Shades Blog Our Blog

NEXT Vision Space

Posted in Uncategorized  |  By Jordan Cox  |  Posted on Tue Oct 2, 2018

NEXT Vision Space

NEXT | The Time is Now is a season of focused sacrifice for our church family. Our leadership has identified the most pressing needs facing Shades in 2018: spiritual transformation and facility improvement.

With the launch of the NEXT Initiative last Sunday, we curated a NEXT Vision Space in our third floor Worship Center lobby. Its home includes the former Resource Center and Global Missions Room, now called the Vision Room.

This space was designed to guide our church through the spiritual, financial, and building goals that anchor the NEXT Initiative.

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Turning a Conversation Toward the Gospel

Posted in Uncategorized  |  By Shades Staff  |  Posted on Mon Jun 18, 2018

Turning a Conversation Toward the Gospel

How can I turn a conversation toward the Gospel?

This is the number one question that I get on evangelism. For many people, the struggle is not how to share the Gospel. They understand the truth that Jesus’ death and resurrection makes it possible for all people to have a relationship with God. The hang up many people have is how to turn a conversation toward the Gospel without it feeling forced, awkward, or coming across as “preachy.” So how do you start talking about the Gospel in a conversation with someone else?

It may seem counterintuitive, but if you want to speak about the Gospel you have to LISTEN.

Each conversation presents its own unique opportunity to respond with the truth of the Gospel. In order to understand how to share the Gospel you have to listen to what the person is walking through in life and speak the hope of Jesus into their situation.  

In his book, “Turning Everyday Conversations Into Gospel Conversations,” pastor Jimmy Scroggins gives this helpful insight on how to listen for a Gospel opportunity:

“Wait for the moment in the conversation when someone shares a problem, issue, or concern.”

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Intentional Discipleship: Are You Redeeming Summer Break?

Posted in Children  |  By Jeremy Horton  |  Posted on Mon Jun 11, 2018

Intentional Discipleship: Are You Redeeming Summer Break?

You did it. This is real life, and you have FINALLY reached the end of the school year. No more homework or school projects, school dances, or parent-teacher conferences. No more rushing from school to practice to homework to shower to bed to repeat… take a deep breath; you’ve arrived! 

There is nothing quite like pushing through something difficult and all-consuming to finally reaching the finish line. And what’s the first thing we want to do when we have survived something hard? Prop our feet up, sit back, and zone out. I don’t know many runners who the day after the marathon decide to go for a difficult run. 

If we are honest with ourselves, this is what we tend to do with our summer breaks. We finally reach the end of a hectic and crazy spring season and we put our feet up, lean back, and power down. And I am not referring to the much-needed rest that summer break can bring. I am talking about more than rest; I am talking about checking-out altogether. 

But as transformed parents seeking to influence our children in the love and admonition of the Lord, maybe we should take a step back and reconsider how we approach summer break with our kids. Think about it: What other season during the year provides us with uninterrupted, open time with our children? 

DISCLAIMER: I am not here to add more things to do to your recently cleared schedule. I am talking about being intentional with your summer break as parents who are discipling your children. How can we as parents intentionally disciple our children this summer without adding business and stress back into our lives? 

Let me encourage you in three areas to capitalize on over summer break for the betterment of your family’s eternity:

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Our Next Initiative FAQ

Posted in Uncategorized  |  By Shades Staff  |  Posted on Thu Apr 26, 2018

Our Next Initiative FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Downloadable FAQ Document

Why repurpose? Why can’t we keep the Worship Center just as it is and just freshen it up and update the HVAC?

The goal of the size and design of the Worship Center is always to bring glory to God and reach more people for Christ. In the 1980’s and 90’s the strategy for churches to reach “their Jerusalem” was a large place of worship with one service and it was an effective strategy for a number of years. But in recent years, research has shown that people prefer smaller venues, community spaces, and options of worship times. By repurposing, we are striving to provide a more intimate worship experience, better sight lines, improved technology, expanded community spaces and at least an option for a multi-service format if we so choose. By doing so, we are preparing to reach more effectively our Jerusalem.  

Also, from purely a facility needs perspective, the Worship Center is a very large building (floors 3,4 & 5 constitute +/- 75,000 sf) and has a number of code compliance and other “good steward” items that need to be addressed. Those items include: adding a fire suppression (sprinkler) system, retrofitting and enlarging the restrooms to provide handicap accessible spaces (ADA compliance), replacing 70% of the existing HVAC (heating and air conditioning) that is original to the facility, upgrading our fire-alarm system, and installing new / more energy efficient lighting. When combining these items with replacing the 30-year-old worn out carpet, existing pews, new paint / stain, audio / video needs, etc. the total anticipated expense exceeds $7m. Thus, it became clear we would be better stewards of Shades resources, future, and mission by pursuing a more complete repurposing. 

At that point, with the strong encouragement of both the Finance Committee and active Deacon body’s unanimous recommendations to do so, we moved in the direction of the complete repurposing initiative that was presented and approved by the church Sunday evening, April 22, 2018.  

Didn’t we just get out of debt?   

Yes we did in October 2016. As shared above we feel this initiative is of such importance that we need to pursue this now. Naturally our hope is that we will make financial pledges that will equal and even exceed the cost of the project thus being debt free at the end of the three-year pledge period. However, if there is any resulting debt, we are confident that we can manage it to where there is no adverse impact on ministries or missions. For most of the past 20 years we have managed debt while investing $26 million in our campus facilities and giving $34 million to missions and continuing a strong emphasis on ministries.

Why should I/we consider supporting the initiative?

We are a blessed church with a history of faithful members willingly sacrificing their time and resources to provide facilities for the next generation. Now this is our time to impact the short-term and long-term future of Shades. Whatever we do in this initiative will set the footprint for ministry for at least the next 20 years. The expanded lobby space will provide a desired place for community. The changes in the Worship Center will enhance the worship experience and give a much needed flexibility for strategic ministry decisions. Combined, these will positively affect the growth of our church and our ability to effectively reach our Jerusalem with the Gospel of Jesus Christ both now and in the future.

Over how many years will the repurposing initiative pledge commitment be made? 

Three years.

What if I would like to give stocks, real estate, or some other kind of gift? 

Gifts other than cash can often be easily accepted. Please contact Tom Boston, Minister of Administration, for further discussion.

What is the timeline for construction?

Construction will begin February of 2019, following our Global Impact Celebration. Anticipated completion will be early to mid-August 2019.

What are the benefits of increasing the size of the Worship Center Lobby? 

A larger Worship Center lobby would greatly enhance the fellowship and flexibility aspects of our church. This would provide a warm, inviting environment for gathering and building relationships before and after services/events, as well as community spaces for everyday fellowship during the week. A larger Worship Center lobby would also create secondary spaces to better function with potential multi-service and multi-use formats. 

How much additional square footage will be added to the Worship Center Lobby area? 

The Worship Center Lobby area will increase by approximately 5,000 sf.

Will all Worship Center rooms be refurbished?

All public areas (including classrooms, bride & groom rooms and baptistry changing rooms) located on 3rd, 4th, and 5th floors of the Worship Center are planned to be refurbished.  

Will the public restrooms on all 3 floors be updated and made handicap accessible?  

The restrooms on the 3rd floor will be enlarged and made ADA compliant (handicap accessible). The restrooms on the 4th and 5th floor will not be enlarged but will be retrofitted to meet handicap accessible needs. All restrooms will have diaper changing stations. 

What about the sound issues in the Sunday School rooms on the 4th floor? 

The sound attenuation of these rooms will be studied and it is our intent to improve their abilities to function while worship activities are occurring.

Is the size of the Worship Center decreasing?

We anticipate decreased seating of approximately 280+/-, however current obstructed seating in the fan banks will become more viable. (Note: Past ticketed event sales were based on a 2800 seat capacity.)

How many entrances/exits will there be? 

The 3rd floor main level worship center will have 7 entrances / exits. Additionally, the stage will have 2 dedicated entrances / exits (at stage level).

Will the pews be replaced with theatre seating? Are we going to donate or sell the pews?

No theatre seating. We will replace the current pews with new pews. We will look to donate the pews that are in good shape to churches in need of pews.

Is the choir going to have to stand on risers during the whole service? 

There are a wide variety of riser options. If for standing only, the choir would exit before the message and sit in the congregation. Risers with seats are also an option.

Why are we getting rid of the pipe organ?

The Shades organ is a beautiful instrument and for its time, was considered among the top organs installed in several large Baptist churches of the late 1980s. But the challenges of a true pipe organ have never been a secret. Subject to changes from heat and humidity, the organ truly is at its best when played alone. Intonation (the ability to be played in tune) is a constant challenge given the vast Worship Center space where changes in temperature and moisture levels are in constant flux. Additionally, the cost and upkeep of an instrument which now has many parts that are obsolete continues to rise where the costs of electronic versions of the same sounds continues to decline. There are occasions where the organ sound is an added plus to the broad musical styles offered at Shades, but those sounds can now be created for a fraction of the cost and in perfect tune with the variety of instruments that surround it.  

Can we sell the pipe organ?  Can we sell the pipes?

We are searching for a potential purchaser; however, we’ve already been advised there is not a market for used organs or organ pipes.

Why have we never had a sprinkler system in the Worship Center? 

It was not part of the building code at the time the Worship Center was built.   

Will the sprinklers go off in the Worship Center when we use smoke effects for special events?

Sprinklers are activated by intense heat and not by smoke.

Where will worship services be held during construction?

Two services will run simultaneously in both the Conference Center and the Student Building. Danny will preach both services, rotating venues, preaching live in one venue and live streamed to the other venue. There will be live music in both venues leading the same song selection.

Will we have a choir during the construction/transition period?

Absolutely!  We are blessed with so much talent and such strong leaders among our amazing Shades Worship Choir.  Our plan is to divide and place smaller worship choirs in the midst of each worship environment.

Will we have baptisms during construction?

We will have a portable baptistry. Baptisms will go on!

Besides worship services, what is the impact of construction on ministry spaces?

During construction, there will certainly need to be some occasional adjustments made. We will do everything possible to mitigate disruption to ministry spaces; nevertheless, there will be times when we will have to hold a few events in alternate settings, and anticipate some temporary movement of some classrooms and other spaces during construction.

Can we use Worship Center elevators during construction?

During construction there will be limited to no access to the Worship Center 3rd, 4th, and 5th floor elevators. We are working through options for best circulation to the Worship Center 1st and 2nd floor.   

Are we going to two worship services after construction?

Remodeling the Worship Center gives us the option to go to two worship services; it does not force us into two services. The remodeled size is adequate for one service. Just to be perfectly clear, whenever we even talk about two services, we envision two services identical to our present service. We are a multi-generational church and we are committed to continue to structure our worship services so we can continue to worship together. Our staff is studying and researching the option of going to two services versus remaining in one service. We want to be strategic in our decision and determine how our Sunday morning services can reach more people of all generations. Our hope is to have discussions with the church family in late Spring 2019 and gain a clear direction as we move into the remodeled Worship Center. 

If repurposing would allow us to accommodate new people, what about parking?

With our newly implemented shuttle system, recently improved and creative approaches to traffic circulation through our FIT and security teams, and potential off-campus parking options that can be explored, we are confident that our parking situation can accommodate all new people that the Lord brings our way!

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Our Next Initiative

Posted in From the Pastor  |  By Shades Staff  |  Posted on Thu Apr 26, 2018

Our Next Initiative

At a church business meeting on Sunday night, April 22 our church family voted to approve the proposed Worship Center repurposing; and move forward in an initiative to raise the needed funds to complete the project.  The total amount authorized for construction will not exceed the amount pledged and previously committed without the prior approval of the Finance Committee, the Deacons, and the church body as a whole.

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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 Shades Staff  |  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

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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