The First and Most Important Thing We Talk About at Every Staff Meeting

No, it’s not Bible or prayer. Although those are two very spiritual answers, the primary goal of Mt Vernon’s staff meeting* is not to have a Bible study, but to plan and maintain the health and growth of the church. As a guy that’s worked at a local church for thirteen years now, I’ve been to a myriad of staff meetings. There are basics you need to cover: the upcoming calendar, events, allocation of resources, any conflicts between staff members or programs, and of course, depending on the week, you deal with membership complaints.


But the first thing we talk about every week at Mt Vernon is incredibly intentional. It’s long. Sometimes it’s over the top. Yesterday it took up half of our time. The first and most important thing we talk about at every staff meeting* is people. Plain and simple. We talk about first-time guests. We figure out who they came with, who they’re related to, who else knows them. We share stories and victories (big and small) that we’ve seen in our church over the past week. We talk about needs and pray for them.

This past Sunday there were over a dozen new families that we identified as first-time guests. It took us an hour to finish our “people” portion of our meeting. But the reason we always start with people is because at the end of the day the church is not made up of programs, resources or buildings. The church is made up of people. People are always primary in importance.



*I use the term “staff meeting” because it’s common and familiar to most reading this post. For years that’s what we called it. About three months ago we went uber-hip and changed the name from “staff meeting” to “team collective” (stealing the idea from a conference we went to). Sounds much cooler, doesn’t it?

Growing a Church Isn’t as Mysterious as You Think

As a professional church leader, growing a church is one the things I (am supposed to) do for a living. The whole idea of why one church grows while another doesn’t can seem mysterious and mystical. I would argue that the answer is a lot simpler than we’d imagine. Watch this short video clip to get my take:

Need to Smile? Watch This (Repost 2014 Favorites)

Maybe it’s Tuesday and your week has already started to go sideways on you. Maybe you just need to smile. Recently the high school students at Mt Vernon Church hosted a prom for the special needs community. Watch this recap video and be reminded that there still is good in the world.

originally posted April 15, 2014

Hooray! We Ruined Church! (Repost 2014 Favorites)

2.19.14We ruined church for someone, and we’re excited about it. A few days ago I received a message from an Air Force family that was at Mt Vernon while they were stationed here, but a year ago moved to another part of the United States. Here’s their message:

Just thought we would let you know that because Mt Vernon set the standard of how a church family should be we think every church here stinks! We still have smiles on our faces when we think of the wonderful welcome team, the non showy praise team, your bible based challenging sermons and the love we felt from the church family. That’s all :)

All three things they mentioned are things we work incredibly hard at. We have dozens and dozens of dedicated volunteers who come to church early on Sunday mornings to stand at every door and fill the parking lot. Some say it’s overkill, but we say it’s making a difference.

We have a praise team that works incredibly hard to master their craft while not making a big deal out of themselves. I work tirelessly to make sure that my messages are scripturally sound, culturally relevant and personally challenging. We have a church family that genuinely likes each other and reaches out with open arms to newcomers.

What’s the result of all this? We ruined church for a family. And we couldn’t be happier about it!!

originally posted February 19, 2014

When You Talk to the Man Upstairs, Mention My Name

12.8.14“Kevin” comes once or twice a month to church. Always nice and affable, a little on the stoic side. Doesn’t say much. Kevin first started coming with a family member months ago (this family member told me that it was a BIG deal that Kevin was back in church). Years of wild living. Years of mistakes. Years of running. But now he’s been coming to Mt Vernon.

Every once in awhile Kevin will come up to me after the service and say a few kind words. Something I preached on spoke to him. He did so again yesterday and spoke this phrase again to me, “When you talk to the man upstairs, mention my name.” He’s said it maybe two or three times over the months.

My first reaction is that it sounds almost Catholic in nature, him requesting that I be a priest or intercessor for him. But I know that he doesn’t have any Catholicism in his background. I think he asks me to mention him to God because Kevin doesn’t feel worthy enough to pray himself. He spent years living hard and has accumulated regrets that are weighing him down. In his mind he’s convinced he’s blown it with God. Kevin doesn’t think he deserves another chance. He’s thinks God thinks the same way.

My heart breaks for Kevin and the regrets that weigh him down, and yet my heart rejoices that he’s in a place where he can hear about and hopefully experience the grace, mercy, and forgiveness of a loving God. God loves Kevin. God’s not done with Kevin yet. He hasn’t given up on Kevin, and neither should we.

If you’re reading this and don’t mind praying, pray for Kevin (that’s not his real name but God will know whom you’re referencing). Pray that Kevin would experience grace and mercy. Pray that Kevin could lay his burdens down at the foot of the cross. Pray that Mt Vernon can be the hands and feet of Jesus tangibly in Kevin’s life. Let’s all mention his name to the man upstairs.

Creating Contagious Communities of Hope

Hope is the most valuable commodity in the world today. If you have hope, you can endure the greatest trial, walk through the deepest valley, hold on in the depths of despair. If you take away hope you’re finished, doomed to wander aimlessly through the arid wasteland that life can sometimes be. Hope is the most valuable commodity in the world today.


The driving vision of Mt Vernon is creating contagious communities of hope. Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. His work on the cross, and more importantly his resurrection from the dead, gives us hope. Through Jesus we have hope for a home. We can belong. We are not orphaned in this universe. Our Heavenly Father calls us his own and adopts us into his family through the sacrifice of his son Jesus. We belong.

Through Jesus we have hope to overcome. We can change. We don’t have to remain mired in our current circumstances. We have the power of Almighty God living inside of us, breathing new life and new power into us. We are transformed. We can overcome. We can change. Through Jesus we have hope for a purpose. We matter. We were created on purpose for a purpose. Our lives are infused with meaning simply because we exist. In the eyes of our Creator, we are beautiful, purpose-filled, majestic souls worth the sacrifice of his only Son. We matter.

And through Jesus we have hope for eternity. This world is not the end. This life is not all that there is. By conquering death and the grave, Jesus ransomed us from death and secured for us a future glory that will make this world pale in comparison. In Jesus our future is bright. In Jesus our eternity is secured. Because of Jesus we have hope, therefore we do not lose heart.

If you strip everything else away, it’s the hope we have in Jesus that drives everything we do. And that’s why our unifying vision is creating contagious communities of hope.