Monday, March 26, 2012

1 Dinner Down... 2 to go!

Our first Community Dinner was last night and the only word that seems sufficient to describe it is, "WOW!" There were many things about yesterdays events that were amazing, Spirit-empowered, God ordained and glorious... but for the sake of time I will just share with you a few.

The first amazing thing didn't even have to do with the dinner. In order to provide some context for this "God-thing" I have to take you back about 7 months. We always have a time of prayer prior to our worship gathering. It's open to anyone but since it takes place an hour before the gathering begins, usually those that come early to help set-up are the ones around to pray. Well, seven months ago I was praying for one of the last times with our summer interns and Tommy Abbott, who was heading to Seattle to begin planting The Way. Before we prayed I shared with them my anxiety, my fear, that when they left I did not know who was going to fill their shoes. It was only us that day and we were still struggling to develop leaders and grow as a church. But God knew what he was doing.

Fast-forward 7 months to yesterday morning's prayer time. I had my eyes open while people prayed and was just worshipping Jesus for the church that has been born. There were more people there than I could quickly count. I would say at least 10-12 adults. There were children running around and playing. We had new believers voicing beautiful prayers allowed. I just stood there, amazed at what God has done. The people God has grafted into his Kingdom. Amazed.

Jump forward a few hours to our first Community dinner and again I thought, "Wow!" Those who have followed our story know that our biggest prayer over the past year has been for leaders to be raised up. I again sat amazed during our brief training time before the dinner as I watched 19 of us prepare to receive the harvest God had been preparing. Nineteen! How astounding? Nineteen people full of different emotions. Many nervous, anxious, even scared. Many new believers, some seasoned, several recovering addicts, some employed, others unemployed, high school students, college students, homeless, black, white & hispanic. The aroma of lives changed filling the room and a zeal for the mission of God that is becoming contagious.

All this beautiful outpouring of God's handy-work and the dinner had not yet started. Well, the dinner was now starting... early. People actually began showing up at 5:25pm, more than half an hour before "go-time." Our people stepped up. By God's grace and the empowering of the Holy Spirit, I watched in wonder as The Pathway truly demonstrated what it is to be the church.

They greeted people of all walks of life with smiles. We had some people right off the streets, bad odor and all, but the church welcomed them. We had families... mom and dad with 6 kids! We had single ladies, single men and single parents. We had young & old gathered around tables enjoying a meal together. We saw connections made for the first time and we saw reunions with familiar faces. We saw God begin to work & relationships begin to be formed.

We had some technical difficulties too. But we threw the microphone down and I had the chance to share with our new friends the heart of our church. I got to share the gospel, that Jesus is our Lord and Savior, and that we want them to know our God. We got to invite everyone to explore The Pathway, be it our worship gathering, one of the 7 Intentional Communities we're launching Easter week, or just spending time with us at one of our Gather to Scatter outreaches.

Then we saw the relationships continue to develop. Friendships, true friendships began to be formed. People opened up and connections were made. Now comes the hard part. Now comes the commitment. Now we must continue to pursue the people God brought across our path. Our people are encouraged but there is much work to be done. We need your continued prayers as we follow-up with people from the first dinner and get prepared for two dinners this coming Sunday. God is at work.

We're praying for a greater harvest than we ever dreamed of. We're excited to be having a baptism gathering on Sunday April 29th. We currently have 5 people to baptize... which is fantastic... but we're praying that God will grace us with the chance to baptize many more who come to faith in Jesus as a result of our Gather to Scatter strategy!

Thank you so much for your prayers.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Immeasurably More!

God is so good and I want to praise him and say thank you to all of you who have been praying for the start of our Gather to Scatter outreach. He is absolutely blowing our expectations out of the water. If you're not sure what I'm talking about, please read last weeks blog first. I know that so many were praying as our mailers hit the community last Tuesday because by the end of the day Wednesday we had already maxed out and over booked our first dinner and were well on our way to filling up our second dinner. God is so stinking awesome!

As of today, less than one week after the first mailer went out, God has completely booked up not 2 but 3 community dinners! We were so overwhelmed by the response that we had to add a third dinner (April 1st @ 4pm). I don't even have the words to express how excited we are and how awe struck we are by the greatness of our God! To put things in perspective, let me give you the numbers. The numbers demonstrate the Kingdom opportunity God has given us through his abundant grace.

As of today, we have 154 adults & 47 children who have made reservations for our 3 Community dinners. That's 201 people we are going to have the opportunity to serve, bless, build relationships with and share the gospel with. That represents over 70 families God is going to allow us to connect with. I'm excited, overwhelmed, scared, intrigued and there are about 100 other emotions running through my heart and mind. We've even canceled the second mailer that was scheduled to go out tomorrow because we wouldn't be able to handle anymore people! I'm blown away and I'm excited to see the life change that God brings through these dinners.

Please keep praying!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Specific Prayer for The Pathway

Most of my recent posts have referenced our Gather to Scatter strategy. A part of this strategy is our Gather to Scatter Community Outreaches which include 2 community dinners and a total of 4 mailers (something new for us). We will be sending 2 mailers inviting families to attend one of our Community Dinners and 2 mailers inviting people to our Easter Service. Each of these mailers will find their way into the mailboxes of over 9000 residents of the Hilltop and a little beyond. How God could choose to use this is something I can only dream about, and hope that he does more than I can even imagine.

That being said, I know that many who follow this blog are faithful to pray for The Pathway and the people of Tacoma. God is on the verge of doing something great in our city and we want to ask you for some very pointed prayer over the next month and a half. Below are the dates that we are asking for specific prayer. Please print this off and put it on your fridge, in your Bible or just set some reminders on your phone. God has responded so faithfully when we approach him with humble and passionate prayer.

Community Dinner Mailers:
March 13th (today!!!)
March 20th
These are the dates that our Community Dinner invites will go out! Please pray that the Holy Spirit goes before them, with them & continues to move in homes upon their arrival.

Easter Mailers:
March 27th
April 3rd
These are the dates that our Easter Mailers will go out. These mailers also introduce people to the sermon series that we'll be starting April 15th entitled-- What God thinks about... Our topics over the next 6 weeks will be Jesus, Sex, Homosexuality, Abortion, Social Justice, You-Me & Humanity

Gather to Scatter Outreach Dates:

3/25: Community Dinner

4/1: Community Dinner

4/8: Easter Worship Gathering

10:30am @ The Spot

4/9-14: Launch Intentional Communities

4/15: Ice Cream & Game Night

5:30pm @ The Spot

4/21: Trip to the M’s game... 1pm start

Bus departs @ 11:30 (The Spot)

4/22: Parent Child Dedication

10:30am @ The Spot

4/29: Baptisms... 10:30am @ The Spot

Thank you for praying for God to use our Gather to Scatter strategy to reach people for Jesus.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Life Change

I just want to report to all of you who pray for The Pathway and for Tacoma on a regular basis... God is bringing about life change. It's absolutely amazing.

Over the last 2 weeks we have seen two different parents... both new to walking with Jesus... overcome their fear, place their faith in God and teach the Bible to our children in Kids Ave! Seems small... so huge!

Most of you know that our greatest struggle right now, and hindrance to growth, is our lack of leaders. We lack leaders because the majority of The Pathway is new believers and not yet believers. Well, God is moving there too. An awesome couple is planning their move to Tacoma for this August! A church just outside Tacoma in Puyallup, WA has agreed to work towards sending us several families to help make disciples in our church for a 1-2 year commitment. We have a new couple who have committed to leading a new youth Intentional Community. We have an interim worship leader. We have a church planting intern that will be coming to serve with us for 6 months... and on and on. Lives are changing & people are growing.

Another example of life change by the grace of God through Jesus came to fruition just a couple weeks ago. A young single mom in our church had privately come to the point where she wanted to commit her life to Jesus and be baptized. Then I preached to sermons where I emphasized that a lack of obedience to Jesus and Scripture is evidence of lostness. She began to question herself and finally asked if she could sit down and talk with me and Kelli. The conversation that followed was life changing. She literally got to talk through her salvation until she was able to confidently proclaim her faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior... amazing!

Last but not least, God is changing my life. Every time I see God change a life, my life is also changed. I am humbled by what God is doing here in Tacoma and with every passing day my faith increases and I believe more and more strongly that God is preparing us for a great harvest in Tacoma... he is obviously raising up laborers at this point.

Life change is what it's all about. Life change brings so much glory to God. Please continue to pray for life change in Tacoma.