Random thoughts on Life, Leadership, & Messy Spirituality

Posts tagged “Christmas

Christmas Eve at Eagle Pointe

I LOVE that video!!!

Can you believe it? Christmas Eve is only 5 days away! I am SO looking forward to the Christmas Eve Celebrations we have planned for you and the 20 friends you’ll bring with you this year. We have 3 amazing Christmas Eve services (2:00, 3:45, & 5:30PM) planned for you & all the people you bring with you! The music, message, videos, communion, candlelight singing, & more will BLOW YOU AWAY! Trust me!!

Here are four specific things that you can do to help us prepare to celebrate Christmas Eve at Eagle Pointe:

1. Invite, Invite, Invite & Fire Up Your Social Media!
It’s always amazed me that although we know many of our friends are LOOKING for a church to attend on Christmas Eve, we still feel nervous when inviting them. Maybe it’s the fact that we all feel a bit nervous when talking about things that are important to us. The truth is, when you invite a friend to join you for church on Christmas Eve they very often will come, and even if they cannot, they’ll appreciate the fact that you thought of them. Remember: Christmas Eve & Easter are the 2 times a year when more people are willing to “give church a try” than any other. Use that! Take advantage of that! Get BOLD in inviting!

Call your friends & invite them! Go to mine or our Eagle Pointe Facebook pages & share the video & info about our services on your Facebook & Twitter. We will be sending out an e-mail invitation that you can easily send to all of your friends. Step out of your comfort zone and really make an effort to bring as many people as you possibly can this Christmas Eve. Offer to pick them up and drive them here. (In fact, carpooling will help with parking – Seriously!!! Also, our 3:45pm service will probably be our fullest service, so if you could attend one of the others – that would be great!) Let’s do OUR part & then step back & watch as God does His part!

2. Come to worship AND SERVE this Christmas Eve! 
If your friends are meeting you here rather than riding with you, make plans to worship in either the 2:00, 3:45, or 5:30pm services and then serve during another service. We will need lots of help in the children’s ministry and host team – if you are able to help out please contact Lisa Skelly (children’s) or Tim Roman (host team) a.s.a.p.

3. Help out in any way that you can. 
If you see ANYTHING that needs to be done – a piece of paper that needs to be picked up, a person who needs a question answered, a restroom that needs to be cleaned – I encourage you to “just do it.” One of the great things about Eagle Pointe is the way that we all pull together to meet whatever is needed.

Let’s make every effort to see that everyone has the best possible experience here at Eagle Pointe. Let’s see to it that not one person walks through our doors without being greeted by several people and introduced around. Let’s make everyone feel welcomed, loved, and appreciated. Hopefully, they will leave thinking, “That is the friendliest place I’ve ever been to.” EVERYONE is on the Host Team this Christmas Eve! (Actually, that is the case every Sunday as well!)

Studies show that most visitors to a church will make up their mind within the first eight minutes as to whether they are ever coming back again. Let’s do absolutely everything we can to get them to come back again.

4. PRAY! PRAY! PRAY!

Join us in praying that after we do our part – that God shows up in a HUGE way & does what only He can do! Pray for your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, & our community! Listen: It’s NOT TOO LATE to do whatever it takes to bring someone with you to a service.  I am asking everyone to stop for a few seconds and ask God if there is anyone else that you need to invite… and if He places someone in your heart and mind then don’t just pray for them… GO GET THEM!!! Also, Pray that our lives will be changed this Christmas & that the lives & eternities of 100′s of people will be changed this Christmas Eve.

5. Personally celebrate the Good (GREAT) News of Christmas starting today. 
Matthew 1:23 says, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and they will call Him Emmanuel which means God with us.” God is with me & God is with YOU – THAT’S what Christmas is ALL about! Start praising God and celebrating today and every day the GREAT news of Jesus!

I look forward to seeing you this Sunday & on Tuesday for Christmas Eve!

EPC - U2 Christmas Eve - Slide - Copy

Advertisements

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


U2 Christmas – Let’s Do This!!!

EPC - U2 Christmas - Web 3

This Sunday Dec. 8th we will kick off one of the most fun, rockin’, & most powerful series we’ve done here at Eagle Pointe. (And that’s saying something!)

Join us this Christmas season and get a backstage pass to one of the greatest bands of all time, talking about the greatest message of all time. We’ll use today’s arts, media, and songs from U2 to  learn the secret of the exciting & fulfilling life we were all meant to live.

The music, dramas, videos & messages we have planned, for each Sunday in December & on Christmas Eve, are going to flat-out blow you away! So, do not miss ANY of this series & please help us use this series to reach a whole bunch of people in our community for Jesus this Christmas season…

U2 BillboardWe will have invite cards available at church for you to hand out. Check out my Facebook page & our Eagle Pointe Facebook page for videos, invites, etc that you can share. Help us blow-up Facebook all month long by sharing invites & videos to our “U2 Christmas” series! Do your best to bring people with you each week of this series & on Christmas Eve. (BTW: Have you seen our Billboard???)

Our Christmas Eve services will be at 2:00, 3:45, & 5:30PM on Dec. 24th. Help us make the most of this month-long, God-sized opportunity!

Be sure to take a minute & watch both of the promo video for this series below…


Christmas Gifts – On a Mission From God

EPC - Christmas Gifts - On Mission

Before many of us dive head-first into that giant orgy of materialism – you know? BLACK FRIDAY! The day when Americans spend ridiculous amounts of money on stuff we don’t need – 1 day after saying how thankful we are for all that we have! Before we do that – I want to challenge all of us to completely rethink our Christmas gift giving this year!

Rather than buying into the consumerism, materialism, & greed that is so often a part of the American Christmas experience. Rather than buying a bunch of stuff that people really do not need & that will be collecting dust in a few short weeks. Let me challenge you to make your Christmas gift giving be “on a mission from God” this year!

Here are a few ideas of how you can get people a great Christmas gift – while supporting a great cause – & helping those who are A LOT less fortunate than any of us are.

1) Serve the World Christmas Gift Certificates.

These can be given as gifts & let people know that rather than get them a gift they probably don’t need – that a certain amount had been given in their name – to help provide for Children’s homes, Homeless shelters & struggling families locally, as well as, provide food, schooling, immunizations, medical care & the love of Jesus Christ in parts of the world where the average family lives on less than $2 a day. As well this donation helps fund local mission work, community service days (Faith in Actions), & benevolence assisting struggling families with financial needs & counseling. These Gift Certificates are available through our church office or in our Cafe on Sunday mornings.

2) Bags of Coffee from Haiti & Rwanda

We serve Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee each Sunday at Eagle Pointe & we make bags of this coffee available for purchase. Bags of this coffee make for great Christmas Gifts while at the same time help provide a job & a living wage for farmers in 2 of the poorest countries in the world. Bags of different blends of coffee & espresso, as well as bags of chocolate & peppermint espresso bark, are available through our church office or in our Cafe on Sunday mornings.

3) Eagle Pointe embroidered gear

EPC - Embroidered Gear

If you’re getting a gift for a family member of friend who is part of our Eagle Pointe family – why not get them something they can sport to show off their church family. This is a great way to promote what God is doing here at Eagle Pointe and a great discussion starter to share your faith and invite people who are disconnected from God and church. These are priced to pretty much just cover the cost to produce and a portion of the sales goes towards our Eagle Pointe mission work. Contact Gina Koepka – (404) 375-9899 for more info.

Again, let me challenge you to make your Christmas gift giving be “on a mission from God” this year! I’d love to hear your stories of the impression this made on those you give gifts to this Christmas.

Oh, and here’s one last thought on this idea…

Christmas - Necessity 2


Christmas Conspiracy – Part 4

I’ve been doing this series of blogs this week called “Christmas Conspiracy“. My hope & prayer is to maybe help us not to get caught up in the greed & consumerism that is so much a part of Christmas in America today. I though the week BEFORE Thanksgiving & Black Friday was a good time to try to help us all “do” Christmas right this year. I pray you will help spread the word about what I’ve been sharing this week in this 4 part series.

If you missed “Serve the World: Christmas Offering – Part 1,  Part 2,  & Part 3” please go back read them to better understand this post in context.

I propose that we “DO” Christmas different this year. Rather than buying into the frantic, crazy, stressful, non-stop month of parties, shopping, & trying to make sure that our friends, families, & kids have lots of “stuff” to do & presents to open – let’s just SLOW DOWN! RELAX! And ENJOY what this season is really about. As my daughter Brianna once told me when she was about 6 yrs old – “Christmas is about 3 things: 1) Celebrating Jesus, 2) Spending time with family, & 3) Helping those in need!” DANG! I love that girl! THAT pretty much sums it up!

BTW: That’s a lot of what our December message series “U2 Christmas” is all about. We’re using music & video from one of the greatest bands of all time to talk about The Greatest Message of all time! (Also, check out our U2 Christmas promo video here). It will run each Sunday in December & on Christmas Eve at Eagle Pointe .

This “Serve the World: Christmas Offering” is ALL about Brianna’s #3 – Helping those in need. I ask that you join us in helping provide for Children’s homes, Homeless shelters & struggling families locally, as well as, provide food, schooling, immunizations, medical care & the love of Jesus Christ in parts of the world where the average family lives on less than $2 a day. As well, this offering will fund the local mission work, community service days (Faith in Actions), & benevolence assisting struggling families with financial needs & counseling. Our goal is to raise $30,000. (This is above & beyond the approx. $30,000 it takes to run our church & ministries each month) This is also a rather modest amount considering the incredible amount of work we do with this amount of money.

Please join us in praying that God will FAR surpass our goal! Please pray about cutting back on the “stuff” of Christmas – give your best gift to Jesus this Christmas – & help us truly “Serve the World” in Jesus’ name in 2012!  In addition to giving on Sunday mornings at Eagle Pointe – you can also give generously towards this effort by GIVING ONLINE.

We are also encouraging our church family that if they feel the need to buy Christmas gifts – then let your Christmas Gifts be “on a mission for God”. We are offering “Serve the World Gift Certificates” that can be given as gifts & let people know that rather than get them a gift they probably don’t need – that a certain amount had been given to those less fortunate in their name.

Lastly, I hope & pray that you will help us make this a Christmas to remember!


Christmas Conspiracy – Part 3

I

As, I’ve been saying in Christmas Conspiracy – Part 1 &  Part 2 – there’s something very, very wrong with us as a society and a people. There’s something very, very wrong with the way we celebrate Christmas. We succumb to this constant yearning for more and more and more. And if we would ever just wake up – we would notice that it leaves us empty. We Americans are shopping addicts & junkies – always looking for our next fix – we get our hit – we buy something – & we’re on a high for a little while. Then we start coming down off of that high – so we rush out & buy our next fix – and we feel really good for a little while – then we begin crashing again.

And we continue on this never ending empty cycle – until half of our life is gone – we’ve accumulated a mountain of debt – and we realize what a mess – and what a waste – our life has been up until this point. Listen – it is time for us to break free from the greed and materialism and consumerism that we are addicted to – and that is destroying our society.

It is time for us to show our kids the way – before it’s too late for them! It is time to stop – and it could begin this Christmas season with us. This Christmas we need to say NO to greed – materialism – & consumerism!  We need to say NO to celebrating the birth of Jesus – by buying more stuff! We need to say NO to celebrating God’s love coming to earth in human form – by showering our kids and everyone we know with a ridiculous amount of material things – that they cannot begin to appreciate or be grateful for. We need to say NO to celebrating Christmas – with a month-long nonstop whirlwind of frenetic activity – which causes us to dread the holidays.

BTW: I am REALLY looking forward to our “U2 Christmas series” – Sundays in December & Christmas Eve at Eagle Pointe . We’re using music & video from one of the greatest bands of all time to talk about The Greatest Message of all time! (Also, check out our U2 Christmas promo video here)

You know – there’s just something “right” about this ! I doubt there’s a person who has been reading this series of blogs – who does not feel a little something deep down inside of them going – “Yeah!” “I don’t need another iPad to match my other iPad – I don’t need a bigger TV – I don’t need a 42nd pair of shoes – what I need is – more of God in my life!”

This Christmas season – when your family & neighbors & coworkers ask “What are you doing for Christmas?” – you can say – “Not going to the Mall – not going to Best Buy – avoiding Wal-Mart and Target like the plague!” And after they bounce back from going into shock – you can explain that  – we’re going to Buy Less & Give More – in fact – Buy Less & Love More – we’re celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ!

We’re going to help a bunch of kids and families locally &  in the Philippines & in Haiti – have the basic necessities that we Americans so take for granted.  We’re going to meet real, practical, & tangible needs in Jesus’ name in places where the average FAMILY lives on less than $2 a day  – where they have very little to eat – where they don’t have the immunizations to keep their kids from dying – where they live under a sheet or tarp – or in 1 room shacks with 8 – 12 people living in them.  A place where pregnant mothers don’t have the nutrients  they need & moms don’t have formula for their babies.

Our gifts this Christmas are going to “the least of these” – in name of Jesus.

I pray that this Christmas you will support our Serve the World: Christmas Offering & help us pull off all the local & global mission work God is leading Eagle Pointe Church to do in 2014. God bless you – & let’s try to do Christmas “right” this year!  In addition to giving on Sunday mornings at Eagle Pointe – you can also give generously towards this effort by GIVING ONLINE. BTW: Here’s an info packet explaining in detail our “EPC – Serve The World Campaign – initial letter & FAQ“.

We are also encouraging our church family that if they feel the need to buy Christmas gifts – then let your Christmas Gifts be “on a mission for God. We are offering “Serve the World Gift Certificates” that can be given as gifts & let people know that rather than get them a gift they probably don’t need – that a certain amount had been given to those less fortunate in their name.

***NOTE: Be sure to check out the above & below videos of our mission work in Haiti & the Philippines.


Christmas Conspiracy – Part 2

I

Be sure to watch the above video & if you missed “Christmas Conspiracy – Pt. 1” go back & read it first – so that you’ll get this part 2 in context.

Listen – if we as Christians don’t step up and address these issues – people starving – parents burying their kids – kids being orphaned by diseases all over the planet… I think years from now people will look back at the 21st century Christian church and ask – “What were they thinking?” “How could they not do something?” It’s like the way we look back at the church – who for 300 years read their Bibles – and kept their black brothers & sisters in slavery. Tell me how that works? How do you justify that? The problem is that we don’t have enough people who will take action!

I had a conversation a couple of Christmas’ ago with a pastor friend. We were kind of making fun of the people who boycott stores that do not say “Merry Christmas” – during the month of December. I don’t think I’ll ever forget – my friend said – “I want to boycott those stores that invoke the name of my Savior – in the name of the almighty dollar. I had another conversation with my daughter Brianna – who asked me – “Daddy, why is it Jesus’ birthday and everybody buys all kinds of gifts for everybody else – but Jesus doesn’t get anything?” She said – “If it was my birthday – and everybody except me got gifts except me I’d be pretty upset.”

Then I did a little research and found that the average family in America spends $1600 buying Christmas gifts – that’s just the average… Some spend a lot more – & too many go into debt pulling off Christmas. We spend a ridiculous amount of money on gifts for everyone we know – on video games, iPads, clothes, and all kinds of stuff that our kids can’t begin to be grateful for or appreciate. Question – does this in any way sound like a celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – of God’s love coming to earth in flesh? To me – it is more of one giant orgy of materialism – and it’s sickening!

I am challenging all of us – and everyone who will listen – to drastically cut back on Christmas gifts this year! I’ll give you a moment to catch your breath ——-  But guess what? Christmas is not my birthday – & I don’t need anything! It’s not your birthday – and you really don’t need anything! Now, I know this is a hard pill, especially for our teens and kids, to swallow – but compared to 99% of the other kids in the world – our’s live like stinkin’ royalty! 99% of the kids in the world would trade places with them in a heartbeat!

So, in our family we’re calculating the maximum amount we can afford to spend on Christmas, without going into debt – which isn’t a whole lot on a pastor’s salary, paying off adoptions, etc… We’re cutting that in 1/2 and using 1/2 to buy gifts &  taking the other 1/2 and giving it to Jesus for His birthday. Now, how do you give the Jesus – who is not here in the flesh? You could give to His work – the local church! And we should definitely be doing that. But Jesus also said that when you do this for the least of these – people who are suffering – starving – dying from diseases – you are doing it for Me. It’s easy to get overwhelmed – when you look at the incredible needs all over the globe – and think what could I do about all of that? Well, you can’t fix it all – but we can each do our part. We could come together and address a small portion of it.

During the month of December we’re doing a “Serve the World: Christmas Offering“. This offering will help fund our church’s local & global mission work  for 2014. Please help us provide for Children’s homes, Homeless shelters & struggling families locally, as well as, provide food, schooling, immunizations, medical care & the love of Jesus Christ in parts of the world where the average family lives on less than $2 a day. This offering will also  fund the local mission work, community service days (Faith in Actions), & benevolence assisting struggling families with financial needs & counseling.

We’re encouraging people to go above and beyond their normal, ongoing support of all the ministries & mission work we do here at Eagle Pointe Church – & give to support our Serve the World: Christmas Offering. Please pray about it & see what God leads you & your family to do. In addition to giving on Sunday mornings at Eagle Pointe – you can also give generously towards this effort by GIVING ONLINE.