For those who do not know, Saralynn and I are in Florida meeting with some of the pastors and staff of Next Level Church in Fort Myers.
The church is only five years old, but it has grown from 10 people to over 600 weekly attendees - first in a theater, now in a high school. We're here to see what they're doing, and if they can give us some direction in our proceedings with our own airport situation.
Thursday was our first day here. We started our travels a little before 6:00am, driving to Chicago's O'Hare airport. From there we flew to Atlanta to catch our connecting flight to beautiful Fort Myers, arriving about 4:15pm.
Our long-time friend, Kevin Noell, picked us up and took us back to his place where we retrieved the car we're using for the weekend. Finally, we made the short trip to our house and settled in about 5:00pm.
My first call was to Mike Ash, Associate Pastor at NLC, and we scheduled supper for 7:00p. We had a great time catching up Mike and LeAnne on our airport negotiations and listening to Mike share his passion for ministry, especially kids' ministry.
LeAnne went home after supper - she's six months pregnant - while the rest of us went to the theater where NLC really got underway. The manager recognized Mike and let us walk right through so we could see how NLC used to transform the Regal 20 into church every weekend.
We walked across the parking lot to a coffee shop still talking about our part in God's work. A couple of hours later (11:00p) we went back home, took a quick dip in the pool, and finally fell into bed at midnight.
We heard a lot last night - all of it very good and helpful - but the main thing I took away was this: We always have to be doing our best, for whatever level we're at. That means that everything we do needs to be constantly evaluated and tweaked. The thing that attracted people to our church last year will be the same thing that causes people to leave next year if we just let it go and never work on it.
Until next time,