Shades Blog Our Blog

Ed Traverse and Greg Ott

Posted in Missions  |  By Shades Staff  |  Posted on Wed Mar 14, 2018

Ed Traverse and Greg Ott

Global Impact Celebration is a week of connection, encouragement, learning, and renewal for all of us. But sometimes, there are God-ordained moments that make the week a memory for both missionary guests and church members. Below, you'll read recollections from Ed Traverse, pastor of Lifepoint Church in Westerville, Ohio and Greg Ott, a member here at Shades, about a unique connection between them.

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Live Sent

Posted in Missions  |  By Cassandra Hicks  |  Posted on Mon Feb 26, 2018

Live Sent

I grew up in the age of Girls in Action (GA’s), so I always knew what a missionary was.

We heard stories of people who traveled to other countries to tell people about the love of Jesus. However, my first real touch with missions was when I was about five-years-old and my Paw-Paw, who was a Southern Baptist preacher, came home from a trip to China.

My Paw-Paw loved Jesus with every fiber of his being, and he loved to tell people about Jesus! He could do this at a restaurant or he could do this in China. I grew up knowing this not just because of his words but also because of his actions.

I took a mission trip to Trinidad the summer after I graduated from high school. I understood that we were there to share about Christ, but I never felt a passion for the people we were ministering to. I had never experienced an all-consuming desire to reach out and see hearts and lives changed. Missions were just an exciting trip we did. A church thing.

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A year of Community Engagement

Posted in From the Pastor  |  By Danny Wood  |  Posted on Wed Dec 13, 2017

A year of Community Engagement

At the beginning of this year we introduced our vision for living sent in our community. It was a bold, multi-faceted vision that would be led by Dr. Steve Browning (he doesn’t get to use the “Dr.” much, and so I wanted to include that earned designation!), our Minister of Community Engagement. He attacked the vision with passion and energy, and the first year results are beyond anything any of us expected!

This month, Vestavia Hills Magazine did a feature article on Shades and our community engagement in this area. I have included a link to the article and strongly encourage you to read it and be aware of some of the incredible ministry that is taking place right here in Vestavia Hills. And as you read the article also keep in mind that we are also doing life changing ministry in Hoover and Bluff Park!

I am proud of Steve and his leadership and all our staff working with this and the hundreds of lay people volunteering their time to live sent in the community where they live and work.

Read story

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Out For Delivery | 12.15.17

Posted in Worship  |  By Jordan Cox  |  Posted on Mon Oct 16, 2017

Out For Delivery | 12.15.17

“We learned a lot about what works, what’s effective and what’s not, what film can do and what preaching can only do. At the beginning of 2017, we started talking about what’s next.” – Ethan Milner, visual arts director

They say a big ship turns slowly.

Rarely in the history of a 110-year institution do you have the opportunity to define the mission of the next generation. For much of the last year, our leadership has presented a new mission. Our aim, to be a people who live sent, extends to every aspect of our lives.

Our team began to evaluate how this mission informs not only the ministry we do and the programs we host, but we also asked how it impacts how we communicate and the stories we tell.

We’re excited to announce Out For Delivery, a short-film to be aired on local television this December. The movie premieres Friday, December 15 at 6:30 p.m. on WBRC FOX6 and WIAT CBS42. It will re-air on Saturday, December 16 at 7 p.m. on WTTO CW21 and Sunday, December 17 at 12:30 a.m. on WVTM NBC13.

“We’re such an entertainment-saturated culture,” said Dr. Danny Wood, senior pastor. “The idea of making a movie, especially during the Christmas season when everybody’s looking for something good to watch, just seemed like a great idea.”

Out For Delivery is more than a movie, however. It’s a tool for you to use to influence your world for Christ. Making a movie tied to an event or asking people to come and see doesn’t fit the mission.

“If we give people a tool and then teach them how to use it, it’s up to them to put it to work,” said Michael Adler, worship pastor. “It is a tool. It’s a conversational tool.”

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Service and all activities canceled for Sunday, Oct. 8

Posted in Uncategorized  |  By Jordan Cox  |  Posted on Sun Oct 8, 2017

Service and all activities canceled for Sunday, Oct. 8

Our Sunday morning service and all activities have been canceled due to severe weather from Hurricane Nate. The church offices will resume normal operations Monday at 8 a.m.

Tune in at 9:30 a.m. to hear a special online message from Pastor Danny. Visit and follow us on social media to join us in worship. Our livestream host will be available to take prayer requests.

To give online:

  • Go to
  • Click the ‘online giving’ button near the bottom left of the window to login
  • Login with your account info (There is a link to create an account if you don't already have one. There is also a forgot my password button.)
  • You may give to Budget and/or Make Jesus Known
  • Complete the info required for the amount of your gift and bank or card info
  • You will see an onscreen summary, as well as receive an email confirmation when your gift is complete

 To give by text:

  • Send a text to (205) 881-5050
  • Include the amount you want to give (e.g. Budget $10, or MJK $10)
  • If no keyword is listed, the gift will go to our Budget – general operations
  • To give to MJK (Make Jesus Known) use the keyword “MJK” or “missions”
  • If this is your first text gift, you will need to setup a bank account or debit/credit card
  • You will receive a reply with a text confirmation of your donation

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Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief

Posted in Caring  |  By Danny Wood  |  Posted on Thu Aug 31, 2017

Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief

Thank you for your interest in helping in the Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts. The North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention has created a website as a means to keep their SEND Relief efforts and volunteer efforts in one place. For the first time, NAMB is also accepting non-skilled volunteers for relief efforts. Click on the button for more information and for giving opportunities.

Donate here

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Summer Snapshot: Brittany Martin and GenSend

Posted in Students  |  By Kevin Naylor  |  Posted on Tue Aug 22, 2017

Summer Snapshot: Brittany Martin and GenSend

Editor's Note: This summer we will hear from various UMin students about how they are using their summer for the Kingdom and how God is at work in their lives. Next up, we'll hear from Brittany Martin who is a student at Samford University.

This summer I participated in GenSend through the North American Mission Board. I was sent to the incredible city of New York for six weeks to live on mission and spread the gospel. We did many different types of ministry such as prayer walks through our neighborhoods in Brooklyn, handing out flyers for our church planter, and holding picnics for the community in the parks. We also got the opportunity to volunteer in Coney Island working with another church’s summer children’s program. It was so humbling to work with those children but such a blessing to pour into them. 

One of my favorite things that we did was spiritual surveys. We went into an area and asked people spiritual questions about themselves and the community, but what was great about these conversations was that many of them led to deep Gospel conversations where we had the opportunity to share the Gospel with them. It was so encouraging to see that New Yorkers actually crave community more than we typically think.  Even though they are in one of the most densely populated cities in the United States there isn’t much sense of community and therefore, everyone is lonely. I found that more times than not if I stopped and just asked someone how they were that they would instantly open up and start a conversation with me. 

I think the hardest part about the trip was being away from home for so long. There were also days when I really didn’t think I had anything left to pour out, but God always found away to help me through whatever I was going through. 

Overall, this summer was an incredible blessing. I am forever changed because of this summer, but the main thing I want to take away from this summer and continue this fall is to “step out of the boat.” During our training in Phoenix, Steve Turner told us something that really stuck with me. He said that we are all called to step out of the comforts of our boat and walk on the water with Jesus, and follow Him wherever and whenever He calls us. So that is my prayer that I won’t hide in comfort, but will step into uncertain and uncomfortable waters this semester with Jesus.

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Posted in From the Pastor  |  By Danny Wood  |  Posted on Mon Aug 14, 2017


It is great to be back home at Shades! Janice and I are thankful for the six-week sabbatical that you gave us. It was a very restful and enjoyable experience, but now I am fired up about getting back to work.

First of all, two shout outs. A huge thanks to Chad, Steve, and Jacob for their excellent preaching in the sermon series “In the Wilderness." 

And thanks to the Shades family for the hundreds of personal letters and notes that were typeset and bound in a beautiful book. Wow, what a way to start a sabbatical by reading so many affirming and touching messages! I feel deeply loved by the Shades family and thank you for taking the time to express your appreciation.

This Sunday I will begin a new sermon series titled “Recalculating.” 

We set our life GPS on love; hope; happiness; meaning; and purpose and head in the direction we think best, but then things change and often we are faced with “recalculating.” Sometimes it is life situations that create detours and force a recalculating that we have no choice over, but we do choose the path to take; options are the world’s definition of recalculating or a biblical response of recalculating. Other times we are faced with life situations that expose the fallacies in our current path, and we have to choose whether to continue down that road or to accept recalculating and head down a different path and redefine our goals in life.

This is a great Sunday to invite a friend. All of us (believers and non-believers) have to deal with “recalculating” so extend the invitation!

This week I hope you take advantage of the post cards we distributed Sunday and take a few moments to write a note of encouragement to your children’s teachers. It will be a time of refreshment for the teacher and could open the door for you to share about your relationship with Jesus. We have extra cards in the office if you missed them or need more.

I look forward to seeing you Sunday and seeing what God’s Word has to say about recalculating!

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Summer Snapshot: Jake Adler and Life Community Church

Posted in Students  |  By Kevin Naylor  |  Posted on Tue Jul 25, 2017

Summer Snapshot: Jake Adler and Life Community Church

Editor's Note: This summer we will hear from various UMIN students about how they are using their summer for the Kingdom and how God is at work in their lives. Next up we’ll hear from Jake Adler who is an upcoming senior at Samford University.

Hello people of Birmingham! It's good to be writing to you from Life Community Church in Nolensville, Tennessee. For the past two months, I've been interning here with Jay Watson and Kevin Johnson. Jay and Kevin used to be pastors at Shades that have devoted themselves to serving the people of Nolensville. It’s been a fun ride the entire summer.        

We started off with a bang at our student camp in the woods of Tennessee. During this week the students were able learn about Jesus and how he loves them. For many of them, this is a new concept, and they were hearing it for the first time. I was given the opportunity to lead worship for the students which proved to be a difficult task, because for some of them it was their first time to sing worship songs. The students learned quickly and loved getting involved. We also played tons of games like flag football, glow in the dark kickball (which was chaotic), and water balloon fights. It was a fun start to the internship, and it gave me a good picture of how engaging the summer was going to be.

One of the families from the church volunteered to house me for the summer. They are some of the kindest, most generous people I have ever met. Their three young children are full of energy and the youngest boy, Declan, is my number one fan.  They have served me so well this entire summer, and I've come to see them as my Tennessee family. 

Kevin has been an excellent boss for the past two months.  Jay, the lead pastor of Life Community, has been on sabbatical for the summer.  Thus, Kevin, the associate pastor, has stepped up to lead us interns. 

He put us in charge of leading the Wednesday night events for the student ministry. So we come up with games to play, what Bible lesson to teach, and what crazy snack food the students will be eating. My favorite Wednesday night so far has to be the glow-in-the-dark mini-golf night. We rented several portable glow in the dark mini golf stations and set them up in the worship center, then turned up the LED lights and made the room look like a laser tag arena. It was crazy. CRAZY!

I have also had the opportunity to lead worship on Sundays.  Ethan Asters, a Samford graduate and the worship leader at Life Community, made it his goal to mentor me this entire summer and give me many opportunities to lead worship.  He has allowed me to assist him in planning the worship sets, modeling each Sunday to the needs of the congregation and to theme of the sermon that morning. This has given me a glimpse into what it would be like to be a worship pastor full-time at a church. I'm really thankful for Ethan's leadership over me this summer.

Kevin also put me in charge of leading a small Bible study with three of male students. This has been the most rewarding of all my tasks this summer. These three middle school guys have been so eager to read the Word and fellowship with God. I’ve been able to teach them the importance of reading their Bibles, the power of prayer, and the beauty of Jesus’ grace in their lives. I'm hoping that these concepts will carry on in these guys' lives for years. They have the passion to do so. I'll keep praying for them as they enter high school and begin that new stage in life.

So anyway, those are some of the awesome things I've been able to do in this internship. It has given me a good glimpse into what full-time ministry would be like. It has also strengthened my desire to be in full-time ministry. The people of Life Community are growing in faith thanks to the hard work of many faithful leaders and thanks to the faithfulness of our God.  

It's been an amazing summer.

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Summer Snapshot: Luke Thompson and Life Romania

Posted in Students  |  By Kevin Naylor  |  Posted on Thu Jul 20, 2017

Summer Snapshot: Luke Thompson and Life Romania

Editor's Note: This summer we will hear from various UMIN students about how they are using their summer for the Kingdom and how God is at work in their lives. Next up we’ll hear from Luke Thompson who is an upcoming senior at Samford University. 

This summer I chose to serve with Life Romania, a ministry that organizes camps and shares the Gospel with kids ages 6-19 all over the country. For the past three years, I have been working with middle school and high school students but never in a camp setting. I didn’t really know what to expect. I only vaguely knew what I would be doing. I knew I would be in charge of the finances and sports/recreation activities for one of the camp locations along with preaching occasionally. 

Prior to arriving, I wasn’t given a lot of detail about how those jobs have been done in the past or the expectations for my roles at camp. Even after arriving in Romania, meeting the team and officially going over details, I have had to learn as I go. That can be even more difficult when not everyone speaks the same language. But as with any mission trip you go on, it requires a flexible attitude. Things aren’t always going to go according to plan or instructions might not be clearly communicated. That can be discouraging at first, but if you don’t allow yourself to let go of the control and let God use you then you’ll miss out on what all He has in store for you.

Forsaking My Own Strength

I like to think of myself as a laid-back, easygoing guy, and yet week after week I have been challenged by the flow of the camp. I have been here for three weeks, and two of those weeks we’ve had camp and they could not have been more polar opposite. I remember after the first day of camp sitting down and being so discouraged. I thought, “How am I going to get through four more weeks of this?” I was angry and frustrated for being here, annoyed at how chaotic things were. But throughout this experience, God continues to teach me two main things. The first is to rely on Him every single day. He showed me that before I got here, I wasn’t relying on his strength and power, but that my tendency was to do things on my own. I had to rely on His power. There is no way I would have made it this far on my own strength. I would be bitter and angry if I tried to fulfill all of my responsibilities on my own.

In Mark 10:13-16 people are bringing children to see Jesus and be blessed by him, but the Disciples get angry at the people for bringing them to Jesus. They think that children are unimportant and not worth Jesus’ time. When Jesus sees this happening he gets angry at them, and in verse 15, Jesus says that those who don’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it. Jesus is saying is that those who don’t rely on me like a child don’t truly know what it is to follow me. As humans we have the tendency to shoulder all the responsibility, yet Jesus calls us to rely on him. It’s an insult to Him and His sacrifice on the cross when we try to go through life on our own. It’s easier at camp or in tough times to rely on God’s strength to get us through, but as followers of Jesus, we are called to rely on Him in all circumstances, both the good and the bad. When things are going good we think we have everything under control. Yet slowly but surely as we rely on ourselves we distance ourselves from God.

Finding True Satisfaction

The second major lesson God has been teaching me is that He is so much greater than anything in this world. True Joy is found in Him and not in this world because God is the only one that can sustain us. The big question is, “Am I living for the heavenly kingdom or for this earthly world?” And too many times I choose the things of this world over the Kingdom of Heaven. It can be so tempting to choose this world and all it offers, but in the end it leaves us empty and unsatisfied. Every day we have the option to pursue our own desires or to surrender to God and allow Him to use us and be satisfied in Him. And that is all God asks us to do, surrender to Him every day to be used by Him and show His love to others.

I have seen God use broken sinful, exhausted people to pour into the lives of kids that have never heard of Jesus only because they surrendered and allowed God to use them. I have seen counselors pour out the love of Christ to some of the most frustrating campers, and in the end are crying when they leave because they’ve never seen love like this before. I have seen God use something as simple as a ping-pong game to open the door for a conversation about how God’s love never runs out and that it’s never too late to follow Him. Allow yourself to be used by God every day, rely on His strength, and live for the Kingdom. Because God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him. And when we allow Him to use us, we experience what God has designed for us. What God has in store for each person is much greater than anything we could ever come up with on our own.

Integrating What I’ve Learned Next Semester

Even though camp is still chaotic and challenging, I know this is where I need to be and I wouldn’t trade this experience and what God is teaching me for anything. My challenge to myself is that I will surrender to God every day and be found completely in Him, choosing the Kingdom of Heaven over anything the world has to offer. And there will be struggles and temptations, but we serve the God of the Universe, Creator of Heaven and Earth. There is nothing to big or too small for our God. 

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