Goodbye Life & Times

August 27, 2010

I pretty sure nobody reads this weblog anymore, but if you do, I have moved. Please check out ChrisGep.com for all of the latest and greatest happenings in my life!
Peace out.

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Launch Cast

March 22, 2010

We have put together a pod cast for those who are interested in the behind the scenes stuff that goes on with a church planting effort. For those that don’t know, we are in the early stages of a church plant in the most un-reached area of the USA, the Upper Valley or New Hampshire/Vermont. We will be putting out a Launch Cast episode 2 times a month so stay tuned!

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Ready and foolish.

March 3, 2010

I can’t imagine that I will learn and grow in any season of my life more than I am now. As a church planter my life is flipped turned upside down and I feel like I am in 1st grade. You remember when you were in Phonics class and you were just picking up the language? Or when you first got that math principle down? Thats me these days. I’m a sponge and when a sponge is saturated it is ready for use because no more came be soaked up. I’m ready to Launch this church. I know there is ton’s to learn but I’m ready. I’m ready for Sundays to come. I’m ready for small groups to form, I’m ready for our systems to take root. I’m ready to launch more churches. I’m ready. I love the promise of scripture “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.” I’m ready and foolish. God use me.

The latest…..

February 20, 2010

I can’t believe that we have been in the Upper Valley for well over a month! I know it’s cliche’ but my how time flies! We are very much established in our

apartment and the sting of living in close quarters with lots of other people is pretty much run it’s course and we are used to it. We have had incredible opportunities to meet new people and get the word out about our new church. So as is the norm here are a few items for you to consider praying for…… Pray that the Lord will continue to enrich our relationship as husband and wife. We are making it a point to have a family fun day every Friday. The boys count on it for sure. Pray that this commitment never waivers, that we make family a priority especially as we get closer to Launch Day. As the family leader I need to set the example and not over commit to other things leaving family in the dust. Please pray for the people that we meet. There are neighbors and people the we bump into that we need to be a shining light and flavor to. Pray for lots of opportunities to connect with people. It’s definitely tough here to connect with people, pray that the Lord gives us thick skin and tender hearts! Pray that we will have wisdom with all of our decisions. Whether financial, relational, facilities or whatever, we need wisdom! Roman and Jadon are doing great. They are finally starting to make some friends and are participating in local activities. Roman is snowboarding and Jadon loves running on the ice. Pray for their protection from injuries and that the Lord will give them great friendships up here.

Our Launch Team is coming together. We have had 4 Launch Team Gatherings in which we have communicated the vision of Riverbank Church. As of 2/16/10 we have 21 people on our Launch Team almost reaching our goal of 30! Please pray for continued understanding and grasp of the vision and that each of the team will identify their role.

The 74,000+ unreached people of the Upper Valley. We must reach them!

Dylan and Amy Nicholas have found jobs and the Lord is blessing them. Pray that the Lord gives them rest as they work their day jobs and do ministry with Riverbank during their off hours. They have been such a blessing!

Craig and Zoe Skirvin are moving to the Upper Valley on March 1st. Please pray that the Lord provides an amazing house/apartment to rent. It’s very difficult to find 3 bedroom places here. Also pray for their house in Florida to be rented and that their move here will be amazing and smooth.

PRAISE! We have secured our meeting place, The Lebanon Opera House in downtown Lebanon. It really is an answer to our prayers. Please pray for our Kids Ministry area to be clarified soon.

PRAISE! We had our first Community Outreach this past Saturday. We gave out over 300 granola bars at the Dartmouth Winter Carnival. We had a great response from the people there. Pray for results from this outreach!

PRAISE! We have become members of the Hanover Chamber of Commerce. This marks the first time in their history that a church has become a member. It allows us an amazing opportunity to connect with the movers and shakers of the community.

Pray for unity among Christians in the Valley.

Please pray against the spirits that have bound this region.

What’s happening….

February 14, 2010

Wow, things are crazy. Penny and the boys are really doing well and we are really enjoying our new lives here in northern New England. We have settled into apartment life (it isn’t so bad!), found the good eateries, adjusted to winding roads, cold weather and layered clothing. The Upper Valley of New Hampshire and Vermont is truly an amazing place! As for church stuff it’s hard to believe that our first preview service will be in just 2 weeks!! Tonight we will have our 4th Launch Team Gathering. The team is coming together nicely and the people that make up the team are amazing! We have been talking about our church vision and how the key elements of the church fit into of this vision (Worship, Outreach and Kids Ministries). It has been great getting know our new friends during our Gatherings as we talk, share and of course, eat. Today held our first Community Outreach as a Launch Team. We went to a local favorite, Dartmouth Winter Carnival, and handed out granola bars at the annual Occum Pond Party. There were hundreds of people skating, sledding, hanging and we were able to connect with people by just being kind. Our granola bars had a label that read “Courtesy of Riverbank Church”. People responded so positive, it was encouraging to have conversations with people about our upcoming launch on April 4th. At the end of the day, we handed out over 300 granolas bars and had countless conversations birthed out of kindness. We only have 2 more Launch Team Gatherings before our first pre-Launch Experience (February 28th) so we have a lot of work to do. By God’s grace we can do it!!

The First Month is Down!

February 2, 2010

General:
On January 3rd we landed in the Upper Valley and have enjoyed getting accustomed to our new home and community. Amazingly enough, the weather has been mild (for northern New England) and the people are very welcoming and receptive to our family. As we have made the area home it has become easier to have conversations with neighbors, coffee shoppers and service people (banks, city workers). God is opening doors for us continually and we are so blessed to have had a relatively easy first month. A cool bit of news, Craig and Zoe Skirvin will be joining us up here around the first of month. They have sensed the call to be a part of Riverbank Church and we are thrilled to have them join us!!
Facilities:
Unfortunately we have one bit of concern, we have been unable to secure our meeting place. We thought we had secured the gym and class rooms at one of the local schools but the district came back to us late in the game and upped the price and told us we would not have access to any rooms. Please pray that Lord will reveal our meeting place very soon as we have several potential places in the hopper.
Finances:
As a new church launch finances are always needed. The Lord has provided up to this point yet there are always more potential needs. Please pray for Riverbank Church finances that all of our initial needs will be provided for and that we will be the best stewards possible with the provided resources. We are still $1,300 under our projected monthly income. Pray the Lord provides.

Some Thoughts

January 31, 2010

In just 2 days we will have been here in northern New England 1 month. I can’t believe how fast time flies, it’s like a blur. It seems like yesterday that we were packing up our moving truck with friends and family and counting down the days for our departure. I have been thinking through the past 30 days and have some thoughts:

Sunny Days – We have been blessed weather wise: sunny days have been common, more so than cloudy, gloomy days. I can take the cold with the sun shining no problem!

The Kindle – I was skeptical when I first heard about this piece of hardware. It is the best way for me to read books on the fly. If you are considering buying one let me encourage you to buy one, it’s amazing.

Books I’ve Read“Baptism With the Holy Spirit” R.A. Torrey, “Ignite: How to Spark Immediate Growth in Your Church” – Nelson Searcy, “Tipping Point” Malcom Gladwell

Music – Honestly, I’m a little out of the loop with any of the hip, cool music that is out there. It’s really not a priority these days so I have been depending on music of my past that is special to me. I will not bore you with what music but I will say this about one recent release, David Crowder Band “Church Music”, amazing.

Movies – Just watched “The Swiss Family Robinson” with the kids. I know it’s ancient but its great. I love the animal stunts, tree house, fights with pirates, etc. It’s the boys new favorite film. They call it “the tree house movie”.

Food – The food situation up here in New England is better than Florida. It seems as every meal we have out is an art or craft. I love it. Apple slices on a turkey sandwich, maple syrup on a pork loin. Good stuff for sure.

FIrst Launch Team Meeting!

January 25, 2010

Today was a monumental day not only in the life our new church, but in my personal life.  9 of us met in our apartment in downtown Lebanon for our first official Riverbank Church Launch Team Meeting. It was an amazing time of just hanging out and more important, vision casting. I shared from the book and life of Nehemiah, and his clear solution to a problem in his hometown of Jerusalem. Thats all vision is, a solution to a problem. In our context at Riverbank Church we recognize the problem locally is the fact that of the 78,000 people who live in the region only 4,000 actually go to church and of those 4,000 only 800 attend an evangelical Christian church. Amazing, staggering, motivating. Our vision is to be a solution to the problem. We will be a church that reaches out to the community with the life changing message and love of Jesus, making disciples. We will create environments where we will be able to reach out affectively. I then challenged the team to jump on board by committing to the vision. The commitment involves being time bound (70 days), attend meetings, invite others to participate, make the launch happen, focus on those outside of the Christian community.  We closed the evening by watching Mute Math videos and talking about the exciting times here in the Upper Valley of NH/VT.

Pretty much settled in.

January 16, 2010

This week was our first week of getting on with our new lives here in the Upper Valley. I worked on all of the final legal issues, finishing the final touches on getting our 501C3 tax exempt status, working with the church bookkeeper on all of our financials, distributing lots of Riverbank Church announcement flyers, meeting with potential Launch Team members, meeting with School District officials about our meeting place, amongst many others things…. Needless to say the ball is rolling and we are on our way to Launch Day! Saturday (January 16) Dylan and I are going to a local Emerging Artist Showcase in Hartland, Vermont where some of our Launch Team guys band will be playing. It will be a great opportunity to meet some local artists and recruit some Launch Team members. Last but not least, this Sunday I have the tremendous opportunity to join Calvary Fellowship in Hartford, Conn. and share our story of faith and the vision of Riverbank Church. Please pray that God will continue to open doors and bring the right people to our Launch Team.

Week 1 is down!

January 11, 2010

Just a few notes reviewing our first week in northern New England.

Monday January 4 – We just unpacked our boxes and tried to get the “smoke stank” out of our master bathroom. It was real nice having our living room set up, it was kind of an oasis as we unpacked and continued to purge. We had a huge yard sale in December trying to get rid of a lot junk. It wasn’t enough, we had much more junk than we originally thought.

Tuesday January 5 – Took the family around our new town and even went sledding in Hanover. The boys loved it and we enjoyed some great hot chocolate from the Dirt Cowboy. By this time we were starting to settle in a bit. Empty boxes were a-plenty and more space in the new apartment felt great. I must say , apartment life will be an adjustment.

Wednesday January 6 – Bethany (my sis) has been such a huge help and her son Ben, has been amazing keeping the 2 Goeppner boys busy. Their room is pretty close to completion, as is ours. There is light at the end of the tunnel! We went to Hanover again for sledding. This will be a winter staple for us! On a different note, we made our first big purchase for Riverbank Church, a new laser printer extreme. It’s a sweet machine and will be used much! Beth and I put the finishing touches on the boys room late that evening.

Thursday January 7 – We awoke early to take my sister and nephew to Manchester airport. It was a dreaded day for us as we have been so blessed to have them help us get moved in and settled. After dropping them off at the airport we drove down to the seacoast area and visited with my aunt Judy and uncle Chet.  We sipped some tea and caught up after about 10 months of spotty communication. From there we drove to Hampton, NH to meet my other aunts and uncles for lunch at THIS PLACE. Good stuff. We stopped at Target on the way home, the closest is an hour away 😦

Friday January 9 – Growing more and more comfortable in our new apartment we took to the streets of the Upper Valley and explored a bit. We went to Norwich, VT to the King Arthur Flour Bakery and ate some tasty pastries and hot tea. What a cool place, check their site here. Of course, we drove around a bit more, learning new roads and neighborhoods. It was our anniversary this day, but we didn’t celebrate due to the circumstances.

Saturday January 10 – I decided to take the crew out again to another town in the region,

Woodstock, VT. This is the quintessential New England town without a doubt. We walked around a bit and enjoyed a real cool general store. On the way there we saw the east coast Grand Canyon, Quechee Gorge, it’s quite beautiful!  Later our friends Dylan and Aimee Nicholas stopped by to watch the boys while we went out to eat to celebrate our 11th anniversary. There aren’t many restaurants in the area, but there are some very good ones. We ended up going to a Japanese place. Good stuff.

Sunday January 11 – Our first church experience in our

new hometown was at Wellspring Worship Center. We met some great people and I was able to chat with my friend, Pastor Craig Morton. What a great guy! After church we drove north to Fairlee, VT. for the annual Lake Morey Winterfest. It was very wintery day (high of 15 degrees today) and we decided to do as the Romans. There was snowshoe volleyball, ice skating and trails (on the lake), hay rides, dog sleds, snowmobiling….you get the point. So cool was the hospitality area where we were able to warm up with hot chocolate and banana bread. The craziest of all was the fact that Roman taught himself to ice skate today. The kid is a natural.

Tomorrow – Day one on the job at Riverbank Church.