Friday, October 23, 2015

Dear West Campus family,

We had a great turnout at our 2015 Fall Festival held at our West Campus last Saturday. There was a great spirit among our volunteers and everyone who came had a fantastic time! We had a number of people register and eleven of those expressed a desire for more information on how to become a Christian. We have followed up with the requests this week by getting each person a Billy Graham "How to become a Christian" guide that also includes how to read the Bible and pray along with the gospel of John.

Also, our children's winter coat giveaway at our downtown location went great earlier that Saturday morning. Many coats were given out and people were shown the love of God in a real, practical way. I am so proud to be a part of a church that seeks to reach out to its community with the love of Jesus!

Looking forward to celebrating Jesus with you this Sunday!

Pastor Tommy

Friday, September 18, 2015

Dear West Campus family

This Saturday marks week three of college football games across the nation. As teams line up on the gridiron, they are keeping score. The team that wins the game puts up more points than the other. Teams that score points either put the ball across the goal line, kick it through the field goal, or tackle the other team in the other team's end zone. Teams do not receive points for coolest uniforms, exciting entrances, or best tackles.

As a church, we need to focus on the scoreboard and the true measure of success. As we employ our strategy of reaching, creating, and multiplying disciples, this gives us a scorecard to measure our efforts. One "win" that I saw last Sunday morning was the fact we had 87% of people in a small group Bible study. Add to the fact we had other people involved in a small group outside of Sundaymorning and that number is even higher! That is a win as we "create" disciples in small group environments!

I hope to see you not only in worship this Sunday but also in a small group either Sunday morning or one of the other Relationship Principles of Jesus groups that meet throughout the week.

In Him,

Pastor Tommy

P.S. This Sunday we will look at Loving people with our words. I know it will be of help to you!

P.P.S. The Sunday morning small group I am part of is going out to eat at Gezzo's Surf & Grille this Sunday after church. If you'd like to join us, we'd love to have you!

Friday, September 04, 2015

9/4/15 FBC McDonough West Campus Update- Pursue Hospitality This Weekend!

Dear West Campus Family,

I recently read a quote from Steve Childers, a seminary professor and leading church planting strategist. He was meeting with some pastors for a seminar and raised this question to them: "You know what the key to evangelism in the 21st-century will be, don't you?" After a long pause he answered his own question: "Hospitality." 

As we continue to employ our "Reach...Connect...Multiply" strategy for this new school year, one of the most important ways we will reach others is through hospitality. The most important tool we have in our toolbox to engage with those outside the Christian faith is our own homes and sharing a meal with our neighbors. 

I am currently reading a book by Tony Merida entitled Ordinary: How To Turn the World Upside Down. Dr. Merida pastors a church in the Raleigh-Durham area and they have grown over the last two years significantly with no advertising at their church. When new people come in and ask about programs they have at the church and how they can get involved, Pastor Merida tells them, "Invite somebody over for dinner." They don't have a ton of programs in their church because they want their people having other people over for meals throughout the week so gospel conversations can take place.

Hospitality is not about entertaining people. "Entertaining" guests is about impressing others; hospitality is about serving others.  Hospitality literally means "love for strangers." Dr. Merida states, "Hospitality is what we extend to outsiders, strangers, and those in physical and spiritual need."

Hospitality is seen throughout the Old and New Testament. It was the heart of the early church. In fact, look at the life of Jesus. He was constantly eating with people, and even gets labeled a "glutton and drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!" He even eats in the homes of the hated tax collectors, like Levi and Zacchaeus. 

In his book Eating Your Way Through Luke's Gospel, Robert Karris says throughout the gospel of Luke Jesus is either going to a meal, at a meal, or coming from a meal. Luke gives attention to Jesus' ministry at the dinner table. 

Lest we think this is a nice thing for some to do but optional, the Bible commands us in Romans 12:13 "...pursue hospitality." 1 Peter 4:9 states, "Be hospitable to one another without complaining." Hospitality is so important that one of the qualifications for  pastors is hospitality (1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:8)

The Labor Day weekend is upon us. You may be grilling some burgers at home this weekend. Why don't you make it a point to invite some neighbors over and join you? I believe this is one of the best ways we as a church can be on mission for Jesus in our own community. Oh, and as we continue our message series this Sunday about love, this is one the best ways you can love your neighbor as yourself!

Loving God and loving my neighbors alongside you, 

Pastor Tommy

P.S. Thank you West Campus family for my 1 year anniversary cards and gifts. So unexpected yet greatly appreciate. You guys are the best!

Friday, May 15, 2015

6E Strategy

Recently, I had the opportunity to hear Randy Mullinax of the Georgia Baptist Convention share what is known as the 6E Strategy of evangelism. Sometimes we label things we do in the church as evangelism that may not qualify as evangelism. He states three things must be in place for evangelism to occur: 1) The lost are present, 2) The Gospel is presented, 3) People are given a chance to respond. How often do churches have I had one & two in place and neglect the third part?

Randy states there are six evangelism strategies we can weave into the fabric of our church. Let me share those with you:
1) Prayer Evangelism:  This is praying for the lost by name. Every small group/Sunday School class should be praying for the lost. One church saw nine people come to Christ in a revival; all nine were on the prayer list.
2) Ministry Evangelism: This is the helping people part by meeting needs (physical, financial, etc.)
3) Team Evangelism: This is where we as church do outreach together. It may involve a visitation night where we go out and make visits as a church but we also provide opportunities for people to write cards and make phone calls as well.
4) The Sunday Morning Experience: Yes, our Sunday morning worship service is an evangelism opportunity. That's why it is incredibly important we have greeters, proper signage, a great children and student ministry, and we clearly present the gospel.
5) Personal Evangelism: This is where people in our church share the gospel. My mind immediately thinks of Bill Sawyer. Some months back I went to lunch with him and then he took me to pick up my car in the shop. He had shared his faith with the cashier and the mechanic and just about everyone else we came into contact with!
6) Event Evangelism: These are block parties, Fall Festivals, revivals, etc. Again, one must remember that the lost must be present, the gospel is presented, and there is an opportunity to respond.

Looking at the baptism rate of our West Campus, there is much room for improvement. What can God do if we put much prayer and action into these six areas? I'm excited to find out!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Church Systems Check-Up

I've spent the last two days in Orlando, Florida soaking in information review of church systems taught by Church Leader Insights founder and Lead Pastor of Journey Church, Nelson Searcy. Nelson makes the point that our bodies, which God designed with systems, are designed to work together for health. So it is with church systems. Or at least they should be. Nelson teaches that systems are designed to give you what you are getting. If you don't like what you are getting, look at your system. He teaches there are eight systems that should be at work in a healthy church. As a two-time coaching alumni of Nelson's his eight systems teaching are some of the best stuff out there to give church planters and pastors practical guidance on leading a healthy church. This conference was a hit with the participants and fired us all up! For more information on the eight systems of a church, check out

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Front Stage Ministry Must Be Empowered Back Stage

I just finished a great book by Lance Witt entitled, Replenish: Leading From A Health Soul. It was a helpful reminder to me. In ministry it is important to learn leadership skills, how to cast vision, leading teams, etc. These areas are what he calls the front stage public world of ministry. He makes a great point: If I neglect the back stage the front stage will fall apart. What happens when I "order my private world" (thank you Gordon McDonald) empowers what takes place on the front stage. It's all about being! This is a great book and a helpful reminder to those who have been in ministry awhile. You see, after a few years in ministry you can easily fall into autopilot. I don't want to be one of those. How about you? 

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Recently, my son was invited to a classmate's birthday party. It was one of those parties where many of the kids knew each other and yet many of the parents did not. As the kids ran around playing, having fun, etc., I looked around at the scene before me. Several parents were sitting off to themselves engrossed in their phones. One lady was reading from her Kindle. A few were talking to one another. I must admit in social situations where I do not know many or any people, it is easy for me to suddenly become interested in the Weather Channel app on my phone. But, I had an epiphany that day. I need to "be there" no matter where the "there" is. Wherever I may be and whoever I may be with, I need to be fully there.

Jim Rohn said, "Wherever you are, be there." He also said, "When you work, work. When you play, play. Don't mix the two."

I haven't always done that. Never too late to start!

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Community Easter Egg Hunt @ Oneal Village

I am excited about our church joining up with the Randolph Group at Oneal Village for a Community Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, March 31, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. We have done these egg hunts at Lake Robinson (pictured above), Lake Cunningham, and at Mountain View Elementary. We've never done one at Oneal Village. It's going to be a great day of bridging people to the love of Christ!

Pulling off an event this big which will attract hundreds of people means we have some volunteer opportunities available. There is an opportunity to dress up in a bunny costume and sweat profusely for two hours. I know that sounds grueling but you get to meet a lot of people and will pose for many photos. There is an opportunity to bring joy to the faces of kids by laying out eggs in a field, serving them a hot dog, painting their face, giving them a balloon, helping them in a bounce house, and many other ways. If you would like to get in on the fun, please contact me at

The larger question is why do this? It takes planning, time, money, and energy. But, all of it is worth it because this is more than just an egg hunt with some prizes, bounce houses, and free hot dogs we're passing out. We will be disbursing hope to people who come. Our lives have been changed by Jesus Christ. We once lived in darkness but now walk in the light. We are letting that light shine (Matthew 5:16). We will be out in our community Palm Sunday weekend meeting lots of people because we want them to know 2 Corinthians 5:21 states, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." It's amazing when we reach out to people through an event like an egg hunt how God opens doors for us. Doors open that allow us to share that hope that they can become "the righteousness of God" in Him.  

I know where I'll be Saturday, March 31. I'll be passing out hope. My platform is an egg hunt. I invite you to join me and pass out some hope to people in our community who have religion but do not have hope.

Pastor Tommy


Friday, February 17, 2012

Stepping Out Of Your Boat

Thursday night I was coming back from taking Tanya and the boys out for dinner for her birthday (Happy 40 Tanya!). We were heading home when Ethan suddenly had to go to the bathroom. So, the closest one around was the Chic-Fil-A in Greer. As we quickly made our way in I ran into the three ladies you see above. In the middle is Renee Morton. She is the Pastor's administrative assistant at Taylors First Baptist. On the left is Anita Jeter along with her daughter. They are also members of Taylors First. 

 As we talked Anita reminded me of a sermon I shared at Taylors First Baptist over eight years ago entitled, "If you want to walk on water get out of the boat." I based much of that sermon on John Ortberg's book that greatly influenced me. We are all visual creatures and I used a kayak on stage that night to emphasize my point. Anita shared with me that because of that sermon challenge she stepped out of her boat and went on an overseas mission trip for the first time. That was incredibly encouraging for me to hear!

Let me ask you a question. What is your boat? I will tell you that your boat represents safety and security to you apart from God himself. It is what you put your trust in, especially when life gets a bit stormy. It is what keeps you so comfortable that you don't want to give it up, especially if it means joining Jesus on the waves. It is whatever pulls you away from the high adventure of extreme discipleship. You can identify your boat by looking at your fears. Ask yourself, "What is it that produces the most fear in me, especially when I think of leaving it behind and stepping out in faith?" 

Starting a church eight years ago was my step out of the boat. I'd like to share some points on how you can step out of your boat and be used by God mightily. I have personally experienced every one of these principles in my journey.

1. Express to God your willingness to take a step. 
In Matthew 14:28 Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, if it is you...tell me to come to you on the water." Peter was willing to take a step. He had made up his mind that if it was who he thought it was (Jesus), then he was heading that way.
2. When you get the go ahead, Go AHEAD!
Jesus told Peter in verse 29, "Come." Peter didn't need to pray a little more, fast, go to a retreat, memorize some verses, etc. He had a clear command and so he stepped out. In his stepping out, he experienced some things we all must be prepared for as well.

*Expect problems
Verses 29-30 state, "Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind..." Have you ever seen the wind? You were trying to serve God in a new way and you experienced setbacks, obstacles, and opposition. Some people never step out of the boat because they know the problems they will face. Thomas Aquinas wrote, "If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in the port forever." If you step out of the boat you may start to sink, but if you don't step out you will never know the joy of walking on water. Staying in the boat is risky, too.

*Expect fear as the price of growth.
The choice to follow Jesus and to grow is a choice for constantly facing fear. Peter steps out of the boat and becomes afraid when the wind came. There will be other times in Peter's life where he becomes afraid.

 When stepping out in faith, accept the fact that the fear will never go away. Because once you face your fear and tackle it, God will challenge you to take on a new challenge. He will constantly stretch you and that will cause fear in you again. There will always be a battle between risk and comfort. If you are a disciple of Jesus, you will have to renounce comfort and expect fear as the price of growth.

*Master failure management.
Verse 30 states, "But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, 'Lord, save me!'" Peter began to sink in the water and we may rush to quick judgment and point out his failure. It is true he sank. He did fail in a way. But you know what? There were eleven bigger failures sitting in the boat. They failed quietly. Peter was the one who knew public failure. But Peter also knew the thrill of walking on water and being rescued by Jesus in a time of need.

When you step out of the boat there will be people who criticize you and bail on you the moment you start to sink. But you have to live your life for an audience of One. Teddy Roosevelt said, "It's not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena...who, at best, knows in the end the triumph of great achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly so that his place will never be with those cold timid souls who know neither victory or defeat." John Maxwell said, "Failure is not trying something and it not succeeding. Failure is never trying anything at all." Stepping out of the boat means dealing with failure management.

*Wait on the Lord.
In the Matthew 14 story the disciples had to wait until the fourth watch of the night before Jesus showed up. Why didn't Jesus make the wind die down before Peter got out of the boat? Maybe Peter and all the disciples, like us, needed to learn something about waiting. Waiting on the Lord is the hardest part of trusting!

Life is so short. I don't want at the end of my life to view a video Jesus put together for me on his Apple Macbook Pro entitled, "What could have been." So, what about you? Imagine what God could do through you if were willing to trust Him more with your time, your talents, your finances, and your relationships. Imagine what God could have done through you if you had only stepped out of the boat. Guess what? It's never too late as long as you are alive. Today is the present; it is God's present to you. Don't play it safe. Step out of your boat and live it for God's glory!

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Jennifer White

Eight years ago January Ridgeview Church officially launched our first
worship service at Mountain View Elementary. All our praying,
dreaming, and planning were coming to fruition as we opened our doors
wide to the Blue Ridge community. I'll never forget the first family
to walk through our door that Sunday morning. It was Jennifer White's
family. They made their way through the foyer down the hallway to
check in their precious girls at the Ridgekidz desk and then entered
the worship service. After the service they expressed how much they
enjoyed their experience and would be back.They actually did come back
again and again and made their way into the life of our very young

I have had the wonderful privilege of seeing Jennifer White grow not
only as a musician but as a woman in Christ. In August of 2004
Jennifer was rebaptized. It was a renewed commitment she made to
Christ. Since that time I have seen her conquer so many odds because
of her faith in Christ. She is the embodiment of "I can do (endure)
all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).

Pastor Rick Warren says that you do not judge a church by the seating
capacity but by the sending capacity. I also believe that we should
judge a church by the disciples it makes. I am so proud that our
church has been used by God to be a bridge of God's love to Jennifer
White. We have seen her grow as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Now, we
are seeing her go as a disciple to lead worship in a new church in

I couldn't be more proud of Jennifer! This Sunday will be her last
Sunday at Ridgeview and she will be leading us in worship through
music. We will miss her on Sunday mornings but know God will continue
to use her gifts for His glory!

See you Sunday!

Pastor Tommy