#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
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