Bring’em In… Build’em Up… Send’em Out!

Back in the summer of 2010 was when I first heard those infamous words that came out of my mentor’s mouth. Neal Hughes spouted them out so fast – I didn’t even really grasp what he was talking about. At that time, I was serving as the Associate Pastor/Minister of Evangelism at my home church and Neal commuted in each week and filled the pulpit and provided great counsel to our church and it’s staff. It was during the interim season at my home church that our Lord gave those Missional words to Neal for me. Those words were revolutionary in my life and heart and gave me vision for my ministry.

You see, when I heard Neal say, “The local church must be focused on 3 things: Bring’em In, Build’em Up & Send’em Out”; I was rattled to the core. Have you ever heard so few of words put together that were more on point for what God has called us to be focused on? I haven’t…

Fast forward to August, 2011. Our home church, led by Neal Hughes, had voted to plant a church in Madison, Ga. Our family had heard loud and clear that we were to be part of the plant and I was serving at the Church Planter/Pastor of Hope Church of Madison. God had assembled a core group of approximately 35 people and we began meeting for weekly worship services at the Morgan County High School.

On the 1st Sunday, a middled aged couple walked into the High School cafeteria and I introduced myself to them. They said that they lived in “The Real Buckhead” Georgia. Buckhead is about 5-6 miles away from Madison. On the 2nd Sunday of our existence, they brought their son Kenny. Kenny walked in that day w/ a pair of shorts on, untucked- button up shirt, flip flops and I remember his hair being all over his head. In fact, I thought to myself, “Kenny looks like he might have had a rough night last night.”

After just a couple weeks, Kenny warmed up to me and I met him at Cracker Barrel for lunch on a Wednesday. I will never forget it. Kenny shared with me that day that he had a problem w/ alcohol and he had lost custody of his 2 children and they were now living in California. He also shared with me that he had repented of his sins and gave his life to Jesus in our worship service 2 weeks earlier. I was overwhelmed. Kenny was our first adult that came to Christ in our young church plant. Above you will see a picture of him the day he was baptized.

It was on that day, that I remembered the words of Neal Hughes. “Bring’em In, Build’em Up & Send’em Out.” Kenny became my baby. He had been brought into a personal relationship w/ Jesus and into our church, now the work really started. Well, to save you a lot of time and reading, let me say that for the past 5 years, one of my life goals was to pour myself into Kenny Dahl. I had a desire to Build him up in the faith and Send him out to his work place to be on mission.

After 5 years of walking w/ Jesus, being set free from the bondage of alcohol, a new wife-Kelly & step son-Alex, new baby-KJ, lots of heartache, loss of family members, gallons of tears, mountain top experiences, and tons of spiritual growth -I’m Sending him out…

Yep, that’s right! Today, Kenny, Kelly, Alex & KJ walked out of a mexican restaurant after a meal with our family and they are headed to Denver Colorado. God has saw fit to move his 2 children that live in California back to the Denver area and has opened a door for his young family to move there to be closer to his 2 children. Kenny sees the importance of being there for his children and teaching them the truths of God’s word.

So, instead of talking about my sadness, I choose to say that today is happy day!  I love Kenny Dahl. I loved his dad-Tim who passed away last year. I love Kenny’s mom, Diane. I love Kelly and all the kids like my own. I’ve had the privilege of baptizing Kenny, Kelly and Alex over the past 5 years. I’m so excited for their family.  I’m excited because I can say without a doubt that we have been faithful to Bring’em In, Build’em Up and Send’em Out!

Kenny Dahl- I love you and I’m so proud of you. You have made the Church Planting Journey so enjoyable and rewarding! You have been a constant source of encouragement and you are truly a testimony of the Transforming Power of Jesus Christ. I will never forget sitting at Cracker Barrel in 2011 and you telling me that you got in the wheelbarrow with Jesus. I challenge you to go the Denver and never forget what Neal said, “Bring’em In, Build’em Up and Send’em Out”!  Now–It’s your turn!

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#LETTEROFHOPE

Webster defines the word “Hashtag” as -: a word or phrase preceded by the symbol # that classifies or categorizes the accompanying text (such as a tweet). Over the past month we have been walking through 1 Peter at our church. After reading and studying 1 Peter, I was led to name this study #LETTEROFHOPE. Hashtags enable people that use social media to classify or categorize what people are saying about the hashtag. In fact, you can go to your social media site (Facebook and Twitter) and search any particular #(hashtag) and you can see what others are saying about the topic. Several people in our church have used the hashtag #LETTEROFHOPE to convey what God has been saying to them through this study.

After unpacking 4 weeks of 1 Peter, #LETTEROFHOPE has come alive in my own heart. Actually, I told my wife yesterday that our study of 1 Peter has been the most exciting, most rewarding, most encouraging, and most challenging study I have ever untaken as a Pastor. I have discovered what true Hope looks like in the midst of Hard Times. I am excited about the Hope I have been given through the systematic study of 1 Peter. The Lord has encouraged me and challenged me at the same time.

People in our church are being transformed by the Word of God. Many are being equipped to deal with the Hard Times they experience. Several people have placed their faith in Jesus Christ and have began a journey of dependence upon Christ. Families have reconciled and marriages have been rescued. Young people have shared how God has spoken to their hearts and they are growing in their walk with the Lord. Several people have shared how God is speaking to them and leading them like never before.

Yesterday marked the 3 year anniversary that my mother in law, Dale Knight was killed in a tragic accident. I must confess that it was the darkest time of our lives. In fact, it was the hardest trial our family has every gone through and at the end of each March, we are reminded of those dark days. It’s easy to get in the “mullygrubbs” when we slow down and look back at our past hurts and how we have scars from the past. But as we have been looking at 1 Peter and the #LETTEROFHOPE that our Lord gave us through Peter many years ago, we find that blessed HOPE we need. Yesterday was a good day as our family spent it together, celebrating the life of my mother in law, my wife’s mom-best friend-baby sitter-shopping partner-sounding board, my children’s nana-gift giver-mentor and friend. Yesterday was better than last year and I’m confident it was better because of God’s #LETTEROFHOPE.

This weekend we will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s Easter! As believers, we have something to celebrate! Jesus Christ is alive and we have HOPE! I pray you will find your way to a worship service this Sunday and worship our Living Lord in Spirit and in Truth. If you do not have a place where you regularly worship, be my guest at Fusion Church of Madison. We will continue walking through 1 Peter and look deep into God’s #LETTEROFHOPE!

LIFE ON MISSION,

Matt

“FUSION”

According to Webster Dictionary, the word Fusion means “a merging of diverse, distinct and/or separate elements into a unified whole.”

Yesterday, Hope Church of Madison and Summit Church of Madison made a “Fusion” proposal to their congregations. This Proposal shared the idea of our church families coming together for the expressed purpose of doing more for the Kingdom of God locally, nationally and internationally.

What does that mean? Well, I’m glad you ask! Here are a few answers to the questions that many people may have.

1. Where did this idea originate? Back in March, the Leadership Team of Summit Church had a meeting to discuss this possibility and prayed through the Fusion idea. After that meeting Pastor Jeff Rogers called me. That meeting began a very intensive process that has brought us to the point of making this proposal to our churches.

2. Who has been involved in this process? Summit’s Lead Team: Jeff Rogers, Kevin Ramsey, Tim Carter, Charlie Brown. Hope’s Lead Team: Matt Alexander, Michael Hughes, Greg Carter, Mark Smith, David Kelley.

3. Has anyone from our state convention, association, and/or North America Mission Board offered any counsel and insight? Yes! Larry Wynn and Harris Malcom from our state convention has offered great counsel and helped us with a systematic process to walk through. Neal Hughes from NAMB offered great insight early on in this process and challenged us to answer the hard questions. Larry Cheek w/ the Stone Mountain Baptist Association has been instrumental in guiding us too. NAMB also provided us a valuable resource from Matt Rogers. Matt wrote a book that explained the process that his church went through to merge with another church in 2013. This resource helped us walk through this entire process and it has been priceless.

4. Is either church in trouble? NO. Both churches are stable and God is blessing their ministries. There are no financial problems and/or church disputes that has brought about this proposal. Both churches recognize the fact that they have the potential to be stronger together than apart and feel that a Merger will help grow the Kingdom at a more rapid pace.

5. What is the proposed name of the Church? Great question. We were challenged to leverage the names of both congregations to communicate unity and vision in Madison. It’s important to us that our city understands that no church is closing but that both churches are coming together for some very specific reasons. Also, as we prayed through a new name, we wanted to have a name that would be simple and something that would be foundational in the area of church planting for the future. So, the proposed name will allow us to plant more churches with identifying names for each campus. The proposed name is “Hope Church at the Summit”. The leadership of both congregations see the tremendous value in keeping the name Summit and Hope in the name of the new ministry.

6. What will be my role and Jeff’s role? Jeff will serve as Executive Pastor of the new work. Jeff will be responsible for Assimilation, Evangelism, Discipleship, Outreach and Missions. I will serve as Lead Pastor and will be responsible for the overall direction of the church. Jeff and I have spent countless hours together since March and I can say that we have never been more excited about where God is leading us both!

These are exciting days and we look forward to seeing how God will lead us in the days to come.

Here is a link to the video we shared yesterday with our churches.

Whatever It Takes,
Matt

Mountain Tops & Grief

This blog began in the summer of 2013. It was designed to chronicle the life and experience of a church planter, me, Matt Alexander. The post have been few and far between but today I must share.

Planting a church has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever tackled but it has also been one of the most rewarding. This past Sunday was a monumental day for our young church family. We moved from the local High School, where we have been meeting since our launch on August 7, 2011. We moved to the local Recreation Gym next door to the High School.

It was a wonderful site as we packed up all our equipment after our service and made our passage down the street to our new home! It was in a sense, our “Crossing of the Jordan”! In fact, all,of our families rolled rolling boxes down the street while others drove their vehicles and honked their horn! It was an exciting time as we built “memorials” along the journey. This was a special time of celebration.

As we arrived at our “Promised Land”, excitement was at an all time high as we set up the gym with all of our equipment and saw God’s plan unfold. Words could not describe the joy that was in our heart as we finished up Sunday afternoon.

Even though this was a “Mountain Top” experience, there was an underlying grief that our family was carrying. You see, it was 2 years to the date that my wife’s mother, our children’s Nana, and my wonderful mother in law was tragically killed in an accident. This was hard for our family to reconcile. On one hand we were grieved and on the other, we were pumped about what God was doing at Hope.

Boy… I sure do love my wife . While carrying this load, she handled the meal for over 120 people Sunday night. She set the seating arrangements for all our guest, she handled getting the meal together with a caterer that failed to have all the food on time and tried to please people that registered at the last minute. It would have been easy for her to have stayed at home Sunday but she rose to the occasion because she loves people! If my dad were here today he would say, “Matt, your wife has a heart as big as TEXAS!”

So today, as I share this experience with you, I want you to know that even in the greatest moments of life- people, even your leaders and their families are dealing with hurts of the past. You see, I’m learning that Mountain Tops & Grief go together! When it seems that no one cares, Jesus Cares! I was reminded of a an old song yesterday that ministered to my heart and I pray you’ll go listen to “Does Jesus Care” by Frank Graeff. You can listen to George Beverly Shea sing it on You Tube by clicking on this link: http://youtu.be/kheJYjttzY4

Here are the lyrics.

Does Jesus care when my heart is pained
 Too deeply for mirth or song,
As the burdens press, and the cares distress
 And the way grows weary and long?

Oh yes, He cares, I know He cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,
I know my Savior cares.

Does Jesus care when I’ve tried and failed
To resist some temptation strong;
When for my deep grief there is no relief,
Though my tears flow all the night long?

Does Jesus care when I’ve said “goodbye”
To the dearest on earth to me,
And my sad heart aches till it nearly breaks,
Is it aught to Him? Does He see?

Oh Yes, He Cares-
Matt

Let Me Introduce You To:

Please allow me to introduce you to the most amazing person on the planet!

Her name is Thomasia Alexander. Thomasia is the most caring, loving, independent, beautiful, strong, wise, and incredible woman I have ever known. She has 5 wonderful children that she home schools and a husband that she has to care for 24/7…

She grew up in a Farmer’s home and that had its advantages. You see, she was taught early on that hard work pays off. She has an incredible work ethic and she understands the “law of the harvest”. She plants seeds everyday and expects to reap a tremendous return.

Thomasia has the unique ability to hear her child’s cry when it is silent. She can read her husbands face and interpret it without asking any questions. She is a knockout and she can cook a mean “Blueberry Pound Cake”! Thomasia loves and cares like no other person I know.

She has the ability to see through my faults and abilities and cheers me on when I want to quit! She works hard and sleeps little. Thomasia cares for others and weeps over bad news. She reaches out to long lost friends and embraces new people as if she’s known them forever. Thomasia is a true friend.

Folks, Thomasia Alexander is my wife.

Today is Valentines Day 2014! I have always really stunk at being a Romantic and Thomasia would clearly affirm that statement… But today I wanted to simply open my heart for the world to see.

Thomasia, I love you with every fiber of my being! Back in 1986, I saw you as a strong, wise, loving, young lady. Through the years, I have enjoyed every step of the journey. We have laughed. We have cried. We have witnessed the power of God and have traveled many dark roads. We have wrestled with God and taken steps of obedience. We have made wrong turns and with God’s help, made right ones too. We have seen friends come and we’ve seen them go. We have grown so much but still seem like kids! We have enjoyed many special moments like the time your friends showed up at your surprise birthday party. Like the time the doctor held our daughter up in the air and said, “You have a girl”! We have giggled and we have wept. We have searched and we have found!

Thank you for loving me with a Christ like love. Thank you for following me when the path has not been clear. Thank you for being the mother that you are and the friend I so desperately need! Thank for giving your all when it seems no one was watching!

You are a friend, mother, caregiver, teacher, chef, shuttle driver, counselor, scholar, spouse, partner, helpmate, bride, listener, friend, wife, laundry operater, companion and you are mine!

Happy Valentines Day!

I love you the most!

Matt

Coffee House Meditation

Run, Run- Fast as you can! This morning I had a meeting with one my friends and Missions Partners in Covington, Georgia at 10:30 am. I decided to skip going to the office in Madison before my meeting because of gas prices and timing. So, I made the trip to Covington way ahead of schedule to get in some reading, focus, and meditation. I just needed to clear my head.

I arrived at “the coffee house” and sat down alone and ordered a cup of “joe”. I sat for what seems like an hour, just asking God to clear my mind and settle my heart. After about 15 minutes, I pulled out my journal and began to make a list of things that I needed to do by Friday. After 5 minutes…. I had a comprehensive list and felt relieved. I then began going through the list: sending emails, making calls, putting dates on the calendar and making notes to help remind me to do other things.

I opened up my Bible and read the text for our theme for 2014 and God spoke directly to my heart and gave me not 1 but 2 messages for a series that will begin in February. If you are a pastor, you know that when read the Word and our Lord gives you 2 messages while you are just reading scripture and not preparing or even looking for a sermon, you’re overwhelmed! Folks, that’s how it’s supposed to be! But let me be real for a minute: that doesn’t happen in my life as often as it should because of the “busyness and noise” of life.

I guess what I’m saying is this: let’s slow down and focus our lives and be intentional in the areas of life that are most important in the context of eternity. What really matters most to you? Christ, Faith, Family, Job, Recreation, Friends, Pleasing People?

I’m thankful for the time I slowed down this morning at the “coffee house”. When is the last time you experienced some “coffee house meditation”?

He’s “Special”

On this day 16 years ago, my life was changed forever. No, I didn’t have a terrible accident or hear some troubling news from a Doctor. I found myself at the side of a hospital bed at Rockdale Medical Hospital and witnessed the most remarkable thing! On that day, my wife gave birth to Elijah Craig Alexander.

Like all of all our children, Elijah is “Special”! He’s special because our Lord has uniquely gifted him with some gifts that make him standout in our home. I remember how when he was 2 1/2 years old that he could back his John Deere Petal Tractor around our island in our kitchen with a trailer hitched to the rear without ever having to pull forward to realign himself! Folks- that’s Special. I’ll have to remind him of that gift as he prepares to get his license this week. He’s sweating a load!

Elijah is “Special” because he is a very hard worker. When I’m scared to try to tear something a part, he dives right in! He loves to get dirty and do whatever it takes to accomplish the task at hand. In fact, I’ve never seen a kid or 16 year young man with the work ethic he has. He can do anything he wants to do. At times I get perplexed when he accomplishes something I would have never tried and I ask myself, “Self, where does he get that”? Well, he gets that from his Mom and Papa.

Elijah is “Special” because he has a heart to be a behind the scenes-impact player for the cause of Christ. When God called our family to plant Hope Church of Madison, I had no idea what kind of task He was calling us to. There are days that all of our children are with me, serving food, washing coolers, setting up tables, sweeping floors, praying with families or visiting hospitals. Elijah has been with me every step of the way. He serves at Hope church in our Audio Visual Ministry and our Lord has used him in a tremendous way over the past 3 years. He works so hard. He’s “Special”!

Next, I’m sure Elijah will not like the phrase “He’s Special”, but I have a reason. When I was a kid, my mom always told me that I was “Special” & it made a great impact on my life. In fact, I heard it so much I began to believe it. I’m not sure I was “Special” but I’m confident that Elijah is! I’m so proud of the young man that he has grown to be and I’m not looking forward to letting him go in the days to come, but he has a calling! So, I will release him to join our Lord in making a difference for His Kingdom!

Elijah, You are one of greatest blessings our Lord has given to us. We love you and we are so proud and honored to call you son! When I look at you I see myself and it fills me with fear. But I also see your mom and how she has greatly influenced your life. It doesn’t stop there, I see your Papaw, who you never met. He marked you and you don’t even realize it! I see Grammaw in you by how you care so deeply for others & this is a trait that’s at the top of my list of things I admire about you. Finally, when I look at you, I see your Papa & Nana. Our Lord used them in a Real Unique Way to help mold & shape you into the man you have become. I’m overwhelmed today as I think about who you have become because of these special people.

You know, Elijah is “Special” because God used “Special” people to invest in him. May we all see that we are “Special” & let that truth motivate us to invest in the next generation.

I’m Committed,

Dad