Celebrating BIG WINS! 7 Years of 217church

I can’t believe it!  This Sunday we will celebrate seven years of worshiping together as a church family in Mercer County, NJ. This Sunday I am speaking about what is called a DOUBLE BLESSING!  God is in the business of replacing our burdens with blessing!  It’s right in front of us, waiting for us to reach out in faith and realize it as a church.  So many people sacrificed so much so we could pursue the vision to Rebuild Lives one Person at a time.  Realize our church never would have happened without those who have believed FROM THE BEGINNING!  Our mother church – Princeton Alliance Church believed in the vision first!  You are an incredible congregation doing impactful ministry here and around the world!  Thank You!


“Instead of your shame there shall be a double portiontherefore in their land they shall possess a double portion.  Isaiah 61:7

Many of you who read this are a part of another local church family in another community.  We have always viewed our local church as a kingdom building church.  This means that even if you won’t be with us for our 7 year celebration, take these seven action steps and appropriately implement them in your life and in your local context.

7 Ways To Celebrate Our 7 Years Together…

1 – Renew Your Commitment – How committed are you to your local church?  Let’s DOUBLE DOWN on our commitments!  We have the privilege of being the ones in this season who are preparing the church for the NEXT season.  Going forward, I am looking for those who will stand with me to be rigorously committed to our church family as vision owners.  Here is a short version of our vision ownership covenant:

  • Spread the Vision of the church – By being baptized and get sent
  • Share the Responsibility of the church – By immersing yourself in small group community
  • Serve the Ministry of the church – By using your gifts and be a regular part of a ministry team
  • Support the Future of the church – By giving regularly to the mission of the church

2 – Get Baptized – We have celebrated 250+ #BIGWINS through baptism!  Some of you have never taken this step to be baptized.  You have personally committed to Jesus but you have never publicly proclaimed and encouraged those around you with your story.  Our next baptism is Saturday February 25th at 6 PM in Robbinsville.  email doug@217church.com to sign up.  #BIGWINS

3 – Join A Small Group –  Hundreds of people have grown strong through our small groups! #BIGWINS  happen every week as people come together to pray, encourage, study the word, and serve.  I have been personally impacted as over 50 people from small groups came to my home two years ago and did 20+ different projects to prepare my home to welcome in our 3 adopted children from Uganda!    We are seeing dynamic ministry and people in our community are being helped with so many basic needs.  Our small groups are the simple building block of our church that bring people in, build people up, and send people out.  email matt@217church.com to connect with a group.

4 – Use Your Gifts and Abilities – We have had over 18,000 Serving moments during Sunday worship services alone in the past seven years!  Since the beginning of 217church we have averaged over 40 people serving a week!  Are you one? That’s a lot of #BIGWINS!  Every week people serve as greeters, ushers, parkers, camera operators, media support team, audio visual support team, worship team, and dynamic 217kids leaders.  This is just on Sundays alone!  Your church, schools, youth ministry and neighborhoods are waiting for you to create some #BIGWINS and serve!

5 – Make A Sacrificial Gift – In the past seven years we have had $4.7 Million in #BIGWINS given towards the vision!  We have used those resources to build a strong church that is rebuilding lives, and now we have just put a down payment on a 10 acre piece of land to build a permanent facility.  I believe the best is yet to come and we have around $500,000 to go in order to pay off this land.  Over the next two years we anticipate completing the site plan and beginning the building process. You can make a secure sacrificial gift online here.

6 – Pray and Be Prayed For – All of the above is made possible through prayer.  Answered prayers have accounted for all of the #BIGWINS for our church!  Some of you have deep prayer needs.  before we started 217church, we prayed long and hard for the foundation to be strong through prayer.  I want to encourage you to make your requests known to the church family and allow others to come around and pray for you.  No matter what the need; physical, financial, relational, or emotional, God is in the business of answering our prayers and drawing us together through it.

7 – Let’s Come Together and Worship –  Sunday is going to represent another #BIGWIN for our church.  We would love for you to experience our historic 7 years celebration!  We will sign the land contract, here from some special guests and cast vision for our future #DOUBLEBLESSING!

I would love to hear of your stories of #BIGWINS through 217church below!  Or respond on Facebook Here

Can’t wait!


Josh Conn is the founding pastor of 217church, a contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church meets Sundays at 10:30am at Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ.  Visit www.217church.com for more information. or watch a weekend message here 

What You Need For Spiritual Growth – Intensity

I’ll never forget Marine Corps boot camp. Whew, just saying those four words makes me remember the intensity and focus that I felt for 13 weeks.  Everything was mapped out rigorously; food, sleep, exercise, cleaning, yes and even bathroom breaks.  But something happened during those 91 days – INTENSE GROWTH.  I mean in every way shape and form.  I was physically stronger, mentally confident, I was a different person.

Is your spiritual health is lagging?  It’s time to #relaunch:  Rebuild your life.


Relaunch 40 day spiritual growth emphasis – February 7 – March 13, 2016

Why Relaunch 217church?  We need a boot camp experience as a church.  #Relaunch is a powerful, church-wide, 40 Day spiritual growth emphasis re-launching 217church that will help us to celebrate what God has done, clarify how he is positioning us, and cast a vision for the future for our church.  You can read about this more in detail here.  We have baptized 235 people and have 15 small groups for you to choose from.

We all know we need spiritual growth, but how are we going to get there?  We are preparing for our church to go through an intense period of focus and spiritual growth.  We have mapped out 6 weeks from February 7 – March 13, 2016 that will change us and our church forever.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”  Hebrews 12:1

Here are Four Transforming Principles We Are Using 

The Bible says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” (Psalm 127:1a, NIV) Months of prayer and preparation precede this journey. This is an indispensable ingredient. We have scheduled days of fasting and church wide prayer nights to prepare people’s hearts for awakening. Jesus said there is mountain-moving power in unified prayer.  Every Sunday 45 minutes before the start of the service we pray together!  We are seeking God’s face for future plans and direction for our church.

During Relaunch, the entire church—every age group, every ministry, every small group and every worship service—focuses on a WEEKLY THEME together:  The Big Idea is How to Rebuild our Lives and what the church will look like because of this. (Nehemiah 2:18 “Rise up and Build!”).  It is amazing what happens when we all concentrate on the same truth at the same time.

This journey is designed around four vital habits for spiritual growth: weekly worship attendance, daily quiet time, weekly group studying the bible, and a weekly scripture memory verse.  These habits will keep people growing long after Relaunch campaign is finished.

This kind of thinking stretches your faith. It is thinking so big that you are forced to completely depend on God because you know you cannot reach your goal on your own power. This “faith factor” is what takes out of the realm of “What we’ve always done,” or “What we think we could do,” and instead expects God to do something that’s never been done before with our church.

Let’s take these principles and apply them to our church and watch what happens!


Here Is How You Can Be A Part:

#1 Get in a Small Group:  You need community and we have many for you to be a part of:  15 in all.  Join a group by e-mailing Doug@217church.com

To Download the Relaunch Field Guide with Journal and Small Group Curriculum:  CLICK HERE

#2 Weekend Worship: Join A Weekend Team:  It’s hard to believe, but we enter into year seven of 217church this Spring!  This means developing a relaunch team.  In addition to just attending, I want you to be on our relaunch team.  Here are some ways to be involved in this historic moment:  Join one of these Relaunch teams:

  • Small group team – making disciples that make disciples
  • Weekend team – making our church the most hospitable place in Central New Jersey
  • Worship team – leading the church into the presence of God
  • Prayer team – interceding for the church
  • Administrative team – ensuring excellence in communication
  • Ministry fair team – helping people find their place and ultimate contribution
  • Youth & Kids team – investing in the next generation

Listen to our Sunday PODCAST on the Go HERE

#3 Follow Along With The Daily Journal:  Here is a sample Video here:

It all culminates as we officially Relaunch 217church, Sunday March 20 @ AMC 24 Hamilton 10 AM & Sharon School in Robbinsville 11 AM

I can’t wait to see what happens as your rebuild your life,



We are officially #Relaunching @217church after 6 full years of ministry.  Our first Sunday services will be Sunday February 7, 2016  Don’t worry, we have regular weekend services leading up to this historic day for us as we prepare and build our teams!   Join us at 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 10:00am and Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ at 11:00.  Our new Robbinsville/East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Lawrenceville NJ, Ewing NJ, Robbinsville NJ, Hightstown NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, we would love to have you join us.  Don’t miss our weekend services. Visit www.217church.com for more information. or watch a weekend message here

Why One Service at Each Campus?

After many conversations with elders, leaders, others in our congregation, and outside advisors over the last 6 weeks, we have made the decision as 217church to go to ONE SERVICE at EACH CAMPUS beginning March 8.  Our new service times will be 10:00am in Hamilton at the AMC24 and 11:00am in Robbinsville at Sharon School.  One thing is for sure, we have had an incredible impact over the past 5 years and we are gearing up to be as healthy as we can in order to fulfill the vision God has called us to over the next 5 years. 

Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. Colossians 1:28

Keep in mind the weekend services are just ONE aspect of our mission to be a restored, family sent on mission to make disciples.  We believe positioning our weekends in the new format will do some key things that will cause us to operate more healthy over these next months.  our vision isn’t changing but our implementation plan is.  This is one of the things I love about our church, your incredible commitment to whatever it takes!  Our weekends are designed to help us Pursue God Passionately and lead people to small group community to become disciple makers.  This isn’t a step back, but a step forward.  Here’s why we are making the switch.

Why One Service At Each Campus?

1. Prayer Focus – At Hamilton, because we have 2 services, and our first service started at 9:30 am, we had less time to pray and connect with each other before the services.  All the staff agrees that we envision our church before and after services to be a place where PRAYER is of utmost priority!  9:20-9:45 will be our prayer time in Hamilton and 10:15-10:40 in Robbinsville.  We need to pray for each other, pray through scripture,  and intercede for what God will do through the services!  I am truly excited for this!  We need to reset the culture to be one where prayer and spiritual response is the primary focus both before, during, and after services.  What would it be like to be a church where over 100 people gathered before we worshiped corporately to pray for God to move mightily across the 2 campuses.

Your Role:  Double down in Your commitment to PRAY together on Sunday

2. BIG WIN for our 217kids Ministry – Especially in Hamilton because we had 2 services, this meant we needed to staff twice as many kids co-workers.  We need to empower and make one High Quality experience for our kids in each campus.  I believe this will allow more 217kids coworkers to connect and our kids and tots will be ministered to more effectively.   They need support and a new platform to build from.  We love our children so much!  Our KIDS COWORKERS ARE AMAZING! We are starting a BRAND NEW KIDS CURRICULUM in a few weeks and I am very pumped about this.  Our goal is to drive the stake of the Gospel so deep in their young lives that when they are older, they will only wander so far from it.

Your Role:  Consider your role in our 217kids ministry

3.  My Strategic Presence – In a 2 service system, I get to spend more time with the Robbinsville campus and augment what is happening after the preaching.  The Sharon School facility will allow us to do lunches, trainings, and fellowships after services to build into the body onsite at the school!  I am so excited about this.  Tremendous things have happened.  I am so pleased we were willing to take a risk and start another campus when we did.   The TEAM IS DOING A GREAT JOB of welcoming people in and the Gospel is going forward and people are being added to His kingdom!

Your Role:  Step up and join a weekend team

4.  Unity and Connection – We feel as a staff we need a season of togetherness in Hamilton for one service in order to grow strong for the next season God is calling us to as a total church.  I am thinking that some of you will choose to migrate to the Robbinsville Campus because of the service time change.  Ever since we went to 2 services in Hamilton it meant we didn’t have a full room of people worshiping together and BOTH CAMPUSES NEED TO BE REALLY STRONG if we are going to continue to Plant churches and add campuses.  Our services are incredible opportunities to corporately build up, receive the word, and gain strength for our week.

Your Role:  Consider which campus you are committed to, then go all in with a small group

I have so much positive anticipation regarding these changes.  Comment below, I would love to dialogue about how you feel and hear your thoughts.


This Sunday at 217church

March 8- Joy & Our Future – Our 5 Year Anniversary Celebration!  We will Reveal some Faith Steps God is asking us to take as a church and rally around the vision.


Join us at 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 10:00am and Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ at 11:00.  Our new Robbinsville/East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Lawrenceville NJ, Ewing NJ, Robbinsville NJ, Hightstown NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, don’t miss our weekend services. Visit www.217church.com for more information.


Why You Belong In the Church Family

Sunday I have the privilege of preaching at Princeton Alliance Church about the nature of the church.  The church IS a family, period.  But are you giving yourself in biblical community or just attending a Sunday gathering?  For some of us, we don’t want to answer that question.  It may be the most important question in front of us if we are going to be a church that makes disciples.  Most of the people who read this will have attended a church service in the past 60 days.  But attending a gathering doesn’t make us a disciple nor does it make us a disciple maker or one who has said, “yes” to playing a role in the family of God, the great love of Jesus, the church.  Losing a family member is incredibly painful.  Seeing those who are orphaned, alone, abandoned and struggling is equally troubling.  Our church MUST be about those who need family, and our church family is the answer one of the greatest questions people are asking, “Where do I belong?”

We MUST ALWAYS be the church where the spirit of adoption defines us…

adoption approval 9-26-14

“…but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:15

For some of us adoption is difficult to understand.  We can’t imagine being dropped into a family whom we don’t share bloodlines with.  But until you can get your mind around this theological and deeply meaningful truth, you won’t understand God’s great Missionary heart for the world. Until you accept this reality in your own life, you won’t fully give yourself to your adopted family, the church.  Adoption is the very metaphor and family reality that leads us to understand the heart of the Father.  Once we understand His heart, we are then able to do His work.

4 Reasons Why You Belong In The Church Family…

#1 You Are Chosen –  There is nothing like being chosen.  You are not an accident.  God doesn’t make mistakes.  God has chosen you to be who you are.  For just a moment stop asking questions and just accept a God who wrote you into the story in Genesis through Adam by breathing His VERY BREATH in your lungs.  He didn’t just give you life but walked through the garden in the cool of the day with you.  Not because of what you could do for him, but because you were created in HIS VERY IMAGE!  Sounds like a family to me.  What about today though?  We failed and here is the part that gets me every time.  Because of Jesus, HE STILL CHOOSES US.  YOU ARE FAMILY.

#2 You Are Adopted   Jesus forgives us.  I almost want to stop writing and just make those three words the totality of the point.  Because Jesus forgives us, we are to forgive each other.  When we accept His full approval into His heavenly family and call him Father because of the sacrifice of Jesus, we then call each other brother and sister.  Nothing quite like finding out you have a bunch of brothers and sisters you didn’t know about!  YOU ARE FAMILY.

#3 You Are Wanted Every one of us at one time in our life has felt left out, maybe even ostracized, or made to feel worthless.  But the church is different.  You need to know you are wanted.  That doesn’t mean any pastor or one person can meet all your needs, it means that you are now to step up and start meeting others needs!  Do you want to be a part of a disciple making church?  It won’t come in a class, a bible reading plan, or a performance, merit based system.  It only comes when we step up and start to act like a family that wants to take care of each other and doesn’t wait for a pastor to initiate.  YOU ARE FAMILY.

#4 You Are Valuable –  Written in Luke 15 are three parables, back to back to back.  The parable of the lost sheep which teaches us Jesus leaves all to go and rescue you.  The parable of the lost coin which emphasizes the great worth you have and the celebration that happens when one sinner repents.  Finally, the Prodigal Son which gives us a beautiful picture of failure and redemption through Christ Jesus as we are welcomed back into His family lived out today through the church.  There is no disputing that Jesus looks at us and sees value beyond measure.  YOU ARE FAMILY.

Share below why you feel like you belong in the family of God.  Be bold and courageous and share a story of encouragement to others.

Sunday at Princeton Alliance Church, we will discover how hope for the future always outweighs the pain of the present.  If we want to be a part of the family of God, the church, we must learn to relate together.  Will we be perfect? No, but will we bear one another’s pain and work together, YES!

 Together PAC Original


Josh Conn is the founding pastor of 217church, a church plant of Princeton Alliance Church.  217church is a contemporary church in Mercer County NJ and meets Sundays at 10:30am at Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ.  Visit www.217church.com for more information. or watch a weekend message here.

3 Years of 217church – Every Story Counts

This Sunday is a HUGE day for our church.  We celebrate three years of being a church “creating environments where people can meet and follow Jesus!”  This has been our vision statement from Day 1.  Where have these three years gone?  I could tell you story after story of lives transformed because of Jesus and His tangible acts of love shown by our 217church family.  I could tell you about a single mom who was baptized at our first baptism in the Washington Crossing River and sensed new hope in Jesus.  I could tell you about a young woman who has recovered from an abusive past, discovered the grace of Jesus and is now pouring her life into young teenagers so they don’t have to endure the same struggles she endured.  I could tell you about children who have found a relationship with Jesus.  I could tell you about our Children’s and youth ministry that is ministering in places in Trenton that need to hear of Jesus.  I could tell you of business owners and entrepreneurs who are now using their influence to bring people to Jesus because of 217church.  We are a church where Every Story Counts!

“Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall.”  Nehemiah 2:17

 Here Are Some of The Ways God Has Used You

#1 141 Restored Lives – We like to say, we are the church for people who aren’t here yet.  Here is the list of 141 names of people who we have baptized into a relationship with Jesus Christ.  Starting a church is a covenant building experience.  Revealing a sign of hope and love from a savior, who never leaves and always extends the hand of grace, is what we are about.  When you read their names, it’s just print on paper, but truly they are lives and families transformed.  I can’t wait for the next 141!

Phil Robertson, Christine Johnson, Crystal Morgan, Lynda Ferguson, Laurie Robertson, Sandy Rivera, Amanda Kline, Stephen Constantinou, Andrew Constantinou, Michelle Watson, Danny Baumann, Butch Hamilton, Josh Rivas, Jill Larsen, Melissa MacCollum, Caitlin Condit, Lisa Flores, Lily Mahaney, Liza Vargas, Jamie Vargas, Arlynet Tovar, Steven Gotthelf, Kyle Graf, Diana Garcia, Sharon Geiger, Natalya Rivera, Juan Rivera IV, Howard Anderson, Brandyn Lichtenstein, Laura Shapanus, Bill Shapanus, Alyse Canciello, Monica Quiroz, Cristiana Galang, Becca Solis, Krista Galang, Andrew Albert, Joe Corso, Lilly Conn, Titus Conn, Kathryn Nieves, Mimi Kabia, Chad Nelson, Kristi Costanzo, Keith Cline, Katie Johnson, Terri Svecz, Sean Gordon, Alex Svecz, Collin Spurgin, Matt Spurgin, Lonzetta Rush, James Rush, Jason Kingsley, Gary Jakubicki, Sally Hutchings, Josh Schmalbach, Leonard Simon, Denise Stremlo, Mike Kirk, Chrisha Kirk, Mark Forman, Kevin Cordas, Shelly Cordas, Steve Cosenza, Debbie Cosenza, Dione Springer, Gabrielle Cobb, Luis Valdivieso, Toni-Ann Rotondi, Cristina Cobb-Adams, Anthony Anglin, Jason Flintosh, Nicole Jemine, Jason Parker, Gina Sparacio, Flynt Tuller, Flynt Jr. Tuller, Jill Brown, Jay Rodriguez, Pete Ruffini, Allie Guerrero, Jaime Vargas, Patti Ann Ridgway, Lauren Velarde, Corrine Hunsher, Sonny Esteron, Derek Sander, Deb Stewart, Willie Rivera, Cindy Chavez, Jhoi Ortiz, Katie Hawver, David Robertiello, Nick Labella, Lindsay Clayton, Sandra Lupo, Devon Smith, Michael Ettinger, Pollorn Sayasack, Jessica Rivas, Tiffany Rivas, Nick D’Mauro, Jeanie Leung, Cathy Szymanski, John Baldino, Racheal Jones, Eve Green, Maria Cobena, Liz Perez, Cathy Szyanski, Kathleen Contreras, Christian Servellon, Christina Baranowski, Daniela Vinci, Naylon Larane, Adrien Ong, Racquel Smith, Brittney Blackburn, Alcmenia Dunbar, Natalia Hernandez, Santina Hernandez, Corina Hernandez, Courtney Arbitell, Joclyn Hernandez, Dania Hernandez, Miriam Hernandez, Tsunami Martinez, Johanna Martinez, Kimberly Hopkins, Linda Monforte, Maria Rodriguez, Yolanda Drislane, Kristen Moore, Janet Russell, Trevor Jones, Sixto Irizarry, Shanera Hampton, Jessica Suessegger, Sherenne Simon, Alfredo Marin.  Every Story Counts!

#2 People Finding Deep Relationships – In one of our 17 small groups that meet in 11 different townships, you will find people who are serving the community.  On any given week, we have over 250 people meeting together, caring for one another deeply.  We visit each other when in the hospital, we pray for each other, study the bible together and we take care of each other.  We even have one group who paid off a person’s credit card debt to give them a fresh start financially. (Now you are saying…”I want in!”)  Every Story Counts!

#3 Over 2 Million Dollars Worth of Generosity – In these three years over Two Million dollars has been given to the vision of 217church!  Through generous hearts you have given to church planting, the next generation fund, provided for practical needs of countless people hurting in our community, provided a place for us to meet on Sundays, sent kids to camps, provided for all our equipment and empowered our pastors and staff to live and do ministry in the community.  Your generosity is proving Every Story Counts!

#4 An Incredible Youth & Children’s Ministry – Each week 140 kids and youth hear about the love of Jesus through our dynamic 217kids and 217youth ministries.  Psalm 46:13 says, “tell the next Generation this is God.” We have taken this to heart and are serious about making the next generation our #1 priority.  We now have a partnership with Urban Promise in Trenton and are working hard to bring the Gospel of Jesus to students in Trenton through after school programs.  It’s just the beginning of seeing our influence soar.  They will write the story after we are off the scene and we are empowering them NOW!  Their Story Counts!

#5 Over 430 People Every Weekend in Worship – Every week we celebrate big and our celebrations just keep getting bigger and BIGGER!  We started planning this church in a living room with 20 people and now every week over 400 gather!  We preach the word, worship passionately, pray boldly and we make it a HUGE celebration.  We make a big deal of the Gospel of Jesus and every week over 50 people serve to make these celebrations happen.  Our 217church co-worker team is nothing short of incredible!  Week in and week out for 150+ Sundays, so many have heard about Jesus and are following him because of these celebrations proving Every Story Counts!

One Final Note:

I am humbled and privileged to serve as your pastor.  I couldn’t have scripted it better.  You are what I am proud of.  You have made my life and the life of my family richer and full of meaning. We love you all!

Josh & Summer Lilly, Titus & Lydia


Join in The HUGE CELEBRATION This Weekend…

1) Two Huge Weekend Celebrations 9:30am & 11am at the AMC 24

2) Our 3rd anniversary party at our Youth Center at 3pm. (yes it’s 2/17 day!)

3) Finally, end the day with an evening baptism with our sister church, Element Church at Princeton Alliance Church.

This is going to be AWESOME!

100 New Churches For New Jersey

Listen To Our New Plant Jersey Podcast    Episode #1:    What to Look For In A Leader

Matt Murphy and I have been partners in ministry over the last 6+ years. We, both along with Boyd Hannold of Princeton Alliance Church, embarked on a vision to reach New Jersey with the Gospel through church planting.  I led the first Plant, 217church, and Matt is leading the 2nd church plant, Element Church. It is our goal to start with 4 “Hub” church plants that ultimately plant hundreds of NJ contemporary churches. Will you pray with us and for us as we pursue God’s dream for the church in New Jersey? It is our prayer that the Gospel transforms and brings revival through church planting in New Jersey.  We are calling this PLANT JERSEY.

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”  Mark 2:17

The Plant Jersey Vision:   “Extending the Gospel in the Garden State through church planting”

Matt and I spend a lot of time talking about what we are learning and then we take our learning from each other back to our churches. It is a benefit to both of us to learn from one another. In our many conversations we came to the conclusion that our church leaders could learn from what each of us have to say. We have done pulpit swaps, co-taught our staff, mentored different leaders at each others churches, and have had combined baptism services. There is a lot of unity between our 2 church plants. We want to see both churches as catalysts for revival. So, we decided to launch a monthly podcast for the leaders of Element Church and 217church.

The Plant Jersey Podcast

This podcast is to communicate leadership principles that we have learned as we have planted in Jersey. New Jersey is a different culture and many ways a culture unto itself. As we looked around, many of the church leadership concepts we have seen are geared toward other cultural contexts and we wanted to give some teachings that will be very relevant to our leaders. Hopefully this podcast will serve to help anyone seeking to Plant in Jersey. We hope that anyone serving Jesus in New Jersey will learn and enter the dialogue with us. If you are currently a church planter or pastor in New Jersey we would love to learn from you as well and possibly have you help us teach our leaders. Ultimately, we want to help anyone with the vision to plant churches in New Jersey. If you are passionate about reaching New Jersey for Jesus let us know so that we can pray with you.

Podcast #1 What To Look For In A Leader 

Click Here to listen  or  itunes users Click Here

The first podcast which you can find on this blog post is called “What to look for in a leader.” As church planters we have so many people ask us about being in leadership at our respective churches.  Identifying leaders is the greatest challenge of growing any endeavor.  We will look at 4 key traits we look for in developing leaders.  People who love Jesus, love people, love the vision, and love self discipline.  As church planters we have to be careful in the early stages of a church plant who we entrust leadership to. We hope this helps as we discuss what we look for in leaders at Element and 217church.


Just Do It!

Growing up playing sports, I played my way through many pairs of shoes.  Countless layups, jump shots, drills, laps around the track and trail runs led me to a desire for excellence on the playing field and around the track.  There was one shoe company that coined a slogan that most of us remember, ‘Just do it’. When I say, ‘Just Do It’ most of us immediately know the brand, the shoes it represents and the mega company that emerged.  I love this slogan.  When God tells you to do something you have to go and DO IT!

“Do not merely listen to the word, and deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22

Last Sunday we revealed 217church will be opening a 2nd worship site for 217church on Sunday mornings.  This means in October of 2013, our Sunday morning worship environment will be as one church, in two locations, three worship services.  We know many of you are asking, so what do I do now?  I want to be a part, but how? We will be sending a team of 50-100 people from our Hamilton Campus to go and start this work, but I wanted to share a few simple ways you can participate in this vision NOW.

Five Things You Can Do NOW…

#1 Pray – Prayer is the primary work of the people of God.  Our motivation in starting this new campus in East Windsor is to help people meet and follow Jesus. My family used to live in East Windsor and it is time for us to extend the vision of “Serving Relentlessly” to these neighborhoods.

  • Pray for the Community-  We will be doing prayer walks in the near future, but immediately you can begin to pray for the people who will be a part and don’t even know it yet.  Prayer is the true pioneering work of the Holy Spirit.  Make this a part of your daily conversation with God.
  • Pray for Your Part-  What will you do? Will you go and be the first response team on the ground in this new work?
  • Pray for finances – We believe God will provide everything we need for this work, for some of us, this new campus is a perfect time to get in the game with our giving.  You can start right now and give here.
  • Pray for leaders – We will need at least one pastor and a small support staff.

#2  Serve Now – We will be multiplying every team we have at the Hamilton Campus to the new campus.  We are building teams strong here so we can have a healthy multiplication there.  Contact kelly@217church.com to serve once a month.  Here are the current weekend teams you can connect with:

  • Set Up & Tear Down Team-  Theater arrival time 7:45 AM or 12:30 PM.  This is the most “hands on” of all the teams as we put up outdoor and indoor signs, stuff bibles, set up the platform, sound equipment and create a welcoming environment.
  • Hospitality Team-  Theater arrival time 8:15 AM.  These are the people that create a welcoming environment.  From helping people find a parking spot to greeting and assisting to make sure people are seated comfortably, our hospitality team smiles and welcomes people to the family.  They are the front door to the church!
  • 217kids & Tots TeamTheater arrival time 8:15 AM. We don’t do childcare!  We set the stage for children to feel accepted, loved and have fun while they learn about Jesus and His love for them.  These co-workers are driving character anchors deep in the hearts of our children.
  • Worship & Media Team Theater arrival time 7:45 AM.  This is the team that facilitates the service.  From serving on the worship team to running a camera, sound boards, and setting up lights, this team makes the service happen!  We just launched a new high quality video/audio available on our web and podcast because of the selfless serving of the media team.

#3  Spread the Word – A year will pass by faster than you know it and we believe the hard work of prayer, organizing and communicating now will lead to an incredible launch of our first ever multiplication.

#4  Help Start a Small Group – We have over 20 groups meeting in the Central Jersey area and we want to have even more groups in East Windsor.  If you live there, consider using your home / apartment to Host a small group.  Contact Dan@217church.com to make this happen.

#5 Keep your Eye on the Vision – Can you see it?  We can already see week one of our East Windsor ministry!

  • People getting Restored in their relationship with Jesus, getting baptized and “Pursuing God Passionately.” We see a change in the eternal destiny of people in our community.
  • People actively Rebuilding the church one life at a time through “Caring for One Another Deeply.” We see our church giving purpose and meaning through belonging to a mission bigger than any of us can even fathom.
  • The church Renewing the community through Serving Relentlessly.” We see those who feel abandoned, alone and helpless, gaining dignity, experiencing love, and being empowered through having their basic needs met.

Do you see it?







The Big Reveal!

This Sunday we reveal the location of our first ever additional weekend worship site of 217church.  We will soon be one church in two locations! This Sunday we will reveal the date, location and what we need to launch a new worship site.  Don’t miss THE BIG REVEAL Sunday at AMC 24 10 & 11:30 AM!

Our hand written notes to 21 1st time guests families from launch Sunday

As I walked in the theater last Sunday and felt the anticipation of one of our largest gatherings ever, I was awestruck by the energy in the room!  This was happening.  We were launching and the word MULTIPLY was on our lips.  Three years ago when we started this journey we had no idea really what was going to happen, but God is clearly moving through you. What an incredible weekend!  I feel bad if you missed as it was by far one of my favorite weekends together with our 217church family.

These facts are simply a snap shot of what is going on through you and the ministry of 217church!

Some Quick Facts From Sunday:

-2 people chose to follow Jesus for the 1st time this weekend
-21 First time guest families / (New Record)
-456 people gathered (Largest Regular Weekend Ever)
-130+ people served in some capacity and we had a full breakfast together at 9 am! (New Record)
-50+ more people joined a small group
-73 total Kids! (Largest 217kids Gathering Ever)
-100 people joined for lunch following 2nd service at the youth center

What’s Next?

The staff and leadership team is here to serve you and equip you for your ministry.  Let’s make the most of this fall season. Here is a quick run down of the schedule and what you can expect every weekend.

September 30  – We reveal the location of the next worship site for 217church
Plus:  Meet 217church 1:00 pm at youth center

October 7 – We reveal our first overseas mission partner location and officially launch 217global!
Plus: 217 Blueprint class 1:00 pm at youth center

October 14 – Baptism Weekend!  This is what it’s all about! Sign up to be baptized and e-mail Kevin here: kevin@217church.com

There is no doubt about it, God’s plan for the church is to grow in every capacity.  God has been blessing every area of 217church with growth and improved health over these past two years.  But even though we are growing, this should never stop us asking the question…What if?  Our willingness to ask this question fights off complacency and becoming comfortable.  Let’s believe God for HUGE things this season and HOLD NOTHING BACK!





Making This New Season Count

I don’t know what drives you, but I am often driven by fresh starts and new seasons.  I remember my first day of middle school like it was yesterday.  Mr. Ayers was my homeroom teacher and it was a whole new adventure for me.  I loved having my own schedule, bag, books and a tremendous rush of independence as I walked throughout the halls of my middle school.  It was a whole new world of possibilities, uncertainty and a lot of excitement and fear.

A new season means steps of faith
“Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you”  Joshua 1:3
    When God calls you to do something BIG he promises to walk with you.

    This new season in my life is going to be incredible.  There has been a sense of anticipation flowing through me these past weeks.  I recently engaged a new coach, have been reading through the book of Joshua in the bible, and am in a time of fasting and praying learning to hear God’s voice with clarity.  If there is one thing I DO NOT want to do, it is lead myself, my family or our church family down the wrong path.  The vision is set, the last details are being worked through and the expectancy for this next season is OFF THE CHARTS!   Our 217church fall launch is September 23rd and we are ready to MAKE THIS SEASON COUNT.  But what about you?  Are you ready to make the fall count?  Here are four keys to making this new season count:

  • Get Clarity About Your Vision – One of the things that is helping me the most in planning for the fall and beyond is looking for themes of what God is saying to me.  God is speaking to me personally is through two little words: Quality Time.  My vision through this season is to engage fully investing quality time through everything I do.  Every morning I wake up, look at my schedule and choose to engage at a high level with each person, relationship and task. I want to make every day count.

Question:  Do you have a portable, memorable and motivational vision for this season of your life?

  • Gather Your Resources – SO now that you have a vision, do you have everything you need?  Namely, an execution plan, the right people and the discipline to make it happen?  Maybe your resource is support from a key influencer, a budget in place or a study tool you know you need.  Essentially, what is the plan for your daily and weekly rhythm?  You will need encouragement, accountability and some reflection times along the way to ensure you are making the season count.

Question:  Is there a tool you can identify you need that you don’t have yet?

  • Guard Against Burnout – This is perhaps my biggest failure over the years.  My problem is I think I can accomplish more than I actually can in a given season.  If you run at too many priorities you are sure to fry yourself and sabotage what could have been an incredibly productive season! The key to productivity and progress is knowing when enough is enough.  This is a daily and weekly practice. Make it count, know your limits.

Question:  Will you practice a weekly sabbath and have planned time off for this next season?

  • Go All In – It is time!  Feeling overwhelmed?  Never have there been a time and season like this one.  You are here, ready, prepared determined and no matter how you got here, no one can be you in this season!  You have incredible gifts, abilities and perspective that God has given uniquely to you and it’s time for you to go ALL IN!  You can’t hesitate and there is no time for second guessing.  Your family needs you, your friends need you and you need Jesus to walk through this season with you.  Are you really all in for the next season?  Or are you going through the motions faking it?

Question:  Is there anything preventing you from going ALL IN through this next season?

When God spoke to Joshua as he assumed leadership of His people, He gave him a promise that was bold and incredible:  “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you.”  WOW!  Meditate on that for a while…

What if God did that for you?

What if God did that for your family?

What if God did that for our church? 

September 23rd launches our Fall Season at 217church and we intend to Make it Count!  You can let us know you are coming on the 23rd by clicking here and signing up on Facebook.  It will be an empowering season of activating our faith and celebrating the vision we are embarking on together.

See you at the theater!

Fall Topics:
September 23 – The 217church Vision
September 30 – Life Without Limits
October 7 – Understanding Your Calling
October 14 – Sharing Your Mission


At The Crossroads…Decision Time

Six years ago it was decision time and the pressure was intense.  It was either move to New Jersey from Oregon or stay where we were and wait some more.  Do we leave everything we know including family and friends?  Do we jump into an unknown city with unknown people where we literally knew not one of the 9+ million people in the state of New Jersey?  Before we made the decision to move as a family from Oregon to New Jersey there were so many unknowns.  Would anyone like us? Are we doing the right thing?  I remember sitting on my deck with my bible open early in the morning asking God for direction.  I have never been more in tune with trusting God and wanting to be close to Him. Even then, it was an incredibly difficult decision.  What made it even harder is there were people who told us we were making the wrong decision.

Being at a Crossroads can drive you to total dependance on God

Maybe it isn’t leaving a geographical area but it could be a different type of major decision.  What major decision is on your radar and what are you going to do?  Go left or right there is no other choice.  You are on the hot seat and there is uncertainty.  What will you do? 

And the commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.” Joshua 5:15

Joshua needed to get this one right.  It was time for their first battle at Jericho and the whole nations blessing depended on a sound decision.  I love what God says to start the Crossroads Conversation.  Essentially, “You better get right before Me first if you expect me to talk to you and lead you.”

If you are at a Crossroads, here are some things to consider…

  • Have You Heard God Out?Go ahead and try to make a decision without consulting God and waiting on Him and you will get a GIANT MESS!  It may not look messy at first, but sooner or later you will end up realizing your own pride has ruined you.  I implore you if there is a MAJOR decision coming, LISTEN!  Marriage, buying a house, selling something, moving from one place to another, no matter what the decision is, you have to listen.  Anyone can talk themselves into the “logical” decision.  Stop using your mind and let God mess up your life.   
  • Are You Running From Something? – I have sat with many people in times of major decision and NONE of them have EVER admitted to me they were running from God.  EVER!  Were they? I have no idea, but I do know that denial is a major issue in CROSSROADS MOMENTS.  Come clean!  God will let you walk away, but He won’t stop trying to get your attention.
  • The Illusion of Control – The truth is you don’t control things!  Everything is under the control of God.  We make our plans and quite honestly, sometimes I think God laughs at them.  We think we are providing for our families with our great talents and gifts but God knows it is His provision. The thing about God I have realized is He will love us no matter what, but we can miss out BIG TIME on a blessing if we choose to control rather than yield to His control.
  • The Need For Courage – Stop thinking about it and just do it.  Your life is so short.  Try it!  What are you so afraid of?  Obviously, God does not tell us to do things outside of His Word, nor will he call us to sin, but if you need courage, ask God for it.

This Sunday 217church is all about A Fresh Vision!  I absolutely cannot wait to share the vision for us that God wants to bring his poeple out of ‘EXILE’!   “He will keep you in exile no longer.” Lamentations 4:22. Each one of us has been given an incredible opportunity to walk alongside Jesus, but for some of us, we are in exile. It is time for deliverance, it’s decision time.

Our church is at a crossroads. It is time to make some major decisions about how we grow and new townships to reach.  Will you pray with us as we seek God’s face in His will for 217church?  The journey is about to get really interesting!

What will you do at the CROSSROADS?