2010 has been one of the longest of my life. I don’t mean that in a bad way, it’s just that so much has happened that January seems like years ago. There are a ton of things I could cover, but here’s a month by month look at the best and worst of my 2010, with I’m sure more things forgotten than remembered….
- Highlight- As 2010 rolled around Lisa and I were about 80% sure that we would be making a move to Harrisburg to start a new church. Part of the process was going to San Diego for a week to go through a Church Planter’s Assessment. Basically that’s a nice way of saying, do you got what it takes to do something like this and has God truly called you to plant a church. We were there along with 18 other couples and a single guy to be evaluated. About 40 others were there to assess our every word and action, including a couple of professional psychiatrist who we had to have multiple interviews with. The week was long and taxing knowing you were constantly being evaluated and judged, but at the end it was all worth it when Lisa and I were 1 of just 4 that got the green light to plant immediately. Honorable Mention: CFCOG staff ski retreat, coming up with the name for the new church
- Low-light- At this point in the year less than 10 people knew we were even contemplating a move. At CFCOG only Earl and the Elders knew so the secrecy was very draining in interacting with others, including the team and staff I worked closest with.
- Highlight- Vacation with Andy and Gayle to Vegas. This time we stayed at their resort, took in some awesome shows, discovered the joy of chocolate covered bagel holes, laughed hard at the drunk on the bus, took the Dam tour, ate with my good friend and now coach Vince Antonucci, but most of all talked about and dreamed of what a church in Harrisburg might look like. Honorable Mention: Ski trip with my niece Taylor.
- Low-light- The day I made the announcement to United and CFCOG that I’d be leaving at the end of May to move to Harrisburg.
- Highlight- Even though I had already made the announcement that I’d be leaving, all the i’s and t’s needed to still be dotted and crossed. In early March that all happened and major funding for the project was approved. Thanks to Chuck Frank and the Commission for Church Planting for everything you’ve done to help us get started. Honorable Mention: Met Bill Butler for the first time…Bill would eventually become our Worship Pastor. Little did I know how key he’d be in the whole process. Because he already lived in Harrisburg, he was able to quickly pull together a phenomenal worship team.
- Low-light– Key people who we thought might make the move with us started saying no.
- Highlight- The Easter Experience in United was incredible. We talked about Tearing Down Walls. The band and I combined to create a powerful moment which you can watch here. 12 people came into a relationship with Jesus and overall that church saw attendance of 1200+. This was my last big event at CFCOG and it’s one I’ll never forget. Honorable Mention: The support and reception we received at our annual conference from other churches in our region when we announced that ExponentialChurch.tv would be launching in the fall.
- Low-light- My car died…it was the 3rd time the transmission had gone bad and finding replacement parts was getting more and more expensive. Add on top of that the other repairs I knew it would need to pass inspection and it was time for a proper burial at the junk yard.
- Highlight- My final series at United was called, “What’s Hot Now”. We took a look at the spiritual implications of the hot news of the day. In the final week we looked at the lessons that could be learned from the just released Iron Man 2 movie. The highlight was that we made Iron Man appear. As in…he wasn’t there…and then…he was. After 3 years at the church, they finally got their wish for me to do a magic trick and we did it in a big way! Honorable Mention- Adam and Andrea’s wedding…what an honor to be able to marry such good friends. Also I got a fantastic deal on a new car thanks to the generosity of a member of CFCOG.
- Lowlight– My final Sunday at CFCOG. Don’t get me wrong they did an awesome of making Lisa and I feel very special. Both Experiences were a tribute of the things we were all able to accomplish together over the previous 3 years. A nice dinner and gifts were then held in the afternoon. But despite it all, it’s still so hard to say goodbye to people you love so much.
- Highlight- Lisa and I love to travel and June was definitely a month for that. It started with our anniversary trip…this year to Atlantic City. Hmmm both Vegas and Atlantic City in one year…you’d think we’re degenerative gamblers. In any case, from there we immediately went to a Church Planters bootcamp. After a few days home in which Lisa’s parents were visiting from Florida, we hit the road for another 2 weeks. This time to Decatur, Illinois for a conference, followed by stops at churches in Chicago; Granger, Indiana; a visit with Chad and Tammie Chute to officially sign Chad’s contract to become our Pastor of Community and Connection and then a stop in Findlay, Ohio at our denominational headquarters for meetings. All together we spent 22 days of June on the road and loved every minute of it. Honorable Mention: We got word that the Regal Cinemas which we had originally gotten turned down for was now again an option for us to hold our worship experiences in. Also, I got to take part in performing the wedding for two more close friends…Brian and Chrissy.
- Low-light– Despite months on the market, our house still hadn’t sold and it was becoming imperative that we be able to move to Harrisburg ASAP. We knew that launching in October was already going to be a bit ambitious but now it was beginning to become very frustrating.
- Highlight- We signed an agreement for a couple to rent our house in Chambersburg which then allowed us to go ahead and put a contract on a house in Harrisburg. It’s a much smaller house but we love it because of a couple of unique features. Since we needed to be in Harrisburg ASAP, we rented the house until we closed on it. The plan was to have me living in Harrisburg most of the time and we’d have an entire month to slowly move things from Chambersburg to Harrisburg. Which leads to…
Honorable mention- Helping both the Chutes and Krull’s get settled into new homes.
- Low-light- Our new renter in Chambersburg needed to move in 2 weeks early and said that if we could be ready the next day at noon , his moving company would move us for free. That was around 3pm and we were in Harrisburg. So we drove the hour south and started packing like crazy. We finally decided around midnight to get some rest and start again early the next day. Thankfully my parents were able to take the time to come up from MD to help us. We got it all packed and around 11pm we had everything loaded off the trucks at our new house in Harrisburg. Minus a couple of pieces of furniture which wouldn’t fit through the doors. That was the most exhausting 30 hours of my life and I never want to do anything remotely like it again.
- Highlight- 4 of the 5 Sunday’s I preached in other churches from MD to MA, casting vision and raising funds for the new church. The trip to Boston included two churches and my dad was able to travel with me which was awesome. Also during the month I met with other churches about our project and was blown away by the generosity. In total 38 other churches from various denominations from all over the country helped to support us, including the church closest in proximity to us and the Harrisburg church closest in style to us. So great to see cooperation instead of competition! Honorable Mention: The hiring and arrival of Chelsea Miller to be our Director of Children’s Ministries.
- Low-light- I was given 4 new tires for the car but the deal was I needed to go to Chambersburg to have it done. Before I could though I blew a tire in Harrisburg and had to put the little dummy wheel on. That meant Lisa and I had to make a trip to Chambersburg on a tire that’s not supposed to be driven over 50 mph. We quickly learned the interstate was not going to be the way to go. So we took Rt. 11 all the way down. The problem was not just the tire but also a big car show going on in Carlise which had traffic backed up. What should normally be about an hour drive took us 4 hours.
- Highlight- Our team did community block parties almost every weekend. It was a lot of working going door to door a few nights a week handing out fliers and then pulling off the party on Friday nights or Saturday afternoon but well worth it. I got to spend a ton of quality time with my team getting to know them and seeing their incredible dedication to helping launch a new church. Honorable Mention: 2 Preview Experiences at the theater.
- Low-light– One of the perks of our new home is an in-ground swimming pool. This is the first pool Lisa and I’ve had and we looked forward to each night around 10pm after a long day of swimming. Early September saw the weather get really cold so I called the pool store to come close it for us. On the day they did we had a warm spell…high 80’s that day…I’m standing outside sweating watching them close a pool that at the moment I would have done anything to get into. I almost cried at the irony. Can’t wait for summer to roll around so we can enjoy it again!
- Highlight- The launch on October 17th was awesome. The day started with my former team from Chambersburg driving all the way up here to pray with us and then turning right back around to head south so they could do their 2 worship experiences. Everything during our Experience came together better than we could have hoped. 8 people that day made a decision to follow Jesus and our team couldn’t have done better. That day also saw us get more great news coverage on top of the other TV and newspaper coverage we had already gotten. Honorable Mention: Halloween Outreach we did in our front yard.
- Low-light- Our launch was not nearly as large as we had hoped for or expected. While disappointing, we still believe that God has great things in store for us and in the months and years to come.
- Highlight- Thanksgiving with my family. I had/have so much to be thankful for. My parents, sister and niece have been incredibly supportive of what were doing. In fact, mom and dad have driven the 1 1/2 hours from their house up to Harrisburg at least once per week and sometimes more than that every week since July to be a part of what’s happening. Along the way my sister and niece joined the team as well and it’s incredibly rewarding to be able to not just make an impact for the Kingdom of God but to also do it alongside family members. As I reflected at Thanksgiving, I realized this is the closest we’ve all ever been and the ironic thing was it took moving further away to make it happen.
- Low-light- Twice within a 3 week period my windshield got busted by road debris and I to have it replaced the first time and then fixed the second. For some reason the facility I took it to didn’t find it funny when I asked if they had a frequent buyer program.
- Highlight- Our Christmas Eve Experience. 9 more people came into a relationship with Jesus, making it an even 50 people that have done that since our launch 9 weeks ago. The entire experience was very moving and I love what the band did with “The Little Drummer Boy“. Honorable Mention: Giving away hundreds of dollars worth of free Starbucks to anyone who wanted it during our Random Acts of Christmas. We’re only 9 weeks old as a church but we’re nearing almost $10000 that we’ve given away to help our community and future churches to get started!
- Low-light– Lisa overdid it the past week or so and isn’t feeling great so our New Year’s party will be us home alone…oh wait that’s not so bad after all.
What a year it’s been. Said goodbye to many people and things that we love but have met and are working with a new set of people that we love. Slowly but surely we’re getting settled into a new city that has an amazing variety of things to do and most importantly we’re making a difference here. 2011 is going to be awesome…the best is yet to come!