted a whole lot of personal transparency on this site, but here's a small nibble.

When I feel as though I need to go to a whole new level, be stretched, and basically dig deeper... I read like crazy. This has been one of those weeks. I've had to study for and write two sermons (Good Friday & Easter Sunday) and there has been a whole lot of other 'stuff' going on in the church. (mostly good!!) So, I pray like crazy (often in the middle of the night), I stay in God's word and then I read as much other stuff as I can possibly read.

Most of my reading this week has been online, blogs etc, gaining perspective, snippets of wisdom, or just 'borrowing' ideas for our church. Here's a great quote I came across:

Persistence isn't using the same tactics over and over. That's just annoying.

Persistence is having the same goal over and over. - Seth Godin

Sunday's a comin'...



Pray for our services tomorrow
Pray for those who are in the band
Pray for Ruthie as she leads us in worship
Pray for the kids in the Factory
Pray for Amy as she leads them
Pray for Mark as he leads our teens
Pray for Mark as he puts the media together
Pray for the one running the media
Pray for whatever crawled into our sound system Friday night
Pray for Shane and others on sound/lighting
Pray for all those who come
Pray for those who wake up and decide whether or not to come
Pray for God's presence to be clear
Pray for me and the message
Pray for those who need to accept Jesus as their Saviour
Pray for our offering tomorrow
Pray for Easter '08 to be a life-changing experience for many

Thursday, March 20

Happy 'snow, freezing rain, rain' Spring!

The calendar says it is Spring. The landscape says something very different. Regardless, we will turn our hearts toward Easter and all of its blessings. My lawn is still dead but Jesus is alive and that is all that really matters!

I was in to see Karen Allen today. She is recovering well from her surgery and is very encouraged by the prayers of her church. She is trusting God all the way and God is using her peace to speak to many others. Ruthie and Pastor Lona were also in to see her yesterday.

God answers prayer. We had a good time at our small group last night recounting all the ways that God has been answering prayer. We also had a good time eating chocolate covered popcorn, apple crumble and ice-cream, and a mix of veggies, dip and cheese. Throw in some very yummy coffee, an excellent study on the Resurrection, and you have the makings of one very sweet small group!

Good Friday service tomorrow night @ 6!! Think "1st Wednesday on performance enhancing drugs". Haha. Don't miss it.

We announced last Sunday that we are taking a special Easter Offering. We'll only pass the plates once ;-) The idea is to catch up on the snow days we have had and finish the church year strong. We're also going to be giving part of the offering to a family that is in need. I'm really excited about it and I know that it will be a God-thing.

See you tomorrow night!


Tuesday, March 18

Easter Planning

I'm wishing that I had kept track of the amount of hours we have put into Easter planning. I'm sure that it would surprise 95% of our church. I'm not boasting in this, but instead being thankful for the people around me and their creativity and commitment. It goes back a couple of months ago when we thought up the JUMP series, dishing it to the creative people at, thinking through the 'one main point' of each Sunday and then building a worship experience that will drive that one thing home.

We just spent another 3 hours today 'brushing up' Good Friday and Easter Sunday! There were a couple of moments when we said, "there is nothing better than this!" Obviously, we are anticipating a great move of God this weekend.

On another note, Ruthie volunteered to go visit one of our members who is having major surgery tomorrow. This is the way the body of Christ is supposed to work. I can't be everywhere, all the time, to do everything...true biblical community is when we care for one another and minister to each other. It might not sound like a big deal, but it reminded me of how the church is 'supposed' to work. I'm thankful :]

We're taking the kids to the Clay Cafe tonight and then probably to Pizza Delight. Mmmmm

Monday, March 17

Good thought...

I think it was near the end of the second service yesterday when I had this thought:

"We've given God our very best today".

That's a good thought!

I was thinking back to all that had gone in to the preparation of the service, all the people who had worked so hard, all the people who showed up to worship, the way the elements came together, the way people were singing and connecting with the message, etc.

Let's continue to give God our very best.

A Very Large Double Double

It's history! The very first time that Olivet has gone to two Sunday A.M. services. We planned, we prayed, we prepared, we got a weekend without snow, and the day was a huge success!

We weren't sure how many to expect in the first service @ 9:00 A.M. A bunch of us were doing some speculating on Saturday night: Me (60 people), Ruthie (90), Stephen (50), Mark (I can't remember). 85 very awake and energetic people showed up for the 1st service! When we subtract the doubles who were in both services (yes, we do that) there were around 250 here!

Some of the highlights include cinnamon buns and fruit trays to go with the Second Cup coffee, Welby playing "JUMP" on the keyboard, Kim Henry opening the service with "Great Is Thy Faithfulness", the band was absolutely amazing, Pro Presenter was very cool and didn't disappoint, a montage of great jumps in history including the Olivet Double Double (we're right up there with Evil Knievel and Michael Jordan!), Pastor Mark doing the lead on the message wrap-up song "Grace Will Be My Song".

The "JUMP" series has been quite a jump for a lot of people. We've had people jumping in to accept Christ as their Saviour, jumping in to say they need to go deeper with Christ, or asking us to pray for them as they are close to jumping in. It's been quite a series so far!

GOOD FRIDAY! Plan to be with us for our 6 PM Good Friday service. It will be an impacting time designed to help us nail down the message of Easter.

Easter Sunday. If you close your eyes and imagine there is no snow, it might feel more like Easter :] It's early this year for sure, but it is still Easter! People you know, people who you see everyday, would be willing to attend an Easter service. Hey, you can even come early at 9 A.M. and get an early start on your Easter dinner preparations. Invite people, offer to meet them here or pick them up, sit with them, and God will do the rest! Also, we need to remember the 'special Easter offering' to dig us out of a few snow Sundays. I'm excited that we are not just taking an offering for regular church expenses, but that we are going to be using a part of the offering to bless a family that is in need. How cool is that?!

Alpha update: We have around 20 people who are meeting each Sunday night to take the Alpha Course. It is a perfect opportunity for anyone to explore the claims of the Christian faith in a laid back "dinner and a movie" atmosphere. The course is almost half done and I am thinking that we should offer it again sometime soon. Thanks to Heidi and Shane Hoyt who prepared an awesome meal for us last night. Kim Goodine was getting us all hooked on rice cookers :] Thanks for helping Kim! The bbq wings were my favorite last night. Yum.

Board meeting tonight. Yee Haw!

It's Monday...but Sunday's a comin'

Thursday, March 13

Great Quote

"Now, the question is not, 'If you died tonight do you know where you'd go?' The question is, 'If you live tomorrow, who will you follow?'" - Todd Hunter, Alpha USA (March/April Issue of Outreach Magazine, p.62)

Tuesday, March 11

Ramping Up

We had an excellent planning/creative session this afternoon! Ruthie (worship leader) brought me some Peruvian coffee which made the meeting even better. Meetings are always better with coffee.

We have some elements coming up in the next three services (Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday) that are going to be impacting. I'm seriously looking forward to what God accomplishes at Olivet in the next couple of weeks.

We had a pleasant surprise guest to our meeting. John Sherwood showed up and joined us for a few good minutes of discussing worship. John is an amazing guitarist and we are blessed to have him on the Olivet team! Many hours go into the planning and preparation of each of our services. And it's all worth it!

Easy Worship has died! That's the program that takes all of the media for worship and 'presents' it in a seamless package. Well, that's what it's supposed to do and it stopped doing it a week or so ago. We've been researching various other solutions and we've decided that the best all around way to go is with "Pro Presenter". It's a Mac based platform so we will be running it off of my Mac or Pastor Mark's.

We're getting into the heart of the Easter season. I hope you have been taking some time to reflect on all that Christ was going through to save you from your sin. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the hinge point of all history. Give Matthew 21 a read this week. Read it slow, let it sink in, and listen to the Holy Spirit. "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" Matthew 21:9

Youth all-nighter this weekend. I'll be asleep :]

Pray for those you are inviting to church!

Monday, March 10

Jumping in an ice-storm!

JUMP got off to a great start yesterday, despite our entire area being covered in ice Sunday morning. We heard many stories of broken scrapers, broken wiper blades, one-lane roads, and all-around miserable conditions for getting out to church. I'm glad that we didn't cancel because God was preparing hearts for something special.

The only way to open a series titled "JUMP" is with the band playing the song by Van Halen. Van Halen's probably been played in a Wesleyan Church somewhere before, but we had hoped of adding a twist to it. We were going to have the three sections of the church engaged in a little (okay, big) jumping contest while we video taped them. It may still happen this Sunday. Wear your sneakers!

The worship was awesome yesterday. I really loved Emily Woodworth's rendition of "None Like Jesus" by David Crowder. Very cool.

We introduced a "JUMP Card" that we are using for the series. 2 People indicated that they are jumping in with both feet and prayed to receive Christ!! There were many other cards that came in with people checking off "pray for me, I'm close to jumping in" and "I have decided to recommit my life to Christ". This is why we do what we do. The local church is the hope of the world and there is nothing like the local church when it is working as it should. Give God all the praise.

The Olivet Double Double happens this week!!! The wind ripped our banner off the church Saturday night. 2 identical services, 9:00 and 10:45. Those of you who crawl out of bed early and show up at 9:00 will be a part of history as we celebrate our very first 2-service day! Also, there is a new class meeting in the Fellowship Hall ('big room of eating') @ 10:45. Stephen Woodworth is teaching the class and it is going to be fantastic. (no pressure Dr. W!)

More flooring is going down this week. They are working on the office hallway, copy room, and office entrance.

Good Friday service - this is shaping up to be a 'don't miss' event. 6 P.M. The church should be packed!

Saturday, March 8

JUMP starts tomorrow!

Hey everyone! I hope you have had a great Spring Break week. It seems like half our church took off for the Caribbean and you can hardly blame them with the winter we've had! Our JUMP series starts tomorrow and I am really looking forward to it. I think this will be our most impacting series of the year as we invite people to JUMP at God's offer of grace. Are you praying? Have you invited anyone? Who would you like to see make that JUMP?

We've got some creative stuff planned for tomorrow that I won't let out of the bag yet. Sorry, you have to come to find out what's goin' on. All I can say is it will be on par with "that's never been done at Olivet Wesleyan before and maybe never done in a Wesleyan Church anywhere before!".

Pastor Mark created a "JUMP" communication card that we will use at the end of each service. It looks awesome.

We made a "Bangor Run" with our family yesterday. It was 53 degrees in Bangor and felt like Spring. Fun!

We had around 60 show up for 1st Wednesday in a freezing-rain storm. The dinner was great as always, but I'm guessing that people brave the weather because they simply love that 1st Wednesday service. If you haven't been to one yet, April is coming!

I am really pleased with how our Good Friday service is looking. Help us get the word out -- 6 p.m. service of authentic worship and meaningful creativity nailing down the message of Easter.

2 Services, the Olivet Double Double, starts next Sunday! Crazy! 9:00 and 10:45 identical services. Stephen Woodworth is going to be teaching a new class in the 10:45 hour, in the Fellowship Hall. He'll teach for 3 weeks and then Pastor Conard is going to take it on.

Don't forget to move your clocks ahead one hour tonight!

Monday, March 3

Have you ever...

Have you ever heard a clear presentation and invitation of what it means to be a Christian and wished that you had invited "____________" to hear it?

Have you ever left church thinking about specific people who you know are searching and would have enjoyed the service?

Have you ever prayed for someone who is far away from God and then asked God to give you an opportunity to invite that person to church?

The next 3 Sundays @ Olivet are going to be Sundays that can change a person's life for eternity. Seriously, if you have ever thought about inviting someone to church, NOW IS THE TIME!

Will you join me in praying for our "JUMP" series? Let's pray that God will do amazing things in our church over the next 3 Sundays and beyond. Let's pray specifically for those who will be in attendance and are needing to make the JUMP of Faith.

Thanks to all of you who got up early Sunday a.m. and shoveled your way to church! We had a great time in worship with the Lapointes! Steve & Kathy Brewer live 2 million miles from the church, out on Keswick Ridge, and they were among the first ones here!

It was good to see Todd and Karen Robinson and their kids (growing too fast!)

1st Wednesday this week :-) Dinner together, creative worship environment, and relevant teaching make a fantastic evening. Hope to see you there.

We are two weeks away from the 1st two-service Sunday morning in Olivet's history!