This is just a quick post to say that I had a really fun weekend on one hand and a really bad weekend on the other.
- At T.G.I. Friday’s (where I just started to work part-time as a waiter), I had a section of two tables only, but in the brief couple hours of lunch, I managed to make over $30 in tips from only $140 in sales. That means I was making people happy and they were tipping me more than 20%. Man that was a good feeling!
- As soon as work was done, I talked to a core member of our church who has decided to go with his wife and kids to another new church in town. He was supposed to be our drummer for the week, so I spent all afternoon trying to reschedule another drummer and plan a time for practice. None of it came together until about 7pm, and I didn’t get back from practice till after 10:30pm!
- Though I got 4 hours of sleep and a late start this morning for church, I prayed and asked God to help me have a positive attitude despite the potential stresses of the morning (our first Sunday in the swanky Holiday Inn downtown.) He answered the prayer by giving me an absolutely incredible worship service for me. I was really sensing His presence at work in me and in the people who came. I felt great about it. (Even though we had some big issues with the sound system and the computer).
- When service was done, I met a man who volunteered to join our setup team for next week!
- But soon after that, I encountered some people who had been completely frustrated by the hassles of today’s setup and tear-down process with a healthy dose of fear regarding the financial future of the church.
All in all, I had a great weekend personally, but I’m surrounded by frustrated people, and I feel responsible for their frustration.
Lord, teach me the lesson you have for me in this quickly so that I can bring some healing and restoration to others and repair some relationships. Give me the ability beyond myself to organize the systems of the church well. And Lord, please meet our financial needs.
What an incredible day!
Last Sunday was our Grand Opening service as a church and I am excited to report that we had between 140-150 people there. We never got an accurate count, but this is how we came up with those numbers:
- 24 Elementary School Kids
- 6 Babies in the Nursery
- 9 Children’s Ministry Workers
- 100 Bulletins handed out (when we ran out)
I’ve tried to be conservative and stick with 140, but my wife is pressing me to say 150! and I’m usually the one who does the exaggerating!
If you want to hear the message I preached or watch the video, it will be posted here soon or you can get to it by visiting our church audio page.
God is bigger than we imagine.
My coach told me a couple of months ago, “Remember, Jeff, no one loves this church more than you and Jesus.”
I was getting kinda frustrated because of the number of people I had been trying to recruit and the slim number of people who were responding. He told me that to remind me that no one would care about the church like I do, but that Jesus cared about it more than even I did. That really helped to encourage me.
And Jesus does care about this church.
On March 18, we had our final preview service and I had the joy of preaching to a crowd of about 15 adults. The very next week, I had the privilege of preaching a message to a crowd of over 100. It was utterly mind-blowing to me!
If you were there on Sunday…
I just wanted to say that if you were there on Sunday, I am so grateful for you. You could have spent your Sunday morning in many different ways, but you chose to come out and be a part of our Grand Opening Event, and more than that, you chose to take a risk and see what God might be doing in this brand new ministry.
God has something really great in store for us, and I believe he wants us to experience it together, but that isn’t all. I think the biggest thing he has in store for us is for us to find our identity in the process of helping other people to discover how much God loves them.
We are just beginning a journey together. It will be a bumpy ride at times, but it will certainly be an adventure.
If you have been praying for us…
You also deserve a special thanks. There have been so many of you praying for us and supporting us financially, that I really am humbled. I’m afraid I will miss someone here, but I just think you all deserve thanks. You know why:
Jennifer Asinugo, Mike Atwell, Nellie Aujero, Alexandrina Balanean, Charlie & Lea Battleday, David & Carole Beckwith, Jim & Deb Cartwright, Brian & Melissa Chupich, Sonlife Community Church, James & Katheryn Cross, Herb & Paula Frost, Gloria Greene, Jodi Hanson, Gerald Hawthorne, Dorothy Herschelroath, Rynn Hill, Mark Jacobsen, Mike & Jill Kaminski, Rhonda Kerr, Gary Krebs, David & Stacy Laneve, Chuck & Amy Larish, Larry & Claudia Lasiter, Dan & Mary Martin, Mark & Linda Mikels, Keith & Marian Mikels, Sadie Mikels, Jason & Brooke Miller, Dr. & Mrs. Tom Miller, Marion Mockler, Tom & Chris Nalian, Rob & Chris Nelson, Mark & Amy Peterson, Stephen & Jill Puett, Ken & Cheryl Reynolds, Gary Rohrmayer, Dorothy Samorajski, Greg & Laura Shackleford, Jim & Wendy Sheely, Austin Smith, Jeff & Debbie Spencer, Lorraine Spencer, Joel & Becky Sutton, Josh & Valerie Thomas, Grant & Betty Tregay, Tommy & Bonnie Troup, Zack Turner, Mike & Tammie VanDeripe, Cindy & Rick Veith, Gloria Walker, Richard Wollard, Meadowland Community Church, Tim and Lisa Beavis, Bethany Baptist Church, Community Reformed Church, Tony Suitor, Kathy Abretske, Northwest Baptist Church, Irene Portokalis, Merrill Avenue Baptist Church, Hannis & Kim Thompson, First Assembly of God in Lafayette.
If I’ve forgotten someone, just send me a reminder email or post a comment, and I’ll put you on the list too.
Sunday was our final preview service! On the one hand, that really excites me because it means that months of preparation are finally coming to a culmination. On the other hand, it makes me nervous because now I can’t hid behind the “We’re still in preparation-mode” excuse. Also, I now have to get back into the mode of preparing weekly messages and worship services. I think it is going to be really hard work for a while. But I’m looking forward to it. It should be exciting.
Anyway, we had some really neat things happen Sunday and we learned some more good lessons.
Because our Grand Opening is this coming Sunday (the 25th), we didn’t market last week as much as we had last month. I did send out a cool postcard to all those on our mailing list.
Here, you can see the postcard we mailed out.
Also, because of how long the signs took to put together last time, I had our signs professionally printed, and I set them up the day before. Here’s what one of them looked like.
Also, you might be interested to see the banner I set up on the corner of the school’s property.
I got all the signs put up on Saturday including an additional banner on some columns in front of the school.
Also, on Saturday, Josh came over and helped me load up the truck so that we didn’t have to do any loading on Sunday morning. It made everything go so much more smoothly in the morning.
Because last month’s morning got off to a slow start, I asked everyone to be at our house at 8:30am this time. Everyone was there by 8:45 and we were able to pray together before loading up the truck.
Yes, I did say truck! This was our first day to use the truck, and it was also our first time using the equipment that came from Willowbrook Community Church. Their sound equipment is much more elaborate than what we had been using.
Somehow we did get a little delayed at our house. I think the prayer time took a little longer than I had thought it might, but that’s not a bad thing. Anyway, we got to the school at about 9:15, and then unloaded everything.
Our total numbers weren’t much more than they have been for any of our other services, but something about it felt really good. It especially felt good because between last month’s service and this one, three members of our worship team stepped down. However, we made up the loss in numbers with quite a few new faces.
The coolest story of the morning was one family that was on their way to visit another church when they saw our signs and recalled our TV spots. So they decided to stop on in and check us out.
Here our numbers:
- Children – 12
- Adults – 20
- Total Attendance – 32
My morning message was entitled God Is Love and the best part of the message is when I took the “love passage” from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and asked people to consider substituting “God” for every instance of the word “love.” Here’s the verse from the NIV:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. — 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
I then asked people to consider which of those promises was God’s promise to them for that morning. Try it yourself.
However, I failed to get my MP3 recorder set up properly, so I didn’t get a recording of the service. I’m kinda bummed by that, but what are you going to do?
During our debrief lunch following the service, we discussed some lessons learned for the next time. Here they are:
- We need to get some extra equipment
- 1/8″ stereo mini plug cable
- 3 Speakon cables (2×25′ and 1×50′)
- smaller box for AV cables that can fit in the cabinet
- a mobile cart for our computer and projector so we don’t have to use the microwave stand from the cafeteria.
- Latex Gloves for the Nursery
- a hand truck / dolly for getting stuff off the truck better.
- Trough or cooler with ice for water bottles
- Bread bags for people to take the donated bread home
- More water bottles
- We need to darken the room (the screen was getting washed out by the light coming in the back windows)
- We need to make up some cards for nursery workers to easily communicate to parents what happened with their kids (what snacks they got, if they took a nap, if their diaper was changed).
Well, that’s about it. Next week is our Grand Opening. I’ll write another post on our plans for that.
Two weeks ago, we switched our weekly gatherings to Sunday morning instead of Sunday night. There was one major motivating reason for doing so. As we move toward our public launch, we need to feel a strong sense of building momentum, and we just weren’t able to do that with the low attendance we had on Sunday nights.
I’m not sure why it was such a struggle to get people to come to our house for a meeting on Sunday night, but Sunday morning seems to work out a lot better. We now gather for breakfast followed by a time of worship songs and interactive teaching, and for the past two weeks we have had pretty good attendance.
Another benefit has been that we are able to have a second meeting each week to focus on planning. For some reason, having two weekly evening meetings also seemed like a hardship, but now, having the morning gathering on Sunday, we can have another meeting to focus more on the planning end of things.
I’ve been feeling pretty good about it all.
Last Friday, we experienced a great success in ministry. We served people free mugs of hot chocolate and coffee in front of Wal-Mart. It was a great experience.
It came to me on Black Friday
The whole idea came to me last year on the day after Thanksgiving (“Black Friday” as it has been called) while I was standing in line at a Best Buy store in the bitter cold of November in Chicago. Continue reading
It has been a while since my last post here, but that’s been for a good reason. For the past month, I’ve been working on getting ready for Southside Church’s first public information meeting. We held it last Sunday evening at McCutcheon High School here in Lafayette.
For the past month, we have been putting together marketing materials, soliciting donations, securing the location, and organizing the service. We passed out by hand maybe 800 invitation postcards and mailed about 100 to our mailing list. We put flyers up at local businesses, we sent out email invitations, and we talked about it to everyone we knew.
It ended up being a really good evening. Here are the details:
- It was September 10, 2006, 6:30pm – 8:00pm in the choir room at McCutcheon High School.
- Tarah Kitchell of Tender Loving Childcare (TLCC) provided the children’s program.
- Doug Griffin, Kurt Kincanon, and Chip (?) provided the music.
- Buffalo Wild Wings donated 250 wings.
- Euro Cafe II donated about 6 thermal carafes full of gourmet coffee.
- LA Fireworks donated table coverings and such.
- Chick-fil-A donated 150 brownies.
- The Carpenter’s Son bookstore donated at least $100 worth of merchandise!
- One count had over 40 (43 I think) people in the main meeting room and we also had 11 kids and 3 workers outside with the children’s program. That put our total at nearly 60 for the evening which was exactly what we wanted in terms of numbers.
- Special guests were Brad Bush, pastor of Maple Ridge Community Church and chairman of TEAMM (Tippecanoe Evangelical Association of Ministers and Ministries), Gregory Hackett, pastor of First Assembly of God, Justin Hutts, associate pastor at Battleground Bible Church, and Gary Rohrmayer, director of Midwest Church Planting. My coach Rich Wollard wasn’t able to make it so he sent us a video clip that got lost somewhere in the tubes of cyberspace.
We sang some songs, some guests spoke for a few minutes, I gave a vision message, and then I entertained some Q&A. After that, everyone filled out a “level of interest” survey, we had a closing song, and Greg Hackett gave some final encouraging words and a closing prayer.
All in all, it was a great evening! I plan to post some video of it soon.
Thank you for your prayers.
I’m just posting this as a quick note to all of you who care…
We have a new house!
This morning at 9:30, we signed the final paperwork to close on our new house. There still are some things the builder is doing to put the finishing touches on it, but we have started moving things over!
Please join us in prayer that God would make our new home a central point for fruitful ministry in Lafayette.
Jen and I had a good time at Hillside Community Church in Crown Point this past weekend. They were having their missions conference this month, and I was the featured guest this weekend. Since their theme was “His passion, our purpose; his purpose, our passion,” I dealt with the question of what was the number one thing on the heart of Jesus himself.
It turns out that the number one thing on the heart of Jesus was submission to the will of his Father. So what does it mean to share the same passion as Jesus? What does it mean to be passionately submitted to the will of the Father, and why do we find it so hard? I’ll deal with that in a later post (I hope to get my sermon uploaded to my podcast soon.)
Anyway, the church is pretty healthy and is raising money to support their missions budget for this next year. Last year, they raised over $20,000, and this year they are hoping for $30,000!
Thank you for your prayers for us. It looks like we will soon be having a new church partner and perhaps some individual supporters as well!
I’m writing this post from Jen’s parents’ house in Weeler, Indiana because tomorrow, Jen and I have the privilege of presenting our vision for Lafayette to Hillside Community Church in Crown Point. I will be giving our basic presentation during their Sunday School time. Then, I will be preaching at the morning service and leading an interactive study at their evening service as well.
If you think of us tomorrow, please pray that God would give us favor with some key members of the congregation there and that we could have some kind of partnership develop between us and Hillside!
Jen and I have been regularly sending out our prayer requests every few months or so, and I thought that I’d post our next set on the blog here. God has really been answering some prayers too, so I’ll post some praises first:
- Jen and I have signed final approval paperwork on our house. As soon as the building permits get approved, they will start the work. Praise God for helping us make those decisions.
- Greg is continuing to tell people about us and get us contacts with people moving into the area. Praise God for helping us meet him!
- Packing and move preparations are coming along nicely, and we plan to make the move on January 2! Praise God that Jen enjoys packing!
Our Top Ten Requests for December.
Here are our top ten requests for this next month.
- That our priorities would be God’s priorities.
- That God would prepare the hearts of key people in Laf. to receive the gospel.
- That our funding would jump to the next level soon.
- That our final month at NWBC would be filled with grace.
- That our move to Laf. on Jan 2 would go smoothly with good weather.
- That Charlie would have good good-byes with his friends here in Chicago.
- That God would guide our decisions about our new home.
- That we would be able to finalize our church name and incorporation.
- That we would have wisdom raising our kids.
- That God would continue to work miracles for his own glory!
It turns out that one of the men from the Pondside group is actually the
President / CEO of Lafayette Savings Bank! It’s amazing how God works
things out. I gave him a call, he had someone call me and in about 30
minutes this morning, Jen and I were “easily” approved for at least a
This raises the question now of where we should live and what home we
should build/buy. The reason this is a big question is that in Lafayette,
homes are really inexpensive, and we could get a home of over 3000 square
feet with a loan of under $200,000!
So, I’m asking you to pray with us and also to comment on my site here
with your suggestions / opinions about this.
Jen and I are praying about a few key homes that we could build for a
- 2037 square feet.
- 1618 square feet
- 1737 square feet
- 2582 square feet
English Cottage Elevation
- 2771 square feet
English Manor Elevation
- 3183 square feet
Southern Classical Elevation
Here’s our dilemma. The Auburn house would be absolutely wonderful both
for our family and for the sake of the new church ministry. There is a
dedicated home office space downstairs by the door, but there is a huge
area upstairs for the kids to play in while the adults are talking or
having a meeting downstairs. However, the house is really big, and Jen
and I are concerned that we might seem to be pretentious by having such a
large house while living off the support of others-who likely have
smaller homes for themselves.
The Townsend and Clemson houses are really just toned down versions of
the Auburn house. We would enjoy them too, but they both skip the office
(we still aren’t sure we need that), and the Clemson has one less
The Taft and Coolidge houses are both the functional kind of house.
Everything we really need is in these two houses. Jen and I both grew up
in homes without much more than what these two houses have.
And regarding the Leesburg, I just think it looks really good. It’s a
ranch style home (one story), is economical, but we haven’t seen any
floor plans yet.
None of these homes have basements, but one could be added for only
So Jen and I are trying to figure out whether we need to stretch
ourselves a little bit more financially so that we can get a “dream
house” that would be great for both family and for ministry (core group
meetings and larger Bible studies) with the potential downside of people
thinking negatively about us. We are especially concerned about some of
our supporters resenting our apparent affluence.
Or whether we should grab on to one of the more economical and functional
houses, save ourselves some potential concern over money, and avoid the
appearance of materialism to those we are trying to reach.
Pray and Comment.
Please pray for our wisdom in this decision, and please comment or email
me to let us know what you think.
I want to thank all of you for praying for Jen and me during our trip
this last weekend to Lafayette. We had a really fun time in many
- We were able to stay with Jen’s cousin and her family. They are so
gracious and generous each time we visit. Praise God for Mark and
- We were able to meet a group of families who have been passionate
about a new church in Lafayette for almost a year. Praise God for our
meeting with the “Pondside” couples.
- We were also able to meet a family that has recently moved from
California and was part of a BGC church plant out there. They are really
excited about being on the ground floor of a new church, and the kids
were even giving me suggestions on what the name of the new church should
- Jen and I found the place where we want to live. We want to move to
an area called “The Commons.”
Here are the two biggest things Jen and I are praying about right now.
Please join us in prayer for these things.
Pray for God’s guidance for us and the “Pondside”
We had the chance to meet with three families that have joined together
to start a new church in Lafayette to intentionally reach people with the
good news of Jesus. They have been meeting together for a while now and
have adopted the temporary name of “Pondside.” They really seem like
great people, and if they choose to partner with us, it would likely be
an incredible combination.
Pray for us to get a home in “The Commons.”
In driving through the different areas of Lafayette this weekend, Jen and
I really fell in love with a neighborhood called “The Commons” that would
be not only a great place for our family but also a wonderful
launching-point for the new church. Lots in “The Commons” are going
quickly at about $40,000 and homes that would work for us are between
$130,000 and $160,000.
We really need to get loan approval first before we can make a decision,
but if we can make a decision next month, our home could be ready by
early Spring. Buying an existing home is also an option, but most
existing homes are more expensive than new construction right
All of you know at this point that we are on our way to Lafayette, IN in the near future and hopefully most of you have received a full prayer update in your regular mail box at home—if not please respond to this and let me know and I’ll make sure you get one soon!! We have been praying for each of you on a regular basis too and are excited to hear about what has been happening in each of your lives.
We have just a few exciting updates since our last regular letter that I thought you’d like to know about.
We still have a long way to go in raising our support, but God (and many of our friends and family) have been so very generous already. It’s been wonderful!! Pray for God to continue to bless this.
We and Northwest Baptist (where Jeff currently pastors) have decided that we will move in January, although everyone is graciously allowing for some flexibility there. We’d like to have at least 80% of our support raised by then. Pray for the necessary support and all the logistics with a move. We aren’t sure if we will go to an apartment or straight to a house when we get there so there is much to figure out regarding that. We are excited to have a date!
We have 3 churches that we will be presenting our Lafayette church planting proposal to in October, Northwest Baptist (October 2) and two other Chicago churches (October 9 and 30). Pray that it is received well and that God would bless us with serious prayer support, financial support, and even some great Lafayette contacts.
Jeff spoke with a team leader of a small group in Lafayette just last night. This small group is looking for a pastor to plant a church in the area. They have about 4 couples attending the group and a list of about 40-60 people who are “ready to go” when they have a pastor. We, and they, need much prayer to determine if this is a good match or not. Jeff had a good conversation with them last night and we may meet in person the weekend of September 25. This is a really exciting possibility, but we need much wisdom about moving forward with it or not.
We hope to travel to Lafayette from Thursday, September 22 to Sunday the 25th, to see the area, look into housing and meet in person with a few contacts. Pray for safety, great meetings, that we see and hear all we need to see with both people and housing, and that we make a few new contacts in the process.
Thanks so much for praying!!
For the past two months, I have been taking the first Tuesday as a day for fasting and prayer. I’ve tried to do it with food and have gotten so distracted that I’ve messed up both times.
This month (tomorrow) I’ll be fasting from computer / TV / radio use. If you think of me, pray for me that I’ll be strong through the day and use the freedom from media to really hear God’s voice.