The Year of RE






Let’s assume that you don’t know anything about what is going on at New Venture Christian Church. Maybe we haven’t done the best job communicating or someone hasn’t been paying attention. So I will start at the beginning and lay out the plans and directions of the church through some blog posts.

To begin with, NVCC entered into a transition period on January 1 of 2015. That transition is involves the lead minister of the church. During 2015 I will be releasing the lead role of the church and handing it off to Chris Garrett. This transition period will take up to twelve months, if needed.

Founding Pastor

I was the founding pastor of New Venture and have led the church over the last eleven years. During that time we have met in three temporary locations for Sunday services including Carmike Cinemas, Tomahawk Creek Middle School and currently the SDA building on Courthouse. In addition, during that time the church has purchased property on Lucks Lane, renovated a facility there for a ministry center and will build a permanent meeting place and church campus on that site in the future.

Next Level

After eleven years in the lead role I realize it is time to transition to a younger leader who will move the church forward to its next level with fresh and compelling vision and passion. Chris Garrett is just that person.
Chris grew up in Virginia Beach but has been on staff at Indian Creek Christian Church, a mega church in the Indianapolis area, for the past seven years. He comes with proven experience, solid credentials and a passion for reaching those who are far from God.

Chris and I are equally sharing the Sunday teaching responsibilities at the current time. As the year unfolds more and more of the preaching will be transferred from me, to him.

The Year of RE

So we are calling this The Year of RE. The first RE is RELEASE. I will be releasing the lead role to Chris Garrett who will be leading the charge as soon as the full transition is in place.

Looking ahead, other RE’s to come are…
• Relocating
• Restaffing
• Relaunching
• Revisioning
• Remissioning
• Recareering


If A Picture Speaks a Thousand Words Then These Speak Millions

photo 2 New Ministry Center, 12200 Lucks Lane, Midlothian,VA 23114

-Before and After-

The pictures say it all!

Thanks to the many, many people who devoted countless hours over the last six weeks to the massive project.

photo 202

photo 201

photo 115photo 207photo 124photo 206photo 213photo 117photo 107photo 206photo 208photo 129photo 203photo 202 photo 210 photo 204 photo 119 photo 2214 photo 205 photo 126 photo 127 photo 209photo 112photo 116


excellence 4Whatever you do work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” Col. 3:23


If anything, those words call for excellence in everything we do, especially when it comes to working for the Lord, because, after all,  all we do is actually for the Lord. Excellence should be the passion of our heart-all the time.


Daisy Hepburn writes in “Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way” “Good, better, best, never let it rest—until your good is your better and your better is your best!” Nothing but the best should characterize what we do for the Lord, all the time.


Bob Russell, long time Lead Pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY says…

·           In everything-excellence.

·           Excellence is not valuing one ministry above another.

·           Excellence is not perfection.

·           Excellence is not being judged by the standards and opinions of others.

·           Excellence is doing your very best in whatever you do, especially for the Lord. Excellence is quality ministry. Excellence is going the second mile. Excellence is planning and preparation ahead of time. Excellence is first class ministry. Excellence is ministry flowing from a healthy, full relationship with Christ. Excellence is refusal to cut corners or just doing enough to get by on. Excellence is God’s call to every Christian.

Whether you sing a song…play an instrument…serve communion…greet…usher…teach a class…preach a sermon…read excellence 2Scripture…participate in drama…serve in the nursery…change diapers…change light bulbs…mow grass…facilitate a group…lead a ministry team…whatever you do, do it “with all your heart”.


I can think of two enormously important reasons why excellence is needed in everything we do for the Lord– all the time.




Philippians 2:5-8 “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-even death on a cross!”


Why? Because His ministry on our behalf was a ministry of excellence.


Leonardo Da Vinci was once at work for a long period of time on a great masterpiece. He had labored long to complete this work of art and it was near completion. Standing near him was a young student who spent much of his time with his mouth open, amazed at the master with the brush. Just before finishing the painting, Da Vinci turned to the young student and gave him the brush and said, “Now, you finish it.” The student protested and backed away, but Da Vinci said, “Will not what I have done inspire you to do your best?”


Because He gave His very best he deserves the very best from us.




Everything we do in ministry and for the Lord effects the eternity of people who come our way. How you do your ministry will oftentimes be the factor that determines whether they will return or you will get a second chance. We are influencing people all the time. And that influence reaches all the way into eternity.


Darren Walter wrote a book called The People Magnet Church. Some of what he addresses applies to the first impression people, but much of it applies to everyone who serves the Lord.


“The good news is that because of the blood of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for me, I’m going to heaven by God’s grace, regardless of how people treat me in any church. The bad news is that there are people who do not know God’s grace and are unaware of Christ’s sacrifice. They are going to Hell. And they will make a decision to accept or reject God based on how they are received in His House, by you and me. I’m not trying to be over dramatic here. I truly believe that eternity hangs in the balance when a guest walks through the doors of your church. Those who volunteer their time to greet, welcome, usher, and answer questions of those visiting have some of the most important challenges in the entire church body. Many times we only have one chance to make an impression, one shot at showing our love for people.


The fact is -most guests make up their minds whether they’ll return for a second time in the first few moments of their visit. Long before they hear the sermon or the solos, they’ve decided if they’ll ever come back based on how we treat them.”


·           How we treat them is the first factor.

·           The second one is the quality and passion with which we do our ministry. How well we represent our Lord. If He really is the most important person in life to us then it will be seen in the excellence of our ministry.


In effect, people come with two foremost questions in their mind that they want an answer to.

1.         Do these people really care about me?

2.         Are these people really serious about this thing called Christianity?


excellenceThe quality with which we serve the Lord and do our ministry influences others and that influence can touch eternity. Never forget that. Engrave it on your soul


I know it is highly likely that you will not receive the response or recognition from people that you anticipate or desire or think you deserve. So what do you do? Do it anyway. Do excellence anyway.


Robert Schuller wrote. (I have altered it a little.)


People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.



If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.



If you are successful you win false friends and true enemies.



The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.



Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.



People favor underdogs but follow only the top dogs.



What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.



People really need help but may attack you if you help them.



Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.



From “Tough Times Never Last but Tough People Do” by Robert Schuller


Do it anyway because it’s not the response of the people that we are doing it for. It’s our love for Jesus that moves us.


So do it. Do it with all your heart, with your very best. And keep doing it regardless of the response we get.


Excellence Glorifies God and Inspires People.


From 0 to 5.9 in 6


dragsterIn March of this year God opened before New Venture an opportunity of its lifetime. That opportunity was to acquire property for current and future development. Progress and growth had, let’s be generous with this statement, leveled off for an extended period of time. Something was needed to produce forward movement again in the life and direction of the church. Momentum was lacking and all efforts to generate it were falling short.

God, in his timing and wisdom placed before us this open door. With a tremendous amount of faith the church accepted the challenge, rallied its resources and energy and stepped through the door. In six short months the church has gone from a zero position of standstill to acquiring 5.9 acres of land for current and future ministry development.

Here’s the timeline He has taken us through:

                Early March, property purchase presented

                Mid-March, offer made on property and accepted

                April, lending institutions approached and funding secured

                May, first three weeks, capital campaign presented

                May 19, commitments made by New Venture for more than $250,000 to the project

                May through August 18, $92,000 collected for down payment

                September 10, 4:00 PM closing on property takes place

So, from early March through early September God took New Venture Christian Church from 0 to 5.9 acres and a ministry center in 6 months. Isn’t He awesome? Only he could have done this in this way.

Now, here is the timeline for the rest of the year.

                September 13, dumpster arrives for demolition job on the house

                September 14, preliminary demolition day

                September 21, all church demolition day

                October 5 second demolition day if needed

                October-November, remodel house/ministry center by contractor with church participation

                November, move into new ministry center as base of operation for New Venture  Church

So if it has been 0 to 5.9 in 6, I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

The Finest Wine

king wine How can we begin to describe the distance we have traveled in the last five months as a church? It is nothing less than incredible. God has moved and blessed in amazing ways. For example, we have at the current time, gathered $74,811 toward the down payment of $100,000 for our property purchase and remodel job at our new location on Lucks Lane. We are scheduled to close on the property August 31. That leaves us three weeks to collect a little over $25,000. I want to say thanks to those who have been and continue to be so generous. At the same time I want to remind us all that we need everyone in the picture.


Have you heard the story, from many years ago, of a new king who was crowned in Spain? After the coronation, he decided to visit a secluded village on the outskirts of his land. When the townspeople heard that the king was coming, they were elated, so they went to work trying to make his visit an experience he would never forget. They decided that every person in the village would bring one cup of their choicest wine and put it into a big container. When the king came, he could dip his cup into the finest wine he had ever tasted because everyone was giving their best.


When the time came, everyone celebrated the king’s arrival. They told him what they had done with the wine, and the king was excited to taste it. But when he took a long drink, he spit it out in disgust. The king had been told that it was fine wine, but really it was barely nothing more than water. You see, the townspeople were told to bring their best, but individually they thought they could skimp out and rely on the wine of others while they secretly brought water instead. And the king was greatly displeased.


In order to accomplish this first challenge level, it’s going to take everyone giving their best to the King. We’re all in this together.


If you made a commitment to the capital campaign (down payment and 24 month phase) we are fully trusting that you willdownpayment fulfill it to the fullest. If you are new to New Venture since our capital campaign began a few months ago, or if you did not make an initial commitment as a part of our capital campaign, I would like to invite you to give a sacrificial gift between now and the end of August toward the down payment of our new church home on Lucks Lane. This is a tremendous chance for everyone to participate and bring their best whether or not you were part of the original campaign.


In fact, we have designated Sunday, August 18, as special offering day for the $100,000 down payment. Our prayer is that generous gifts will be given from many different people to push us over the top. If you would like to help us push to the $100,000 mark and live out of the area, gifts can be sent to New Venture Christian Church, PO Box 73311, Richmond, VA 23235.


Thank you so, so much for your generosity,



Childhood Conditions That Made Me What I Am Today


thornton family chester 001Childhood is such a crucial part of life. Experts say that most of what you become in life is shaped during your first five years. That, of course, is debatable; however, what happens in your early years definitely determines much of what you are throughout life. Once the mold is set it becomes increasingly difficult to change it. Therefore, it is vitally important to do it right in the early years.

My concern is that many parents today are not getting it right. Many parents are following a parenting model, philosophy or book that, I fear, will lead to highly unpleasant results in future years.

So allow me to share with you some of the conditions and factors that were part of my childhood years that have shaped who I am throughout life. I know, those childhood years were so long ago that some of you can’t even think back that far. However, I believe these are conditions that children need in every generation in order to have healthy as well as balanced development.

I will be the first to admit that my parents were not perfect in permitting or executing these elements of my upbringing. They were, however, more than adequate when it came to making them a permanent part of my character and lifestyle. 

1.     Freedom to explore: I was given the freedom to have adventure in my life. This adventure was not always in the form of planned, structured, activities. Many times it was just the ability to creatively enjoy my environment. We lived in a different world, but spending time outside playing, building things, including tree huts, and developing my creativity were every day practices. I fear the electronic world is stealing this practice and value from our kids to their detriment.

2.     Responsibility: I learned early in life that responsibility was an expected part of life. Those responsibilities included doing my part around the house and outside of the house. Even though there were five kids in my family we all had expected responsibilities. And when I was old enough, I got a job. I know that is a difficult concept for some parents to even consider expecting, however, if you really love your child, you will teach them responsibility early in life. As a result, I have never, never, never had a problem being a responsible, productive adult.

3.     Accountability: With responsibility came accountability. So if there were expectations, there were also consequences when expectations were unmet. And if responsibilities were carried out as expected sometimes, but not all that often, there was praise and reward. But whether or not the recognition came we still met our responsibilities. My fear and concern for the current generation is that accountability has been replaced with an elaborate system of bribery. Instead of kids being taught responsibility and held accountable for their actions they are bribed and rewarded into action. Oh what a dangerous road we travel when it comes to what the future holds. Oh how difficult it is going to be when they get out into the real world and find out that everybody else doesn’t treat them the same way.

4.     Parental model: My parents didn’t get it all right. My parents had issues in their relationship and in their parenting. They did, however, give us kids, all five of us, a model to follow. They provided a unity of purpose and direction for our family. And when they did not agree on that direction, they dealt with it behind closed doors. They brought to our family not only the provision of physical needs but also a healthy balance of emotional and spiritual direction.

5.     Church involvement: We lived 12 miles away from our church in a day of no super-highways. There were five of us kids and no van or SUV to transport us in. But we never missed church. It was never an item of discussion. We did not discuss, on Saturday night, whether or not we were going to church on Sunday morning. It was an understood part of our existence. As a result, all five children, as well as their families are involved in church, spiritual direction and seeking the Lord, to this day. And I would add, not only did we attend church, we were involved in church worshiping AND serving.

6.     Germs: That’s right, I said germs. Germs were part of our existence. I grew up on a chicken farm. We had 36,000 chickens to deal with all the time. There are always germs when it comes to chickens. Though we were clean we were not fanatical in our cleanliness. In fact, I can even remember one occasion when I ate a dirt burger served to me by one of my older brothers. Can I tell you that today I never get sick? I never go to the doctor for sickness. Sure, God has blessed me with good genes. God has blessed me with good health; however, I believe that much of the strength of my immunity system is due to the fact that I was allowed to build an immunity system in my childhood. I am all for cleanliness, but I think parents today are so obsessed with raising their kids in a completely sterile environment and as a result are inviting, rather than preventing, untold sickness in the future. Call it my weird germ philosophy, but I think the future will tell.

So, please feel free to take issue with some or much of what I have just written. That is your prerogative. I do, however, encourage you to look and think long and hard about what you are building into the childhood of your children. It is far more than their current existence that you must be concerned about. It is what these practices will lead to in years to come. What do you want your child to be like in their 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond? Well, you, to a large extent, are determining that right now.

Capital campaign totals to be announced Sunday, May 26

big day

Excitement is mounting as we move closer and closer to Sunday, May 26 when we announce the total gifts and commitments to our “What if…” capital campaign. Commitments and gifts are still coming in so we will be totaling them for a few more days. Here is a concise reminder of what we are doing:

This campaign is to raise $150,000 for a down payment on the purchase of 5.9 acres of land with a house on it and remodel the house. We also plan to do excavation work in clearing and preparing the property for a new building. Then our plan is to begin construction later next year on the new unit. We also need an additional $150,000 in commitments to be completed over the next 24 months. So, we need a total of $300,000 to get into our own property and facility and begin the development of our own campus and our own identity in this community. This will enable us to expand our ministry to the community as well as exponentially reach lost people in the community and the world.

Two quick items:

  1. We had a great start to the commitments needed toward the $300,000 last Sunday and since then.


If you are a part of New Venture Christian Church and have not turned in a commitment card yet, we need to hear from you ASAP. We need to know what we can count on when it comes to planning the future of our church.


If you are not a part of New Venture Christian Church, and would like to help us reach this enormous goal, you are invited to share a gift or make a commitment to our capital campaign.


Responses can be emailed to


This Sunday, May 26 is going to be historic for New Venture Christian Church. We hope you can join us for the big day. We hope you will have a part in making the day as big as God wants to be.