From Pastor Peter 3/1/13

Dear Grace Family,
This week, we’ll continue in our series entitled What’s the Bible All About? as we look at what Dr. Luke has to say in the Acts of the Apostles.

Think about it…since the New Year, we've launched our new campus in Newport that God has been moving in since day 1. Recently, we had the privilege of having some of our very own missionaries from Southeast Asia and Albania visit with us, as well as an Albanian pastor and his wife who came to be equipped at the Biblical Counseling Training Conference in Lafayette last week. Why do all of this? Religion? Piety? Not at all. It’s because the Gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation for all who will believe (Rom. 1:16). As we look at the book of Acts, we’ll see how God equipped Peter, Paul and others to proclaim the good news to others, and pray God will use our time to help us draw application for ourselves from the truth contained within God’s Word.

Want to prepare yourself in the Word? Read the book of Acts!  Whether you read the whole book or just in part, you'll see how the unstoppable Word of God spread far & wide, and continues to do so today even to people like us.

Finally, would you pray for me?  I'll be coming to you this week on the big screen while I'l traveling to a meeting with other Campus Pastors within our denomination.  Please pray for our times of worship & prayer together.  Pray this would be an opportunity to network with other like-minded church leaders who desire to reach new communities with the Gospel just like we do.  Pray God would have  me hear & learn from others who have done this longer than we have.  It would be great to learn from what God has and hasn't used in other churches so we can more effectively minister to those God brings us at GFC Newport.

I don't know what I don't know...but God does!  This brings me great joy, peace and hope for our new campus.  Thanks for being a part of it with me.  You are loved.

In Christ,

Pastor Peter

Sunday in the Life: Melissa

Hi there! I’m Melissa and I wanted to share with you a little glimpse of my Sunday morning at Grace Fellowship Newport. You know...kind of clear the air on what it’s like to bring your family to church in a movie theater. The good (nearly all of it), the bad (I’m going to be honest here .. some of the movie posters? A little iffy), and the ugly (watching my four year old eat a piece of popcorn from deep in the crevice of his seat on our first week at the theater).

Sunday morning. I search for matching socks, turn tights right-side-out, toast bread, remind everyone that they need to brush their teeth, wonder if that is mud on my eight-year-old’s sneaker or .. something more sinister, insist on jackets, start the van, stop the child who is trying to sneak the cat into my bag to bring with us, and stare forlornly at the full-but-cold coffee cup that I started the morning with and forgot about in favor of more pressing matters (brushing my teeth…you’re welcome). By nine-thirty, I am tying the bow on the back of a dress while herding my little ones outside.
We’re going to Newport. My two-year-old, with complete sincerity, calls it, “Newfart church” and the older kids clutch their sides in laughter. 

Our place of worship is a movie theater. I saw Batman here once. I have to physically restrain my kids from hurling themselves over the concession counter as we arrive, lured by the scent of popcorn and the sight of Red Vines. I see familiar faces, chatting together. Our Welcome Center and child-check-in desk are manned by pleasant faces, just outside of the main theater. I check the kids in first, which requires wrangling two of them out of the photo booth.

From this point on, it is easy to forget the whole theater thing. I drop three kids in their classes and hang on to the fourth (oh the tears when he thinks he will be leaving my side!). We worship in song and then either watch a sermon on the screen or sometimes live (this past week was Pastor Brad live). After the morning spent rushing, hurrying, driving, and promising my children that yes, some fine day we will  go to a theater to watch an actual movie, I am worshipping Jesus in this room. I’m holding my son, standing next to my husband, surrounded by brothers and sisters. It is a precious time of coming together. We are a couple of weeks into a series called “What’s the Bible All About?” I follow along, finding myself in these passages so ancient, yet so now. The Word, the Bible, it comes to life and is full of power and purpose. It doesn’t matter where I am – a theater or a cathedral. This is meant for us. I am full of gratitude for this space to gather in, for the people all around me who have moved into this adventurous place along with me – this church.

By the time the service ends and we’ve packed away all traces of “church”, it is lunch time and there are four little people bouncing around me, chatting about Sunday school and asking if friends can come to our house for the day (they can’t…sorry…you guys should’ve let me have that cup of coffee this morning).

Just a couple of blocks away is Strong’s Brick Oven Pizza. We bundle up and walk. Strong’s is…intimate. There is one table large enough to accommodate my family. While we wait, the kids watch the pizzas going in and coming out of the brick oven. The “brick oven” thing is not a lie. It is an actual brick oven right on the other side of the cashier’s counter. It is amazing pizza. The woman manning the oven told us that they make their sauce from scratch every morning. The Cosentino pizza brings tears to my eyes it’s so incredible. You’ve got to try it. And if you’ve still got room left after Strong’s, there happens to be a Graeter’s the next block up. I know, I know. It’s too much to comprehend. All of this goodness on one street.

We walk back to the garage, validate our parking (three bucks for the day, but smarter folks park along the street, which I’ve heard is no big deal), and head home. We’ll do this all again next Sunday. Because we love it. Because it’s our church home. Because we go to worship together. Because as we gather there, so does Jesus. 

From Pastor Peter 2/22/13

Dear Grace Family,

TGIF!  Hope you've had a great week and are looking forward to gathering once again to worship together at GFC Newport.

We pulled a little switcheroo this week, as I'm preaching at Florence and Pastor Brad is preaching at Newport!  Please pray for us both as we prepare our hearts & minds to bring the Word this weekend at both GFC campuses.  

What’s the Bible All About?’ High Point!
This Sunday is the high point in our ‘What’s the Bible All About?’ series, because this Sunday we get to the cross of Jesus Christ which is at the very heart of redemption.  Every Sunday is a great Sunday to invite someone, but this one in particular would is especially good as they'll clearly hear what the heart of the Bible and the church is really all about.  Anyone on your radar to ask to join you?  Think about it.  Pray about it.  Talk about it.

Practice the 3 Minute Rule
Every Sunday God has brought guests among us who are with us for the very first time.  He even did this during our Soft Launch, before we were officially public!  Have you introduced yourself to someone new among us yet?  At the end of the services, take the first 3 minutes to speak to someone you do not know.  Look for someone you can reach out to rather than engaging in conversation with friends you already know.  Greet them warmly, introduce yourself, and let them know you’re glad they joined us for worship.  This can make a big difference in someone deciding whether or not they’ll return again. 

Pray before you arrive at our Sunday services
Can you imagine what a difference it would make if everyone really prayed before they arrived on Sunday – asking God to work in a mighty way? There are guests in our services every week that don’t know Christ as their Savior.  Pray for lost people in our Sunday worship services to be pointed to Christ and given faith to believe!  Pastor Brad received an email recently from someone who said his parents just started attending for the first time (after many, many invitations), and have been reading their Bible more than ever before.  There are people like this sitting around you each week in our services, so pray God would do great things in their lives just as He has in ours.

Love in Christ,


From Pastor Peter 2/14/13

Dear Grace Family,

Praise God for what He's doing at GFC Newport!
Did you know we've had new people at GFC Newport each & every week?  It's true!  Praise God for the way He's bringing people to our church, and thanks for doing a great job in praying for people to come, and helping to spread the word with our promo cards, and by "liking" us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, and forwarding our blog to people.  Keep up the great work, and let's see what God has in store for us!
What’s the Bible All About?
Last week we looked at the biggest problem – Sin, from Genesis 1-11.  This Sunday we’ll pick it up in Genesis chapter 12 and begin to look at ‘The Greatest Promise,’ as we track through history rejoicing at God is sovereign and prepares the way to make good on His promise of salvation or redemption.
How Can I Serve?
I met a first time guest at the theater door on Sunday morning who wanted to get involved in Serving at GFC Newport.  This week, he's showing up at the theater early in the AM to help us on the Setup/Tear-down team.  Did you know it can be that simple to get involved in serving somewhere at GFC Newport?  Are you already part of a Newport serve team?  Did you know Setup/Tear-Down team gets breakfast provided for them every week? (Seriously, they do.)  I'm confident we have a place for anyone who wants to worship the Lord through serving.  Many people have jumped all in already and are reaping the benefits of serving in one of our key areas at our new campus.  If you've not jumped in to serve yet, we'd love to hook you up!  Look us up on Facebook, Twitter, or send an e-mail to and we'll get right on it.  You can also circle an area in which you'd like to serve on our "Connection Forms" when you get one on Sunday.
Thanks for joining me in making much of Christ together at GFC Newport.  See you on Sunday!
In Christ,
Pastor Peter

What's the Bible All About: Illustration

Pastor Brad shared a visual that he first developed because of an assignment in Bible college in his early 20s.  A graphic designer took Pastor Brad's hand drawings and made them into this visual.  We thought we'd share it here in case you find it to be helpful as we're trekking the Bible in this series.

Do you sketch the Bible out?  It can be a helpful tool at solidifying God's word in your heart.  We'd love to hear about ways that you sketch out scriptures, and how God has used that in your walk with Him over on our Facebook page.  So, hop on over and share!

From Pastor Peter 2/8/12

Dear Grace Family,

New Sermon Series 
We’re into our new sermon series now: What’s the Bible All About? I hope you’re excited to get a better grasp on your Bible – because this book can change your life!  This Sunday we’ll try to cover Genesis 1-11, as we unpack what the Bible says about who we really are, and what our biggest problem really is.  For more on the series, check out an interview we did with Pastor Brad here.

Pray for Office Space! 
I love our meeting space in the movie theater! However, the downside is we only have it on Sunday mornings.  Earlier this week, I scoped out some possible locations for office space.  Securing office space would not only enable me to work from Newport throughout the week, but would allow GFC Newport to offer biblical counseling, a place for Small Groups to meet, as well as space that can be used for a variety of other things in between Sundays.  Please pray God would lead us to His place, just like he did when He hooked us up with the movie theater as a place for worship gatherings.
Bring a Friend!
Despite all the amazing ways we have to market and communicate things in our world today, the #1 reason anyone attends a church service is still a personal invitation from another person.  Who might you invite to go to GFC Newport?  What opportunity is God affording you to give someone our promo card and encourage them to try out our church?  If you choose to invite digitally, this is a helpful resource for first timers.  Pray about these things, and feel free to stock up on promo cards on Sunday.  We have plenty. 
See you on Sunday!
Pastor Peter

Right is Right

Moving to the right is right...when it comes to seating, of course.

There's this commercial out there floating around YouTube.  It goes like this:

There's a movie theater full of purposely stereotypical big, scary biker guys.  In the middle of all of the filled seats, there are two open seats for a couple.  Couple after couple leave the theater because there's no way they'd be willing to climb over these big, scary guys.  Of course, it's a prank. 

Let's not prank our visitors, intentionally or unintentionally.  Coming into a church can be big and scary.  Even if it's in a movie theater.  Let's not create any obstacles for folks desiring to join us for worship.  Move down to the right side of the theater so latecomers can sit on the left side.  And, fill the insides of the row.  Don't make it bigger and scarier than it already can feel.

Thanks to vistavision/flickr for the image.

New Option for the Kiddies!

Looking for Pastor Peter's Announcements from 2/1/13 about Hard Launch Sunday?  Click here.


As you know, for the past three weeks, we've brought older kids (ages 3 through 5th grade) in the worship service with us for our time of singing, and then parents have brought them to their Sunday School classes mid-service.  This is great, but comes with its unique set of challenges.

Take my family for example.  For the first 20-25 minutes of the service, our family takes up four seats.  After the singing, we take up 0 seats for about 5 minutes while Sarah brings our kids to Sunday School and I welcome people to the church.  And then, we take up 2 seats for the remainder of the service.  Multiply that scenario by the number of families like mine, and we're talking quite a bit of seats that are taken...kinda...but not really...well sorta for a little while...and then not (if you know what I mean).

Most guests arrive during the first 15-20 minutes of the service, so they get a false impression that seats are unavailable when they really are (or will be in a matter of minutes).  That combined with the "Excuse me - pardon me - ow, oh sorry - ha ha - Hey! How are you? - Coming through" that goes on as people enter the row before singing, exit the row after singing, and re-enter the row once again, makes for a less than ideal experience for some.

So here's the deal...starting this Sunday, we're offering Children's Sunday School for ALL KIDS (ages 0 through 5th grade) for the entire service.  If you'd prefer to drop your kids off in their Sunday School class from the get-go, have at it!  We'll have the classes staffed and ready to go at 10:15 AM if you want to drop them off before heading into the service.  Of course, if you'd still like to take them into the theater with you, that option is available for you as well.  However, I wanted to let you know of this recent change in case you find it more convenient to bring your kids to their classes earlier so you don't have to leave the theater mid-service.  Hope that makes sense.

Thanks for your patience, cooperation, and trust as we continue to work out kinks and learn what is best for all involved at GFC Newport.  See you on Sunday!

In Christ,

Pastor Peter

Image credit:

From Pastor Peter 2/1/13

Dear Grace Family,

Hard Launch Sunday is THIS WEEKEND on Sun, 03-Feb!  What exactly does that mean?  I'm glad you asked. 

Anyone & everyone has been more than welcome to attend services at our Newport campus since we went live three weeks ago (that was our Soft Launch).  We've been blessed to see visitors come who have heard of us from others, found us via social media, and even some who just happened to see some of our signs in the Levee building and came up to check us out last-minute!

However, this weekend is the first Sunday we're officially "going public."  That's why our radio campaign, press release, and other advertising materials referred to this Sunday in particular, and that's also why you may have noticed more of an online "buzz" about us this past week.  We rolled out a Facebookad, and also posted daily content about the upcoming sermon series.  I spent the majority of this week spreading the word at every opportunity, and also firming up plans to continue to promote GFC Newport in various ways.  Several Newport merchants have agreed to give out our promo cards by placing them near their cash registers, in their windows, and on bulletin boards.  Some have even agreed to hang large poster-size versions of the promo cards for increased visibility!

Perhaps the most encouraging times throughout the week were when I'd begin to tell someone about our church, and they'd interrupt me and say they already heard because "so & so" told them about it.  That means you are doing a great job spreading the word, and hopefully are praying that God would bring people - not just this Sunday, but for many Sundays to come.  Very exciting indeed.  Thanks for doing your part by telling others, giving out cards, sharing & retweeting stuff we post, and most importantly for all the ways you pray that God would bless our efforts.  Don't you dare stop! {;-)

Hey...while I've got you, let me encourage you to pick a place to serve in our church family at Newport.  It's been so much fun to see all the things we discussed for weeks at #LaunchPrep meetings come to life as people serve so diligently.  Not only are we getting things done, but it really is a unique way to grow to be more like Christ by serving others (Mark 10:45).  It's also a great way to get to know other people, and to really gain a sense of ownership of our new campus.  Click HERE to see the many ways you can connect to a serve team.  Even if you have a special schedule situation, let us know where you'd like to serve and our Core Team members will do their best to see how you can serve given your situation.  You'll love it, and we'll love having you.

Lastly, but certainly not least, please pray.  God is going to build His Church, and nothing - not even hell itself - will hold it back (
Matt. 16:18).  It's our prayer that He'd be please to build His church among us here in Newport.  Pray God would draw people to hear truth.  Pray God would use our Small Groups to change & grow us to be more like Christ, and welcome new people as they seek to connect to Him and others.  Pray for those in and around Newport who have yet to even consider attending church.  Perhaps God would be pleased to bring them our way for them to be impacted by Him and His.  Pray for our new sermon series starting THIS SUNDAY entitled "What's the Bible All About?"  May we all leave with a renewed excitement about the living Word of God as a result of the time we spend together at the Levee this weekend.

We are so needy, and so inept apart from God's grace.  May God go before us as we move forward for His glory.

"This is the LORD's doing; It is marvelous in our eyes."  Psa. 118:23


Peter LaRuffa
Campus Pastor
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