All or Nothing

Some of my favorite spectacles to watch in my free time are the Red Bull sponsored stunts. Red Bull seems to come up with some of the most magnificent stunts and feats I’ve ever seen including a man jumping from a pod in space and free falling to earth breaking all kinds of previous records. Another, more common stunt, is the jumping of extreme distances on a bicycle or motorcycle. When you witness this type of stunt, you will hear something called a "point of no return".

This moment is where the rider knows that once that point is reached (usually on or just before a ramp) there is no turning back. If they were to try and stop now, they would fail with devastating results and in some cases even death. The stunt woman or stunt man knows at that point it is now all or nothing. They now must trust the work and time that has been put into building their skill, the soundness of their equipment, and the people on their team. It is with that confidence that they leave the safety and stability of the ramp and propel themselves into the air until they eventually land on the other side of whatever obstacle they were trying to clear. All who witness such a moment are left with a deep sense of awe and amazement knowing that what they just experienced was something special.

It is with that image in mind that I shift our gaze back to the life and ministry at Long Grove Community Church over the past 3 years since I began as Senior Pastor. While it is true that we are not jumping canyons or buildings, but we are trying to move something from one place to another. We equally face a “death” of sorts if we don’t maintain our momentum as we pass certain markers. Our own "paint of no return". If you picture a ramp set to launch us, we currently find ourselves at a place about halfway up the ramp and if we are to successfully make the jump from where we were to where we desire to be, we cannot let our foot of the gas so to speak. We must trust all that has led us up to this point to see us succeed. We must trust the systems, trust the process, trust the people we are with, but most importantly trust the Lord.


2022 was a significant year, I believe, because it was the first time since my arrival that we were able to run a stretch with some sense of “normality” in the world around us. Not to say that everything is fine in the world, but for a moment in time the church didn’t feel like it had things crashing in from every direction all the time. With the settling in, came a clearer picture of where we were headed, leaving some excited about the future and others not so much. Change is difficult, but sometimes is needed. Not all who once called LGCC home desired to continue with where the church is headed and so we pray that they have found a new church home where they can be fully engaged.

LGCC also said a difficult farewell to Pastor Tony after serving the church faithfully for over a decade. We had a beautiful turnout for Pastor Tony and Debby’s farewell where they were honored and showered with love. LGCC will forever be grateful for their investments into the ministry at LGCC over the years and pray the Lord’s continued blessing on their next chapter of ministry.

With Pastor Tony’s departure, a need arose in the position of leading our youth. Patrick and Taryn O’Connell graciously stepped up and agreed to lead our student meetings until a permanent solution can be found. As newlyweds, they could be spending their time doing many other things, yet here they are, serving faithfully every week, committed to our students. Please be sure to let them know how much they are appreciated the next time you see them.


Last year took us as a congregation through many great places in the Scripture. Some of the series included:

  • Upside Down Series – A study on the Beatitudes
  • To the Ends of the Earth Series – A study through ACTS chapters 8-12
  • Exiles – The Power of Repentance (Worship)
  • Grow in Grace – A study though 2 Peter
  • Among Us – The significance of Christ coming to us in the flesh

We also had some important numbers in key areas:

  • 16 – People completed our NextSteps class
  • 4 – New members added to the congregation
  • 2 – People baptized
  • 1 – Baby dedication

We participated in many events and activities with the downtown as well. We continue to establish ourselves as committed and a valuable part of the life in town. The Lord continues to establish avenues into the community around us and we continue to faithfully step into those places. There have been numerous opportunities to come alongside local business owners in different ways. Our commitment to pursuing relationship with these wonderful people has given space to pray and care for some of their most important needs.


2022 also saw the beginnings of our relationship as a church with Santiago Valentin, who has since become a part-time interim pastor at LGCC. His primary role is to lead our vision building process and assess and build up the vital areas of ministry needed for our success. At the end of last year, the Vision Team met for the first weekend retreat. It was quite enlightening and so began our process of vision planning for the future. We are privileged to have around 25 members of our congregation committed to growing together while exploring what God may have in store for LGCC moving forward. This process will continue through most of 2023 where we hope to implement and launch into our plan as a church in the Fall sometime. It is exciting to consider what the Lord may have in store for LGCC and I would encourage you to please pray for the Vision Team as we walk through the process.

With that in mind, our vision, mission statement, etc… are on hold as these will be birthed from the vision planning process. In the meantime I would encourage you to focus in on who your “one” might be this year. As we began the new year, I challenged the congregation to prayerfully consider one person in their life who they will focus on this year. That means to pray for that person, be intentional in making time for that person, and really making an effort to be a blessing to that person. Imagine if everyone in our congregation by year’s end saw their ONE, know the Lord and commit to becoming an active part of the LGCC community.

My desire is to see our church become what is called a “conversion community”. A community that is growing not through people who are already believers (though that is good), but instead through people coming to know Jesus as Lord of their lives. How exciting would that be? To prepare for this, we are establishing New Believer classes, a discipleship track, as well as vibrant Life Groups. We must be able to see and measure how people move from convert to disciple and the systems and processes being put in place will help us to do that.


We would not be where we are today without people like yourself committing to see lives changed. I am grateful to be serving LGCC as it’s Senior Pastor and am moving ahead with expectation of what God might do in and through each of us. I could not do what I do without the tremendous support of our Elders and Staff. I am honored to serve with such wonderful people who are committed to seeing the Bride of Christ, His Church, made holy and acceptable before the Lord. Please take a moment when you can to thank or encourage a staff member or Elder as they need that as well.

I leave you with the model we desire to become at Long Grove Community Church:

Acts 2:42-47 (NLT) - A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had.  45They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 46They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity — 47all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.