I still don’t know…

It seems entirely appropriate that Steve Warrington snapped this pic during our month long birthday celebration. I can’t count how many times I’ve said those words over the last six years of actionchurch. The truth is, as a leader I rarely have had the information or the skill-set necessary to make even semi-informed decisions. The thing that I HAVE learned over the last six years is to gather the wisest, brightest, most God-focused, people into leadership positions…learn from them…but most of all, learn to closely follow the God who knows all, sees all, and is NEVER surprised!

Here’s a blog post I wrote just weeks before our first service:

“It’s only two weeks ’til actionchurch launches weekly gatherings at Fat Daddy’s. (2.10.08) I have been thinking about the last sixteen months of “planning and planting”. There was so much stuff I had no clue about.

I didn’t know…that an off-hand comment I made in anger would become the name of our church. “I am so freakin’ sick of people just learning about the Bible and never Doing any of it that if I ever had a church I would call it action church”!

I didn’t know…how to “start” a church like the “church for outsiders” we had in mind.

I didn’t know…anyone who had the skills and wanted to help us with this project.

I didn’t know…how to create a website or blog.

I didn’t know…how much money it would cost…or how to pay for it.

I didn’t know…who would be able to “capture”actionchurch in a logo and identity. 

I didn’t know…any bands or worship leaders to play music.

I didn’t know…how important finding the “right place” would be to our efforts.

I didn’t know…how close we came to Never being able to meet at Fat Daddy’s.

I didn’t know…that by the time of our launch the club would be completely remodeled and have seating for nearly twice the people.

I didn’t know…some people that I already knew and never expected would go to church…would help us start a church.

I didn’t know…people I had never met would “catch the vision” and be invaluable in creating actionchurch.

I could go on and on with the absolutely crucial information I didn’t know when this dream began. Our success definitely lies not in what I know…but in knowing “the ONE who has the answers to all our questions”! It truly is not what you know…but who you know!
If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. James 1:5″

Some things never Change…



Power Down Initiative


Five years can pass VERY quickly. (Especially if you are trying to Juggle Leading a start-up church, self-employment, and the most important job of all-being a husband and father). There hasn’t been a lot of time to pause and reflect on everything that has happened.   At times I can’t believe it’s been five years (February 10, 2008-February 10, 2013) since our first “official” church service at Fat Daddys nightclub. Other times, I feel like I may have aged 20 years in the last 5. (And I think there are pictures that would be would agree) :-)

To be honest, most of the last five years have been spent either “starting” actionchurch…or trying to keep it “started”. We are so blessed to have been able to Love God, Love People, and Take action during that time in some pretty dramatic ways. But still…much of our budget…our attention…our “power” had to be concentrated on simply keeping the fires lit in the actionchurch engine room during those years. Over the last six months, much of that has changed. As I announced in the “Inside the camp” series, we have officially moved past “starting” the church. We have a great leadership team in place. I’m confident that Bill and Denise, Steve and Tiffany, Rich and Jackie have the leadership skills, character, HEART, and teaching ability needed to lead actionchurch. Josiah has lead the artists of actionchurch into some of the best ORIGINAL design I believe you will find in church-anywhere.  We have a talented actionchurch/actionkidz crew that I believe has become simply the BEST in the “business” of making portable church happen each week.  They’re fast, hardworking, problem solvers who somehow manage to still have a lot of fun while doing the most difficult jobs. If actionchurch is the first “portable church” you’ve attended, you truly have no idea how blessed we are to have the great crew members we have in EVERY area of our Sunday morning service.  We are also blessed with a beautiful venue at Frank Theaters that works well,  and will allow us to grow to 400-500 attenders without needing to relocate.

The questions are many: What comes next? What should we attempt…what should we plan…what should we prepare for in the next five years of actionchurch?  Should actionchurch change?  Has actionchurch changed?  Has the world changed in the last five years?  What should we do next?  I’ve been thinking about all of those questions a LOT over the last six months.

The short answer is that as a church body we MUST continue Loving God, Loving People, and taking action.  Just how we DO that is something I look forward to sharing  with you all over the upcoming weeks in the month of February. There’s something I’d like you to do  in the meantime if you call actionchurch your home on Sunday mornings.  Please Pray for our leadership team.  I’d love your prayer for Michele, Reagan and Myself.  Pray for our crew…and most of all…pray that God will give you wisdom to see just where you fit into the future of actionchurch as we “Power Down”.



I recently encountered this amazing statement about the Nation of Israel’s epic 40 year journey from Egypt to the Land that God promised them, written YEARS later by the prophet Nehemiah:

19 “But in your great mercy you did not abandon them to die in the wilderness. The pillar of cloud still led them forward by day, and the pillar of fire showed them the way through the night. 20 You sent your good Spirit to instruct them, and you did not stop giving them manna from heaven or water for their thirst. 21 For forty years you sustained them in the wilderness, and they lacked nothing. Their clothes did not wear out, and their feet did not swell!  (Nehemiah 9:19-21)

I have a feeling that the people who were part of that meandering 40 year hike might not have felt the same way about their journey.  I’m pretty sure that the guy wearing the same sandals he bought at the Egyptian Walmart was probably more interested in getting a new pair than marveling that they hadn’t worn out in FORTY years.   I’m pretty sure that even though God LITERALLY lead them through the desert with a “pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of smoke by night” there had to be times where they felt abandoned as the years passed between leaving Egypt and seeing the benefit of their journey. Scripture records the times that instead of feeling blessed to be able to eat the manna God provided them each day, they complained about never having anything new on the menu.

However, due to the perspective that time brings, the prophet Nehemiah was absolutely CORRECT to say that God cared for his ancestors…that God sustained them in an impossible situation…and that in fact they lacked NOTHING!  Just because the people did not feel “blessed” didn’t mean that they weren’t.   Just because they FELT LIKE God was absent or lacked control of their situation…didn’t mean that he was!

I have this to be true as I look back over the portion of my life that I have followed Jesus, particularly over the last 6 years I have been involved with actionchurch start-up.  When God seemed to be “absent”, looking back I can clearly see that he was right with us…every step of the way.  When it seemed like we didn’t have ANYTHING, we really lacked NOTHING that we needed to continue.  When I had NO IDEA what to do, it was God’s spirit that whispered little pieces of encouragement and guidance into my soul.  Looking back I realize I often had the greatest desire to quit, right before we experienced our greatest victories as a church.

If you are a follower of Jesus, I know the same will be true of your story.  I just thought you could use a little perspective this morning.


Weakness turned to strength. (Part 2)

We’re celebrating our fourth birthday this month, and I can’t help but think back over the many unexpected things that have happened over the last five years since the idea of actionchurch was born. One thing that I’m constantly reminded of, is the phrase that Paul used in Hebrews 11:34 to describe people who put their faith in God. He called them people “whose weakness was turned to strength”. That phrase describes so much of the actionchurch story. Today is part two of the story, you can read the first installment here if you wish:    http://actionchurch.com/2012/02/08/weakness-turned-to-strength-part-1/

One of the biggest weaknesses from the beginning of actionchurch was money.  Mainly because we didn’t have much.  Fundraising is NOT one of my strengths, we had no financial backing from any outside organization, and it turns out that LOTS of money is needed to finance a start-up church.  This weakness was compounded by the fact actionchurch was always intended to focus on folks who didn’t already attend church (and therefore probably wouldn’t show up at actionchurch with a stack of un-cashed tithe checks just waiting to stuff into the offering plate.)  Also, because the myth that “churches are just after my money” is one of the difficult hurdles for people who don’t attend church to overcome as they walk into church for the first time, we chose to never actually “pass the plate” or “take up an offering”.  We decided instead to place giving boxes  at convenient points in our meeting space and trust that people who supported the vision of actionchurch would open their wallets as well as their hearts to what was happening each week.  Since then, we have added online giving and begun taking credit and debit cards, but in the four years of actionchurch, we’ve never taken a traditional “offering”.

So how does a church with no money of their own, lots of new people each week with no background in weekly giving, no offering plates or offering…survive?  How does it not only survive, but go on to be debt free and bless countless individuals and other ministries over the years?   I truly believe that God “turned our weakness into strength” as we trusted him to provide.

Because of our financial constraints we’ve learned to do a few things well.

1. We’re Thrifty.   We don’t buy the “latest thing” just because it’s the latest thing.  Our early TV stands were bar tables wrapped with metal roofing and duct tape. (they looked great but I lost a lot of blood assembling them each week.  The were SHARP…in the worst way)  Right now we have no paid staff…that’s unheard of for a church the size of actionchurch. If a retired Bread truck can haul and store our equipment for Sunday mornings as well as an new dually pick-up and trailer…we go with the bread truck. :-)   We’ve simply learned to do the very best we can at what we do…with what we have.

2. We’ve learned to give to others…No strings attached…even when we have little.  One of the most powerful things we’ve learned over the years is that when we need more-we “plant” more.  I can’t tell you how many times a donation or event for the community has EMPTIED the actionchurch bank account…and how many more times we’ve seen God’s people generously provide for everything we needed and COULDN’T have paid for had we held on to what little funds we had.  GIVING is the key to GETTING!

3.  We’ve learned to let people “buy into” the vision of the church…before asking them to support it financially.  One thing we’ve learned over the years is that people WILL support actionchurch financially…even though we don’t pressure them…even though we don’t pass a offering bucket each week- It just takes time.  It takes time for folks to watch and see our church bless others in the community and gain trust that their money will be used well.  It takes time to understand and obey the call of scripture to give the first and the best of our money to God through the local church.  It takes time to move from being a spectator “attending” actionchurch, to a participant of actionchurch whose life is changed by putting the stuff we learn on Sundays into action all week long!  I’m SO grateful for the many people who generously and faithfully support actionchurch each week…and I am even more grateful to know that they give because they truly support our efforts…not because of tradition, guilt, or and coercion on my part.

There have been many other ways that God has turned our financial “weaknesses to strengths”.  Next week, I’ll share how renting 3 different venues over the past four years has not only made our finances stretch…but our faith and “reach” in our community as well.  I believe that we have truly been BLESSED by what seemed like (so many times) a lack of resources.  I believe that actionchurch is uniquely positioned to share Jesus with our community in a time when money is increasingly scarce…and the need for the hope that we bring is increasingly necessary and valuable.  We are blessed as a church to be scrappy, thrifty, and just “weird” enough to flourish in a financial climate that will be increasing difficult for churches to survive…let alone grow.  Thank you for being a part of the action!




“Weakness turned to Strength” (part 1)

We’re celebrating our fourth birthday this week, and I can’t help but think back over the many unexpected things that have happened over the last five years since the idea of actionchurch was born.   One thing that I’m constantly reminded of, is the phrase that Paul used in Hebrews 11:34 to describe people who put their faith in God. He called them people “whose weakness was turned to strength”.  That phrase describes so much of the actionchurch story.

One of the biggest “weaknesses” we faced  from the beginning was a severe lack of time on my part to do “church business”.  From the beginning I’ve worked 40-50 hours per week as a painting contractor, came home every night to spend my evenings with my daughter and wife, and spent only a few early morning hours along with a few scattered lunch and breakfast meetings launching (and leading) actionchurch.  Clearly, that lack of time was a weakness.  Several people I respect and trust said that it was impossible to start and especially maintain a church (let alone a business and family) with that kind of schedule.  They were right.

We worked for nearly a year preparing for that first actionchurch service at Fat Daddys Nightclub on 2/10/08. We had three meetings during that whole process due to our family/work schedule. Jeff and Chrissie Compton “appeared” at the York Fair and developed the great program for kids in the upstairs disco that we still call actionkidz.  We all worked like crazy, and somehow it actually happened.   actionchurch began!   I got a sick feeling immediately after that first service when I realized that we would need to do it all again in just six days.   There simply wasn’t enough time for me do everything that needed to be done, let alone prepare another sermon. I’m not exactly sure how week two happened…How we survived…but on week two a long haired, really talented, and really sure of himself, “kid” named Josiah showed up and offered to help. He’s been my partner and helper ever since. He’s spent countless hours making actionchurch look, run, and sound like it does today.  (all while going to school, working full-time, and somehow convincing the lovely and talented Rachel to marry him… :-)

Over the past four years, countless others have “appeared” to help Michele, Josiah, and I.  I wish I could name all the names and tell all the stories…but that would take a book and not a blog post.   actionchurch happens each week because of countless hours of work done by people with jobs, families, and busy schedules…just like me.  I believe one of our biggest strengths as a church is our culture of “do-it-yourself” work.  actionchurch folks don’t wait around for the “pastor” or “church staff” to do what needs to be done.  actionchurch folks don’t expect church to be about serving them…they realize very quickly that church is about serving others.  The actionchurch Crew of tech wizards, children’s leaders, artists, dock-workers, and hospitality/events ninjas perform something really close to a miracle every week.  I walked around this Sunday morning during set-up and realized that MOST of the things that happen at actionchurch are beyond my ability to do…even if I had the time.

Four years later,  I still work 40-50 hours per week painting.  I’ve learned to write a decent sermon from a smartphone with a spray gun or a roll of tape in the other hand.  Josiah and I meet for breakfast one day a week.  I’m still so glad at the end of the day to go home to my girls,  instead of heading off to a meeting. (I suck at meetings anyway)   I’m typing this early in the morning before work…and although there is more I would like to say…I’m out of time.

One of the biggest strengths of  actionchurch, the way we Love God, Love People, and Take action together…not as a church staff and congregation…but as a team of co-workers…came from a weakness.

What are some “weaknesses” you pray about in your life?

Could they become a strength if you trusted God to use them?