Tuesday, February 24, 2009


... is amazing!

We met in a bar (like normal people do). She came to see my band perform and from then on we were friends. She just stood out to me... in a sea of faces and intentions, hers really connected to me. There was something different, something special about this one, but I didn't really know what. The truth is, I was in a long term relationship when I met her, and the closest I could get to Michelle was as a friend.

In that atmosphere (the club), you can so easily get lost in the hype and moment of it all that 8 hours just flies by... but when Michelle was there, things slowed down a bit for me. Then, one day, she was gone.

The rumor was that she was "dating Jesus" and broke up with the band photographer cuz of it... and that was that for the rest of the guys... just another fan moving on... but I was hopeful for a return.

Days turned into weeks turned into months. Then, at The Central Saloon in Pioneer Square, there she was. She came back.

NOW she was the "weird christian" girl... overly nice... obnoxiously comfortable to be around... and that was that for the rest of the guys. But I wasn't just going to let that be that.

I asked her about the rumor, and she told me that it was basically true. There began my path back to a life worth living. My other relationship ended, and Michelle and I started to date. I was going to Catholic Mass at the time and she had her church, so we would go back and forth. We were invited to attend a preview service at EastLake Community Church by a friend... did... and fell in love enough to spend 4 years there, be employed, and launch a church identical to it out in Wisconsin.
Talk about a nut shell... but that's not what makes her amazing.

She's not supposed to be launching a church, she's supposed to be selfish and inward seeking. She's not supposed to be kind, she's supposed to be bitter and rightfully so. She's not supposed to be in love with God, she's supposed to hate Him and hold Him accountable and curse Him and live life with regret and remorse and self pitty.
But she doesn't...

God has done a great work in Michelle, and I am honored to be here to witness it everyday.

Great Lakes Church: Michelle Testimony from Tony Peterson on Vimeo.

This was the video testimony we showed this past weekend at Great Lakes Church. It had an amazing effect on everybody. If you've already watched it you know the power of Michelle's story... and that power is being used for Gods glory. Dave (watery eyed and sniffling after the video played) said it best...

"Michelle is a trophy of Gods grace"

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Here a Church, There a Church, Everywhere a Church Church

So much has happened in the last month, our heads are definitely spinning. It is getting to the point that I think mainly in bullet points and lists, otherwise it's all way too much. So... here you go...
  • I got a second job at a Presbyterian Church in Racine, the town just north of us. It's a beautiful building (see pic). I'm super grateful because the income thing was taking a serious toll on Tony and I. Now, we can definitely pay our bills. Phew! Thanks for your prayers on that one.

    As for Great Lakes Church...
  • Sent out our very first mailer to 50,000 homes in a 7 mile radius here in Kenosha inviting everyone to our brand new church. It advertised our "Thank God for Sex" series, 2 new services times, and our location at Nash Elementary.

  • Because of the mailer, we were subsequently kicked out of our meeting spot at Nash on a Thursday, which is plenty of time to find a location for 300+ people the following Sunday.

  • Because of all the drama of getting kicked out of the school, Dave ended up being asked onto a local radio show, and we were in the local news paper a few times. Clearly way more free advertising than we could have planned for on our own.

  • Met that following Sunday at a meeting hall on the back side of "The Brat Stop" (only in Wisconsin). As in Bratwurst, people! It was incredible. We pulled it off, packed the place out, and grew to 362!

  • February 8th - Launch Weekend - We met for our very first time at Tinseltown Movie Theater. This was also the first time for 2 services. Because the movie theater opens to the public at noon, we had to change our advertised times for our 2 new services. Are you following? We sent out a mailer to 50,000 homes with the WRONG times and the WRONG location. We had less time to set up that morning than we've ever had, and were doing it in a location we've never done it. This was not off to a good start... Um.. yeah... final count for the day was 623.

  • Still following? Ok then, you're doing better than I am. Now, of course we are excited and blown away by what God is doing in this community. We are humbled that he is using a group of misfits like us to do it. These are very good things that are happening. But, seriously... over 600 and we've only been officially meeting weekly for 6 weeks!?!?!

So, what do we do now? According to the book Launch by Searcy & Thomas (one of our treasured handbooks in this whole process) the major growth barriers are at 65, 125, 250, and 500 in attendance. If you've been following our timeline, you know that we blew past these without even blinking. Then they tell us that when a room reaches 70% of it's maximum capacity, the room is effectively full. Period. They tell us to keep on eye on this so that we can plan for growth and take action to make more room. Wait... hold on... plan? We were beyond 80% capacity on our very first weekend at Tinseltown! Launch also says this: "When we grow to more than 80% capacity, people consciously and subconsciously stop inviting their friends because there is no more room. Some regular attenders may even stop coming because it is too hard to find a seat." This is terrible news! We did not come to reach a few people and then stop. We came here to reach as many people as possible.

Our two biggest concerns right now:
1. Space
2. Connection
I've never heard of a church growing this fast. While it truly is a miracle, people can feel lost in the shuffle. How can you get to know people when you are new, and the 30 people sitting next to you are just as new? We hope to hedge off these very valid feelings of disconnect by hosting some sort of Connect Event each month until we launch Growth Groups in June. Our next Connect Event is tomorrow night - a Pizza Party.

If you are in the group of those that are praying for us, please pray over these two very important areas. Pray that God helps us find a location where we can continue to grow and invite people, and pray that the people that are here make some connections with others and don't feel so lost and lonely in all of this.

Since we began this adventure, we have now had 4 different meeting spots. We have had over 600 people walk through our doors, over 130 are now committed volunteers, and over 30 people have indicated a first time decision to follow Jesus Christ. Each week, people are making decisions to openly explore God's view of sex, to live more simply and more purposefully, and to release bitterness and explore forgiveness. We are truly experiencing a move of God, we feel blessed to be a part of what He is up to and only hope that we can even remotely keep up with what He is doing.