Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Celebrate Jesus with a FREE BEVERAGE

Every decade is unique to itself. There was the 60’s and the peace movement. Then came the 70’s and the rise and fall of disco. Then came the 80’s, the decade of my High School and College years. Then, of course, came the 90’s and the current decade. Each decade had unique styles, unique television shows, unique advertising, unique clothing, unique lingo and unique music. Over the month of April we will be reliving each of these decades as part of our weekend services here at Grace Church in a new series we are calling, Celebrate Jesus Decade by Decade.

It will all kick off this Sunday, Palm Sunday, as we invite you back to the 1960’s. Then will come Easter Sunday and the 1970’s. Afterwards comes the 1980’s, 1990’s and our current decade. We will start each Sunday’s service with a pop song from that decade that everyone will recognize. We will then be taken down nostalgia lane as we relive the sights and sounds of each decade. But most importantly, we will take each week to share one fact about Jesus.

On this Sunday, April 4, we will start our new series with the 1960’s feel as we focus on the fact that Jesus died for our sins.

On Easter Sunday, April 11, we will relive the 1970’s as we focus on the fact that Jesus rose from the dead.

On April 18, we will go back to the 1980’s as we focus on the truth that Jesus is God.

On April 25, it will be the 1990’s here at Grace Church as we teach on the truth that Jesus is the only way to heaven.

Then, on the first Sunday of May, we will end this exciting series in the current decade as we nail down the fact that Jesus never changes. Everything else changes from decade to decade. Fads come and go. Music styles change. Dress styles change. Events come and go, but Jesus is the same, yesterday, today and forever. Hallelujah!

This is going to be a great series here at Grace. You can’t let this one go by without inviting people you know to attend. Last Sunday we gave out a special promotional tool for you to use. It was shaped like a Sheetz coffee cup and inside was all of the information about our Celebrate Jesus Decade by Decade series and celebrating Easter here at Grace. Inside this tool is a coupon good for a free medium fountain drink or coffee at any Sheetz gas station and convenience store. Please don’t let these tools go to waste. We have spent a lot of money on their design, printing and in purchasing these coupons up front. Please be sure to give them to people you know who don’t know Jesus or who don’t have a church home. Please don’t use these coupons for yourself. That would defeat the whole purpose. Give these invitations and coupons for a free fountain drink or coffee to people you know and then pray that they will come to celebrate Jesus!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Egg-Stravaganza and Helicopter Drop

Throughout the month of March we shared our 5-year vision plan for Grace Church. Every part of our plan is rooted in wanting to meet as many people as possible right where they are and help move them to where God wants them to be. At no time is there more of an opportunity to do this than Easter.

This Saturday starts our Easter celebration here at Grace Church with our Egg-Stravaganza and helicopter drop. Imagine seeing 8,000 Easter Eggs dropped from a helicopter on our land across the street? I can’t wait to see that! Last year over 3,000 attended this event that did not include the helicopter. This year we are believing God for over 5,000 people on our campus to be part of this family-friendly holiday event who will all then receive a personal invitation to one of our four Easter Services here at Grace Church. Below is the press release that was sent out to the local newspapers:

This Saturday, April 4, gather your children, grab your Easter baskets and camera, and get ready for a morning of fun in Lititz at Grace Church’s Third Annual Easter Egg-Stravaganza and Helicopter Drop. Families with children up to age 12 are invited to attend this free, community-wide Easter event. Kids will love watching eggs drop out of the helicopter that will fly overhead just before our hunts.

Once again this year children will be able to register to participate in one of the two egg hunts lots, either 9am or 11am. Festivities include face painting, entertainment and the Easter Bunny will be available before the hunts begin. Four bikes with helmets will be given away just before EACH hunt, so be sure to register for one of the hunts to be entered in the give-away.

Immediately following the hunts, enjoy many of the additional festivities including activities and games, crafts, bouncies, live bunnies and more. Be sure to remember your camera as the Easter Bunny will be available in our activities area for photo opportunities.

Grace Church is located at 501 W Lincoln Avenue in Lititz, PA. To register for one of our hunts or to find out more information on this event, go to www.lgbc.org and click on “Easter Egg-Stravaganza” or call 626-2155.

What a way to start our celebration? Please be sure that everyone you know who has children ages 12 and under are invited to this great event. Then on Sunday we will start our new 5-week series that we are calling Celebrate Jesus Decade by Decade. And this is just the beginning of April. All month long we will have the opportunity to meet literally thousands of people right where they are and help move them closer to where God wants them to be. Above all, please be praying for God to use this Saturday as well as our entire month to make a huge impact for Christ that will last throughout eternity. After all, as we say often, nothing of eternal importance ever happens a part from prayer.

Friday, March 27, 2009

What Our Church Staff Are Saying About Our Vision Plan (part 4)

Doug Kegarise – Director of Student Ministries (pictured)

This plan just makes sense! My position and emotions are unique as someone who grew up in this church, and now serves on staff at a very “different” church. In the midst of that, I have been studying for my masters and doing a lot of analysis in my own mind of what the body of Christ is all about, and what the local body of believers should look like. As I continue to cement those perspectives in my mind, I could not be more excited about the direction that Grace Church is heading. This plan will be difficult for many – and I understand that – having been a part of this church for my entire life. At the same time, as the world around us changes and our culture continues to shift, it is essential that we make tough decisions if we are really all about meeting and moving people. There are other ways to meet and move people – ways that would be more comfortable. But it is not about us! It is about most effectively meeting and moving as many people as possible to where God wants them to be. This plan establishes that as our priority, and that is something to get excited about. I can’t wait to see how God will continue to grow thousands of people into fully-devoted followers of Christ, and I’m humbled to be a part.

More specifically, I am excited about the first renovation project. This new café area will be a perfect setting for our regular student ministry programming as well as special events. This could not have come at a better time! As I have been praying about the next few years, I couldn’t have even dreamed this plan up! I was concerned about our facility as we are quickly out-growing the space allotted to us. Just last week I presented this concern to Pastor Tim – and a week later, I heard that this plan was in the works!

John Kegarise – Elder Board Chairman

Just finished up some time with God and was thinking and praying through some things. In doing so I was processing the vision plan in my mind and am really very comfortable with all of it. Jazzed about it would probably fit better. I am a very practical basic kind of person and this vision really appeals to me in many ways. Things that I really think are very pragmatic for our ministry to grow, yet really need to be accomplished, are the cafe and the remodeling of the Young Chapel wing. This alone will enhance the future growth of our primary campus.

We could just rest on the remodeling and the additional space and growth it will provide, but the off campus sites pushes us out into the culture. This will cause us to engage the culture on multiple levels and will put us on the offensive. We will be taking the gospel to the culture! We have seed money in place to jump start the initial phases of the vision. For the first time, your leadership staff has synergy and are feeding off the efforts of one another. The organizational structure of the leadership is beginning to take form and that brings confidence to your staff and those of use who volunteer our time. "These are the fundamentals that must be in place to move forward in confidence. God is good!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

What Our Church Staff Are Saying About Our Vision Plan (part 3)

Tim Auld – Executive Pastor (pictured)

As I reflect upon the privilege of serving Christ on the Grace Church ministry team, I’m overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude that God has given me the opportunity to be a part of this team that strives to meet and move people for Christ. In culture that sees so many churches in decline, how exciting it is to be a part of a dynamic and growing ministry.

This vision plan is going to grow me (and the church family) spiritually as I (we) will need to depend upon God to see this vision come to fruition in the next five years. To accomplish all we desire to accomplish will be a God thing! Because meeting and moving is our driving force, I cannot help but get excited about the potential of reaching 3000 – 5000 people on any given weekend through our multiple services and campuses with the life changing message of God’s Word. I love serving on this team and rolling up my sleeves with the staff and people of Grace. I get excited to think about how God is going to continue building our staff with new team members that will bring new and innovative skill sets as we utilize technology to achieve our goals. I also get excited to see how God is going to grow our staff spiritually as we have to depend on the Lord together through the implementation of this vision.

I get excited to think about how our building renovations will enhance the ministry objectives of our staff. The ministry staff has such a passion to meet and move people, yet our current facility hinders some of their dreams and desires. To renovate our lobby, create a café, create more office space, build a modern children’s wing and seek out satellite sites will only help us meet and move more people with great cost effectiveness. I love to think about what Grace will look like as a church of small groups as Biblical community is something very special in a world that is so fractured.

I’m thrilled that we are desirous to accomplish more for God by having a laser focus rather than trying to be all things to all people with our ministries. This laser focus is going to help us be good stewards of all that God has entrusted to us and still accomplish so much more for God. I can’t wait to see how God is going to grow me (and others) through our global missions focus that sees two teams sent out yearly. I believe we constantly fight the temptation to become ego-centric and to see God’s hand at work around the world in countries and peoples that have far less then me (us) will radically keep me (us) focused on Christ’s larger redemptive purposes around the globe.

My greatest joy as I reflect upon this five year vision plan rests in my understanding that the only reason I get to be a part of this is because of God’s grace. I am a sinner who deserves hell, yet because of Jesus and his redemptive work upon the cross, I have been rescued from sin and know have the privilege of being involved in the kingdom work and purposes of Christ on a daily basis. I can honestly say that I wake up every morning excited about going to work as each and every day is a new adventure with Christ.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What Our Church Staff Are Saying About Our Vision Plan (part 2)

Steve Burghart – Pastor of Connections (pictured)

I’d like to take a few moments and give you my initial reaction to the 5-year Vision Plan which you presented to the Ministry Team Leaders on 17 December.
First, thank you for providing the visionary leadership that Grace Church needs as we seek to move forward in God’s plan for this local body. Too often, I have seen churches that are doing lots of “good” things for the Lord and His people, but they lack direction and focus. As I consider the plan which you have laid out, I see prayerful consideration of God’s will, both general and specific, for our congregation. It clearly focuses on all key aspects of our ministry, from “temple courts” to “house to house,” from “fathers” to “little children,” from “Jerusalem” to “the remotest part of the earth.”

This is not a “safe” plan. This plan is not an appraisal of what we think we can achieve by the strength of our own hands, but a declaration in faith of what we believe God is calling us to accomplish by His power. This is the type of plan which will compel all to sing honor and praise to our Father. It will teach the babes in the faith that with God all things are possible. It will quicken the ones who have grown weary in the faith and remind them of a time when they consistently saw the Lord at work in them.

Specifically, this plan says that the monuments that the Lord is interested in raising, the ones which bring Him glory, are made of flesh and bone, not brick and mortar. It is easy to get caught up in the competition for the biggest, most spectacular facilities. But when I think back upon the history of the church, to the time when we had the most significant positive impact upon the hearts and minds of individuals, families, communities, even empires, it was a time where the ministry of the church intentionally and exclusively focused upon meeting and moving people. It was the era characterized by the creation of inanimate monuments that led to the impotency of the church.

Finally, when I consider the impact of this plan upon the activity of the members of Grace Church, I see the potential for incredible growth in faithfulness. Monuments are beautiful and make us feel good, but require us merely to provide the financial resources for their construction. It remains the work of the “clergy” to do all aspects of ministry. However, with this vision for meeting and moving people, ownership of the ministry belongs to the people of God, and the work of the pastors becomes equipping the saints. In order to achieve these goals, we will need the help of everyone who has committed his or her life to serving God here at Grace Church.

After experiencing the excitement of our Ministry Team Leaders and in anticipation of that excitement spreading throughout our church community, I look forward to this next season of ministry. I look forward to the redemption of lives and families and communities. I look forward to our growth in unity and faithfulness. I look forward to praising God for all He has accomplished in, through, and around us.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What Our Church Staff Are Saying About Our Vision Plan (part 1)

Matt McElravy – Worship Arts Director (pictured)

I am completely thrilled by the direction that we are going as a ministry, and I look forward to being a part of implementing our 5-year vision plan. One of the most exciting things for me is the idea of meeting over 3,000 people in our weekend services by the end of 2013. I have never been a part of something like what is going on at Grace Church before, and I am blessed to be able to get up every morning and look forward to coming to work, knowing that what we are doing is reaching people with the message of Jesus Christ every single day and transforming hearts and lives in our community for the Kingdom of God! I must also say that I am not at all disappointed about the fact that this plan puts the idea of a new sanctuary/auditorium on indefinite hold. The goal here is “meeting people where they are”, not “hoping that people will come to us”. We will do a much more effective a job of meeting people with the love of Christ in our community and beyond by launching multiple services and satellite campuses than we would by building a new facility here in Lititz. The facility that we have now is surprisingly flexible, and is capable of being upgraded to meet our ever-changing needs. In fact, one such upgrade will take place in February 2009, which will give the audio system in the auditorium a much-needed overhaul and will allow us to greatly improve the sound quality of our services, providing a better worship environment for our congregants of all ages. I look forward to seeing what the coming weeks and months have in store for us and for our ministry!

Susan Auld – Director of Children’s Ministry

As Scott presented the Vision Plan to the ministry leaders a few weeks ago, I sat there excited about the future of Grace Church. It is a vision plan that has at its core the mission of Grace Church, “Meeting people where they are and moving people to where God wants them to be.” Every goal set hinges on our mission! This is a plan that reaches far beyond the current walls of the existing Grace Church campus – to all parts of Lancaster and the world! What is there not to be excited about?

As Children’s Ministry Director, I am excited about the priority that has been placed on the Children’s Ministry. Children need to be a high priority as they are the hope of the future Church. A renovation to our current Chapel/Children’s wing will only help to enhance all our weekly programs and school functions. I’m excited to see that this is a priority as we continue to meet kids where they are and move them to where God wants them to be!

The future of Grace Church is bright and I am blessed to be part of such an amazing ministry on many levels.

Monday, March 23, 2009

5-Year Vision Plan...Facility Expansion

How does this 5-year vision plan affect our strategy for facility expansion?

This vision plan would put building a new auditorium/sanctuary on an indefinite hold. It is our committed belief that we will be able to meet and move far more numbers of people through multiple services on campus and through satellite campuses than we would be able to by building a bigger auditorium/sanctuary and going back to 1 or 2 Sunday morning services. This was greatly evidenced in the fact that in the first 11 weeks since we added a third Sunday morning service we jumped on average nearly 24% (or 290 people). The recent renovations to the auditorium done by the school have also made it much more conducive to our worship services.

We also believe that this is a far more economically based plan. To build an auditorium would require moving our athletic fields to our land across the street. To accomplish this and a new auditorium would easily be a 10-20 million dollar project. For far less money we can renovate our current facility to make it more ministry conducive to our vision plan and add the facilities, equipment and staffing needed to launch satellite campuses resulting in our being able to meet and move far more people for much less money.

What kind of facility expansion does this vision plan call for over the next 5 years?

This vision plan calls for two renovations of our current facility. The first is a foyer renovation and expansion. Our current foyer is in desperate need of a facelift in order to make it more ministry effective and to have it as a better first impressions to all of our guests. Our current restrooms and parking are well under what we need for our growing ministry so this vision plan calls for this renovation to include additional restrooms and parking. This would also provide needed office space for our growing staff.

This vision plan also calls for building a 4800 square foot addition off of the sunroom that would include additional restrooms as well as large coffee café where hundreds of people can sit around tables and connect and fellowship. This area would also be equipped with large screen televisions and wireless internet so that it can communicate pertinent ministry announcements and be used for overflow if needed. This area would also open up far more fellowship opportunities for all of our ministries and have an outdoor concession area for sporting events and other outdoor ministry activities. Our youth ministry has completely outgrown the youth room for their Wednesday night ministry. This café area would become the area for youth ministry on Wednesday nights.

The second renovation in this five year vision plan would be to change our existing Young Chapel and Wing into more of a state of the art wing for our children’s ministry. Currently we have over 600 nursery through 12 graders that attend on a Sunday morning here at Grace. 22% of our Sunday morning attendance is 6th grade and under. This wing of our church was never designed for a Children’s Ministry of our size.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Reaching CHILDREN and YOUTH first!

As we continue our Vision Month this Sunday we are going to focus on the priority of our children’s ministry, youth ministry and our educational ministry of Lititz Christian School and MorningStar Daycare and Academics. One of Dr Young’s (former Sr Pastor of Grace Church) core values was reaching children and their parents first. As we move forward over the next 5 years that will continue to be a core value for our entire ministry.

This Sunday we will be highlighting these areas of our ministry through the following aspects of our morning:

Our auditorium will be set up as if it were our renovated gymnasium. Most of our church family has not seen what an outstanding athletic facility we have so this Sunday the curtains will be pulled back, the basketball standards will be in place, the scoreboards will be lit up; and the bleachers will be pulled out as part of our seating. This will allow us to all celebrate the recent renovations and to highlight the athletic program of Lititz Christian School.

All of our stage participants will be wearing Lititz Christian School athletic jerseys.

Our Elevate Children’s Praise Team will be leading us in a worship song…Elevate style.

Our Lititz Christian School Musical Cast will be performing in the foyer and hallways inbetween services.

Rick Bernhardt, our Senior Administrator at MorningStar and Lititz Christian, will be leading us in prayer for the offering.

Pastor Tim will be interviewing Doug Kegarise, our Director of Student Ministries.

We will be showing a video montage put together by our Media Producer, Tim Reedy, that will show you first hand our children’s, youth and educational ministries in action.

And I will be sharing the aspects of our 5-year vision plan that deals with our facility and the two major renovations and additions that we are calling for over the next five years that are designed to make our children’s and youth ministry that much more effective.

All morning long this Sunday you are invited to the Youth Room (room 201) for a “come and go” open house where you can enjoy some refreshments and learn more about our children’s ministry, youth ministry, and educational ministries of Lititz Christian School and MorningStar Daycare. Tours of our children’s and youth wing of our building will also be available throughout the morning. Lititz Christian School will also offer a more informative open house at 1pm this Sunday which will include a $70 coupon off the enrollment fee for the 2009/2010 school year for all first time students.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Grandma's in Heaven

This week I am in Florida where today I will be preaching the memorial service for my Grandma Williams who passed away last Wednesday. She was my last surviving grandparent. I have already preached my Grandpa William’s funeral in Florida as well as my Grandpa and Grandma Distler’s funerals in Illinois. I also had the privilege of preaching several of my wife’s grandparent’s funerals out in Colorado.

Growing up, my Grandpa and Grandma Williams lived in Endicott, New York, near Binghamton. That is where both my parents and my sister were all born. I’m the only Ohio native in my family being born in Akron after my parents moved there from New York. Grandpa and Grandma did not share the same spiritual values as my immediate family did. Grandpa was what I would label an agnostic. I’m not sure if he believed there was a god or not but it was quite clear that he had no desire for spiritual things whatsoever. Grandma was almost the complete opposite. She dabbled in many forms of spirituality including spiritism and the unity religion and also believed in reincarnation.

One thing was for sure, neither Grandma nor Grandpa had a personal relationship with Jesus. And even into my early thirties, if you would have told me that they both would have made professions of faith in Christ, I never would have believed you. But that is exactly what happened.

Grandpa got very ill and as his health deteriorated, I contacted a former pastor of the church I was pastoring at that time in Indiana who was Grandpa’s age. Pastor Ward Miller lived in Ocala, Florida where my grandparents lived and Pastor Miller made several visits to my grandparents resulting in my Grandpa receiving Christ as his Savior not long before he passed away. When Pastor Miller e-mailed me with the news of my grandpa’s decision, I was stunned. I never thought that it would ever be possible.

When I preached my Grandpa’s funeral I told his story and read the e-mail that Pastor Miller had sent me describing his conversion. I clearly explained the Gospel and gave an opportunity for others to also place their faith in Jesus. To my delight, my Grandma Williams gave her heart to Jesus that day at my Grandpa’s funeral. There was a notable difference in her life. She started attending the Baptist Church that my parents are part of and she was even baptized at the wondeful age of 80. What a story. What a God!

So to think that my Grandpa and Grandma Williams are in heaven today is a remarkable thought. To think that at this very moment, all four of my grandparents are in the presence of Jesus is mind-blowing. To think that one day I will be there with them is even more staggering. No wonder Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. In My Father’s House are many dwelling places. If it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself that where I am there you will be also (John 14:1-3)”.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

One Memorable Vacation (but for all the wrong reasons)

Last week was our family vacation. Boy was it memorable, but for all the wrong reasons. We were going to go to Florida for the week to see my parents. This would have entailed taking Jonathan out of school since his spring break is different then our daughter’s break. Unfortunately, the week prior to our scheduled vacation, Jonathan came down with both strep throat and the flu which had him out of school most of the week. This put him behind in his schoolwork and we just weren’t comfortable taking him out of another week of classes. Add to this the fact that Jonathan has one of the lead parts in the school musical at the end of the month and missed several practices while he was sick. To then go away for a week would result in him missing another full week of rehearsals.

As a result, we made the difficult decision to cancel our week’s vacation in Florida and instead to pick up Joy from college in Lynchburg, VA and just go away for a weekend to Virginia Beach. The good part of this ‘Plan B’ was that this shorter trip would be much cheaper and saving money while paying college tuition is always a positive thing. Now here is where things started downhill and ‘Plan B’ turned into ‘Plan C’ and then ‘Plan D’.

After driving 6 hours to pick up Joy at Liberty, we went another 4 hours, arriving in Virginia Beach about 7:30 that evening, hungry and ready for dinner and our hotel. As I began to merge into the lane for our exit I was being careful of traffic merging into the same lane from the opposite side. While glancing over my right shoulder to be sure the lane was clear, I heard my wife scream. I looked up only to see that the traffic getting off of the exit had come to a dead stop. I slammed on the brakes and held them in for everything I was worth but couldn’t stop in time and ran into the rear of the car in front of me who then bumped into the car in front of him (not the actual picture). After driving for 10 hours I got into an accident at our hotel exit. How depressing to stand at the crash site waiting for the state trooper and to be able to see our hotel just a couple hundred yards away. So this cheaper vacation resulted in a $500 deductible, a traffic citation, and increased insurance rates.

I do praise the Lord for a friend in the church who loaded an extra vehicle on his trailer and brought it down to us and took our disabled vehicle back to Lititz. We enjoyed our couple of days in Virginia Beach as best as we could and then headed home. Our plan was to use the rest of our vacation week to spend with our daughter. But then two days after getting home, right in the middle of our week of vacation, my mom called me from Florida to let me know that my grandma had passed away that morning. This was my last surviving grandparent. I have already preached my other three grandparent’s funerals and this week I will be going to Florida to preach her funeral as well. I will tell you more about my Grandma William’s spiritual journey in my blog posting tomorrow.

So last week’s family vacation went completely different than what was planned. During the week I saw this sign in a store…“Life is all about how well you handle ‘Plan B’.” We had ‘Plan A’ all sorted out for vacation but quickly found ourselves dealing with “Plan B, C and D’. How glad I am that whatever plan it ultimately is, God is still in control.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

5-Year Vision Plan...5 Primary Aspects

While there are many multiple aspects of ministry that are in and of themselves very good, the strategy behind our 5-year vision plan here at Grace Church is to narrow our vision rather than to broaden it. In other words we want to do less, not more, but with greater excellence. We believe that doing less and doing it with more excellence will help us to be able to meet and move far more people than doing many things in a less than excellent way. As a result, we have identified 5 primary aspects that we are setting as the priority of our ministry for the next 5 years. This does not mean that we will not do other things but that we will not do other things at the expense of these 5 priorities. In other words, if we accomplish nothing else over the next 5 years, we will accomplish these areas. It will be these 5 priorities that will be the primary strategy behind our budgeting, staffing, and ministry efforts.

Multiple Weekend Services – The hub of our ministry in meeting and moving people are our weekend services. Currently we have 3 Sunday morning worship services which reach an average of 1500 people each week. Our vision plan for the next 5 years calls for adding 2 Saturday night worship services identical to our Sunday morning services resulting in 5 worship services on campus every weekend.

Satellite Campuses – In order to meet as many people as possible and help move them to where God wants them to be, our vision plan for the next 5 years calls for starting 2 satellite campuses in which their would be live worship music and children’s ministry along with a campus pastor that would be the point person for the campus, but the message would be fed in via satellite or through tape delay from the main campus so that all services are hearing the same message.

Small Groups – In order for the connectivity, fellowship and discipleship that is needed to meet and move as many people as possible, our vision plan calls for our church to continue its efforts to become a church of small groups including attendees of our main campus and our satellite campuses. It is our desire to see a minimum of 30 new small groups started each year over the next 5 years.

Children / Youth / Educational – Believing that one of the most effective ways to meet and move as many people as possible is through children’s and youth ministries, we want to continue to build effective children’s, youth and educational ministries.

Missions – Believing that the great commission involves meeting and moving as many people as possible all over the world, this vision plan calls for us to see at least two church sponsored short term mission’s trips implemented each year with the goal of seeing at least 2 family units (2 individuals or 2 couples) from Grace Church called out internationally into full-time Christian service over the next 5 years with the continued goal of supporting those called into international missions from Grace Church at 50% of their support need.

Monday, March 16, 2009

5-Year Vision Plan...An Overview

What will Grace Church look like by the end of 2013? By the end of the 2013 calendar year, Grace Church will have:

5 weekend services on campus

2 satellite services each weekend at off campus sites

3,000 in average weekend attendance between these 7 services.

1500 adults actively involved in Small Groups Ministry.

Sent out a minimum of 10 church sponsored short term mission trips resulting in at least 2 additional individuals or couples from our church being sent out internationally into full-time Christian service being supported by Grace Church at 50% of their need.

A staff of 40 on the church payroll

Completed a renovation of our current lobby including additional office space, restrooms and parking along with a large coffee café

Completed a renovation of the Young Wing and Chapel into a more state of the art facility for children’s ministry.

What is the driving force behind the elements and implantation of this vision plan?

Behind every aspect of this 5-year vision plan is the purpose of our church which is to meet people where they are and help move them to where God wants them to be. This vision plan is not driven by convenience or comfort. Behind every element is the question, “How can we most effectively meet as many people as possible where they are and help move them to where God wants them to be.”

What are the 5 primary aspects of this 5-year vision plan?

Multiple Services

Satellite Campuses

Children’s, Youth and Educational Ministries

Small Groups


Friday, March 13, 2009

Who Am I? (part three)

Here is the final segment of my “Who Am I” blog postings. If you haven’t read parts one or two, you may want to go back and start there before continuing.

What would be your ultimate dream vacation?

Spending an entire summer traveling in such a way that I am able to catch a ballgame in every Major League stadium in one season!

If you could pick the next President of the United States, who would you pick?

Newt Gingrich…with Mike Huckabee as Vice President (I think we could use another conservative Contract with America like he orchestrated as Speaker of the House)?

What character from the hundred acre woods best describes you…Pooh Bear? Eeyore? Rabbit? Or Tigger?

I would like to say Pooh Bear since he is so cuddly, but I would have to go with Rabbit since he was the “got to be in charge and have it done my way" kind of animal!

On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being it’s the best sport ever and 1 being it’s the worst sport ever) how would you rate NASCAR?

-1,000,000,000,000,000,000, (like golf, I don’t even consider NASCAR a sport!)!

What is the last movie you saw in a movie theater?

Mall Cop (but I’m glad I used a gift card we had been given…I would have hated to of wasted my hard earned money on such a silly movie!)!

What book of the Bible would you most like to hear a verse by verse sermon series through on Sunday mornings?

Song of Solomon (no further comment needed!)!

If you could go back in time and relive any event from the Old Testament, what event would you like to see?

Moses parting the Red Sea and David killing Goliath would both be cool to witness but I would have to go with Joshua and the walls of Jericho (“Everybody now…Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho…Joshua fought the battle of Jericho and the walls came tumbling down”!)!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Who Am I (part 2)

To get the background to this series of questions and answers, be sure to go back and read yesterday’s blog posting.

Finish this…my idea of the ideal day off work is…

Grocery shopping with my wife (is there any other way to spend a day off?)!

Some people are scared of heights and some are scared of water. What are you most scared of?

Water…I hate the stuff…that’s why I take showers and not baths because I can’t stand to even sit in water…this is a result of my almost drowning as a kid (my wife would love to go on a cruise but she will probably have to wait and go with her next husband. I’m the type of person that when I fly and we are speeding down the runway, I’m praying, “God, if we go down please let it be on land…I don’t want to die in the water!)!

If you could spend one hour having a conversation with any living famous person that you have never met personally, who would you want to spend it with?

President George Bush (I didn’t always agree with him but I always admired him!)!

If you could change one thing about Grace Church, what would you change?

Our location. I am amazed at how God has used and blessed us in the little town of Lititz. I can only imagine how God could use us in a big city (I’m thinking Cleveland, Ohio or Columbus, Ohio…but the deal would have to involve season tickets to all Ohio State Football Games or Cleveland Indians baseball games!)!

What is your all-time favorite television show?

M*A*S*H (I actually own the DVD sets of most seasons and watch 4 episodes every night from 5-7pm on the Hallmark station!)!

If you could pick any song for us to sing this Sunday morning in church, what song would you select?

That’s too easy….Mighty To Save is my favorite song (but I would also be satisfied with any song written by Matt McElravy!)!

If you could go back and relive any event in American History, what would it be?

The battle of Gettysburg (I never get tired of visiting that sacred piece of ground!)!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Who Am I? (part one)

Recently I found this list of questions on my computer. I’m not real sure where they came from or what they were doing on my hard drive, but I decided to put them to good use and spend the rest of my blog posts for this week answering these questions honestly so that you can learn more about who I am.

Finish this…the best part of working here at Grace Church is…

Meeting people where they are and helping to move them to where God wants them to be (hey, these questions are easy!)!

If you could only eat one final meal, what entrée would you choose? What vegetable? What dessert?

BBQ ribs with macaroni and cheese along with asparagus, followed by Strawberry Rhubarb pie (man, I’m hungry all of a sudden!)!

If you could choose one place outside of the state of PA to live for the rest of your life, where would it be?

Right on the coast up in Maine…I love Maine, especially the Boothbay Harbor area (that’s where I’m moving to when I retire at the age of 45!)!

Outside of the Bible, what book have you just finished or are currently reading?

Who Stole My Church by Gordon MacDonald (I would love to see every person who attends Grace Church to read this insightful book!)!

What animal best describes you…a lion, a kitty cat; a penguin, or an eagle?

A Penguin (anyone who has seen me run knows why…but it is hereditary…you would know what I mean if you have seen my dad or my son at full sprint!)!

If someone were treating you to dinner at any restaurant of your choice, where would you go?

Around here…Hayden Zug…I love their steaks (now if we were out in Southern California, I would settle for an “In N Out” Burger!)!

On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being it is the best music in the world and 1 being it is the worst music in the world) how would you rate country music?


Tuesday, March 10, 2009


So as I think about those people who have had a part in my life and who do not live around the Lititz area, I wonder if any of them might happen to occasionally read my blog. So today I am giving a “Shout Out” to a few people. If any of you happen to read this post, be sure to comment so I know you still remember who I am!

Shout out to ARIZONA:
Jerry or Loreen Young

Shout out to CALIFORNIA:
Paul or Daisy Powell

Shout to COLORADO:
Anyone who is part of the Day family

Shout out to FLORIDA:
Rebekah Rosario or anyone who knows Chuck or Ellen Distler

Shout out to INDIANA:
Anyone from OGBC or CE National (past or present)

Shout to KANSAS:
Bryan Nelson

Shout out to MAINE:
Stuart Bennett

Shout out to OHIO:
Anyone from Community Church or CVCA (past or present)

Shout out to SOUTH CAROLINA:
Bruce Illsley

Shout out to TENNESSEE:
Dawn Distler

Shout out to VIRGINIA:
Joy Distler or anyone from Liberty University (past or present)
Shout out to WASHINGTON:
Tom or Janice Kemp
Shout out to IRELAND:
Scott or Rebekkah Becker
Shout out to THAILAND:
Christian or Bonnie Beuggert

Monday, March 09, 2009

Recent Random Ramblings

Typically my blog postings center around one theme or issue in my life or ministry. But today I thought I would take the time to show you just how warped I really am (in case you weren’t convinced of that fact yet) by sharing a few paragraphs of random ramblings I have had recently. The following are in no way connected to each other except by the fact that they all gave birth in my mind.

Official Obama Stimulus Package Location:

So starting in April all of us who make less than $250,000 a year (Whew! I just squeaked by on that one) will be seeing a few more dollars in our paychecks courtesy of President Obama’s Stimulus Package. The hope of the Obama Administration is that Americans like us will spend that money to help get the economy going once again. So I want to officially announce to you that Grace Church of Lititz is an Official Obama Stimulus Package Tithing Location. So as you see some more dollars in your paychecks week to week, help stimulate our ministry economy by spending your stimulus package wisely by increasing your tithe and giving to Grace Church!

Giving Up Certain Foods Temporarily

Lent is in high gear. I have to be honest, I have never observed lent. This is the time of year that, for a 40 day period leading up to Easter, people give up something important to them. Well, it is not due to lent, but for a temporary time-period I did give up all foods that I really, really like and enjoy. Why did I do this? Because my son got the flu and was throwing up. Then my wife got the flu right after that and she spent a night hugging the porcelain throne as well. It didn’t take me long to realize that in all likelihood I would be sick in a few days as well. Now when I get the stomach flu, folks, it’s ugly. I am what you would call a “violent vomitter.” When I get done, you need to bring in the hazardous materials squad to wipe down the ceiling and walls. So as a result, whatever I eat before I throw up…it is usually years before I ever want to eat that same thing again. So knowing that the flu was most likely right around the corner for me, I gave up all food that I really, really like to ensure that these foods would not be what got recycled if indeed the flu bug stung me! This way I will still want to eat those favorite foods of mine after the flu has completely left my system. Smart, aren’t I?

The Best Time of The Year

For a sports enthusiast like me, this is just the best time of year. March Madness is in high gear and with it we are also on the heels of the playoffs for the National Hockey League. But best of all, Spring Training has begun. I pay the $14.95 a year for Gameday Audio so that I can listen to all the games over the internet while I am in the office. And this year we get the icing on the cake this time of year as the World Baseball Classic is also on tap. Man, it just doesn’t get any better than this!

Friday, March 06, 2009

VISION 101 (part 5)

Some will say that our church is getting too big. Some will say that we are too big on evangelism. So why should we continue to pour our efforts into such a cause? Remember the story of David? As a teenager his father sent him to the battlefield to check on his older brothers who were part of the Israeli army battling the Philistines. When he got there, he couldn’t believe his eyes or his ears. Twice a day the Philistines sent out a giant of a warrior by the name of Goliath who would shout down the army of Israel, and even worse, mock their God. Each day Goliath would challenge Israel to send out their best warrior to fight him one on one to the death…winner take all.

Goliath had all of Israel’s army, including King Saul, shaking in their boots. No one would agree to fight the giant. So what does this little teenager named David do? He agrees to represent Israel and God on the battlefield and take on Goliath. When his brothers heard of his boasting they quickly rebuked him and basically told him to “shut up.” In the old King James Version of the Bible, David responds with a penetrating question. He looks at his brothers and asks, “Is there not a cause?” Goliath was holding all of the army of Israel hostage. Was there not a cause for someone to step up? Goliath was mocking the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Was there not a cause for someone to say, “Enough!” Most certainly, there was a cause!

And now I must ask you the same question. We are living in the end times. Is there not a cause? Marriages are failing in record numbers. Is there not a cause? People’s lives are in a tail spin, growing worse and worse by the day. Is there not a cause? Orphans are dying every day of disease and lack of food. Is there not a cause? Men, women, boys and girls are dying all around us every day and going to hell? Is there not a cause? Is there not a cause?

The vision that you are going to hear this month is quite aggressive. It will require more faith than we have ever shown, more compassion than we knew we had within us, more finances than we have ever given, and more prayers than we have ever offered. But my friend, there is a cause. There is certainly a cause! The cause was so great that one day God did something that amazed all of heaven. He sent his own son, Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, to take on human form, live a perfect life, and die the most horribly agonizing death, both physically and spiritually, that one could ever imagine. It was this sacrifice and the subsequent resurrection that followed that brings us to this moment.

Jesus gave it all. Why? Because there is a cause. God demonstrated His own love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Everything we are as a church and everything we hope to become and accomplish is based on the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. This is our message. This is our call to arms. Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and He was buried and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Yes, church, there is a cause!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

VISION 101 (part 4)

We also want to meet people where they are geographically. I am simply amazed at how God is growing our church. In the past 5 years we have seen over a 120% growth as a church and we are still experiencing growth today. We grew 22% this January and February over last January and February. It is amazing to see what God is doing. I honestly cannot go anywhere in our community without someone introducing themselves to me who now attends Grace.

What is even more amazing is the how regional our church is becoming. We have people who drive 30-45 minutes one way every week to attend Grace. Through the internet our sermons and blogs are being read and listened to by literally tens of thousands of people all over the country and all around the world. Through our missions programs and projects we are making a real difference in the lives of people in Ireland, Thailand, France, and Cambodia. And in the Central African Republic, hundreds of orphans are getting a hot meal each day and an education that is also teaching them the truth of who Jesus is because of the outreach of Grace Church (school for orphans in the CAR pictured above).

According to the most recent demographic studies there are approximately 250,000 people that live within a ten mile radius of our church. How can we let up until all of them have heard the Good News that Jesus saves? We must continue to make it our mission and our purpose as a church to penetrate our community. We must take the ministries of Grace Church outside of our building and off of our campus and out into our community, our region and our world.

Jesus Himself gave us this example in John 4 when He went way out of His cultural and geographical circle of comfort to meet the Samaritan woman at the well. One thing we can be sure of is that this sinful, lonely and hurting woman would have never left Samaritan territory to seek out Jesus. No way. Her only hope for finding eternal life was for Jesus to meet her where she was and that is exactly what He did. The Bible says in verse three of John chapter 4 that Jesus “had to go through Samaria.” Folks, listen, Jews didn’t do that. They hated Samaritans and they avoided stepping into Samaritan territory. They would rather walk all the way around Samaria than to defile themselves and enter its borders. I think it would be a pretty safe bet to assume that Jesus’ Jewish disciples moped and dragged their feet the whole way. I bet He took them into Samaria kicking and screaming. What a lesson He was teaching them and us.

Why did Jesus have to go through Samaria? He did so because God the Father had set up for Him a Divine Appointment with a woman who desperately needed to learn that Jesus was the Messiah. He gave us a Divine example, one that we should follow in our own lives. He met this lost women where she was geographically. Folks, listen, our community and our neighborhoods are filled with men, women, boys and girls who are just like that woman. They will never find their way on to our property, no matter how creative we get. Their only hope for eternal life is for us to become more committed to meeting them where they are…spiritually and geographically.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

VISION 101 (part 3)

Grace Church is all about meeting people where they are and moving them to where God wants them to be. By saying that we want to meet people where they are, we are saying that we want to meet them where they are spiritually. Every person is somewhere on their spiritual journey. Some people are far from knowing Christ, while others are very near committing to a personal relationship with Jesus. Some are new believers, while others are growing deeper in their faith.

We don’t want to be a church that says that you have to clean up your act and get all your spiritual i’s dotted and t’s crossed before your can enter our doors. No. We will meet you right where you are at. We will love you just like you are and accept you as a person. However, we will not condone your sin and we will teach you the truth of God’s Word. We won’t shy away from that. Why? Because it is the Word of God that can change your life. Paul told the church at Rome that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ (Romans 10:17). But we will start the process by meeting you where you are at.

One of my mentors in ministry pastored a large and very conservative church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. One day at one of their Elder meetings they were discussing this question, “If Jesus came to Grand Rapids this Sunday, what church would He attend?” They decided that it would probably not be theirs or anyone else’s for that matter. In looking at the pattern of Jesus in Scripture, they concluded that He would probably spend His time with the group of people in the community that no church was having anything to do with…the homosexual community.

Now you have to keep in mind that this was nearly two decades ago, before even Hollywood was publicizing the gay issue. So my mentor met with the leader of the gay movement in Grand Rapids. He said, “Look, we are not going to agree on sexuality. So putting that aside, how can we as a church minister to the gay community of Grand Rapids without condoning their sexual behavior?”

As a result, their church started an amazing outreach to gays in their community that resulted in many coming to faith in Christ. This simply was not being done by churches two decades ago. It started a firestorm inside and outside his church. One prominent Christian leader called him up and said, “What are you doing? Your church is going to get overrun with homosexuals!” My mentor replied, “That’s great! They can sit right next to all the coveters, liars and adulterers that fill my pews each Sunday!”

I admire this mentor because he had the guts to lead his church in meeting people and moving people in spite of the criticism they received. I want to have that kind of guts as a pastor and a leader. I don’t want Grace Church to play it safe. I want us to grab hold of a vision of what God can and will do through us and to give our very lives to it. Meeting people and moving people…what could possibly be better?

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

VISION 101 (part 2)

The Vision plan that you are going to hear about all month long stems from our purpose as a church which is to meet as many people as possible right where they are and help move them to where God wants to be. Meeting and moving…that is what Grace Church is all about. Folks, listen, if “meeting and moving” is not what you see as the main priority and activity of our church, you are not going to like this vision plan nor are you going to be comfortable attending Grace.

Why is it that this is our priority? Because it is what God has called the church to do. If God wanted us simply to worship, He could have taken us to heaven the moment we got saved where we could have worshipped Him non-stop forever. If God wanted our main thrust to be simply deep, intellectual Bible Study, He could have taken us to heaven as soon as we got saved where we would have perfect minds of understanding. But God left us here. Why? Because He gave us a task to do…something we are to be ever so serious about making a priority. He told us in Acts 1:8 that we are to be His witnesses starting in Jerusalem and spreading all the way to the remotest part of the earth. That is why you will hear me say often that evangelism must be the engine that drives Grace Church.

And the coolest part of my job is that I get to hear stories practically every day of how God is using Grace Church to meet and move people in phenomenal ways. Last Sunday we showed the video story that our Media Producer, Tim Reedy, put together about a wonderful young lady named LuAnn. Before coming to Grace Church, LuAnn gave birth to triplets. How about that? But soon after that amazing experience, she literally found her husband dead in their house. Suddenly LuAnn was left a widow and a young single mom of three babies. In her own words, she was at her lowest last October when God connected LuAnn to the ministry of Grace Church. People from Grace reached out to LuAnn and she began to attend and as a result, her life was changed forever.

Isn’t that a wonderful story? And I could tell you dozens and dozens of others. In fact, throughout the month that is what we will be doing. Each week you will see and hear “meeting and moving” stories much like this one. Why? Because “meeting and moving” people is what is at the very heart of this vision plan.

We did not come up with this plan based on what would be easiest or most comfortable. At every turn and at every pause we asked ourselves this one pivotal question, “How can we meet as many people as possible and help move them to where God wants them to be?’ How can we as a church meet the hundreds and thousands of others like LuAnn out in our community who are hurting and who need the hope that only a relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ can bring? This vision plan isn’t for the comfortable Christian who sits in church week after week and never takes any spiritual risks. This vision plan is for those of you who are ready to say, “I have tasted what it is like to be part of meeting someone where they are and helping to move them to where God wants them to be, and I can’t get enough of it!”

Monday, March 02, 2009


March is vision month here at Grace Church and over the course of the 5 Sundays of the month we are going to be sharing the 5-year vision plan of our church. What will Grace Church look like in the year 2013? It has been exciting for Pastor Tim and I to have already had the opportunity to discuss this vision plan with our staff and our elders and to see how enthusiastically they have embraced it. It is our prayer that our church family will also jump on board with great commitment and energy as together we see God do amazing things through Grace Church over the next 5 years.

So let’s start with the most fundamental question of all, “What is vision?” In Habakkuk 2:1-2, God told the prophet Habakkuk to “record the vision and inscribe it on tablets so that the one who reads it may run.” That sure makes vision sound like something extremely significant, doesn’t it? Vision is obviously important. But what exactly is it?

The best definition I have ever heard for vision comes from Bill Hybels, Pastor of the Willow Creek Community Church near Chicago, Illinois. Hybels says that “vision is a picture of the future that produces a passion.” What a great definition of such a vital word. I hope that is what happens to all of us here at Grace this month. I trust that we will develop a greater passion than ever before for what God can and will do in and through us as individuals, as families and as a local body of believers.

Helen Keller, who lived her whole life without eyesight, had something incredible to say about the concept of vision. She was once asked the question, “What would be worse than being born blind?” I love her answer. It is astounding. She replied, “To have sight with no vision.” That is an amazing statement, isn’t it? Unfortunately, that describes a lot of Christians and a lot of churches in our country today. They have sight…they know the truth of God’s Word. They preach it week in and week out. However, though they have sight…though they have truth…they seemingly have no vision.

How much vision should we have as a church? Well, that depends. Maybe we should find the answer to a different question first. That question is, “How big is our God?” Once we nail down how big our God is, we can more accurately answer the question of how much vision we should have as Christ followers. According to Ephesians 3:20, God is so big that He is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think. That is pretty big, isn’t it? After all, He is omnipotent. There is nothing too powerful for our God, amen?

Now based on that fact about God, let’s re-ask the question. How much vision do you think we should have? Is it possible to really have too much vision? I don’t think so. Neither did the late great evangelist, D.L. Moody, who once said, “If God be your partner, make your plans large!” The problem today is not that churches have too much vision. That’s not the problem. The problem is that most Christians and most churches don’t have enough vision. After all, Jesus said that with God, all things are possible.