An Invitation to Prayer Walk

And pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints… Ephesians 6:18

We know how important prayer is to the life of a Christian! We are named after our Christ, who seemed to be praying all the time in Scripture. Jesus prayed during important events (Luke 3:21). Jesus prayed after busy and hard times of work (Luke 5:15-16). Jesus prayed before He made decisions (Luke 6:12). Jesus prayed after big events (Luke 9:18). Jesus invited others to pray with Him to experience God (Luke 9:28-29). Jesus prayed when He was going through hard trials (Luke 22:41-44). Jesus prayed for others going through hard trials (Luke 22:32). Jesus prayed while suffering (Luke 23:46). Jesus is still praying for us in heaven (Hebrews 4:22-25)! 

Here’s the point: For Christ-followers, we want to be intentional about praying because Christ was intentional about praying – and we want to be like Him! So, in the coming days, weeks, and months ahead we have some great opportunities as a church to grow in our spiritual discipline of prayer. In fact, tomorrow is a great opportunity for your entire family to pray for the community where you live.

This Friday, we have challenged every member of First Norfolk to take their families on a prayer walk around their neighborhood, apartment complex, ship, base housing – wherever you are! We are asking our church to pray for the community where they live (and, of course, to maintain proper social distancing standards)!

May 8th – A Day of Prayer for Your Neighbors!

On Friday, May 8th plan a family walk (or drive!) around your neighborhood. Post a picture walking your neighborhood and let us know by using “#HereToHope @firstnorfolk”! As you walk, pray:

  • That God would bless and protect your family. 
  • That God would give you a greater love for your neighbors.
  • For God to use you to share His love with your neighbors.
  • For an opportunity to share the Gospel and invite someone in your neighborhood to church.


Do you have kids or preschoolers, and want to know how to include them? Try this out!

  • Have your kids name some of the people they know in the neighborhood.
  • Come up with a very simple, age-appropriate prayer for your child to pray for each person.
    • For example, if you have a 4 year old you might ask them to pray, “Jesus, help us to love _______ and show them your love. Amen.”
  • Take some time to stop in front of the houses of people you know and pray for them!

Not sure how to prayer walk? Here are some tips!

If you’ve never done a prayer walk around your neighborhood before, don’t be afraid! It can seem daunting and intimidating, but there is no one right way to do it. Of course, check your local requirements and be aware of social distancing regulations right now. If you are able to prayer walk, here are some tips to get you going!

1. Set aside a specific time and stick to it!

When Jesus went out to pray, He often went and prayed at a certain time in a certain place (Luke 11:1a). Announce the time to yourself or to others in your home and treat it like an important meeting you cannot be late to. After all, it is a time to commune with the Creator of all things while enjoying His creation and talking with Him about the people He has made around you! Choose a time that you can commit to and be ready to go pray. 

2. Decide what to pray before you leave.

Do you remember what Jesus’s disciples did when they realized they should be praying, but weren’t show how or what to pray? They asked God to teach them (Luke 11:1b). Before you leave, ask God to help you know what to pray for your family, your neighbors, and your community. Here are some ideas in case you get stuck:

  • That God would bless and protect your family. 
  • That God would give you a greater love for your neighbors.
  • For God to use you to share His love with your neighbors.
  • For an opportunity to share the Gospel and invite someone in your neighborhood to church.

Do you have kids or preschoolers? Try these!

  • Have your kids name some of the people they know in the neighborhood.
  • Come up with a very simple, age-appropriate prayer for your child to pray for each person.
    • For example, if you have a 4 year old you might ask them to pray, “Jesus, help us to love _______ and show them your love. Amen.”
  • Take some time to stop in front of the houses of people you know and pray for them!

3. Be aware of distractions but be thankful for some!

Prayer is where I often realize how easy it is for my mind to wander. We are easily distracted from prayer. Have you ever noticed how when you sit down to pray, suddenly that thing you’ve been putting off for a month becomes very important to you? How when you sit down to pray, suddenly you have the desire to check on that friend from elementary school that you haven’t thought about in 25 years? How when you sit down to pray, the dishes that you’ve left in the sink for several hours suddenly have urgency and need to be done? I know I’m not the only one! Distractions abound so be ready to be resolute in prayer!

But not all distractions on your prayer walk are evil. If you have kids, I probably don’t have to say that while prayer walking you will also have snacks that need to be opened, “don’t touch that” and “stay on the sidewalk” and “stop hitting your sister” moments, and honest questions from your child’s heart that need to be answered – like, “Why do birds fly like that?” If you have neighbors or see other walkers, some may stop to say hello (properly socially distanced, of course!). These are not bad distractions! Embrace them for what they are and pick up on praying when you pick back up walking! In fact, it may even be a chance for you to turn the request of your child into a prayer or a conversation with a neighbor into a prayer for them right there on the spot! Welcome good distractions and be wary of bad ones.

Now, go pray! (And don’t forget to tag your post with #HereToHope @firstnorfolk !)

Church approves motion to accept lease agreement for Volvo Parkway property

New Campus Volvo 2017.09.27

During the Sept. 17 Campus Catalyst Meeting, the church discussed and voted to approve a three-year lease agreement for a property at 1516 Volvo Parkway, Chesapeake, as our second location. Launching this new location is a part of our Ten-Year Vision, and more specifically, our One-Year Goal:

First Norfolk Advance: Between January and December 2017, we will launch a new location in our multi-site strategy.

This building on Volvo Parkway began as a church plant more than 10 years ago, but the church plant went out of business and a finance group purchased the partially-finished facility. The building has never been used and is in great condition. This facility works well for our purposes as it already includes a worship center and has three stories (plenty of space for student, young adult, adult, children, and preschool ministries). There are some construction projects that the owners will finish, and this will leave us to furnish the space with things like lighting, sound, furniture, and technology.

There are 170 parking spots for the building, which could present a potential challenge for significant future growth. However, this many spots give us parking for approximately 400 people. If/when we have more than 400 people attending church, we would then move to two gatherings at that location.

Our lease ownership begins on Oct. 1 (we are leasing this building, not purchasing it). Pastor Eric said that we plan to use October to finish and furnish the facility, and then plan a “soft launch” of the campus in November as we get our leadership teams (staff and lay people) in place. We plan to host some events at the location to help acclimate those who attend the church and people in the community to this new campus. We are planning for a “hard launch” of the new campus in January 2018. Currently, we are calling this location “First Norfolk on Volvo Parkway.” Brent Wilson, Minister to Young Adults, will be the pastor at this location.

In other news, we have a new trial date with VDOT for May 7-11, 2018. In July, VDOT’s continuance request was granted. We are still hopeful for mediation in the near future.


  • Pray for God’s glory to shine through us to the seven cities.
  • Pray that hundreds of people far from God would be saved during this journey.
  • Pray for the Volvo location.
  • Pray for VDOT negotiations.

A Call to Prayer for First Norfolk

During tonight’s Campus Catalyst Town Hall Meeting/Church Conference, Pastor Eric once again asked our church family to be in prayer over these specific matters:

  • Pray for God’s glory to shine through us to the seven cities.
  • Pray that hundreds of people far from God would be saved during this journey.
  • Pray for the Campus location.
  • Pray for VDOT negotiations.

Thank you, First Norfolk family, for praying and continuing to pray for our church and Hampton Roads. A more in-depth blog post recapping the evening’s discussion will be posted in the next few days.

Progress of Our 90-Day Objectives

Pastor Eric Thomas opened the March 12 Campus Catalyst Town Hall Meeting with prayer and a recap of our church’s current situation. Of course, the VDOT highway construction is presenting some obstacles to our church (construction zones close to our building, loss of parking, increased traffic on highways, etc.). However, we believe that because we are people of faith, these changes are not accidental or a twist of fate, but rather something God has orchestrated for the good of this church family and the good of the mission God has given us as the church. So then, we rejoice in this part of the journey God has given us.

In light of these changes, our Vision Team created “First Norfolk Advance,” our ten-year ministry strategy. This includes our one-year goal and 90-day objectives, which Pastor Eric discussed during the evening’s meeting. Although church leadership does not have all of the answers right now, they are working on next steps and will share news as they are able.

First, Pastor Eric addressed the difference between a church plant and a campus since there has been some confusion on the matter. Part of our ten-year vision is: “starting ten campuses in Hampton Roads and planting twenty new churches around the world.” These are two distinctly different things. A church plant is an autonomous, independent church. We partner with church planters as they pursue their vision for that community, such as our current church planter partnerships in places like Montreal and South Dakota.

A satellite campus is where First Norfolk will start a full church service and “mission center” in the neighborhoods of the seven cities of Hampton Roads. Our goal is 10 satellite campuses that are tied to First Baptist Norfolk in the next 10 years that cover much of the seven cities. These satellite campuses are an extension of and will be tied to First Baptist Norfolk.

Our first satellite campus will be a bit different than the ones to come. Right now, because of the VDOT highway construction, it is a challenge to reach new people at our current 312 Kempsville Road location. Visitors may be put off by the limited parking or seeing large construction equipment all around our building. Pastor Eric stressed that we must remember our mission as a church is always to reach new people. Because of the longevity of the construction process, the Vision Team and staff believe it is important to start a new campus in 2017, which will help us reach new people with a greater ease.

For the past several months, leadership has been pursuing a location for the new campus. Pastor Eric said they are very close to being able to share the new campus location they are discussing. He also said in his research, he found the exciting statistic that on average, 28% growth in reaching people happens during the first year of a satellite, and about 20% growth in the second year. That would be “astronomical” for a church of our size.

Second, Pastor Eric discussed the 90-day objectives (Jan. 1-March 31). We have made great progress on some of these, while others still have steps to go. Here is the status of each objective:

  1. Develop Leaders

This objective was to not only develop leaders for a new satellite campus, but within our church. Phillip Herring, associate pastor of education, and team developed a “leadership process” training that just finished its pilot program that included 32 people. After some evaluation and fine-tuning, they will begin to train others in the church through this leadership development pipeline.

  1. Select Campus Location

Negotiations are in the works for our satellite location. The team is being intentional to seek what doors God is opening. The original goal was to launch the new campus the week after Easter, however, God is moving on His own timeline. Pray that God opens the door to the right opportunity so that we as a church can fulfill the mission He has given us — to see more people in Hampton Roads come to faith in Jesus Christ.

  1. Develop Communication Plan

Steve Harper, minister of media and communication, and a team are working on this. Currently this blog is a main way to communicate updates, but there will be more avenues of communication in the future.

  1. Select Leadership/Core Team

Initially, because our timeline was to launch the new campus the week after Easter, we had the objective of identifying the leadership core team by Feb. 5. However, since the launch has been delayed, the core team has not yet been identified. Pastor Eric said some people have already told him they feel called to be on mission at the new location. We need to continue praying that more people would feel called to go and serve in the new campus. The 21 Days of Prayer initiative was a good beginning, but we need to enter into another season of prayer over the new campus and its leadership core team.

These first 90 days are coming to an end on March 31, and our staff is developing objectives for the next 90 days. We will let you know of those new objectives through our blog and other Campus Catalyst meetings.

After answering questions from the crowd (the answers to many of these can be found in our Campus Catalyst FAQ in this blog post), Pastor Eric closed the meeting by asking for prayer on these specific requests:

  1. Pray for God’s glory to shine through us to the seven cities.
  2. Pray that hundreds of people far from God would be saved during this journey.
  3. Pray for the Campus location.
  4. Pray for VDOT negotiations.

Church Updates


There have been numerous things happening in our church life since the beginning of the year, so below is a summary of major news and events of which we’d like our church body to be aware.

  1. As a reminder, this is our vision for the next 10 years: “Over the next decade, First Norfolk will raise up hundreds of leaders who will take thousands of people on a courageous adventure of hope. Fueled by power of the Holy Spirit and His Word, we will develop a team transformed by Jesus to radiate His rescuing light into the world. We see our members, like a fleet of lightships in dark and turbulent seas, illuminating the way to peace. We see people captured in the menacing waves of misery finding refuge in the hope that Jesus alone offers through the life-giving love and kindness we shine toward them. We see neighborhoods throughout the seven cities of Hampton Roads transformed by the light of hope we share. We see 1,500 life groups with 15,000 missionary followers of Jesus pulling people from the ocean of hopeless loneliness. We see lighthouse stations with platoons of people starting ten campuses in Hampton Roads and planting twenty new churches around the world, shining the light of truth and hope for those buffeted by the storm.
  2. Parking updates:
    1. We are adapting well to the parking changes that took place last fall.
    2. We are identifying current challenges and working on a solution.
    3. Shuttle pickups happen from 7:15 am to 1:15 pm on Sunday at three locations: the Cross Roads Center, the HRT lot, and the Interstate Commerce Center at Fortis College.
  3. We ended our 21 Days of Prayer journey on Feb. 4, but we still ask that going forward you continue to pray for our church, our nation, and our world. Read prayer points and prompts here, and continue to share your prayers on social media for First Norfolk and the advance of the gospel using #firstnorfolkpray.
  4. This Sunday and Wednesday, the left lane of Newtown Road will be closed in both directions between Center Drive and Princess Anne Road/Kempsville Road. Please adjust your travel time accordingly. Find more information and see a map here.
  5. On April 16, we will gather along with hundreds of guests to celebrate the resurrection at the Ted Constant Convocation Center on the campus of Old Dominion University. We will have on exciting gathering at 10 am. Look for more details in the coming weeks. Begin to invite your friends and neighbors for this special worship gathering!

FAQs about Campus Catalyst

We welcome questions about Campus Catalyst and First Norfolk Advance. The most common questions we have had so far are about the second campus location. As you know, we have identified this as one of our strategic objectives for 2017. We don’t have much new information as the research and planning process is still in the early stages; however, we wanted to answer some basic questions:

  1. Where will the location be?

We don’t know yet, but we have been looking at two location possibilities. Last Sunday, Pastor Eric shared in worship that “the door has closed” for one of these locations. We are continuing to investigate the second possibility.

  1. When will it begin?

Originally, we had the goal of starting with a soft launch of the second campus on April 23, the week after Easter. Without having a location at this time, however, that time frame is not practical. We want to do this right and not rush into starting something that isn’t ready. We also don’t want to miss the opportunity to reach people, so we are diligently working on the plans for the new campus. We do not have a date at this time.

  1. Who’s preaching?

This has not been decided, but Pastor Eric will be delivering a message to all locations — either live in person or live via video — much of the time. Again, we are thinking and praying about what is best for the entire church.

  1. Who’s going to the new campus?

No one has been asked to go at this time. We have developed a leadership training process for equipping leaders for all locations. The first round of this training is happening now with a group of people. This will be rolled out to additional groups in the near future. We do not have a timeline for beginning the process of selecting a core team to start the second location, but we are working on it, and will know something soon.



21 Days of Prayer


On Sunday, Jan. 15, our church will launch together in a 21-Day Prayer Journey. During these weeks, we will pray for our nation, our world, the advance of the gospel, and for First Baptist Norfolk. Please commit to joining us in our intercession. Feel free to join the conversation on social media using #firstnorfolkprayer. We look forward to walking this road together!


Begin each session of prayer with adoration and confession.

7 am – Prayer for the peace of Hampton Roads, the United States, and our world.

  • Hampton Roads: Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, and Suffolk.

10 am – Prayer for government officials, the armed forces, and first responders.

  • Norfolk Mayor: Kenneth Cooper Alexander
  • Virginia Beach Mayor: Will Sessoms
  • Chesapeake Mayor: Alan P. Krasnoff
  • Portsmouth Mayor: John L. Rowe. Jr.
  • Newport News Mayor: McKinley L. Price
  • Hampton Mayor: Donnie Tuck
  • Suffolk Mayor: Linda T. Johnson
  • Hampton Roads is home to the world’s largest naval base. The Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, and Marines also have a presence in the area.
  • First responders are the police officers, deputy sheriffs, firefighters, paramedics, rescuers, and more who arrive first during an emergency.

Noon – Prayer for the advance of the gospel in Hampton Roads, Virginia, our nation, and the world.

3 pm – Prayer for God to open the hearts of those around us as we share the gospel with them.

5 pm – Prayer for the First Baptist Norfolk staff and families. Prayer for God to open the door to the right location for a new campus.

  • Our staff are: Eric Thomas, Curt Breland, Jan Frost, Steve Harper, Phillip Herring, Julie Hunt, Darryl Meincke, Gail Motley, Claude Parent, Gary Sanders, Vernig Suárez, Jason Waters, and Brent Wilson. For more information on our staff, visit this page.
  • Church leadership has not yet decided on the location for the new campus, however, they are considering Virginia Beach or Chesapeake, since this is where the majority of church members currently reside.

9 pm – Prayer for the evangelization of the seven cities of Hampton Roads. Prayer for God to use our new campus to reach the lost and encourage the saved.

  • For more information on the our new campus (including our One-Year Goal and 90-Day Objectives), read this blog post.


Take an hour each week to reflect and pray specifically:

Week 1 – Lord, draw us to Yourself that we might have the fullness of joy. Teach us to fear You and to trust You completely. Help our church be humble before You so that we might be consumed with Your presence and shine Your glory. Make us and our church what You want us to be to honor You.

Week 2 – Lord, be near to us as we cry out to You. Embitter our soul to sin, that we may hunger more for You. Swell our hearts to seek Your purposes above all else. Empower us by Your spirit to radiate your rescuing light into the world. Show us the part You would have us play in fulfilling Your mission for the church.

Week 3 – Lord, continue to open doors of opportunity for our church to make disciples of all people. Capture us with Your love so that we might offer refuge in Jesus to those captured in the menacing waves of misery. Grant us faith to obey what You are calling us to do as a church, and individually as followers of Jesus at First Baptist Norfolk.

Download a copy of the 21 Days of Prayer guide here: 21-days-of-prayer-card-combined

A Look into Next 90 Days and the Next Year

After the Campus Catalyst discussion, the evening closed with a time of prayer for our church’s future and our staff, and those present then shared Communion together. Pastor Eric tweeted that the evening “was one of the most anointed times of prayer and Communion I have ever experienced. I love our church.”

During the Nov. 27 Campus Catalyst Town Hall, once again Pastor Eric Thomas opened the meeting with this passage of Scripture:

“This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:23-24)

Although the changes to our campus due to the VDOT highway construction project are presenting challenges, we believe all of these changes have been orchestrated by God. This is what God has given us, and we need to take the perspective of the verse above and “be glad in it.”


First, Pastor Eric discussed the one-year goal for 2017, which is part of “First Norfolk Advance,” our ten-year ministry strategy. Between January and December 2017, we will launch a campus in our multi-site strategy. This campus will be linked with our current location in terms of budget, polity, staff, and technology.

One of the main reasons for launching a new campus soon is because of the current parking restrictions due to the highway construction. We have lost 361 parking spaces, and the parking we currently have limits our church growth and the advance we believe God wants us to pursue. Once a church reaches 80 percent of their parking capacity, their growth is hindered. Although yes, we have borrowed parking lots, we can only borrow parking for a season — it is not a long-term solution that allows for church growth. We believe a new campus is the best approach we can take to solve this issue.

Statistics and research from other churches show us that on average, the year a church starts another campus, they experience 28 percent growth in that multi-site, and 20 percent growth in the second year. Because of this anticipated growth, we need to make sure we have the right pieces in place to be able to move forward with that strategy, which leads us to our objectives for the next three months.


Our 90-day objectives for Jan.1-March 31, 2017 are as follows:

  1. Develop Leaders: Create a leadership development process. First group by Feb. 28. Second group by April 9.

Phillip Herring, our associate pastor of education, is developing a leadership training process for First Baptist Norfolk. We want everyone to be a part of this process, but we will take our staff through it first, and they will finish the training by Feb. 28. The second group will be volunteer church members that God has called to be a part of the new campus so that we can have a leadership core prepared to serve at our satellite location.

  1. Select Campus Location: Call the church to join in a prayer journey for God to open door of opportunity for a campus location.

We do not yet have a location for our satellite campus — we are dependent on what God opens up for us. However, we are considering Virginia Beach or Chesapeake, since this is where the majority of our members reside, and our new location will accommodate growth. We are looking for a location we can lease for a period of time and develop a full ministry there. Future satellites may be in locations where we do not have a presence of many current church members.

On Jan. 8, we will begin a prayer journey together as a church for this new advance. First, pray that God would open the door for the right location for our satellite campus. Second, pray that God would call out individuals and families to be a part of that location.

  1. Develop Communication Plan: Develop a compelling communication plan to tell the story of First Norfolk Advance to the church and community.

We need to communicate these big changes within the framework of our body of believers: how we’re doing, what we’re doing, etc. This blog is going to be important source for updates going forward. An unexpected outcome of the highway construction is that now that the trees are cut down, our church is very visible from the interstate. What a window of opportunity to be seen by many at this crossroads of our Hampton Roads community!

With the trees cut down, our church is now highly visible as you drive by on the interstate. (Photo by Brent Wilson)

  1. Select Leadership/Core Team: Beginning Jan. 8, call the church to pray that God would call out individuals and families to go on mission to a new campus. Have initial leadership and core team in place by Feb. 5.

We ask that you pray and ask God if you should become a part of our new campus. We will be multiplying our leadership in order to facilitate this new location, but we are not multiplying our staff. This embodies Ephesians 4:12, which speaks of equipping the saints for the work of ministry — this means our church members. However, we will not be “recruiting” anyone for the new location. We are trusting God to orchestrate who goes and who stays at each location.

On Jan. 8 — or even before — please join us in praying for our First Norfolk Advance.


“Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished.” (1 Chronicles 28:20 ESV)

The highway project will  expand the capacity of the I-64 westbound to I-264 eastbound interchange. This interchange is notorious for morning and evening backups on I-64. You can find out more about this project on the VDOT website:

We recognize that the community will benefit from this project and thousands of Hampton Roads residents and visitors will have safer, more efficient travel. This project will have significant long-term impact on our campus, temporary impact on how we interact with our campus, however we believe it will serve as a catalyst for expanding our mission.

First Norfolk has been proactive in anticipation of this project. Two teams have been formed, a Vision Team and a Details Team. The Vision team is studying the long-term implications and developing a 90 day, 1 year and 10 year plan. The Details Team is taking care of how we handle the present and immediate needs to ensure that ministry still happens in an excellent manner. The church has attorneys that are working with the VDOT attorneys on land acquisition and schedules.

Signs of progress are beginning to be seen around the interchange. Survey markers are popping up, utility poles are being relocated and the 7-11 on Newtown Road is now closed. For First Norfolk, initially,  we will see the maintenance building vacated and the cooling tower that services the HVAC system replaced and re-located. Details of this will be presented at a called church conference meeting on June 1, 2016 in the Fellowship Hall at 5:45 pm.

We host Campus Catalyst meetings each month to inform the church, hear concerns from our membership and to pray. Our next meeting is Sunday, May 22, 2016 at 5:00 pm in the Worship Center. At the April meeting significant time was devoted to prayer and Pastor Eric led us to pray for faith, favor, wisdom, unity and mission.

Join us in prayer for these five things and participate in the Campus Catalyst meetings.  God has great things in store for His Church and exciting days are ahead as we Love God, Love Others, Live the Mission and Make Disciples.