Archive for the ‘GCC’ Category

The Andrew J. Allard Memorial Youth Center

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Grace Capital Church (Pembroke, NH) broke ground on their new Andrew J. Allard Memorial Youth Center on Friday, June 19th.  This multi-purpose center will be used for church and community functions, serve as a central meeting place for Impact youth ministry as well as supply much needed additional space for the growth of the church itself.   Along with the construction of the youth center, renovations are being made within the existing structure to provide more space for fellowship as and additional offices for the growing staff.

The 8,400 square foot addition is designed with a recreational format that includes a gym and several new meeting rooms and classrooms.  Northpoint Construction of Hudson, NH will be constructing the facility, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

“We’ve said from the beginning of Grace Capital that the church is not a building, it is a people and we’ve never been about building a big facility, but big people,” Pastor Peter Bonanno said.  “All we are doing by building this new addition is saying yes to God and realizing that this facility is a tool to reach those yet to come.”

Grace Capital Church began in 1996 with 14 people and currently has regular attendance of 900 every Sunday.  The Youth Center is being named in honor of Andrew J. Allard who was a member of the youth group and a positive influence to many people.  He passed on at thirteen years of age after contracting meningitis in 2007.

Various groups of people representing all ages were chosen to put their shovels in the ground as a reflection of the diverse make-up of Grace Capital Church.

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You Belong

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I’ve spent a few years on a treadmill reading these words on the wall in front of me at Planet Fitness.  I think about their philosophy and how it can translate to the church.  

A place where anyone can be comfortable.  A diverse community of people who are engaged together for a common goal.  A place where a lifestyle can be developed and matured.  

I’m not so sure that I would say it’s all about you.  Ultimately it’s all about God.  It’s often when we take on that attitude that things get all messed up.  But I love the line that says, “we are not here to kiss your butt, only to kick it if that’ what you need.”  We need to be available to speak into peoples lives.  We need to speak the truth in love and help people in their times of need.  Sometimes that involves a little butt-kickin’…

Overall I believe the church is the place where all people belong.  We need to create an environment where people of all walks can come together to find the true hope that comes through a relationship with Jesus.

Do you feel like you belong?  Why or why not?

Reflections On Saying Goodbye

This past Wednesday we took the evening to honor two of our youth leaders that have faithfully served the youth of this region at Impact for over seven years.  Jeff & Cindy Towne are moving on from Grace Capital Church to serve in our newly formed Northeast Foursquare District as the district administrator.  I gave the youth at Impact the opportunity to share stories about how the Towne’s have impacted their lives over the years.  One by one the stories that were shared were more about the little things that Jeff & Cindy did that made a big difference.jctowne

Jeff was by far the best greeter we have had at Impact.  The stories that kids shared about him being the first person to help them get connected were a testament to that fact.  Whether it was the young man who spoke about being greeted with a big handshake and an invitation to play foosball or the girl who tried to hide in the crowd by sitting against the wall.  Jeff saw her there by herself and went to sit with her.  He spoke to her and then brought her to other girls to introduce her to them.

Cindy connected with the girls with deep compassion and care.  She gave her heart for these girls and did whatever she could to help them connect with God.  She would often be seen speaking with a girl who had been having a bad day and praying for them.  Cindy loved to laugh and brought with her a great sense of humor.  Most times we laughed at something that she did that didn’t end up quite the way she had planned.

Jeff & Cindy were complete team players who stood behind the vision of Impact and really encouraged me as the leader.  I knew that no matter what – they had my back.  I will miss them greatly as will many, many youth who have travelled to Mexico & Jamaica with them, wrestled at camp, been beaten by Jeff at foosball, spent late nights in prayer with Cindy, or crashed on their couch for a movie night.

The thing that became very evident as we listened to many youth share about the things that Jeff & Cindy did for them that made a difference in their lives was that it was the simple things that really made the biggest impact.  No one recounted a message that Jeff preached.  There was not one story shared about an amazing Bible study that they led.  It was the small things, the phone calls, the quiet talks, the handshake and countless foosball games.  Presence in more a factor in making a difference than presents.  This was a couple that understood that.  It was less about the public ministry and more about the private, meaningful things that they could do to help young people.

As I was speaking about Jeff & Cindy and recounting their faithfulness it dawned on me – and this isn’t something I am proud of.  I should have shared all of these moments with them many times before.  I have failed to really appreciate them for all that they had done.  I pride myself on sending hand written thank you cards and making note of some of the little things that people do and then recognizing them for doing those things.  Jeff & Cindy have been serving alongside me for so long that I almost feel like I took them both for granted.  I never want to feel this way again.  I want to be the one who acknowledges all that people do and ensure that they are well thanked and appreciated.  

At the end of our time Wednesday night Cindy mentioned that what I shared was very meaningful and that she had forgotten about a lot of what I shared.  I will always remember, but I want to celebrate those who serve so well long before they hear the call to move on.  I don’t want to wait until it’s time to say goodbye to recount all the examples of a persons faithfulness. 

My prayer is that each of you reading this will have people serving alongside you that are as faithful as Jeff & Cindy.  I also pray that you will know how treasured you are to the ministries that you serve in.

Leaving For Jamaica

After man long months of training, preparation and fund raising we are ready to go.  Tomorrow we will board a plane and head to Jamaica to minister to many children and families.  Please pray for our team as we go to minister to people in schools, villages and churches.

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The blog will be quiet this week unless I can find some wifi near our base camp.  If I do find a hotspot I’ll provide updates here and through twitter.

Hope

When I gave my life to God just over 12 years ago I was filled with excitement.  I was amazed at what changes were happening in my life so quickly.  My attitude, my language, my actions.  They had all changed.  This excitement brought about a joy in my life that was noticeable.  Around that time I found a verse in 1 Peter 3:15 that stirred me up.

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

And I was.  I wanted to run and tell everyone about the hope that I had.  I shared with anyone who asked.  I prayed that people from everywhere would see a change in my life and ask what had happened.  Those were some of the most exciting days of my coming to Christ.

I have been re-reading that section of Scripture lately and was a bit put off as I read the same verse in it’s overall context.  The heading for this section of Scripture is listed as “Suffering for Doing Good.”  Not such a feel good heading!  As I read through the entire chapter that this verse is listed in I was reminded of a few things.  Here’s the Scripture:

13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.

Even the best of our intentions can land us in some pretty hot water with people.  Our actions and words can be misunderstood.  Our intent in doing good can be misinterpreted by those around us as being self-serving.  People won’t always get what we are doing and they will become critical.  Overall I believe that can just be a fact of life.  But when you are in the middle of “doing good” and being attacked because of it you don’t get filled up with lots of happy thoughts.

truehopeThis past week I have been answering many emails that have come in due to the signs that we created to promote our Easter services.  The signs are very simple – just a few words with an image of Jesus on both sides.  The image was colorized to take on a bit of the look of a former presidential candidates sign.  In doing this we have stirred up some controversy.  People are confusing our intentions of communicating the message of true hope that comes from Jesus and Jesus alone.  Instead some are reading into the sign as saying that President Obama is the messiah.  Nothing could be further from the truth and that was not our intention at all.

My first reaction, honestly, was to blast the people.  “Idiot!  Are you serious?  Do you see Obama’s likeness anywhere in this picture?  That is JESUS and the word below his image is HOPE!”  Let’s just say that I caught myself before replying to any of the emails in that manner.  Instead I tried to communicate, as best I could, the message of hope that we were trying to convey with the signs.  I realized my gut reaction was not going to do anything to win anyone over.  It would neither speak of love or hope.  It would only push people further away from the God that we represent.  In responding with my initial thoughts I would have done an even greater disservice to God and to the reader of my reply.

Rather, I needed to convey the message of HOPE to each person who was found to be a critic.  I wanted them to see a difference in a my reply.  I wanted to attempt to clear up the confusion that they had and help show them that not only does Jesus bring hope but also compassion, joy, and patience.  And that, my friends, is my prayer for each of you today and throughout this week.  As you strive to convey a message of hope to others in your words, actions, and attitudes you will be misunderstood.  People will not understand why you are doing what you are doing and they will become critical of you.  Don’t give in to the temptation to blast them.  Allow your response to them to be full of grace and mercy, love and compassion, joy and hope.  May you be messengers of the greatest HOPE ever and may you not be fearful of being misunderstood.

Misunderstood

Every once in a while in our efforts as a church to use something culturally relevant in communicating the message of  Jesus we are misunderstood.  It’s usually another believer that is the one that is offended rather than our intended audience – those who have not yet connected with Jesus.  It happened again today.  In my inbox was an email from someone who was very upset about our latest attempt at promotion.  Here it is:

How dare you try to combine obama with Jesus for your Easter services.  obama in NOT the savior.  Only our Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ is our savior.

Again, how dare you disrespect Jesus in the manner you are doing.

Shame on you!

Where it gets a bit sketchy is that we have not implied that President Obama is Jesus.  What we have done is use a piece of pop culture in the artwork that was done by Shepard Fairey and tweaked it in a way that shows that Jesus is the only true source of hope.  Here is my reply:

I must apologize for your confusion with the signs that we have created and are using for the promotion of our Easter services at GCC.  On the contrary, we are not in any way linking President Obama to Jesus.  We are actually trying to communicate where the TRUE source of HOPE comes from – Jesus Christ.  Some may trust in government to carry us through tough times but they will be found lacking in the end.

It is only through a relationship with Jesus Christ that we each can find HOPE.  That is the message that we are trying to communicate to people and I am sure if you join us for our Easter services that is the message that you will hear.  With that being said, if you are a member of another church in the area please continue going there.  While we want all to hear the Gospel we really are trying to reach out to those who do do not yet have a church home.

Again, please know that we are sorry for the way that you have interpreted our signs.  We acknowledge fully that Jesus Christ is the only WAY, TRUTH & LIFE.

Here is the promotional piece.  You decide…

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April 7th update on this post.  We keep kicking up dust here.  Check the link here:  http://www.nowhampshire.com/2009/04/02/concord-church-promotes-“hope”-at-easter-time/

Free Puppies!

That’s right.  Come to Impact tonight and you get a free puppy!  We’ll be giving them out while supplies last so get here early for the best choices.

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Seriously?  Puppies?  Free?  It’s the 1st of April folks!  You can still join us at Impact though…