Inspired by a Grieving Friend

Not a good quality pic, but this was taken the same night these crosses were set up at Plaza Towers Elementary.

Not a good quality pic, but this was taken the same night these crosses were set up at Plaza Towers Elementary.

The first thing I saw on Facebook, last Sunday morning was an authentic and raw post from a new friend who lost his young son recently when disaster struck our city.

My friend’s posts remind me of many Psalms. They acknowledge the Lord and at the same time reflect real inner tension.

How can we reach out to Christ for positivity, hope and purpose while every fiber of our being is walking through the valley of the shadow of death?

Until this morning, I never made the connection, that King David, the Psalmist, also lost a son and his personal struggle is chronicled there. I’m sure that’s why my friend’s words immediately send me to the Psalms.

I think Spurgeon was right when he said, “The Lord get’s his best soldiers out of the Highlands of affliction.”

My past struggles are slight compared to the loss of a child. But this morning, I was reminded of a personal journal entry I made while going through a dark time last December.

Here was my question, my reflection and what I believe was an answer:

Q – How can I stay encouraged when hard times come?

A – Every struggle and human emotion is addressed by the God who created me and knows me intimately. By staying close to Him all the time, it becomes natural to stick in His presence during hard times. His Word and words give just what you need, when you need it.

Consider the following meditation for today!

I would have lost heart
Unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.
I will hope in the Lord
And be of good courage, and He will strengthen my heart;
Yes, I will hope in the Lord. (Psalm 27:13-14 paraphrase)

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New Churches Out of Old

Portable Churches have challenges. Here was our first sign effort. Our signage looks much better these days!

Portable Churches have challenges. Here was our first sign effort. Our signage looks much better these days!

The best part about a new church plant is the fresh DNA imprinted in a way that is only seen with new life.

Periodically, some ask, “What do you recommend if we want to re-launch our small church plant using church planting methods?”

The adrenalin rush related to new growth and wholesale change is such that just the idea of starting something new gives us a burst of endorphins as we consider the possibilities.

Unfortunately, as exciting as the question feels, the answer is less invigorating.

An existing organism (church) desiring to be remade into a newborn baby organism again is more than just a bit unlikely.

In planting, the only way to see new life is for the seed to die, germinate and re-sprout into new life.

More succinctly for the linear thinkers, consider the following:

For a new church to appear and the previous to cease to exist,

  • Close the doors and have a funeral for the existing church.
  • Wait two to four months or longer before starting anew.
  • Get a new name, building, org charts, staff, leadership and legal entity.
  • Have “launch team” meetings and treat attendees as volunteer staff, not members.

Anything short of a death, burial and new birth falls short of having the new cultural DNA required for a church plant to survive. The durable existing church culture will win any competition for influence.

If we aren’t ready for closure of the existing, we should either work to prepare our hearts for this eventuality or start making a plan for the work of revitalization.

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Posted in Church Planting, Elevate Church in OKC, New Church Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Churches, Pastor Steven Earp, Planting a church, Portable Churches, Starting New Churches | Leave a comment

From My Mind to the Paper…Monday Morning

She looks small, but she'll regularly be beating me soon.

She looks small, but she’ll regularly be beating me soon.

• Had loads of fun shooting pool with my youngest girl yesterday. She’s growing up and fun to be around.

• Getting close to being finished with teaching Hebrews for now. I’ve enjoyed it greatly. (ElevateOKC.com)

• I need to get back to watching my messages weekly and practicing. Here’s how you can tell when I haven’t practiced my messages… my stories are too long. :-)

• My desk is a mess. Someone please come organize it!

• I’m super thankful Chrysty is able to take care of herself right now. A week ago, she had a rough couple days. We’d be at the hospital now if she hadn’t improved.

• Running the family construction company without Alyssa here is a ton of work. Counting the days until she returns.

• I realized yesterday we haven’t had any rental vacancies in over six months! Thank the Lord and thanks to the property managers.

• We commissioned a spiritual survey in Moore. Tens of thousands of people were exposed, hundreds of responses. 126 responses today will be separated into the top six questions today. Thanks Jessee Robertson for your time.

• I have three inflatables in my driveway. I don’t miss moving them around. (Ten years ago, we sold Game Time Inflatables to it’s current owner.)

• Church Dream Team picnic today! This is for everyone who serves in any way at Elevate Church. We have the best team ever. Thanks Anthony Alan for doing the heavy lifting on the party.

• I have tons of personal mail that needs to be processed – I should get on that. Some medical bills.

• A letter from cousin Iris – nervous to open it. We had awkward relations a couple years ago when she sent me a mistaken bill for 13 million dollars. You may know her, she’s the daughter of my Uncle Sam.

• Thanks Kimmy Earp for taking care of your mom yesterday morning and through church! It allowed me to focus on being the preacher-man! I love you!

• I’ve really enjoyed spending time with the three youngest Earplings this week. Thanks Brian Cates for the recommend on the board game “Ticket to Ride!”

• Saturday, I spent some time reading through my journal from back in December. The inner rhythms of my heart and life are fascinating to me. When things are a bit rough, I tend to anchor myself deeper to Him. Need to walk more with Him in the good times.

• Alyssa is having a great time in Ecuador. (AlyssaEarp.com) – She uses loads of words to express herself. I wonder where that tendency came from?

• Film project “Where Was God?” is getting close to being done with pre-production. The stories to be followed are being narrowed down. Some filming has started. I’m excited about it and praying it will be a blessing to Moore.

• Disasters are fascinating. For some, it’s an annoyance on the television. For others, it’s an emotional day. For others, it’s weeks of replacing things. For others it’s serving, volunteering and giving tirelessly for weeks. There are some, who lost the most, who’s lives are changed forever. I’ve learned the most from them.

Happy Labor Day everyone! I’m off to take on this week!

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From My Mind to the Paper…Sunday Afternoon

Years ago, I ran across a concept from an author and early internet entrepreneur Mark Joyner.

A “brain dump” is basically tool for those of us engaged in a number of things to lay everything out on paper so we can relax and “put it to rest” for a while. Then you can also pick it back up whenever you want, you can prioritize things etc… So I’ve been using it for many years to give myself the most productive use of time.

But a friend of mine, Gary Lamb suggested doing a “brain dump” on my blog to give people an idea of what goes through my head on a regular basis.

Here we go! These are basically just stream of consciousness thoughts on a Sunday afternoon…

-          A huge marketing piece should hit much of our city this week. We’re surveying the entire city to find out what the top spiritual questions are. (Check it out if you haven’t! www.AskGodQuestions.com)

 

-          Pastor Rhett Burnett did a great job speaking today, so honored to serve with him.

 

-          So thankful for my kids, they are the best ever…even when they don’t get along.

 

-          It’s too hot. I’ve gained too much weight in the last 12 months. That makes the heat worse.

 

-          Disaster recovery efforts are really changing. Last week for volunteers at Hillsdale College in Moore. Next to last week for Hope Raisers.

 

-          Need to make sure we get a smooth transition on the construction business since Alyssa (oldest daughter) will be leaving on 8/20 to study in Ecuador.

 

-          Need to set up better systems for our big events (baptisms and special celebrations) no reason to reinvent the wheel every time we pull off an event.

 

-          The last time I cleaned off my desk, I put a huge pile of things in that box. Maybe I should see if there’s anything important in there?

 

-          Tonight and tomorrow I’ll be hanging with the family and visiting Six Flags over TX. The EF5 on 5/20 cut out our vacation, so we’ve been doing day trips this summer. Fired up about that!

 

-          Lord, please give wisdom to the producers and me for the film project. Show us the right stories of hope, faith and overcoming to highlight to share more about You.

 

-          Administratively, I’m slowly improving but I could still use someone to help me with just personal stuff. Should I feel guilty about that?

 

-          This summer has been an incredible time for ministry. Loads of people helped by Elevators and a number of people came to know Christ at Elevate because of the disaster. – I’m thankful for all the good that’s been done here in the name of Christ.

 

-          I’m also thankful the summer is almost over and many things are going back to “normal” even if it is a “new normal”.

 

Have a great week!

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I’m Glad to Be Posting Again!

Hello Everyone!

It’s been over 18 months since I’ve posted on my blog at all. Previous to that, I was actively mostly during the pre-launch stage of planting Elevate Church.

Here are some brief updates on some of the most notable things for us over the past 18 months:

  • Our second daughter graduated from Moore High and moved to Norman, OK. (Boomer Sooner!)

 

  • My oldest daughter is now my partner in a construction company I’ve operated solo for years.

 

  • Elevate Church continues to grow. We’ve averaged 300 this summer. New leaders, excitement and life change has been the normal week at Elevate. I’m so thankful for God’s favor.

 

  • Chrysty has had a couple of significant physical setbacks including a lengthy hospital stay last December and January.

 

  • All three of our younger kids are in public school now. (We homeschooled until 7th grade.)

 

  • The 5/20/2013 Moore tornado changed our community’s landscape and our ministry emphasis as community needs increased drastically.

 

I write and journal most days, but I’ll try to pick and choose the types of things I’ll post here. I’ll post about the things that occupy most of my time: leadership development (church, business and family), personal growth, theology and church planting.

Thanks for reading!

“Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.” Philippians 1:3

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A Video for Pastor Steven

I saw this video on the Elevate Church Website.  It was made to thank Pastor Steven for planting Elevate Church OKC.  Although he probably wouldn’t post it on his personal blog, I thought it was something that everyone who supports him should see! (Cheryl Pierce)

 

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Hearing the Gentle Whisper

I’m thankful and humbled. It appears the Lord literally paved each step of the way as we focused day and night since January 6, 2011 on the planting of a life-giving church in Oklahoma City. Excitement overflowed as the right leaders and financial gifts showed up at the right times. Emotional challenges have been evident too as we sacrificed financially and had friends leave the journey we committed to together. This has been the most difficult and rewarding thing we’ve done in our lives.

Over the past few years, I’ve spent significant time trying to learn how to hear the voice of God.

In I Kings 19, Elijah found himself at a spiritual low point. He needed to hear from God…just to hear his voice, to hear him say something… anything. Here’s what he experienced:

11 “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. – I Kings 19:11-13

How can we hear the “gentle whisper”? It is possible to allow God’s soft voice to cut through the noise.

Being authentic before God has helped me hear from God. When I plan, strategize and run confidently down the road God gives me, sometimes I don’t hear from Him. When I’m broken and honest before Him, it seems I can hear His voice clearly.

This morning, I started to jump right into planning my message for this Sunday, week six of Elevate Church. I’ve wrestled with my passage of scripture and also the application from it. Before jumping in, I was reminded that I needed to spend some honest face time with Jesus. Here’s what I wrote in my journal – just three sentences, “I feel covered up and inadequate with the administrative details of doing church. I feel thankful and positive about the way everything is going. Thank You for letting me serve You.”

I turned to my scripture for the day, 2 Corinthians 2:14 “But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume.”

As I read that verse, I’m reminded that it’s not about me. I’m involved in the work He’s doing here. I’m just one of His laborers. For today, my burden is lifted. I commit it all to Him.

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Elevate Church Plant Prayer Requests

3 Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. 4 Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, 5for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. Phil 1:3-5 

Dear prayer supporters,

Thanks for praying for us over the past many months! This past Sunday, 9/18/2011, we officially launched Elevate Church.

The first public service went very well. The official count was 288. Most of those that attended were either part of our launch team or else they were people that could potentially attend weekly. 41 different prospective families filled out connection cards. 18 first time guests inquired how they could help serve and eight families expressed the desire to commit to Elevate Church. Two people made a profession of faith in Christ for the first time and three people renewed commitments to Christ.

Elevate Kids went very well. The kids seemed to have a great time.

For more info and updates, you can check out our website http://www.ElevateChurchOKC.com You can see my message here: http://vimeo.com/29413476

We’ve also started a new weekly email to the people that have expressed interest in Elevate Church. If you’re interested, I can add you to my email list. Just reply to this and let me know. We’ll be sending out once per week updates on Fridays giving previews of the Sunday message, the kids activities and whatever other things are taking place on Sunday.

Please pray for the following things:

·         For me as I prepare and present my message for the second week. Now, Sunday happens weekly. Also, the stakes are a bit higher since my messages will all be online! :-)

·         That we can follow up well so that those that God is calling to be part of our church connect well.

·         That those who have made decisions for Christ are discipled.

Thank you for your prayers. They are needed and appreciated.

Consumed by the call,
Steven Earp, Pastor and Church Planter – Elevate Church
www.stevenearp.com
www.elevatechurchokc.com
www.facebook.com/raisingupleaders
Twitter @ElevateChurchOK
Youtube channel: StevenREarp

 

PS – There’s no way to overstate how important your prayers are for me. I greatly appreciate your commitment to Elevate Church and my personal ministry. I appreciate you.

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Finally – Elevate Church in OKC First Service Tomorrow

Best way to pray for me today and tomorrow!

3 Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. 4 Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, 5for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. Phil 1:3-5

Dear prayer supporters,

Thanks for praying for us as we launch Elevate Church. Tomorrow the church officially launches and we become no longer a launch team with a task but a church with a mission.

Please pray today and tomorrow for the following things:

·         My mind can be focused on my message and spending time with the Lord today. I’ve had many, many distractions come up including searching last minute for trailer transportation and an IRS letter erroneously requesting 13 million dollars in back tax payments. Of course it’s not accurate but it’s distracting still.

·         That the people that come tomorrow will hear what they need to hear. Pray for Spirit filled singing, teaching and listening.

·         That the weather is good.

·         That every team leader does well and is “elevated” and encouraged in the position the Lord has placed them in.

How else can you help?

* If you’re available to attend, we’d love to have you. If you’re willing to serve in some way, let us know and we’ll definitely take you up on that.

Thank you for your prayers. They are needed and appreciated.

Consumed by the call,
Steven Earp, Pastor and Church Planter – Elevate Church

http://www.stevenearp.com

http://www.elevatechurchokc.com

http://www.facebook.com/raisingupleaders

http://www.twitter.com/elevatechurchok

http://www.youtube.com/user/StevenREarp

PS – It’s estimated that 80% of new church plants fail within the first five years. (By these studies, “success” is defined by a church that still exists in any form after five years.) We launch tomorrow. Our strategy is to have a huge launch. We’re confident in our efforts and God’s leading for our strategy. However, with an 80% failure rate, can you see why we need your prayers? :-)

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Elevate Church Prayer Partners!

Elevate Church Prayer Partners!

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. Phil 1:3-5

Dear prayer supporters,

Thanks for praying for us as we launch Elevate Church. Things are really moving along now.

Here are some brief updates:

· Our website, still a work in progress, is up. If you’d like, check it out and give us some feedback for typos or anything else. www.elevatechurchokc.com There are samples of our music and my teaching there.

· Several guests from the Preview Service committed to being part of Elevate Church.

· Today, we enjoyed a worship time with our launch team. Between 75 and 85 attended, excitement is high.

· Billboards are now up, tens of thousands of mailers have hit homes in the area and we’re starting to get some feedback from people.

Please Pray for the following requests:

· Our strategy is to “launch large”. Because of this, we’ve intentionally put all our eggs into one basket with our time and finances. Our goal is to launch with a huge crowd. Rather than spending money on salaries, building leases, land or other expenses, we’ve invested our time and money into two major areas: a quality Sunday morning experience for kids and adults and marketing to get the word out.

Pray that our launch this Sunday is huge. We’ve worked non-stop for nine months for this goal. Pray for fruitful marketing and inviting efforts, good weather and prepared hearts and minds in attendance.

· Pray for our leaders this week as we prepare to launch weekly services.

· Pray for Elevate participants that they’ll invite friends and family.

How else can you help?

Most of you have been praying for us for months. In this time, I’ve never asked for anything but prayer. That is the most important source for us. Right now, I ask for some favors if the Lord leads you.
Here are some ways you could help us over the next seven days…

· Attend our launch service, this Sunday, 9/18/2011 at 11am at Hillsdale and help us fill the seats.

· Bring some other friends, family or supporters with you.

· Invite your Facebook friends to come to the event by clicking “invite friends” on our event page. http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=271000519592017

· Post the above link on your Facebook wall. Better yet, send a personal message recommending OKC friends or family that you have to come check us out.

· Volunteer some this week writing hand written notes to our prospect list.

· Hand out flyers door to door for us or post them around our area.

Let me know if you’re interested in any of the above! Our focus is getting people to come to the launch service. We’re praying for a huge harvest that can be the beginning of Elevate Church.

Consumed by the call,
Steven Earp, Pastor and Church Planter – Elevate Church
www.stevenearp.com
www.elevatechurchokc.com
www.facebook.com/raisingupleaders
Twitter @ElevateChurchOK
Youtube channel: StevenREarp
PS – It’s estimated that 80% of new church plants fail within the first five years. (By these studies, “success” is defined by a church that still exists in any form after five years.) We launch this week. Our strategy is to have a huge launch. We’re confident in our efforts and God’s leading for our strategy. However, with an 80% failure rate, can you see why we need your prayers? :-)

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