Pastorally speaking, this weekend was one of the most incredible weekends that I have EVER experienced! No hype, no over-excitement - just plain indescribible.
I am seriously at a loss for words as there's no way I can describle for you the joy that fills my soul. Beginning in the order these things happened here is my best shot:
- All glory to God for what HE did through Team Vertical this weekend.
- We began Friday night with our 1st "Night of Worship" at the Carolina Civic Center. What an amazing venue to do this type of event. To say that Vertical Worship took it to another level would be an understatement - so, so excellent for our Savior. Musicians were top notch, worship leaders were next level - incredible. But for me, the story of the night were not the people on the stage but the worshipers... the only time I have been in a worship environment where the people in the crowd connected so vocally was at a worship leader conference in Southern California years ago (and that was 2,000 worship leaders!!!). To hear our baby church praise Jesus so loudly, with all of their hearts and voice = repeated flowing tears. The way our crowd sang... the passion in which they lifted their voices... many times the worship leaders would just stop singing BECAUSE the crowd was singing so loudly you just wanted to hear them carry it. I see it as Psalm 47 being lived out: Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!
- My 2nd greatest prayer for Vertical would be that Vertical Church would truly be a church unashamed to worship our Jesus with passion. Friday night that dream was realized.
- My greatest prayer? That we would always bring Him glory.
- On Saturday I had the opportunity to see my friend, Andy Smith, marry his love, Kaylyn Doherty. Both of these young people are special to me and I trust their marriage will bring glory to Jesus. I look forward to seeing God's plan for Andy's life played out. We also look forward to having Andy around Vertical this summer.
- Sunday morning was a one-off message titled "Dunked". Being that we were celebrating baptism yesterday I decided to teach on the subject of baptism, clearly laying before our young church the reasons behind biblical baptism.
- We made a big decision last week about Sunday's message: to challenge everyone who is at Vertical who had not been biblically baptized according to the scriptures to get up at the end of my message and get baptized on the spot.
- WE BAPTIZED 29 PEOPLE YESTERDAY!!!! Hallelujah!! Many of these people testified in the water. I asked them to share who brought them. Almost all were brought by a Vertical attender. Seeing people turn to Jesus from their sin NEVER gets ordinary!
- Here's the deal: Over the past 3 months we have seen over 100 people indicate that they have prayed to receive Jesus Christ as Savior. THAT’S AWESOME! What isn’t awesome is that most of them haven’t followed through with what I believe the Bible teaches is the 1st step of obedience - baptism by immersion. Yesterday was believing that we could help some of them take that step.
- Thanks to Elevation Church for helping us to make preparations. There is no doubt in my mind that if they did not show us how to do this effectively we would not have baptized as many as they did. I hope as we grow up as a church that we will invest in and help younger churches do things well like Elevation and Newspring has done for us.
- And thanks to our amazing team who went overboard to make this day a success. I pastor the greatest church planting team of people in America. Just sayin'...
The greatest weekend ever ended with a Covenant Partners meeting last night. 4 significant things happened:
- We introduced our Elder team to our partners and Leaders. The way our church is set up is that as Lead Pastor I serve as the leader of our Elders. I have the option of choosing a staff member of being on there as I so choose. Because of his partnership with me in the Gospel, Donnie also serves as an Elder. The board is completed by Pastor Jeff Isenhour from Arran Lake Baptist whose church has been a blessing to Vertical; Greg Blaine, who was chosen from a number of qualified laymen to help lead us and Pastor Dennis Harrell who is still viewed as a Pastor to 3 of our 5 staff members. Vertical Church is certainily of Pastor Dennis' lineage (if there is a such thing) and he is as proud to be part as we are to have him.
- After celebrating the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus through baptism in the AM, we celebrated His sacrifice in the PM by remembering through taking the Lord's Supper together.
- We ordained our Worship Arts Pastor Jon Lloyd into the Gospel ministry. A very special time for me indeed. We spent some much needed time in 1Timothy 3 as we carefully talked about Paul's charge to Timothy.
But the best part of last night was the stories brought by our leaders. Who would've thought that people giving testimony of serving in the church would make people weep? There was much to be thankful for as we celebrated the areas in which we're winning.
Like I said, it was a most incredible weekend - one that I will not soon forget. I cannot get over that Jesus is allowing me to do this. Craziest thought? Greater things than this shall come if we keep our eyes (and ears) on Him.