Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Launch Team Update

Seeing people come together to advance the good news of Jesus Christ is an amazing experience. We are excited to see what God has in store as the team walks in faith. This church will focus on the mission of Jesus to reach, restore, and reproduce disciples for the Kingdom of God.

The other night, over 30 adults (plus MANY young children!) participated in a Boot Camp designed to give practical and encouraging updates concerning the status of Advance Community Church as it prepares for launch this Fall in Gibsonia.













Watch the Video!




Sunday, July 6, 2014

Support Missions: Max & Erma's of Gibsonia, PA

If you are in the Pittsburgh area, print this flyer and eat at Max & Erma's anytime today.  Dine in or order takeout.  If you present this flyer, 20% of your bill will go directly to support "Advance Missions".  Advance serves communities in the La Romana region of the Dominican Republic.

Thank you!!!


Monday, June 16, 2014

Planting Advance Community Church (June's Meeting)

Last night, June 15, Advance held a general meeting where an overview of the church's status was presented.  As promised, here are the notes.  Feel free to follow the link to the website where you can watch the video of the meeting (will be uploaded later this week).

 Link to Meeting Docs

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Pictures - Dinner & Baptism Night

When I stop and think about it, God is doing some incredible things all around us. People are experiencing God work in their lives and responding in faith. On Sunday night, Advance Community Church celebrated Jesus through a meal, sharing, and baptisms. It was a special night.


http://www.advancecommunitychurch.org/#/media/pictures

Some of the children wanted a front row seat. The boy on the right wanted to see his dad be baptized. We anticipate the day his dad will baptize him!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Gospel Fluency

One of our team's favorite speakers from this year's Verge Conference in Austin, Texas was Jeff Vanderstelt.  Even though he wore a Seattle Seahawk jersey and shared his true feelings about the Denver Broncos' epic Super Bowl lose, he communicated the Word of God with great power!

Vanderstelt is a pastor, down-to-earth-guy, and the face of www.wearesoma.com.  This week, I started watching a his videos on Gospel Fluency.  They are very helpful and effective in training disciples to communicate the gospel of grace.

Highly recommended:
http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2014/01/03/jeff-vanderstelt-on-gospel-fluency/

Lifeline: Safety

Without the strength and power of God at work in your life, you're on your own and spiritually naked.  Without the armor of God, you are defenseless against the many schemes of Satan.  He is at work and desires to destroy you (John 10:10).  His ways are crafty and full of deception.  What are his schemes, and how can you stand?

Advance Community Church is in the pre-launch (or pre-birth) phase.  These weeks are packed with personal meetings, community involvement, group training, fundraising, missions work, and worship gatherings.  In May, we are dedicated to experiencing God through prayer.  I have been investigating the Bible, commentaries, quotes of godly examples, and books written by dead guys.  Through it all, God is repeatedly saying, "Without Christ, we all can do nothing!" (John 15:5).

Feel free to check out the Bible Study section of May 11th's Boot Camp (it's about 20 minutes long):
http://www.advancecommunitychurch.org/media.php?pageID=5


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Lifeline: Experiencing God through Prayer

The Bible is clear, without God we can do nothing! I love John Piper's thoughts on prayer, "Prayer is the open admission that without Christ we can do nothing. And prayer is the turning away from ourselves to God in the confidence that He will provide the help we need. Prayer humbles us as needy and exalts God as wealthy".

Here is a video link to our opening night on the topic of prayer.



Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Kingdom Victories

Everyone loves a winner.  We enter every sport season with a sense of optimism that "this will be the
year".  In grad school, one of my classmates was a former NFL player and then an assistant coach.  He would tell us of how the team is focused and ready to bring home the trophy (this was during training camp, of course!).  He laughed and said this is the feeling every year. 

Pittsburgh fans are loving Spring.  The Pirates are only about ten games into the season (you all know, we had a winning record last season and even made the playoffs - finally!).  The Penguins begin their playoff run tomorrow night.  Even as I write this, I'm wearing my penguin sweatshirt.  Life is good when there's optimistic, fan-fever in the air!

But what about things of greater meaning and more significant purpose?  Every year, churches around the world celebrate Holy Week.  Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter are HUGE events in the religious world.  

Pause... 

When was the last time you stopped and thought about:


"Why did Jesus had to die?"  
"Why did He have to rise again?"  
"Does this truly matter today?"  
"What does it really mean for me?"

These are questions I regularly ask myself.  Diving into Scripture and talking with friends who are serious about life, faith, and practice, we are growing in the significance of the Kingdom of God as we live our lives today.  The cross and resurrection pave the way for indescribable victories all because of Jesus.  This will be the focus of Easter at Advance Community this Sunday.  

Everyone is invited! (details)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Prentice Family Update


PITTSBURGH IS READY FOR REVIVAL
     In life, change happens!  Sometimes they happen often.  Sometimes they don't.  You just never know what God is up to concerning all the details.  Yet, we are called to live by faith knowing that He will do things according to His purposes and for His glory.


"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:9)

     Our family has been actively serving in the Pittsburgh region since 2000.  I have served in traditional, contemporary, established, new church planting, and semi-church planting contexts throughout this period of time.  Through it all, God has been so faithful in producing spiritual fruit in our lives and in the lives of those He brought our way.  We've seen people surrender their lives to Jesus in salvation, marriages restored, emotional wounds mended, unbelievable physical healing, and many come alive to the Gospel of Jesus.  May God be honored and receive glory for what He's done!

     Since November 2013, we have been in the process of starting a new ministry focused on the Route 8 corridor from Pittsburgh to Butler.  This ministry is a response to a calling God has placed on our lives to saturate this region with the Good News of grace and truth found only in Jesus Christ (John 1:14).  This ministry involves planting 3 churches along this corridor and 1 in the Dominican Republic over the next decade.  This is an enormous task in which we are trusting God to provide the people and funds needed to impact this generation and the generations to come.  Our girls are excited (and they really love going to church at night too!)

WHY MORE CHURCHES?
     It may look like there are plenty of churches, but that's not the full picture.  As I wrote several months ago, more churches statistically reach more people with the gospel.  However, the number of churches in America is rapidly shrinking.  According to the North American Mission Board, in 1900 there were 28 churches for every 10,000 Americans; however there were only 11 churches for every 10,000 Americans in 2004.  Additionally, the Spirit uses new churches on average to win more people to Jesus than established churches.  "Churches under three years of age win an average of ten people to Christ per year for every hundred church members" while "churches over fifteen years of age win an average of three people per year for every hundred church members" (Stetzer, Planting Missional Churches). 
     I am totally in favor of and participate in international mission opportunities, because people all over the world need Jesus.  However, the following stats are frightening!  According to George Hunter, "the United Stated is the largest mission field in the Western Hemisphere" and "the fifth largest mission field on earth".  Stetzer writes, "the spiritual deadness of North America appears not only in its culture but in its churches as well".  80-85% of American churches are on the downside of their life cycle.  3,500-4,000 churches close each year in America while approximately 1,500 new churches will open.  Finally, over time establishes churches focus inwardly while new churches tend to be more intentional about making a tangible difference in the community and target the unchurched with more purpose and passion.


HOW ABOUT YOU?
Current Newsletter
     Would you consider partnering with us?  We are working to launch the first church plant in Gibsonia on September 21, 2014.  It is called AdvanceCommunityChurch.  We are need of people like you to help make this vision a reality.  The only requirement is that you commit to the church for the first 4-6 months after launch.  The launch team currently meets for worship and training Sunday nights from 5:00-6:15pm at St. Thomas Church in Gibsonia.  Everyone is welcome to come check it out.  


Jesus said, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to 
the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into the harvest" (Matthew 9:37-38). 


     Advance is striving to be a missional church designed to "Bless People (throughout the region), Create Inclusive Communities (where everyone is a friend), and Cultivate Communion with God (this is where truly amazing things happen!)".  If you do not live in the region but sense the importance of people hearing and responding to the Gospel, would you consider making a one-time tax-deductible donation to this new ministry or even supporting us monthly through the end of the year?  This would make a huge impact!  To do so, please check out Support Advance  

Thank you!

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Rewards are Worth It!

How many events on your calendar from 2013 are still impacting your life today?

For me, I can name a few.  One such event was the live simulcast of Secret Church.  It was an incredible night of spiritual and relational growth which remains vivid in my mind and soul.

If you're in the Pittsburgh area, my wife and I are opening our home on Good Friday evening for this year's Secret Church simulcast.  For video previews and other information, go to Secret Church (Pittsburgh)

Don't be intimidated.  You'll be among friends!

The rewards of such a night are worth it!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Coming Together (over 20 churches represented!!!)

This past Sunday night was an incredible night of Jesus-centered worship and gospel-centered missions.  Vision for the future was cast and the Lord was honored!  God revealed His Word and will
through Romans 10 where the Apostle Paul expresses his desire for people to cry out to the Lord for their salvation in response to hearing the good news of Jesus.

An offering was received for the purpose of missions.  100% of the funds given will go to advance the gospel (one family and community at a time).  We met a widow during this past trip.  Her young husband died this past summer.  They have little income and their home needs to be finished.  We are planning to complete her home during our next trip.  Over $4,000 was given to finish her home and spread the gospel!

If you would like to make a donation toward mission work in the D.R., go to http://www.advancecommunitychurch.org/#/give.  There is a place for making a "note".  100% of your gift will go to the cause of Christ.

It was amazing experience to worship with people from over 20 congregations (including 6 pastors)!  There were also people who came out on Sunday night who don't have a relationship with Jesus.  They heard the truth of Jesus and were challenged to repent and follow Him.  After the service, over 75 people enjoyed fellowship and food from our local Max n Erma's.

We now pray more churches will come together in unity for the sake of the Kingdom in the weeks, months, and years to come!  If you would like to see some pictures from the night, go to http://www.advancecommunitychurch.org/#/media/pictures.

On Mission in the Carribean

A few weeks ago, I arrived back in the states after another amazing trip to the Dominican Republic.
It was my 10th mission trip to this nation I have come to love.  The country, weather, culture, and food aren't the draw, it's the people - the people from the states who make the journey with me and the people who call the DR their home.  We serve in some of the poorest regions of the country.  Yet, I don't really notice their economic status anymore.  I notice their joy and affection for family and Jesus.  There is nothing like a Dominican greeting after being away for several months!  One of our sponsor children ran across the courtyard and jumped into my arms when she saw me.  It was a special moment.

I am beyond excited to lead another team to the Dominican Republic in June.  There will be a total of 34 people on the next trip.  Of whom, about twenty-five of them will be brand new to international missions.  We have witnessed God do amazing things on previous trips in many souls!  We are now praying for Him to reveal His faithfulness and power as we prepare to go.

To see some pictures from the past trip, go to http://www.advancecommunitychurch.org/#/media/pictures.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Friendship & Marriage

I spent considerable time reading articles located at www.theresurgence.com website over the
weekend.  If you are unfamiliar with its content, it is a site dedicated to providing insight for those looking for straightforward answers regarding faith and practice from a biblical perspective.

One particular article stressed the importance of friendship in marriage.  The title of the article is: "The #1 Thing We'd Have Changed in Our Marriage".  I am grateful Heather and I have grown in our friendship over our 12+ years of marriage.  I think it's a good thing to consistently hunger to know each other more as time goes by.  We committed our lives to each other saying before friends and family, "until death do we part".  I long to know her more and more as the years pass by!

Here's a sample from the article mentioned above...

The importance of friendship in marriage relates in some way to everyone, whether married or not:
Single person who is dating: Are you building a genuine, godly friendship, or are you allowing something like sex get in the way of establishing a firm foundation in your relationship?
Engaged couple: Are you truly committed to always seeking to be better friends to one another, and helping one another to do this in encouraging and not criticizing ways?
Married couples: Is your friendship growing, or have you allowed bitterness, distractions, duties, chores, tasks, kids, work, responsibilities, and/or extended family to contribute weeds that have led to the withering of your friendship?"

Thursday, February 20, 2014

15 Truths Every Christian Should Know

I started reading a new book this week called, "Christian Living Beyond Belief: Biblical Principles for the Life of Faith".  It gives a fantastic overview of discipleship.  One section described 15 key truths all Christians should know (and even memorize).

Check this out (straight from the book):

     The following are standard verses that will help you all the days of your Christian life, so it is worth the hard work and sweat to commit them to memory:

1. There is only one God
     c Deuteronomy 6:4

2. Jesus is Deity and equal to God the Father
     c John 1:1–3
     c John 1:14
     c John 8:58
     c John 17:5

3. God is three distinct Persons
     c Ephesians 4:4–6
     c John 14:26
     c John 16:13

4. The Holy Spirit lives in every Christian
     c John 14:17
     c Romans 8:9

5. Jesus is the only way to heaven
     c John 14:6
     c 1 Timothy 2:5

6. Salvation is God’s gift, not from human works
     c John 3:16
     c Ephesians 2:8–9
     c Titus 3:4–7
     c 2 Peter 3:9

7. Salvation comes from believing the good news of the Gospel
     c Acts 16:31
     c 1 Corinthians 15:1–5
     c Romans 1:16
     c Romans 6:23
     c Romans 10:9–10

8. The Bible is God’s Word
     c 2 Timothy 3:16
     c Hebrews 4:12
     c Revelation 22:18–19

9. Christians are expected to be obedient
     c Ephesians 5:18
     c Galatians 5:22–23
     c 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18

10. Every Christian should be a disciple
     c Luke 9:23–24
     c John 15:8
     c 2 Timothy 2:2

11. Every Christian should pray
     c Philippians 4:6

12. Every Christian will experience suffering
      c Philippians 1:29

13. The Devil is real
     c 2 Corinthians 4:4
     c 1 Peter 5:8

14. Hell is a real place
     c Matthew 10:28

15. Jesus is coming again
     c Philippians 3:20–21
     c 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17

What would it look like if all Christians committed this list to memory?  I'd like to think the church (believers) would be much stronger in their witness and more effective in their disciple-making efforts.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Exciting Workday @ church!

Yesterday was a fantastic day of service.  Eleven people devoted much of their day to paint 4 restrooms, a hallway, and a classroom of the church we are sharing with another congregation.  There were also 4 brand-new, commercial toilets installed.  What an honor to serve with such wonderful, servant-minded people!

Here are a few pictures... (more to come soon!)













Friday, January 24, 2014

That's Music to My Ears (with Franklin Graham)

Last Thursday, several hundred church leaders from Pittsburgh and the surrounding area met for lunch, prayer, and a message from Franklin Graham.  It was incredible to see so many come together for the sake of the Kingdom!  Franklin, the son of Billy Graham, presented a message from the gospel of Luke in a way that breathed life into the room, gave hope, and pointed people to Jesus.

I was especially touched by the sweet spirit of the luncheon's singer, Lacey Sturm.  She sang a powerful song which stirred passion and gratitude within my soul.  The song is called, "Mercy Tree" by Krissy Nordhoff.  Here's a link to the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tk4m5FS1F6U 

Franklin Graham is coming back to Pittsburgh this summer for a 3-day festival at the Consol Energy Center.  Advance Community Church will be praying for this great opportunity and will look to serve as best we can.  For information about the event, follow this link: http://threerivershope.org


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Have Mercy

Over the past few weeks, I have been doing word studies trying to better understand (and apply) the
Credit: Graceway Media
truths of words we often take for granted.  I have been blessed to have the Portfolio edition of Logos Bible software on my computer and iPad.  This gives me instant, itemized, and fully integrated access to a library of about 3,000 books to read and study.  It's a great resource which I would totally recommend to anyone who is serious about studying theology and the Bible.

Last week's word: MERCY.  What a fantastic word with such powerful dimension!  Mercy is a complex concept involving the compassionate disposition to forgive an offender AND to help him in his sorry plight.  It's an attribute of God and a virtue of humanity.  In His mercy, God has chosen to reach down and grant mercy to those who cry out in repentance.  He forgives and helps us in spite of ourselves.  How awesome is that?!  I want to live a life that points people to Jesus by how I show mercy.  What would our society be like if we all instinctively exercised mercy?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Change in Outlook

I am not a fan of the winter season living in the north.  I'd rather live in a place where golf can be played all year long.  For quite some time, I have grown to loath the changing of Autumn into winter. My attitude was not good!  However, when God called us to start a new church in the suburbs of Pittsburgh something began to change in my soul.  This year has been very cold with frequent snowstorms.  Yet, God has mercifully changed my attitude.  I don't think it's all that bad anymore.  I even am starting to like it.  Now I wish we would get more snow so that I can take our girls sled riding.  I'm so grateful!


Monday, January 20, 2014

Books Shaping Current Reality

Over the past decade, I have come to enjoy reading (especially when it involves a group study).  I was taught to read incorrectly as a child; therefore the idea of just sitting down with a book is not all that much of a natural thing for me to do.  However, I can honestly say, "I really enjoy reading and studying."

Here's a short list of books I'm reading that are shaping my thoughts about what's important:

  1. Psalms, Matthew, Acts, Colossians, and 1 John are the books of the Bible I am currently studying in my quiet time with God.  
  2. Center Church (by Timothy Keller) - we are slowly working through this incredible resource at 6:30am every Thursday morning.  Currently, ten men and women meet at a local restaurant to discuss how the Gospel is meant to shape our lives, churches, and cities.
  3. Exalting Jesus in Matthew (by David Platt) - this is a new venture.  Although I am only just at the beginning of the book, it is amazing how much truth comes to life in his writing and analysis of Scripture.
  4. Follow Me (by David Platt) - this will be our main book shaping our small group time while away in the Dominican Republic next month.  
  5. Comforting Hearts, Teaching Minds (by Starr Meade) - this is the resource I am using for family worship this year.  It is based on the Heidelberg Catechism.
There are a few more I am going through, however these are the top five.  

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Community of Faith

I have been a church-goer my entire life.  There are so many things I love about my Christian heritage.  A few include: the truth of the Bible, the music, the events of childhood and youth group years, great pastors, etc.  Today, I want to show gratitude for the many solid "church people" who personally invested in my faith.  These men and women embodied authentic fellowship with God which produced rich fellowship with people like me.

What does biblical fellowship look like?
     1 John 1:1-10 communicates this kind of progression of intimacy with God that leads to intimacy with others.  Upon a closer look, we quickly see "fellowship" is cheapened when we view it through the lens of church potlucks, picnics, and other surface social events.  In a real sense, fellowship always includes personal sacrifice.  What else does the Bible mean when it talks about fellowship?  The greek word for fellowship is "koinonia".
     Koinonia is: Gospel-centered, Christ-honored community based on...
          1. Mutual Faith (through the atonement of Christ) EX: 1 John 1
          2. Shared Devotion (to the apostles' teachings, communion, prayer, etc) EX: Acts 2:42
          3. Modeling (following in the steps of Jesus) EX: Phil. 3:10
          4. Partnered Mission (responding to the Great Commission) EX: Phil. 1:4-5
          5. Generous Support (to the saints and poor) EX: Heb. 13:16
          6. Sacrifice (love, confession of sins, encouragement, care, material belongings, etc.)
          7. Results (ongoing transformation to the likeness of Jesus) EX: 2 Cor. 3:18

A true community of faith embodies all the above in a tangible manner.  The soul longs for relationships that change us for the better.  Every Christian should be a contributor within the Community of Faith.  Fellowship, like friendship, has more to do with what I am giving instead of what I am getting.  Advance Community Church will aspire to be a rich Community of Faith where people are loved within the context of biblical fellowship.