Random thoughts on Life, Leadership, & Messy Spirituality

Leadership

Why We’re Cancelling Our 5:30pm Easter Sunday Service & It’s Not Because We Don’t Love Jesus ;-)

As many of you know, almost 4 weeks ago we started a 3rd service time here at Eagle Pointe at 5:30PM. It has gotten off to a great start and it is accomplishing our goal – freeing up space in our 2 Sunday morning services & it is reaching new people who, because of work schedules, etc, cannot do Sunday mornings.

We originally decided to add a 5:30pm service on Easter Sunday – in addition to our 9am, 10:30am, & 12pm services – so that none of those folks would have to miss Easter services & for many of those 5:30pm crowd who are just getting in the habit of coming to church, we didn’t want to give an excuse to fall out of that habit.

However, as I’ve had time to think & pray more about this  (As I say all the time, just like all of you – I am human, I don’t always get it right, I’m figuring all of this out on a daily basis, but fortunately I have a heart that wants to please God & I am open to His correction) I believe God has helped me look at this from a different perspective…

1) Many of our 5:30pm crowd, who are just getting in the habit of coming to church, probably are not coming anyways. They will probably be doing family dinners, getting together with friends, etc. I also understand that there are some who were planning on coming, who may not be happy with this decision. If that’s you, I hope you will understand the next couple of reasons for this decision.

2) 3 Easter Sunday morning services & a 5:30PM service that same day are going to flat wear out our volunteers, ministry leaders, and staff. I know Easter Sunday is the Super Bowl for Christian churches, and some will ask “how can you pull back on this day? It’s only 1 day!” I get that, but I also know that 1 of the reasons we have so many leaders in our church who have been here for years serving at a very high level, is because we try to strike that all elusive balance & not burn out our volunteers and their familes (sometimes we do a better job than others at that).

3) I want our volunteers, leaders, and staff to have some time with their families on Easter Sunday, which will not really happen with a 5:30pm service. Listen – I want myself & all of us to go crazy, bust our tails, to do whatever it takes this next 1 1/2 weeks leading up to Easter to reach as many in our community as we possibly can, to prepare & be ready for all the people who are going to be here, and serve like it’s our last opportunity to do so ever on Easter Sunday to blow people’s minds, change the way they think about church, & help them experience Jesus!

BUT – then I want them to go home, spend time with their family & friends, and be able to relax & soak in the beauty of the Resurrection and all that it means & provided for us.

So, there you have it! We will have 3 Easter Sunday services at 9am, 10:30am, & 12pm. Join us in letting God use each of us this next 1 1/2 weeks to to whatever it takes to bring as many people as you can with you to Easter at Eagle Pointe.

EPC - Easter 2014 - Graphic - Website

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One Invite Literally Changed My Life

EPC - One Invite - Changed My Life

That’s my story – how about you? One invite really did change my life! Well, it was actually one person inviting me a whole bunch of times to his church until I finally gave in! THANK GOD my buddy Garland Robertson cared enough about me that he didn’t give up on me. I knew Garland for many years, but we had lost touch for a period of our lives. Then one day we ran into each other at a University of Miami football game. We both had season tickets & his were a few rows behind me.

At every football game we would catch up, talk about life, and at some point in the discussion he would work into the conversation something cool that his church was doing & invite me to come check it out. I was always polite about it – but would always blow off his invites. If you look up the word “determination” – there will be a picture of Garland there. He never gave up on me! For 2 years, every time he saw me, he would invite me. He was never pushy or obnoxious about it – he was just determined! He cared enough about me, my life, my family & where I was going to spend eternity – that he wouldn’t give up.

Finally, one day when I was at a place in my life where I was ready – I said “yes”! My life has never been the same since! Thanks Gar & Thanks Jesus – for caring enough about me & not giving up on me.

Easter Sunday (April 20) is the greatest God-given opportunity of the year for you to reach out to & invite people to Eagle Pointe! Don’t waste this God-given opportunity!

Now, here are a few things I challenge you to join me in doing these 2 weeks leading up to Easter:

1) PRAY & FAST! – Let’s unleash the power of prayer! Pray for your friends, our community, our church, our Easter services & for CHANGED LIVES!!! (If you want to learn more about Fasting – check out “Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough“.

2) EXPECT! Expect God to show up & do the miraculous. Let’s add a big-time dose of faith to our prayers & let’s do our part! Let’s give God some actions (on our part) that He can bless!

3) INVITE, INVITE, INVITE! Go stark raving crazy these next 2 weeks inviting everyone God brings across your path – friends, neighbors, co-workers… If you need more “Easter at Eagle Pointe” invite cards drop by the church & get them. The reality is that most people want to be, or feel like they should, be in church on Easter — so let’s help them out with that! (Check out a recent blog post “Fun Ways to Invite People to Church“)

4) FIRE UP YOUR FACEBOOK! Get on my Facebook page or our Eagle Pointe Facebook page & start sharing the invites & videos we have to promote “Easter at Eagle Pointe”. Change your Facebook profile pic to our Easter profile pic. BTW: It’s working! Since we started our Facebook campaign 2 weeks ago – the number of people who are seeing something about Eagle Pointe & our Easter services have been mind-blowing. So, help us blow up Facebook these next 2 weeks by inviting all your Facebook friends.

5) BE HERE, SERVE & DO WHATEVER IT TAKES! Arrive early & help out in any way you can! We need a number of you to go to our 9:00AM, 12:00pm, & 5:30pm services to make room in our 10:30 service. Please help us pack out our 2 back gravel lots & car pool with family & friends. We need to free up some seating & parking this Easter! As with every weekend at Eagle Pointe – EVERYONE is on Host Team on Easter! You see something  that needs picked up –  a bathroom that needs restocked – just do it! You see people looking unsure of where they’re going – introduce yourself &  show them around. You see people sitting by themselves – go sit with them & make them feel comfortable.

Again, join us in doing WHATEVER IT TAKES to reach our community for Jesus this Easter!

PS. I wonder who will be doing 1 of our “One Invite Changed My Life” videos someday because you cared enough to invite them???

***CHECK OUT OUR PROMO VIDEO FOR EASTER AT EAGLE POINTE…


Your Teaching/Preaching Isn’t “Deep Enough”

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Here’s a blog post I did a while back, that fit really well with my message/sermon from this past Sunday at Eagle Pointe. So, I thought I’d share it again…

Once in a while we will have someone say that the messages/sermons at Eagle Pointe church are not “deep enough”. Here are just some of my thoughts on this…

We didn’t start Eagle Pointe because Christians couldn’t find a good church to attend.  There are some really good churches in our area led by some really good pastors.  Instead, we wanted to start a church determined to reach the 90% of people in our area who did not go to church anywhere.  That choice/conviction affects just about everything  we do.

In 1 Corinthians 1:17, Paul writes that his goal was to preach the gospel “not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of it’s power.”  For me, teaching/preaching isn’t about impressing people & showing them how smart I am or how much I know, it’s about connecting people with Jesus & helping them know how to live out the Christian life the way Jesus intended.

Someone once said that great teachers take complex material & make it simple, while bad teachers take simple ideas & make them complex. The reality is that the Gospel is very simple – it takes “theologians” to complicate it! Jesus taught in very simple easy to understand ways. He used stories & illustrations. All of His sermons were very topical in nature. He took complex ideas & laid out step by step explanations of what they mean & how ordinary people could live them out. (And we simply try to follow Jesus’ example)

Simple sermons are not the same thing as simplistic sermons. Our mission here at Eagle Pointe is to “Lead people to Love God, Love Others, & Serve the World” (a summary of The Great Commandment & Great Commission). These concepts are very simple.  It’s following them that’s tough. In my humble opinion – the problem for most “Christians” is not that they don’t have enough knowledge about the Bible – it’s that they are simply not living out, or don’t know how to live out, what the Bible says. (They know what to do – they’re just not doing it).

Below is a great example of a very typical message here at Eagle Pointe. We studied Joshua 1:6-11 (6 verses). We taught on God’s righteousness, faithfulness, grace, & forgiveness. Now, I could have broken down the Hebrew translation of different words, the historical meaning & context of word usage, how this lines up with other promises of God in the Bible, etc. Some people would have walked out saying that it was such a great sermon & now they could run out & try to impress people with their new found knowledge. However, they would have no clue how to apply this to their lives & live out these truths.

As is our goal every weekend, in this message below, we taught some very deep spiritual & theological truths in a way that was very easy to understand; easy for people to see how this is relevant to their everyday lives; easy for people to know how to apply these truths to their lives & truly live this out; & then we challenged them to action (to do something with/about it). Our goal is to teach the Bible in a way that truly benefits people Monday through Saturday – not just on Sunday.

We also challenge people, and challenge them hard, to – “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:22). We challenge people to not just come to church, hear a good message, feel good about themselves, leave & do nothing with/about it. We challenge people to apply it, live it out, & to actually DO the things Jesus commands us to do. BTW: A LOT of Christians don’t like that. (But I’ll save that for another post)

We designed our church services to be the front door of our church.  It’s an environment designed to help people take steps in their faith – it’s not designed to be the end-all & only source of teaching in your life.

Every weekend we have to strike that delicate balance of teaching Christians and non-Christians – people who’ve been in church for 20 years & people who are coming for the 1st time – young, old & everywhere in between – to take simple steps to follow Jesus.  We have several other environments designed to help you “go deeper” in your faith.  There are life groups, men’s & ladies groups that study the Bible.  About once a month we offer “Disciple U” classes on subjects like apologetics, theology, church history, and books of the Bible. People have plenty of opportunities to “go deeper” around here.

A question we ask A LOT around here is – “Where’s the fruit?” Think about it – “Where’s the fruit?” You know – Jesus’ whole “I am the vine, you are the branches” thing? And – Jesus’ whole ”if a branch does not bear fruit, it will be cut off from the vine” thing? (But I’ll save that for another post as well)

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/74074810″>Catch the Wave – Pt. 4: Courage</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user1086269″>Howard J Koepka</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>


We’re Launching a 3rd Service at Eagle Pointe!

EPC - New Service Times - Web

In case you haven’t heard – we are launching a 3rd service time/worship experience here at Eagle Pointe & I am beyond pumped about this!

Since January we’ve been talking about the need to add a 3rd service time here at Eagle Pointe. And as I shared at Momentum on Jan. 26th (if you missed it – watch it here), I said that we needed to add about another 60 adults to make this work. Meaning – we didn’t want to have 1 service with only 50 people & not much energy in it & we needed more people to volunteer & attend a 3rd service.

Well, we have added those 60 more adults. Both of our Sunday morning services are getting uncomfortably crowded, our Children’s ministry growing very fast, and we are maxing out our facility’s capacity. (Which will very soon hurt our retention of guests). So, after a lot of talks, prayer, fasting, & planning over the month or so with our staff & ministry leaders, we have made the decision to step out in faith & launch our 3rd service.

I will confess to you that as the leader/pastor of this amazing church family, I feel the weight & responsibility that comes with every decision we make. I will also confess to you that I struggled a little with this decision (Yes – I am human). I was a bit worried about making this decision prematurely, what if it doesn’t work, do we have enough volunteers, etc. I also know that we sometimes have waited too long in the past to make a decision & that delay has caused us to lose the momentum God was building.

As I was praying about & wrestling with this decision – God reminded me that the results aren’t up to me (I/we just have to do our part, give God actions He can bless, & be obedient to Him). During a recent staff meeting, I did not share what I was thinking/feeling, I just asked each of them to share what they were thinking/feeling/sensing about all of this. To my surprise, every one of our staff members said we needed to go to 3 services quickly. They acknowledged that yes it would be more work, require us to recruit & train more volunteers, & that it would be a challenge – but that with all the people & families coming to & getting connected here at Eagle Pointe, that we could not afford to wait any longer. I LOVE OUR STAFF!

So, next Sunday March 16th we will launch our 3rd service time. It will be at 5:30PM on Sunday evenings.  This will also coincide with the kick-off of our next teaching series “Full Throttle” (appropriate series for stepping out in faith in God’s direction). I’ve been encouraged to hear from a number of people who were excited about this. In addition to freeing up space on Sunday mornings, I am very excited about the potential for us to reach another demographic of people who Sunday mornings are just not an option for. A lot of people in retail, restaurants, medical, etc either work too late on Saturdays or work on Sunday mornings. This Sunday evening service will be a great vehicle for us to reach out to these people & share with them about Jesus.

PS. I can tell you that families with young children will LOVE Sunday evenings. 5:30PM is late enough for families to enjoy Sunday afternoon activities & it is early enough to get the kids in bed at a reasonable time before school the next day. Also, once these families figure out how much easier it is to get kids who are already up & about to a 5:30PM service, rather than fighting to get kids up, dressed, & fed in time to get to church in the morning – they will never do morning church again 😉

Now, here’s what I need your help with:

1)      We need you to talk this up in your groups & teams. Your groups/teams will take on the same attitude you have about this. Will it require extra work for some of us? Yes! Especially for our staff & I. But as Tim Roman said in our staff meeting – “It’s only 1 stinkin’ extra hour a week in order to reach a whole bunch more people for Jesus! I think in light of what Jesus did for us, that we can do this for Him!I LOVE TIM! I encourage you have & share Tim’s attitude as we communicate with & get our church family involved with this.

2)      We need more of you to jump in & serve in a minstry & we will need some of you to “double-dip”. We will need people for the first 2 or 3 months to come back & just serve & help us get this Sunday evening service off to a great start. If you can help with this, please email Tim Roman. (BTW: Some of our greatest needs right now are Children’s ministry, Ushers, & Parking team. Please help us encourage people to sign up!)

3)      Join us in praying for this endeavor – praying that God would use it & bless it in order to reach a whole bunch more people for Him.

4)      Go crazy inviting! Go out of your way to “run into” people who Sunday evening may appeal to & invite them to come on March 16th & beyond. We have invite cards available in the cafe. We have a lot of stuff on social media to share with people. We also will have new roadsigns available this Sunday for you to help us get out into our community. Let’s do our part & allow God to use us to pack all 3 services next Sunday March 16 & beyond.

Well, that enough info for now. In the meantime, do not hesitate to contact me or any of our staff if you have any questions.

THANK YOU for being on this wild, crazy, God-sized adventure with me! THANK YOU for having a heart that is all about Loving God, Loving Others, & Serving the World. THANK YOU for having a WHATEVER IT TAKES heart & attitude. I am really excited about what God has in store for us.

Let’s do this!!!

EPC - This Ain't Your Grandma's Church - Night 1


High Class Challenges

Good ProblemsGod is just showing off now! This has been gradually building over the last several months, but especially for the last 2 months our Connections pastor Tim Roman and I have been looking at each other & saying “Wow!” & “Oh my!”.  We have had so many new people & families coming to Eagle Pointe in these last 2 months.  And not just attending on Sundays, but getting in Life Groups & serving on ministry teams – IT’S BEEN CRAZY!  And it doesn’t show any signs of letting up – if anything – this ride appears to be speeding up – “GO GOD!!!”

2 weeks ago at Momentum, our gathering of leaders & volunteers, I shared how we needed to launch a 3rd service time. I also shared how we needed to grow by about 60 more people to make that move effective for the sake of having more volunteers, having enough people in each service that we don’t don’t lose energy, etc. WELL – yesterday we had those 60 more people show up at Eagle Pointe! In fact, here is what I posted on my Facebook & Twitter yesterday – “LOVE when God shows up & shows off! Mind blowing kick off of our “Improving Your Love Life” series today. Music was incredible, message connected, & had our highest non-holiday attendance ever. GO GOD & Go Eagle Pointe’rs!!!

What God is doing here at Eagle Pointe is so special, so rare, and so big that there’s not a doubt in any of our minds as to Who is doing this.  I believe that God is blessing our hearts, motivations, focus, and hard work in a huge way – & I am very grateful for that.

However, with these blessings comes a lot of things that we have to figure out.  How can we be good stewards of the people/souls that God is entrusting to us?  How do we structure our church and ministries to handle what God is doing here?  Not just how do we handle what happened last Sunday – but how do we handle this movement of God in 6 months & a year or 2 down the road?

But there’s also immediate concerns – how soon do we launch our 3rd service time?  How fast can we expand our worship area? What’s the right way to expand? What can we afford to do?  What can we do & how fast can we do it? There’s probably 42 questions along these lines that need to be answered.  What staff will we need & how soon will we need them? How can our Ministry Leaders & Lay Ministers handle all of this?  How can we raise up more leaders quickly?  How do we help our people to spiritually, mentally, & emotionally handle all of these changes & the speed in which God is doing it? How do we help people understand that the vast majority of Christians will go their entire lives without God ever allowing them to be a part of anything remotely close to what He is doing here?

As I hope you can see – it is a lot to figure out.  But as my buddy Tim Meade used to say – “These are high class problems!” As opposed to a few years ago when we were on our knees praying for God to keep the doors of our church open another month.

Now, while we are figuring out how/when to launch a 3rd service – here are a few things we really need our entire Eagle Pointe family helping us with right away: (BTW: 3rd service will most likely be on Sunday evenings)

1) Sit towards the front, move in to the middle of seating sections, etc. Help us fit everyone in & make it easier for people to find seats. You don’t have to sit on an aisle seat & you don’t need a seat or 2 buffer between you & the person next to you. Please be mindful of people trying to find a seat & help them out.

2) Don’t block our cafe & hallways. Let people be able to get in & find where they are going. Move your converstaions into the worship area or outside. Don’t be a human barricade!

3) Volunteer to serve on a ministry team. We need a lot more help in our parking lot, with greeters/hosts/guides, ushering in the worship area, & in our CHILDREN’S MINISTRY working with babies & children. (Our children’s ministry is growing like crazy & needs more adult/teen volunteers)

4) Park in our back lots. Yes – we have more parking around the back sides of our facility. If you are serving and/or a regular here at Eagle Pointe – please help us fill up these back lots first. Let’s leave the front/easiest to find parking spots for our guests & newer folks. (BTW: I try to always lead by example – so you will see my vehicle in the last/furthest back spot)

5) Everyone is on Host Team every Sunday! Even if you are not officially on our host/greeter team – we count on you to help us welcome everyone, help them find there way, introduce them around to others, etc. Keep an eye out for people sitting/standing by themselves. Act every Sunday, as you would if you were hosting a party at your home.

I share all of this with you to help you, as my church family, to see the challenges that are before us.  As the lead pastor I grasp and feel the weight and responsibility that comes with God blessing in this way – which is why I am currently fasting & praying for God’s wisdom & guidance.  Please pray for me during this time & join me in praying for God to show all of us the way. LET’S DO THIS!!! Let’s give God actions He will use & bless! And then – buckle up & hold on! It’s going to be a wild & amazing ride!


Important Message for Eagle Pointe’rs

I Normally Don’t Do This

It’s the end of the year and I’m writing you because I need to share a few things with you!  As a church we have seen a TON of amazing things happen this year. We have had SO many people commit their lives to Christ & get baptized – marriages restored – families put back together – people growing in their relationship with Jesus – and on and on.

While there has been SO MUCH good, I have to inform you about something that is a challenge.  We are ending our financial year and we are not where we need to be yet.

Our financial goal for the month of December was $60,000. This would cover all of our operating expenses & our Serve the World Campaign (the amount needed to fund our work in Haiti, the Philippines, and other local & global mission work for 2014)

At this moment we are about $10,000 short!

While I’m sure we ALL greatly enjoyed an amazing Christmas – having many of our church family traveling did not help our cause. Many of you have been out of town over the Christmas holiday & may not have had the opportunity to generously give towards this.

We are about $10,000 from finishing strong! We are asking you and every person that loves this church to make a year-end donation that will bridge the gap from where we are to where we need to be.

We do not want to start another year hoping we do well financially!  We want to finish strong so we can start ministering strong in 2014!

So I’m asking you to:

1. Ask God, “What do you want me to do financially this year?”

2. Give a year-end gift to help our cause — Drop it by or mail to our church office, Give online, or drop it in the offering basket this Sunday & note “year end” in the memo section. * To count towards 2013 taxes it must be postmarked by Dec. 31st.

3. Ask God to bless the gift so many lives, familes, & eternities will be radically changed.

Your Friend, Pastor, & Partner

Howard J. Koepka


How Welcome Do Visitors Feel In Your Church?

I know, I know, that was a beer commercial but I think it illustrates a great point for churches to consider – how comfortable do new people, different people, people who are not exactly like you, FEEL when they come into your church???

Many of you know that I walked away from church for a 6 year period of my life. I was a bodyguard & head of security for some of the biggest rock n’ roll bands in the world. I rode motorcycles, had long hair & tattoos, & I remember vividly the looks I would get from those who I looked different from. I remember when I “gave church a try” with Gina, who would later become my wife, and the uneasiness I felt. Would this be like the uptight, holier than thou, legalistic church I had grown up in? Would these people accept me or would I be an outcast?

Most of the people coming through our doors have never been to church, or haven’t been in many years because of a bad experience or they never saw the relevance of church. And as they pull onto our parking lot they are experiencing a great deal of uneasiness. They are wondering – Am I dressed right? What will they people be like? Will I be accepted or looked down on? What is the music like? What is the pastor like? Will they ask me to drink the Kool-Aid? Many times I liken it to going to a party where you don’t know anyone. As uneasy as that is for all of us, it’s about 20 times worse for people walking into a church where they don’t know anyone.

Listen – it is OUR RESPONSIBILITY to put them at ease immediately. I tell people that our “Host Team” (greeters, parking, ushers, coffee servers, children’s check-in, etc) may be the most important ministry in our entire church. Studies tell us that the average visitor to a church will make up their mind within in the 1st 8 minutes as to whether they are ever coming back to that church again. Did you catch that??? EIGHT STINKIN’ MINUTES!!! 8 minutes is about the time it takes for them to park, walk in the building, check-in their kids, grab a cup of coffee, & MAYBE have heard the 1st song! Think about that!

We are in a community where 90% of the people within a 5 mile radius of our church do not go to church regularly. We work our tails off to try to reach out to them & to get them to “give church a try”, & when they come they are feeling that uneasiness & they are looking for an excuse to say “AH HA! THAT’S why I don’t go to church!

So, in addition to having a kick butt Host Team, I tell everyone who comes to Eagle Pointe that WE ARE ALL, every single one of us, is on Host Team EVERY weekend! It is up to us to make sure that everyone, no matter who they are or what they look like, feels loved, welcomed, accepted, & appreciated from the moment they pull onto our parking lot until they the moment they leave.

Because if we blow that first 8 minutes, if we don’t make a great first impression, then we will have just wasted that God-given opportunity to impact that person & their family for Jesus Christ! And that is completely unacceptable to me!

Remember: Jesus came to invite the outsider – not coddle the insider!

So, how welcome do people feel in your church?

Bikers - Welcome