Building Relationships via Mock Service Take Three

Even though the Newport launch doesn't happen for a few more weeks, several Newport service teams have been extremely busy preparing. In addition to planning meetings and conferences, the main emphasis has been on mock services - where the setup team, AV team, and worship team actually set up at AMC, and worship together as we would on a normal Sunday. 

While there is much that we could say about these times, the most exciting thing for me is the people that I get to serve with and worship with. As a team, we have gotten very comfortable with the location and equipment, but even more important, we have grown as friends as we work side by side. 

I think that is what excites me most about the Newport campus - more than the location or equipment, Grace Fellowship I Newport will offer new ways to build kingdom friendships. One of the most natural ways this will happen (other than small group) is through serving together. 

Not involved in a service area yet? Why not jump in! There are many different areas that you can get plugged in at, with a variety of flexibility in time and commitment. I guarantee that you will meet new people and build deeper friendships in ways that aren't possible otherwise. 

I'm excited for January (soft launch) and February (hard launch)! I can't wait to see everyone at AMC, and look forward to serving the body.

This post is from Andrew Caudill, logistics team leader.  He can be reached at andrewcaudill[at]graceky[dot]org.

Another Take Two Recap: Setup/Teardown

One step at a time in the right direction.

Last Sunday (December 9th), was the second Sunday morning setup.
Andrew Caudill (logistics), Ben Talbert (audio/visual), and Spencer Settles (music), have all been saying that the goal of these Sunday mornings is just to figure out what works and what doesn't.

So we've been spending our time setting up the audio/visual equipment and having the band play, just to get a sense of how things are going to play out and what cord goes where.

It's been really encouraging to see the grace that everyone has been giving to each other, even when things don't go exactly according to plan.  And, we really walked away encouraged this past Sunday that things are sounding and looking great, to God's glory!  We can't wait to open the doors and bring everyone in to experience it all.

Let's keep pursuing and praying for excellence at our Newport campus.

For another recap of the second setup/tear down, check out one from Pastor Peter here.

Picture and post come from music team member Josh Lewis.

Take two!

Our 02-Dec setup/tear-down was a huge success, but you know what they say; practice makes perfect.  That's probably a bit overstated, but practice certainly does make better, and smoother, and faster, and that's what we got to see at our 2nd setup/tear-down this past weekend.

Almost from the moment we arrived, there was a growing sense of camaraderie among the team members.  Although it was only our second crack at it, there was a sense of familiarity with the facility, the staff, and the stuff, that certainly wasn't as prevalent the week before, having only done mock setup/tear-downs at Florence prior to that.  All in all, everything was setup and ready to go in less than half the time it took us the week before.  I like those numbers!  {;-)

As we've read and spoken to different Theater Church gurus, we've all been encouraged to expect the unexpected almost each and every week; some piece of equipment that worked perfectly last Sunday catches the bird flu between then and now; a computer that was lightning fast the last time we use it comes down with SARS of computer viruses.  These things just tend to happen.  This week, we had some sound issues.  I'm sure one week it'll be child check-in, or a jammed cabinet door, or a noxious smell in the room from that was left by a moviegoer the night before.  I know it's only been two weeks, but I've been encouraged with how our team has faced these challenges head-on, worked well with each other, helped each other stay on task until ultimately the problem has been solved.  While we've encountered some bumps in the road, we've gotten to where we've needed to be each week, and it goes better each time.

To some, many of us have "missed worship" these past two weekends.  In one sense, that is true.  We've not been in a worship service in two weeks, but I've enjoyed worshiping in our service with the team that God has assembled.  I don't know the heart and mind of every team member (I hardly trust myself to know my own - Jer. 17:9).  Nonetheless, it's been great to see everyone serving together, working hard, and doing so as unto the Lord with a joyful and grateful disposition.  We look forward to the day that the end of our setup will not be far away from the beginning of a corporate worship service (and that day will be here before we know it).  Until then, we continue to remember the words of Col. 3:23-24 as we serve the Lord and each other in our work:

"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.  You are serving the Lord Christ."
~ Colossians 3:23-24

All this makes for one grateful, excited and encouraged Campus Pastor.

Thanks for checking in and praying...and don't you dare stop!


Pastor Peter

First Theater Run-Through Recap

Grace Newport had the first on-site set-up/sound-check/tear-down yesterday morning in the theater! This dry run gave the Logistics, Worship, and AV teams an opportunity to put into practice all that they have been researching and talking about since the idea of a "theater church" was first introduced. It also gave some of the team leaders a chance to tackle technical issues head-on before the launch. Being together, working hard and trusting God to bring together the details was exciting! We had a sweet time of worship together and a short, encouraging message from Pastor Peter. We are eagerly anticipating gathering together to worship in this new space that the Lord has provided.

Post and pictures from Melissa Talbert.

December 3rd Mammoth Meetup

We miss our Newport folks.  There, we said it.  We haven't had a Launch Prep meeting in a bit, so really last-minute, we thought it might be fun to meet up and hang out at a coffee shop in Newport.  Here it is.

When: Monday, December 3rd from 6pm - 8pm
What: Buy your own drinks and/or food and hang out
Where: Mammoth Coffee & Co 515 Monmouth, Newport

It's open-house style, so come and go as you please anytime between 6pm and 8pm.

Mammoth Coffee & Co is keeping it's doors open just for us.  Spread the word.  Bring your friends.  Bring the kids.  Grab a mammoth.

Want to know more about Mammoth?  Check out their Yelp page, or their Facebook page.  Directions, menus and all that there is to know can be found there.

Logistics Team Update & Prayer Requests

What we're up to:

We have received much of the equipment for the main sanctuary, and have been organizing and preparing it for  use.  Our logistics team actually practiced a mock setup/teardown in the lobby of grace, so we could get some practice with all of the new equipment.  In December, we will actually be moving the equipment to the theater where we will practice full setup/teardowns in anticipation of the launch.

Prayer requests:

  • Be praying as we have a mock setup this coming Sunday, and set up for the first time in the theater. 
  • Pray that God gives us wisdom as we work through the many details and unforeseen technical issues that we may face.
  • That nothing falls through the cracks as we try to prepare and try to think through all the details.
  • That God is glorified above all. 
We would love for you to join the logistics team if you are able to show up a few minutes early to help setup, or stay a few minutes after to tear down - either front or back end of the service, or both.  Reach out to andrewcaudill[at]graceky[dot]org if you'd like to join up with this team.

This post is from Andrew Caudill, Logistics team leader.  

Theater Conference Thanks

Thanks for your prayers for the leadership team trip to Washington, DC for the Theater Conference!  Praise God that:

  • He brought us into unity, giving us direction and wisdom for each of our specific areas.
  • He encouraged us, showing how He had already gone before us and given us answers for things (like a computer presentation program, for example) before we went, then confirmation that they were a wise choice.
  • He built excitement for the community that we will have in Newport.

"It was reassuring to me to see that what I have been planning in my head is pretty much how they were doing things! The staff is not only willing to, but desires to help us in any way they can and have been a great resource for me as I have had questions throughout the week." - Katie Zuerner, Children's Ministry Team Leader

"I enjoyed being able to meet one-on-one with the various members of leadership during the conference. Just being able to see how a theater church is done and to be able to ask specific questions related to AV was so helpful." - Ben Talbert, AV Team Leader

"I learned that we are not only on the right track when it comes to our setup, logistics, and equipment, but we are actually ahead in all that we have. It was really cool to hear [the folks at National Community Church] say again and again say "we hope to upgrade to that in the next two to five years." - Andrew Caudill, Logistics Team Leader

Overall, we walked away encouraged that we're on the right path.  Pray that this multisite endeavor would be for God's glory! 

Children's Ministry Update & Prayer Requests

What we're up to:

We are currently reading through curriculum and also having many phone conversations with people who are, or have been, in a theatre church just to ask questions and get guidance.  We will be working on dividing the children up, creating classes and assigning teachers to their rotation. We'll be ordering all of the supplies soon.  The trip to the Theater Church conference was especially helpful.  We got to ask lots of questions, and see how things played out.  It was encouraging to see that we already have many things in place that many theater churches hope to get to.

Prayer requests:

My prayer is that we will choose a curriculum that will be user-friendly and will bless the Children. And, that God continues to build excitement for the ministry on the team.  We take our role of bringing all of the Children's ministry values of our Florence campus to the Newport campus seriously.  Pray that God gives us wisdom in setting up His Children's ministry in this new setting.  

This post is from Katie Zuerner, Children's ministry team leader. Still haven't joined up with a Newport team? Contact katiezuerner[at] for more info about how to help out with Children's ministry at the Newport campus.

AV TEAM Update & Prayer Requests

What our team is up to:
We just had our first AV team meeting discussing our various roles and responsibilities. We're trying to problem-solve lighting issues and all of the unknowns that might present themselves in a theater setting. We have had two mock set-up/tear-downs recently and were encouraged at the enthusiasm and teamwork.

Next steps:
We are looking forward to taking a weekend trip to Washington DC to see how other theater-meeting-churches are doing this. We are eagerly anticipating the experience we will gain by getting in the theater and seeing how it all comes together.

Prayer requests:
That our core teams will humbly embrace this opportunity to facilitate worship in the Newport campus and also that God will give Ben wisdom in decision making and training other people who are giving of their time and gifts.

From AV Team Leader Ben Talbert.

Theater Conference Trip Prayer Requests

The leaders of the AV, logistics, children's ministry, worship and communications teams, as well as some of the Grace Fellowship Church staff in related areas, are taking a trip to see theater church happen in real life and attend a conference for theater churches.  These team leaders will get to ask questions, attend tracks on their specific team areas and get to collaborate on Newport plans.  Please pray for this trip:

  • For all of the logistics: planes, trains, driving and weather. That things would go smoothly and that folks on the trip would be able to adjust to God's plans if they are different then what the team had in mind.
  • That there would be unity in spirit, purpose, direction, goals and enthusiasm among the core team. May God use this time to knit our hearts closer to His and each others'.
  • For the conference...that the information would be useful in application to the Newport campus.  And, that Peter and the team leaders would be excited and encouraged; not overwhelmed.

Thanks to Sarah_Ackerman via Flickr for the image.

LaunchPrep Meeting Dates

Our next LaunchPrep meeting will be Sunday, December 9th.  So, mark your calendars and be downstairs at the Florence campus at 9:45am.

Between now and then, the core team of folks leading each of the teams (AV, communications, logistics, etc) will be going to Washington, DC for a theater church conference, we have a move-in date at the theater and teams involved in the mock setup/tear-down will be doing a run-through at theater.  Core team leaders will instruct folks on where to be and when.

Just because we aren't meeting for LaunchPrep doesn't mean that there's nothing for you to do.  We desperately need your prayer (more info on that here).  Also, consider giving to the Newport Launch Matching Gift, where an anonymous donor has offered to match your donations toward the Newport Campus up to $75,000!  More info on that here.

Prayer: It's God that Builds, Provides & Protects

During Launch Prep: Outreach Part Two, we prayed that God would build, provide for and protect our campus.

During our meeting, we broke up into groups and prayed that God would build, provide and protect our campus. 

Would you join us in continuing to pray these things for the Newport campus?  We found these Scriptures to be helpful in grounding us in truth as we asked God to move at the Newport campus.

Launch Prep: Outreach Part Two

Our focus verse for this Launch Prep session: Psalm 127:1-2

"We are very busy.  I like to be busy.  I remember a pastor using this acronym: Being Under Satan’s Yoke.  We want to not put our hope and trust in 'busy.'  We can’t forget why we do what we do, for whom we do what we do and whose help we need.  Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain.  Unless he guards or protects it.  There’s opposition we can see, opposition we can’t see."
- Peter, Newport Campus Pastor

Look at all that the LORD is doing (not what man is doing) in the verses of Psalm 127:1-2.

Reminder: this is God’s doing.  He’s the one who saves, adds, grows, keeps.  

Without that understanding, it can feel like it’s all about us….if we don’t say the right thing, if we don’t get it right.

We then checked out Acts 13:48.  What comfort that there are people that God decided to save, to bring Himself glory!  The people preached and God added.  Note that it's God that did the adding.

While it is God that saves, we do well to plan and prepare.

In Launch Prep: Outreach Part One we looked at some of the "hows" of outreach.  This session looked at the "who."  Should we reach out to everyone?  Literally to everyone?  Is that possible?  Yes, everyone is welcome.  Still, we have do have limits to our resources, time and ability, to name a few.  Lord, who would you have us intentionally reach out to?  Yes, everyone is welcome.

Pray with us that we would be good stewards of the resources God has given us for reaching out to others, and that we'd be united and intentional about this outreach.  

God Always Casts the Deciding Vote

Sunday's sermon audio is up a bit early here for the purpose of sharing with friends and family that may be considering staying away from the polls tomorrow.  It's also up so that we can be reminded again that God is sovereign over politics and world leaders, no matter what the results.  So, share as you see fit.
And, past sermon audio and video can be found on the Grace Fellowship Church webpage.

Upcoming Dates to Note

At the LaunchPrep meeting on October 28th, we quickly ran through these dates, and want to pass them on.  They're subject to change, as many things about our Newport launch are, but these are what we're planning and praying for.
  • Saturday, December 1st, 2012 – Move equipment into AMC Theater storage
  • Sunday, December 2nd, 2012 – Mock Setup/Tear Down – setup/tear down team will participate
  • Sunday, December 16th, 2012 – Mock Setup/Tear Down – setup/tear down team will participate
  • Sunday, January 6th, 2013 – Commissioning at Florence, as part of prayer and praise
  • Sunday, January 13th, 2013 – Soft Launch - we'd love to get a few services under our belt before we strongly go after inviting new guests to come...but if you have someone that you've already invited and they're eager to come, by all means, bring them along
  • Sunday, February 3rd, 2013 – Full Launch – invite guests to come!
Image credit: JoeLanman

Questions from the Newport Crew

As part of the Launch Prep meeting, we had a Q&A session on October 28th, 2012.  If you weren't able to attend, here's a recap of some of the questions that came up.  As always, this comes with a caveat that many things are subject to change.  We desire to be agile...and a flock that is easy to lead as God guides and directs.  With that in mind, though, here are some of the questions and answers that were discussed.

Q: Will we just have one service, if so, at what time?
A: We’ll just have one service to start out with.  We’re looking at 10:30am in order to maximize our setup time.  We have a pre-determined time window with AMC theater, and this dictates our start and end times.

Q: Will we be using any of the AMC equipment?
A: Just their screen.  We’re responsible for the rest.

Q: How many theaters will we be renting?
A: Two theaters for children’s ministry, one for worship.  When we spoke to others doing church in a theater, this was the norm.  The biggest unknown about Newport is how to best do children’s ministry…so we need prayer!  Please specifically pray for the logistics of Children’s ministry.  We’re doing some “reconnaissance” locally, then in Washington DC in November at a conference to help inform our plans.

Q: Will Newport have the same policies, systems and safety guidelines for children’s ministry?
A: Yes, we’ll require the same training, background checks, etc.  We may not have exactly the same electronic check in system.  We bring the same concern about our children, their welfare and spiritual growth with us to Newport.

Q: Do we have to pay to park?
A: If you choose to park in the garage, you’ll have to pay.  We don’t have a parking discount.  You can park free on-street.

Q: What will we do when there are events in Newport on Sundays, especially for parking?
A: We haven't gotten to the nitty gritty details of this yet, but  pray for us to find solutions on a case by case basis.

Image Credit: Surminga

All In

As you think through where you might serve at the Newport campus, this passage gives direction and guidance.  For context, Paul is addressing the fact no gifts should be elevated over another.  Strive to excel in building up the church.  So, let’s all step back and seek out how we can build up the church.  Ministry is hard work.  It isn’t always instantly gratifying.  It IS rewarding.  So, as you’re thinking through which team to join up with, consider that you're connecting to something bigger…and that if you strive to excel in that, God will use it to build up His church.

Then...complete your All In form if you haven't already, because we’re using those to assign people to teams, and those teams are starting up.  We’d love to put you into a team from the get-go.

Launch Prep: Outreach Part One

We have a unique blessing of being in a movie theater.  It intrigues people.  Why is it a good thing?  It breaks down the stigma of church being a location, a location that’s set apart.  Maybe people will come out of curiosity, and it’s less intimidating.  It also provides a location that people are familiar with…they know where AMC Newport theater is.  We're going to use the fact that we're in a well-known movie theater to our advantage.

This passage of scripture served as our foundation for thinking about outreach today: John 1:19-46

“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
-Life Together by Bonhoeffer

What does that mean?  It can mean dying to self, or putting off the "old man."  Before one would die, though, he must follow.  Before he can follow, he must first see Jesus, the one to follow.  Before he can follow Jesus, though, he must come take a look.  At this launch prep meeting, we pondered the question, "what are viable means for us to get the word out that we’re there in Newport, and for people to come and see?"

Think about this.  How did you find out about Grace Fellowship Church in the first place?  What motivated you to come?  God moving in your life, yes.  And probably a friend.  The launch prep crew overwhelmingly voiced that they were invited by someone they knew.  How will you reach out to the people that you know to let them know?

Some of the ideas discussed involved a personal invitation, that included reasons why you have personally been drawn to Grace Fellowship specifically: maybe it's the honest and real teaching, the hope given, or maybe it's something else.  Other ideas involved developing relationships in the Newport area and continuing to cultivate the ones you already have...and mentioning that we're starting a campus there.  Some shared that they've already been doing this and it has been positively received.  Others shared that they were making Newport their date night destination so that they can meet people and invite them.  Brainstorm ways that are relational and make sense for you...then take steps of faith.

And, don't forget that God acted to give us a location when we all fasted and prayed.  God moved more in that time than he had in the months/years before.  God brings about the increase.  Let's pray that He will bring the people to the Newport campus that He wants there.

Join us next week at 9:45am downstairs at the Grace Fellowship Florence campus for Launch Prep: Outreach Part Two.

Image Credit: absoblogginlutely

#LaunchPrep has begun!

100 people?!  At our first ever #LaunchPrep Meeting?  Yup!  What a great turnout.  It's so exciting and encouraging to see the excitement and enthusiasm surrounding all that God is doing among us as we continue to move forward with Grace Fellowship | Newport.

Couldn't make it?  Shucks...well, there are plenty more to come to and, once again, there will be new content each and every week, so come to as many as you can!  Here's a brief recap of what we covered on Sunday:

  • About #LaunchPrep Meetings  - similar to Forums with lots of dialog and interaction, but different in that we'll have brand new content each & every week, so it's not a "seen 1, seen 'em all" type thing.  New week, new meeting, new stuff, all for our new campus.
  • Update - reiterated what was posted in the last blogpost re: AMC Movie Theaters, contract negotiations, and my ongoing desire to sign it yesterday. {;-)
  • Launch Timeline - We have dates set!  In a sense, we'll launch twice.  Our "soft launch" is when we'll begin worshiping in Newport.  Our "hard launch" is the date will advertise to the public as our start-date, giving us 4 or so weeks in between soft & hard launches to work out some kinks and get used to the new place.  Of course, visitors would be more than welcome at anytime.
    • Commissioning at Florence Campus: Sun, 06-Jan-2013
    • Soft launch at Newport: Sun, 13-Jan-2013
    • Hard launch at Newport: Sun, 10-Feb-2013
#LaunchPrep meetings will be held just about every Sunday during 3rd service (11:30 AM) at the Florence campus.  Here's an outline of what we'll be talking about between now & our launch:

  • Assimilation (starting this Sun, 30-Sep) - What must be done in order to have a highly effective process of assimilating people from newcomers to active, growing, changing members of our body?
  • Welcome - Before we get into pragmatics of how to effectively welcome people, we need to answer the biblical "why."  Is there a biblical motivation behind our welcome ministry, or is it just something we gotta do as an American church?
  • Kids - "We gotta have something for the kids."  I hate that line.  Why is it important to have a God-honoring, effective ministry to the littlest ones among us, that goes beyond what they get in a clean, safe daycare facility?  (Oh yeah...and how in the world do we do this in a movie theater?!)
  • Outreach - What a loaded word.  Some people think soup kitchen, others think tracts, others think street preaching, and still others think things that are completely different are a hodgepodge of them all.  What does outreach look like for us in Newport?  How would God have us get the word out?
  • Small Groups - You've heard it before.  These are the heartbeat of our church.  Well they may also be a viable entry point for newcomers.  Does this change how the Small Group operates?  Why or why not?  How?
We've certainly got lots to talk about together, and I'm excited to spend the time with you as we learn and grow together.  January will be here before we know it, and so will the next #LaunchPrep class.  This Sun, 30-Sep, 11:30 AM (during 3rd service) in rooms 209/210.  See you there.

Love & thanks,

Pastor Peter

Launch Prep Meetings starting THIS SUNDAY!

Grace Fellowship | Newport is in full-on launch-prep mode!  Here's what's happened since the last update:

  • Grace Fellowship | Newport Small Groups kicked off!  There are 9 groups associated with our new campus.  Please pray for these groups, and for those who lead them (we'll have a special time of prayer for them at our upcoming Small Group Leaders' Meeting Monday night).

  • Different Leaders scoped out AMC...and they liked it!  I've been there a ton, but I'm just one man.  There are people who will be overseeing setup/tear-down, praise & worship, children's ministry, audio-visual technology, and more.  Last week, different staff members from the Florence campus went with some core leaders of the Newport campus to take a look at the space from their perspective, given their purview and areas of expertise.  All systems are go!

  • Contract Negotiations are moving right along!  I know, I know...just sign the thing.  We'd love to, and have no reason to believe we won't, but we're continuing to make sure what we sign fits our needs as best as possible.  The good news is there are no causes for concern, no showstoppers, nothing negative or gravely concerning at all.  It's just a back & forth between us and the theater, making sure we're all on the same page about everything.  But seriously...I can't wait 'til we sign the thing.  {;-)
And...(drum roll, please)...what I'm most excited about are the "Prepare to Launch!" meetings that will start THIS SUNDAY, 23-SEP, during 3rd service at the Florence campus.  These important meetings are an opportunity for those of us who are committed to going to prepare to launch.

Are these Forums?

Not really.  They're similar in that we'll have a ton of dialogue.  The important difference is that I'll be presenting new content each and every week that I think is vital for us all to be familiar with as we prepare to get this thing off the ground.  Forums you can attend once, ask your questions, participate in the dialogue, and not really miss anything if you skip the rest.  I promise you'll leave these meetings each & every week with new information, new things to pray about, new things to consider, and new reasons to be even more excited about all that God has in store for us.

Who can go?

Well...anyone can go.  As I think, pray and prepare for each  meeting, I have those of us who are going to the new campus in mind.  Still, if you're on the fence or just wanting to learn more, we'd love to have you there as well.  Stop by for one or all of the meetings.

What information will you cover?

Good pastors plan, but do so in pencil.  I have in front of me (well, a laptop...but that aside...) a legal pad with the different topics, texts & details sketched out.  God may have us spend more or less time in one area than I've planned, or there may be something completely different that rises to the top as we go along that we decide to cover instead (welding, extreme ironing...who knows?)  Instead of typing them out here, hopefully this will wet your appetite enough to cause you to come on Sunday and hear all about where I hope we'll go together in these meetings.  I promise to give full details when we meet this weekend, including a timeline between now and our "soft launch" (yes, we actually have launch dates on the calendar!)  

It will be so great for those of us who are going to Newport to have this time together each week.  It will be a great preview for the full-length feature God has in store for us in the weeks & months ahead.  I made it this far without a movie theater pun, but could resist no longer.

I'm pumped, and I trust you are, too.  Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for praying...and don't you dare stop!


Pastor Peter

Contract Received!

Hopefully you saw the announcement on Twitter or Facebook.  We finally received paperwork from AMC Newport on the Levee!  Of course, this is very exciting news for us all.  I was sure to confirm receipt and pass on those sentiments to Doug, the GM at the theater.  Now what?  I'm glad you asked.

As for me, I'm heading on a long-awaited vacation with my family for the next week (celebrating Mom's 60th at the beach).  However, thanks to the fine folks on staff with me, things will continue to roll ahead with regards to Grace Fellowship | Newport.  Don't be shy about praying for the following items that will take place while I'm gone: 
  • Contract will continue to be reviewed by different key leaders on our end to ensure the binding agreement we enter into is mutually acceptable and serves our needs.  There were no surprises in the contract at first glance, but this is a big commitment of a lot of our resources (people, efforts, time and monies).  I'm thankful for the many godly, experienced, and well-trained eyes that will be reviewing the details and asking helpful questions before we sign.
  • Small Groups kick off this week!  Even though we're many weeks away from a launch, our people will begin to have a presence in Newport and the surrounding areas this week in their Small Groups.  God has blessed us with 9 Small Groups to start off with, all of which will be associated with our new campus.  These will be great times of fellowship and growth for us, but also may serve as great entry points for newcomers (but more on that later). 
  • More eyes will see the facility.  Todd Richmond and I took a look at it and were very pleased with what we found.  However, there are many key leaders who will look for certain things that pertain to their area of expertise.  God's Word tells us that we're members of the body of Christ and, just as the different parts of our physical body have different purposes and functions, so it is within the Church (Rom. 12; 1 Cor. 12).  I can't tell you how thankful I am for the core team the Lord has formed.  Serving alongside these folks is a joy.  If you're among those joining us at Newport, you'll see what I mean.
  • I'm trying to schedule a visit to a church that meets in a movie theater.  Another member of our staff found a church that has been meeting in a movie theater for quite some time.  It's my desire to worship with them on a Sunday morning, and hopefully get some time with them the next day to meet with whatever key leaders would be willing to meet with me and my key leaders.  Please pray my emails will fall into the right inboxes and that people would be able and willing to help us out.
Hope you're as excited as we watch God put all the pieces together in His perfect timing.  Thanks for praying, and don't you dare stop.

In Christ,

Pastor Peter LaRuffa

Any day now!

I spoke with the GM of the AMC Newport 20 Theaters yesterday (Thursday).  Things are moving along just fine, but the corporate office had asked for a few more pieces of information from us, which I was glad to provide.  One of the questions was concerning how long we'd be willing to commit.  One of the advantages to using a movie theater is our potential for growth.  With seating capacity in some theaters up to 450, there probably won't be an imminent need to move on due to a shortage of space.  This makes us more open to long-term commitments (maybe 6-12 months), which is an all-around win for all involved (less moving for us, more consistent income for them, badda-bing, badda-boom).

I also took the opportunity to inquire about possibly renting two theaters each week.  Our research shows that 76% or more churches using movie theaters for worship services actually use two theaters - one for the worship service itself, and the other for Children's Ministry needs.  Even smaller-sized theaters offer plenty of space to use for multiple purposes, so this may be a better option for Children's Sunday School classes than the conference rooms we saw on Monday.  I'm confident we'd be able to work with either, but wanted to explore that opportunity while I had him on the phone.  Again, he was very kind and more than willing to make the inquiry.

Doug said he thinks he may have numbers as early as today (Fri) since he now has all the information the corporate office needs.  If we think the proposal to be doable, it's my sincere hope to have something signed by early next week (after the Labor Day weekend).  Yup...I'm pumped, too.  {;-)

Oh, one last thing.  If you were hoping to incorporate the word "popcorn" into the name of the new campus, that's probably not going to happen.  Someone in Springville, IN, beat us to it (yes, I'm serious).

Keep praying!

Love & thanks,

Pastor Peter

An Encouraging Word from "Main St."

In my sermon last Sunday, I asked people to express their interest in Grace Fellowship | Newport via our website so we'd be sure to have an accurate count of who thinks they want to come with us, and it what capacity (Marine, Missionary, or "Main Streeter,").  There's a comments section on the WuFoo form that people use to ask questions, drop an encouraging note, and sometimes express some rather detailed this sister did:

Name *********
Email *********
Which One Are You? *Main Streeter - I live in the area, and want to make this campus my new church home.
Comments/QuestionsI am so excited this is happening. My boyfriend and I drive for 45 min or so so we can be at the service every Sunday. We have wanted to engage in small groups and even pre engagement counseling but we work alot and go to school too, and that makes it really hard to get involved. I can't wait for small groups in the area and I already have so many of my friends invited to come with me. I've been looking for a place to serve for so long! Such a blessing, please let me know when things start happening. Prayin for it!

Keep praying!

Love & thanks,

Pastor Peter

Two Great Meetings!


As I mentioned yesterday in my sermon, I had two very important meetings on my agenda for today (one scheduled, and one hopeful).  The first was at the Newport Aquarium's Riverside Room, a venue that continues to be a possible location for us to use for our Sunday AM worship services.  This location only has two separate rooms for our weekly use, and ideally we'd like three (one for worship space, another for Nursery Ministry, and another for Children's Sunday School).  Late last week, we learned we'd be unable to rent space in the Community Center (located in the Levee building itself), which I was hoping to supplement the space at the Aquarium so we'd have enough room for all we'd want to do.  Our meeting to day was to take another look at the Levee and see if we'd be able to work with the space they had available, even though it was one room short of what we were looking for.

I was joined by my wife and three kids, Todd & Cindy Richmond, Brad & Janelle Spence, Lee & Candace Nordine, Ken Long, and Jackie McFadden.  I so appreciated their perspectives and input as we looked around to see how we might use the space if we end up meeting there.  In particular, I was very encouraged by the ladies among us as they shared their creative ideas as to how we could make the space work for the children we'll have with us (current data shows ~30, the vast majority of which are under 12-years-old).

One concern that remains is how disproportionate the rooms are to each other.  As creative and as flexible as we'd like to be, the fact remains we'll run out of space for children long before we run out of space for adults.  While the worship space could hold upwards of 200 adults, the space we'd be using for our young people would not hold the children that would come with their parents.  This remains a challenge to think through, but not necessarily a deal-breaker.

Todd joined me for my next meeting was at the AMC Movie Theater.  I referred to this as a "hopeful" meeting because the only plan I had was to make the acquaintance of the General Manager with whom I had a lengthy telephone conversation on Friday.  I didn't know if it would be anything beyond that given his schedule or availability.  It was everything I'd hoped it would be and more.

Doug was overly kind and accommodating.  He took the time to show us several different theaters we could possibly use, some conference rooms that may be available to our use as Sunday School classrooms, the full-size loading dock and freight elevator we could use for anything we'd need to bring in each week, AND...possible storage space for us to use.  Every banquet hall, conference room and meeting space I'd seen thus far would require us to be 100% portable (which means we'd be bringing in everything, every week).  This is the only "move-in ready" location to date that has offered storage space to us, and a very nice amount of it, too.  He even offered to help us think through signage lest people come to the ticket window looking to purchase admission to our church services (a few corny tithing jokes came to mind, but I refrained).  Todd & I were very encouraged with what we saw, and very grateful to God for how he blessed our somewhat impromptu meeting & tour at the theater.  We're waiting on Doug to work out details with the powers that be, and hopefully we'll be receiving a proposal to review, negotiate, and hopefully sign off on soon.

All in all, it was a very good day for this Campus Pastor and his faithful team. We're looking forward to what God has in store for us in the days ahead.  I'll be sure to keep you posted.  Also, if you haven't already done so, be sure to "like" us on Facebook and Twitter.  I'll be updating those as well. 

Thanks for praying, and don't you dare stop!  {;-)

Love in Christ,

Pastor Peter

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