Friday, February 29, 2008

Chillin with my brother

I am sitting in my brothers office chair in DC, getting some work done. It is cool to see Josh's office and meet the guys he works with. I'm getting some work done till he gets off work and then the video shooting will begin for some small group sessions on what we believe as a church. Josh's boss is letting us use his high end equipment for free and we'll pay Josh a fraction of what it would normally cost. Normally, they would charge several thousand dollars per edited minute, if not more. Thanks little brother!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

crazy weekend

Last night, I had a great time meeting with a local church plant and their core team. I did my best to answer their questions and tried to help them think outside the box. I know for me, every time I share the C3 vision that God has planted in me, I get recharged. I would encourage you to share your vision anytime you can.
Tomorrow, I fly to DC to meet with my brother Josh to shoot some video's that will be part of our discipleship process. Instead of creating more steps in the discipleship process, we are fitting some of these teachings within our current small group discussions. So now, when a new small group starts, they will all go through the same videos, in order to have everyone on the same page and more familiar with what we believe as a church. We are going to try to shoot 6 videos in a day and a half. Time will tell. I then fly back to Ohio late Saturday night, and will be ready for Sunday morning.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

freely give

Tonight, I meet with another local church plant that is struggling somewhat to get off the ground. They have asked that I come and share what has worked for us in this church planting journey. I'm truly humbled and will do my best to help them anyway that I can. There are certain principles that can transfer, but several of things we have done wouldn't because they are specific to us and our strengths. A couple of things we will discuss tonight will be:
- Define your current reality.
- What have been your greatest obstacles?
- What are your strengths?
- What makes you different?
- Why do feel you need to plant a church?
* This will help identify who they are trying to reach and where they are trying to take them?
- What does success look like for your church?
- Do you have the structure to hold the growth?
- Should God trust you with more people?
* What process do you have to see them discipled?
- Establish the vision and direction
- Put some action step together

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Tonight, I was caught by my 4 year old..........praying. I want my kids to catch me praying. Not only that, but I want to help teach them how to pray. We just started doing "family devotions" with all of us in the living room together. I read the story out of a kids Bible and then we act it out as a family. By the end, they were really getting into it. It was fun and they are learning about God's Word, while we talk about what it means to their lives.

Monday, February 25, 2008

jim tressel

I heard a stat the blew me away. We all know how big "Ohio State Buckeyes Football" is in Ohio. How much influence can the coach of our beloved team really have? Ever since Tressel has taken the reigns of OSU, they went from the top of the most penalized teams in the Big Ten, to the least. The biggest stat though is that ejections and problems with coaches throughout the state in every level of sports, from kids to High School has dropped 60%. Once again this proves, that LEADERSHIP IS INFLUENCE.

Who are you influencing, either directly or indirectly?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

for the love of

Today, I set in a coaches meeting to receive some instruction in order to be my sons 7 year old, machine pitch baseball coach. I thought how amazing it was that all those people in that room were doing this for free. Everyone was a volunteer and all rallying around the cause of investing in Pickeringtons kids. For the love of their kids and for the love of investing in the next generation, they were willing to give of their time and energy. I was tying that into the Kingdom of God. For the love of our God and others, is why so many people give of themselves and their resources to C3 Church. They are investing in eternity. What do you, for the love of?

for the love of......

Today, I set in a coaches meeting to receive some instruction in order to be my sons 7 year old, machine pitch baseball coach. I thought how amazing it was that all those people in that room were doing this for free. Everyone was a volunteer and all rallying around the cause of investing in Pickeringtons kids. For the love of their kids and for the love of investing in the next generation, they were willing to give of their time and energy. I was tying that into the Kingdom of God. For the love of our God and others, is why so many people give of themselves and their resources to C3 Church. They are investing in eternity. What do you, for the love of?

Friday, February 22, 2008

11 years

Today, is Keri and I's 11th wedding anniversary. It's amazing how 11 years ago, we both chose each other to journey this life together. We accepted each others families, successes, failures, baggage and quirks. It has truly been an incredible journey of growth, discovery and love. I love her more now than ever before. Over the years our love has been tested and is proven. There is a deep amount of trust that grows in a healthy marriage relationship. We are a team! Now having 3 wonderful children, we are journeying as a family and doing our best to give love and discipline to our kids. We are all in this thing together, for the long haul. Several times while dropping my Keri off to run in a store, my kids will say, "don't leave mommy!" To which I reply, "I will never, ever leave your mommy. See this ring on my finger? It is my promise to your mommy and to you, that I will never leave you guys." And I mean it. I'm looking forward to the next 11 years and then the 11 past that, till death do us part.


I always seem to be fighting busyness, and the feeling of running in the continual state of hurriedness. Even as a small child, when bedtime would approach, my parents would say it's time for bed and I would reply, "I can't, me busy." John Ortberg said, "Hurried people cannot love." I have the tendency to be doing so much, that times I feel I can miss the beauty of life, while traveling through it to fast. Life is not a destination, but a process. A process of which I want to keep the main things, the main things. So I am forced to slow down. That may mean organizing my personal life better, so I can take in and love the more important things. I will continue to fight against it.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


What am I spending my life on? At the end of my life, how many of my years will have been spent on things that don't matter? What does matter? When I am laying on my death bed as an old man, (hoping I live a long life) what will I be most proud of and most guilty of not doing, or doing wrong? These are questions that I want to be asking now and making adjustments now. I think the key is defining success for yourself. If success is driving an expensive car, living in a big house and having a title at my job, then at least you know what it is. But, if it is pouring your life into your family and doing all you can to make a difference by influencing the lives of people to find and walk with Jesus, then that is another. The key is knowing what you are spending your precious life on and being intentional with it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


I want to put my family before my church. Not before God, but before the my church. In the Bible, God created the family before the church, and really have I really succeeded if I lose my wife and kids in the process of leading a church? I do believe that there is a healthy balance between my work at C3 and my role in my home. There are times when the church will have to do without me so I can give the time needed to my family. On the other side of that coin, there are also times when my family must sacrifice for me to work at the church. The key is to establish healthy boundaries and accountability if I cross one. Personally, I have a growth plan that outlines and protects my time with my family. Having 3 small children at home means that in this season of life, I will have to spend more time at home than at other seasons, like when it was just Keri and I. What boundaries are you needing to establish? This week we start a series on "boundaries."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

quote for the day

Karen Lamb said, "A year from now, you may wish you had started today."

What do I need to start doing today that would help me now and in the future? Why wait? What are you waiting to do, until a better time. There will be no better time than right now. Good intentions never got anyone anywhere. Live intentionally!

Monday, February 18, 2008

reading Core Values

Just read "Core Values" from George Wood our new A/G leader. He had some great things to say and it was good to hear his heart. He made a couple comments I really liked. One was, "If a church will do things right when they are small, they will experience healthy growth." This is so true. Whatever we do, we must do it with excellence. We are currently trying to set up our structure like we are a church of 1,000. We are no where near that yet, but we want to get ready for what God continues to do. Another line from his book was similar, when he said he could almost tell the spiritual health of the church by the condition of the men's bathroom and the pastors library. Wow, how true is that? The men's restroom is usually the last room in the church to get any attention. The pastors library is proof of his growth and hunger for learning. I appreciate his insights and wisdom shared in the book and enjoyed hearing our new leaders heart and passion.

Friday, February 15, 2008


Today, we met again with our church growth consultant. He has already given us some incredible wisdom on future expansion and upcoming pitfalls. Getting this modular here and set up is really like our first building campaign and procedure. Just like a building, it started low and continues to rise in price. What started at 12k is now heading toward 60k. OUCH! As the leaders we are forced to make some tough calls of what to do. We are growing at a rate that we need space, but having a mostly younger congregation, means lower giving. One thing I know and have learned, is that God's provision always follows God's vision. Our faith must now become even more of a reality with all these buildings, loans, raising money, etc, hanging in our very near future. It's funny how every step God is asking us to step out in, get's continually farther and more of a faith jump. So, I'm doing my best to keep my eyes focused on Christ......and am ready to continually jump as far as I can. Lord, may my faith continue to grow as I follow YOUR lead......that's my prayer.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

outside the box

It's funny how we all want to think of ourselves as "outside the box." Really though, we may be outside of someone else's box, but we are still inside ours. I think the box that each of us have chosen to live in, is one that we have made for ourselves. The side walls are "FEAR" and the lid and bottom are our "COMFORT ZONE." The only way we live bigger is to push out the walls, ceilings and floor. We can't get out of our box, but we can make it bigger. The bigger it is, the more we can do for Christ. So, what are your fears and comfort zones that hinder you from making your box bigger. I try to ask myself those questions all the time. When I come up with the answers, I try to run at them full force.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

making the best of every situation

Last night, my 4yr old and I drove to Canton after dinner to stay the night at my parents, so I could get up early and head to Youngstown Christian School to speak. When I woke up though, I got the call that school was cancelled.....bummer. I now will have driven 4 hours for nothing. But now I am trying to make the best of it. This morning, my grandfather, dad, my boy and I will all go get some breakfast together. Life has up's and down's, but it's how we deal with them that determines much of life. Today I will try to choose make the most of this day.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

continual focus

Today, our staff sat down to hammer out yet more details of getting and remaining focused. Continual focus is one of the hardest things to maintain, yet is one of the greatest contributors to success and moving forward in life. Remember the Olympic gold medal goes to the one who is great at doing 1 thing. As a church and as an individual, focus is the key to accomplishing great things in life and for God. What can I/we be the best at? Where are my strengths and weaknesses and how can I stay focused to do what I do best, with the majority of my time? I think the key is to establish clear objectives (the win), knowing in what area's we are the best at and constantly evaluating how we are doing. Then we have to protect and guard the boundaries of the focus that we have set up. Are you focused? Are you focused at home, with God, at work and in life?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Plan for growth

Yesterday, was another record breaking day in attendance for C3 Church! Also, we launched (ISI) Iron Sharpens Iron yesterday. It is a group of 10 guys and myself who will be journeying together in a 4 month growth process. We meet 2x's a month and will go through 4 books together. ISI is created to cultivate growth in 3 areas, spiritually, family and leadership. In our first meeting we put together a "Personal Growth Plan." It dealt with setting goals for ourselves in the following areas: Personally, Physically, Spiritually, Family and Financially. Every goal is measurable and attainable, with the goal being us to define "success" for the different areas of our lives and the steps to get there. Truly, we form our habits and then they form us. This plan is a track for us to run on in order to live out our full potential.

You grow daily or die gradually!

Friday, February 8, 2008


Today, I'm sitting in a Hampton Inn hotel room gazing at the city of Pittsburg while getting some work done. I dropped my Keri off this morning and will pick her up tonight after she has taken her "fitness instructor" test. She has been working and studying for this for a long time. It has always been her passion and I could see this coming a couple of years ago. Since I know that this is important to her, it is important to me. I remember when I crossed the line of my Ironman triathlon, it was awesome to have my wife and dad their to celebrate that victory with me. It makes the joy and accomplishment seem to intensify. I want the memories she has of this day, to include my love and support for her.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

I quit

"I Quit!" was a phrase my dad would never allow us to say growing up. Whether it was a board game, leaving a sport in the middle of the season or anything else we would start, we could not quit. He would say "Stephens never quit." I think we all have opportunities to quit especially when we feel discouraged or fail at something. In those times, we are being shaped for the future. Sometimes overlooked though, is quitting after we have succeeded. Peter Drucker says, "No one has ever made a significant impact after they won the Nobel Prize." I think it is very tempting to sit on our past successes and "quit" moving forward. There is something deep in the heart of champions that will not let them quit, whether through success or failure. It can't be bought or sold, but it is decided in the choices they make, their attitudes toward life and the thoughts that they think. So whatever you are going through, don't you dare quit. We bare the name of my Heavenly Father and He will never quit!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Being a triathlete, I know all about transitions. Whether from swim to bike or bike to run, they can lose me time or gain me time, but they are crucial. Yesterday, we hammered out our transitions in our Connect - Grow - Serve, discipleship process. Here is where we are on our "working draft." At a C3 service (CONNECT) they are invited to a NEW COMERS LUNCHEON, where we discuss vision, what we believe and intro's of the team. They are then invited to a GROUP LINK, which is where we plug them into Community Groups (GROW). While in the Community Groups, they will go through video's and discussion that we will put together (Nooma ish) to create a foundation. As well as they go through a gifts assessment test and are then plugged into serving opportunities at our once a month leaders/training meeting. Then if they are truly wanting to join arms with C3 with a real commitment, they move to PARTNERSHIP. Partnership is inclusive, membership is least in our head. Anyone wanting to serve in a leadership position has to go through Partnership. You can though, serve coffee, greet, usher, work in the nursery and work community events without being a Partner. Those are our entry level serving opportunities.
So, CONNECT (Sunday services) - New Comers Lunch - Group Link - GROW (Community Groups) - Gifts assessment, Monthly leadership training meeting - SERVE - Partnership

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Pouring in

This morning I met with a a sharp pastor/leader who is farther along in the journey than I am. He gave me some great Godly wisdom. As a leader, we all need those who pour into our lives and pass down what they have learned. One thing he said today was to find a team of people who are gifted in a vast array of talents to glean from. But it shouldn't stop there, because we must be giving out as well. If we take in and do not give's called constipation. If we give out and do not take's called burnout. Are you balanced?

Monday, February 4, 2008

mother starbucks

Sorry for the same post w/no writing. I'm having some issues with my blogging host. Anyway, yesterday Keri and I woke up early and left the Bible camp and headed to New Life in Renton where my friend Troy Jones pastors. They have a great thing going. We left there and went downtown Seattle on a Pilgramage to find "Mother Starbucks." (the very first store) It is not as big as many Starbucks I have been in, but to realize that it all started here, was thought provoking. Someone had a vision of what could be and they chased it. Look at the millions of lives that are affected everyday because of 1 persons dream. I have a about you? If not, ask God to give you one.

Saturday, February 2, 2008


Keri and I got up at 5am and jumped on a plane yesterday and flew to Seattle to speak to a bunch of teenagers at a winter camp. It is about 35 - 40 degrees and rainy.....I mean it is Seattle area. We got here and they lost our luggage, bummer. We hope to get it today. Crazy thing was, I had won a $50 gift certificate at a ministers meeting a few weeks ago. We were able to use that to buy some of the essentials. That is how God always seem to work. I won that a while back and was blessed to have it to use yesterday. Anyway, we had a great service last night and saw God do some cool stuff at the end of the service. Please pray for tonight that God reveals HImself in power.