Ring In the New Year Right


2015—Say what?! That’s 365 days of endless possibilities—and it’s just 2 days away. We can’t wait to see what God has in store for 2015. We recognize how little time is spent pausing during this time of year so before pulling out the party hats and confetti cannons, here’s a few helpful tips for ringing in the new year right.

Step back so you can lean in. We’re so quick to hit the fast forward button on life, to coast into new seasons without looking back—perhaps missing some of the sweetest moments for reflection on all that God, our author, has done in the last 12 months. To bring clarity to areas that need redefining, step back and reflect—we’re able to get a better vantage point on the areas in our lives where we’ve grown and where we need to grow.

Make room for more of Jesus. We’re busy, cluttered, and overstretched. You might have a pile of junk you’ve been meaning to get rid of or loose ends that need to be tidied. We’re so accustomed to stock piling our lives with activities. We can feel like we have no time or space for us to see, hear, or feel God’s presence in our lives. Think about rescuing 30 minutes of your day. Maybe that looks like getting up 30 minutes earlier or cutting one extra TV show at night. What has to go so you can further your walk with Christ?

Set goals that are bigger than you. We’re not calling it a New Year’s Resolution for a reason—cause let’s all be honest—how often does follow through happen past January 15th, really? Instead, we can increase our success rate by setting small, tangible milestones that lead to a larger goal that we’ve set. Take the wisdom of knowing our areas of weakness/strengths and the room in our lives for more of the important stuff. Ask God to reveal what His goals may be for you this year. Dig deep and set goals that will require you to lean into Him often.

Share the journey. Don’t become lonely in the endeavor. Going solo will only amplify chances of defeat. Be vulnerable enough to share the story with others. It’ll help others to pray for you better and they will likely want to hear progress reports, which serves as a great accountability tool for sticking with the goals set for 2015.

We’re doing this right now, as a church, at Renovation. We’re experiencing the same steps and we couldn’t be more encouraged by what God’s done to bring us into this new season. The goals are big but not too big for our great and gracious God.

"For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace." - Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

What goals are you setting this year? Leave a comment below.


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We often celebrate the season of Christmas by reflecting on the unlikely characters and circumstances involved in the birth of our long awaited savior. What an incredible moment it must’ve been to witness as Jesus arrived in history. The gospel of Luke (1:77-78) says, Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.”

All of the Christmas story is reflective of this light: The angel of the Lord whose radiance surrounded the shepherds, The star of Bethlehem that was a guiding light for the Wise men—it all points to the Light of the World, being born in a lowly manger.

Years before Jesus even hits the scene, Isaiah 9 says, “Nevertheless that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever…The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine…For a child is born to us, a son is given to us."

God’s people yearned to see him, feel him, to experience his magnificent presence again. While the circumstances surrounding his birth weren’t what they expected of their coming King, (after all, who would’ve ever believed that the King, Messiah, would be born in the lowliest possible situation?) He had been long anticipated. What Isaiah says is evidence of that.

We celebrate the birth of Jesus because He was Gods epic mission to redeem and reconcile all of humanity to Himself. And get this—Just as Jesus was light in the darkness, we, as his followers, are light bearers (Matthew 6).

Renovation Church is celebrating this season, not just because of the birth of Jesus and his mission. We’re celebrating because we’re witnessing and participating in the birth of a new work of God that will change lives for eternity. Church planting is a part of the continuum of Jesus’ final words, “Go and make disciples of all nations,” (Matthew 28). Making disciples will happen as we bring light, joy, hope, and love into our broken community.

Renovation is on that mission to reconcile, rebuild, and renovate communities with the light of Jesus. What a sweet correlation.


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Active Patience


The ancient Greek storyteller, Aesop, writes about the race of a tortoise and a hare. You know the story: When challenged to a race with the tortoise, the hare brags about how fast he can run. Swiftly running half the course, the hare leaves the tortoise behind in the dust. With what seemed to be a guaranteed win, he allows himself to become sidetracked by distractions. The result: a triumphant tortoise and sulking hare. Behind the “slow and steady wins the race,” is another great lesson we can all learn.

Imagine the setting with me: The hare: one who moves with great speed and agility—fully capable of winning the race. The tortoise: an unlikely winner—one who doesn’t allow his limitations to keep him from persevering—from believing. The tortoise had to believe that winning could only come through two things: active movement—a stop-at-nothing heart; and patience to wait for the right moment to make his move. Active patience.

The bible has a lot to say about active patience. Take, for instance, the story of Paul. A loyal follower of Jesus and great writer in the bible, Paul talks about the greatest race. Here’s a little background info on Paul, formerly known as Saul: He has a pretty remarkable story of grace (try reading Acts 9 for more details) and a passion for the expansion of the Gospel, so much so that he spends much of his life locked away in a prison cell for it. While in prison Paul patiently waits on the Lord to rescue him but continues pressing on in his work of building the Church.

It’s in that dark, cold, lonely prison cell that Paul writes most of his letters that we read in the New Testament today. He writes:

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.” 1 Corinthians 9:24

“I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Philippians 3:14

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”  2 Timothy 4:7

All the odds were against Paul but he made every moment matter, one letter to the church at a time. His active patience was bold, fearless, and his story of triumph—an unmistakably miraculous work of God. Paul knew his active patience played an important role in the movement of the early church and the expansion of the Gospel. He could either allow the circumstances to overwhelm him, or he could pursue the heart of God and God’s people, despite the circumstances.

Whether your approach to life is more of a tortoise or hare doesn’t really matter. There’s one thing for sure—Life is a race. Nobody knows when we’ll reach the finish line. Therefore, every minute counts. Though our lives may all look different—in how we choose to use those minutes—we’re still a part of the race.

At Renovation, active patience is vital. There can’t ever be stagnant time because that will just be lost opportunities.

Maybe you're in a season of life where God is asking you to use active patience. No matter what your situation, He’s got a purpose and plan for it far beyond what you can comprehend. Embrace it and make this time count.

Question: How can you embrace active patience through your current circumstances?

Let's encourage others through our personal experiences. Leave a comment below.

- Emily Ondish

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5 Things We're Excited About

Church planting is hard and most often, outsiders don't know what goes into making sure a church take flight. Every successful church plant has an army of prayer warriors and faithful followers, fully committed to the vision, who are making all kinds of incredible stuff happen behind the scenes. We believe that God has cropped up the right people, in the right place, with the right vision and at the right time for His purpose at Renovation Church. We're seeing God make Himself known in our community and we're pretty excited about what He's got in store at Renovation Church. That's why this week, we've put together 5 Things We're Excited About, and you should be too

1. The word has traveled fast. You guys are killin' it with social media and word-of-mouth. Check this out:

  • Since last Tuesday, we've gained 33 new subscribers to the newsletter.  With a grand total of 120 unique subscribers (up from 87 last week), we've grown a whopping 38% in one week. That’s not counting how many of you forward this newsletter to a friend.
  • In just 3 weeks we've gotten over 200 likes on Facebook and we're adding to that number daily. If we stay at this pace, gaining an easy goal of 20 likes a week, we'll double by 2015. For every new follower on Facebook, we increase our visual impact on people's news feeds. That's free publicity people.
  • The launch of this website has been smooth and successful. It's being viewed as far away as Haiti and in cities like Nashville, Charlotte, and Tampa.

2. We're official. Here's a confession from church planters: Paperwork isn't fun. However, we've managed to knock out the time-consuming pieces in a few short weeks, thanks to a few good friends. This week we achieved our 501C(3) Status approval, Articles of Incorporation and a bank account.

3. Partnerships are being made (Tampa, Florida). Last week Jon and Tita made a trip to Tampa to continue networking with local churches and individuals who would potentially partner with Renovation Church. Having grown up in the Tampa area, both were so excited to reconnect and share with those who had, for so many years, invested in their marriage and ministry. Jon is excited to celebrate that his trip gave an opportunity for him to meet with 4 churches who are now praying about a continued partnership with the church plant.

4. Our team is diverse. The list of core team members is eclectic, multigenerational, and full of unique stories. There are specialists, multi-taskers, and so many avenues of untapped creativity. We've got teachers, entrepreneurs, bankers, nurses, homemakers, artists, students, retired, and the list goes on. We are more than blessed with the team God's already provided and yet He's still sending more!  This should be creating a sense of anticipation for all of us.

5. We are expanding. Our Community Interest Meeting is happening this Sunday night *rescheduled* and there are already several potential core team members on that list. Even more exciting, that list includes people new to the area looking for a church as well as families who are praying about stepping out from their local church to join us in church planting. Want to know one last thing we're excited about? Hampstead is growing and so is Surf City, Holly Ridge, and Sneads Ferry--All areas in great need of the Gospel.  We've got all the possibilities in the world to make Jesus' name known in our community.


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How To Maximize Your Personal Invite

Imagine for a moment: Would you go to a birthday party for a stranger because you saw a catchy invitation in the trash? Would you show up to someone else's family reunion because a killer spread of decadent treats, waitin' for the pickin', was luring you in from the highway? If the answer is no, then you probably wouldn't attend a vision gathering for a church you've never heard about with a bunch of people you've never met. Chances are you would be much more likely to attend a new event if someone you personally trusted invited you join them.

With that being said, we've given you 5 possible ways to maximize your personal invite for this coming Community Interest Meeting Nov 23rd:

  1. Make it personal (this is an obvious, often over-looked point). People want to know that their presence is sought after before they forego a fabulous Sunday afternoon spent on the couch watching reruns of {insert your favorite show here}.
  2. Let them know in advance so they have time to make plans to join you.
  3. Sweeten the deal with the details. Literally, we've sweetened the deal with funnel cakes, pulled pork and a good time. If you feel the need to bring them over brownies when you invite, that's up to you (but be sure you're brownies are delicious).
  4. Tell them why November 23rd is a big deal to you.
  5. Don't make assumptions about anyone. Your neighbor who's been attending her church for 25 years, could be praying for God to provide a new step of faith and joining a church plant would be a perfect opportunity for her.

Follow the link here in the "Let's Do Life Together" segment for RSVPing details. We're praying for 150+. Make your personal invitation count!


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The Old Is Finished


What an exciting moment for us to announce the name of the church to the community of Hampstead. As I have been praying over the name of the new church plant, the name Renovation Church has continue to resonate with the mission that God has laid upon my heart. It gives immediate image to the work of Jesus Christ in our lives. The word renovate in the latin form is known as novare, or "to make new." We want individuals - and even more than that, entire communities - made new through the redeeming, regenerating, reconciling power of Jesus.

The old is finished, the new has come.

Christ has given us the ministry of reconciliation and while he is the one renovating hearts, we've been given the opportunity to be used by Him in sharing this gift with others. The renovation process has a very clear objective that requires patience, perseverance, and persistence. Renovation Church will be aiming for community impact. As more and more people in the community are made new by Jesus - everything will change. Together we'll be renovating Hampstead with the love of Christ.

So, get excited and get out there. Join with me in spreading the news of Renovation Church coming to Hampstead!


- Jonathan Cockrell

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A Step of Faith

God has led me on an incredible faith journey culminating in this very exciting moment. I couldn’t be more thankful, honored, and amazed by His great faithfulness.

The Lord saved me at an early age—captivated my heart & called me into ministry. I knew He wanted me to surrender my life to Him through full time service, but I wasn’t sure what that would look like practically until many years later.

I grew up as a PK (preacher’s kid) in a mission-minded church where I learned to see ministry through the lens of missions. We were on mission to reach lost people, and to this day, I maintain that same missions/ministry mindset.

God’s plan continued to unfold when I married my wonderful wife Tita, and we had 3 children in Tampa, Florida. During that season, I served as a seventh-grade boys Sunday school teacher and loved working with teenagers. I also worked for my father-in-law’s company and expected to spend my life growing the family business. But, about this time, God began giving me more and more clarity about the future. He encouraged me to take a step of faith and let go of my business dreams. He asked me to work for Him full time in His work of reaching lost people and discipling them with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

It was then that my family came to North Carolina. I enrolled in Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. While in school, God gave me the amazing opportunity to serve as student pastor at First Baptist Creedmoor. My family and I fell in love with the community, and we thought we would stay there long-term, but God had other plans.

After 5 years at Creedmoor, God called us to step out in faith and follow Him to Wilmington, North Carolina, where I would serve as student pastor at Scotts Hill Baptist Church. For the past 12 years, I have had the privilege of serving at Scotts Hill and have seen God do some awesome things beyond my wildest imagination.

But once again, God is calling me to step out in faith. This time He is asking me to plant a church. I never planned on doing this, but looking back I see how God has prepared me for this moment. Reflecting over my faith history, I am confident God has unbelievably extraordinary plans ahead, and I’m taking a step in faith. I invite you to do the same.


- Jonathan Cockrell