Monday, May 28, 2012

Intentional

Intentional is a word that we hope becomes synonymous with The Pathway.  However, we have learned over the past 2 years it's a lot easier to say the word or even attach it to our small groups, than to actually live with a gospel-centered, mission-minded intentionality individually & as a group.  That being said, by the grace of God, we are finally starting to see intentionality permeate our church.  Not just those in leadership or those who have been following Jesus for quite sometime, but the church is starting to get it.  We're starting to live it.  A couple of examples...

1. Kickball-- I actually didn't witness this act of intentionality first hand but I heard about it and it made me smile.  One of the families in our church decided they wanted to play kickball at a local park after worship one Sunday.  My family was not able to make it (which is such a bummer... how great is kickball?!), but when I was talking to a couple of people who were there they kept talking about how easy it was to meet people.  After all, who doesn't want to play kickball.  Some people invited their lost friends and they met so many people at the park who were just waiting for someone to invite them to play.  It's really not as hard as we make it out to be to meet people.  We just have to be a little intentional.

2. Dump Day-- One of the problems with our Community Groups before our gather to scatter phase is a problem that many churches face.  We loved to gather but hated to scatter.  We loved to be in biblical community but hated to engage the community around us.  With our Gather to Scatter strategy, one of our main goals was to overcome this obstacle.  The Intentional Community I lead put our heads together a few weeks back and decided that our mission field, the 2 blocks around the home where we meet, could benefit from a community clean-up.  We decided to pass out flyer's to our 2 blocks telling them that if they would put their garbage by the road on Saturday morning, we would haul it to the dump for them and we would pay for it.  I didn't know what to expect but so many people took us up on it.  We took over 5000 pounds of trash to the dump on Saturday and got to meet a ton of our neighbors.  We also intentionally planned a Memorial Day cook-out for 4pm today so that we had something to invite our neighbors to where we could reconnect and get to know each other.  Please pray for our cook-out today.  We long to reach our neighbors for Jesus.

3. The Front Yard Party-- Most of you rural and suburbia people don't know about the beauty of the front yard when it comes to gospel intentionality.  Well, maybe some of you older suburbanites do remember the days of the front porch!  One of the things we have come to love about the city is that everyone has decent sized front yards, almost everyone has a front porch and people love to gather in the front yard.  I don't fully understand it but I love it.  One of our IC's decided to have a cook-out this past Saturday and when I dropped by for a few minutes I noticed that they were set-up in the front yard.  You see, the purpose of their cook-out was not fellowship, although that happened.  Their purpose was to meet their neighbors and their method was intentional.  You can't meet people huddling around the grill or the pool in the back yard.  You've got to get creative.

It will take time to see what kind of fruit comes from our IC's new commitment to intentionality.  But I believe God is going to bless it and multiply believers and IC's.  Today I want to leave you each with a personal challenge.  Are you being intentional with the way you live your life?  It's really not that hard, it just takes a little thought, a lot of prayer and a willingness to do things differently.  You can do it!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Leaders.

Leaders.  Outside of life change & salvation, this is probably what we have asked you to pray for the most over the past few years.  As we came to Tacoma to plant The Pathway we prayed that God would allow us to reach the lost and unchurched.  When he began to answer those prayers we realized that we were lacking in mature believers and committed leaders to help develop these new believers into disciple makers.  We put out a call to pray for leaders, we pushed to raise up leaders from within and we even challenged all of you to consider moving to Tacoma to help us plant The Pathway.  Well, today's blog is a reflection on how God has answered those prayers through his generous provision.

Chase & Kyler Phillips.  Well, technically Kyler is still waiting to claim her new last name but these two awesome people will be getting married this summer and then moving their lives to Tacoma.  Kyler served with The Pathway last summer as an intern and Chase came on a mission trip with Trinity Baptist in Ada.  The two were still just dating at the time and their call to Tacoma was not an easy one.  They wrestled with God on the details of their calling, their marriage and their move but at the end of the day they said "yes" to God's call on their lives.  they will be getting married at the end of July and moving to Tacoma immediately following their honeymoon.  Chase is looking for a job, Kyler will be serving as The Pathway's Ministry Assistant and the two are ready to live intentionally as we continue to plant The Pathway.  We are thanking God for Chase & Kyler.

VanStay.  Many of you know about Stacie Hooks & Jenna Jones.  These two ladies sold all their possessions upon graduating college, purchased a van and began traveling around the country, following the direction of the Holy Spirit, and using their gift of intentional living to partner with churches in various cities to further the gospel.  They always prayed that at some point God would show VanGo when it was time to stay.  To our delight, God has called them to plant their lives in Tacoma.  Stacie is currently overseeing our Intentional Communities and our summer interns.  She is also looking for a job so please keep her in your prayers.  Jenna is going to stay on as our part-time Kids Ave Director and she is about to start a part-time job at a new grocery store in Tacoma.  Thank you God for bringing these two ladies who passionately love Jesus.

Josh & Donna Christian.  We have a sister church in Tacoma called Discovery Community Church and their pastor, Jon Fredricks, is one of the most generous and giving leaders I've ever met.  He is the first person who welcomed us to Tacoma and has been open-handed with his time, resources and people ever since.  Many of you know that we were without a worship leader for months and months.  Jon referred me to Donna, a worship leader in his church, and now she has come on as a fully committed member of our staff and leadership team.  Her husband Josh finished out his commitments as a leader at Discovery and has now jumped into The Pathway as well.  God is so good and we are thankful for Josh and Donna.

High Pointe.  High Pointe is a church just southeast of us that planted a little over 10 years ago.  They have seen God do amazing things and are impacting the Puget Sound area for Christ in a tremendous way.  A while back I approached their pastor and Missions Director about partnering with us by sending a few couples to serve with us.  We were asking a lot of them because we were asking for their best, for their leaders, for their mission-minded couples and families.  It was amazing to see their willingness to sacrifice for the Kingdom.  They have currently approached 5 couples about coming to serve with The Pathway and me and Kelli are meeting with two of those couples this weekend!  Not sure what will come of this but please be praying for these couples as they discern God's will for the next year or two of their lives.

The Pathway.  God is also raising up leaders from within.  We have many who have stepped up to lead in Kids Ave.  We have several who have stepped out of their comfort zones to lead Intentional Communities and so many are stepping up and taking ownership of the mission in other ways.  God is providing new couples and new families who we know will be able to step up in these same ways in the future.  

I think the Leadership Challenge is never over.  But we just want to praise Jesus for how he has answered our prayers and provided for our needs.  To God be the glory for the leaders he has developed, brought in and for the growth he is bringing to the Kingdom and The Pathway.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Update on The Spot & a tribute to The Pathway Moms

Thank you all for your prayers and generous offers to help The Pathway in so many ways as we have been temporarily displaced.  I want you to know that in regard to my last post, that I'm curious as to why God allowed this to happen, I still don't have a ton of answers save one.  I know that he has demonstrated very tangibly that our church really understands and believes our motto... Church. Different.  We have attempted to lay a foundation that they church is not a place we go, it's who we are.  That was put to the test this week and it didn't seem to phase anyone too much... myself included (and that's a shock to all who know me well).

By God's grace we just took the displacement in stride, tried hard to accommodate those who use the Spot that are also displaced, and we had a blast with an outdoor worship gathering on Sunday.  We decide to have a pretty normal gathering outside and we also through a big party in honor of all our mothers!  We had a huge inflatable slide and bounce house, cooked hamburgers and hot dogs and really just had a ton of fun.  God gave us amazing weather too.  Isn't he so good?  It was sunny, probably in the low 80's with a nice cool breeze.  More than we could have imagined!

As for the spot going forward.  We received great news on Friday.  The building inspector from the city came by to let us know how bleak the situation was.  To my surprise, he said things weren't nearly as bad as he had pictured from the email he received from the Fire Inspector.  He said if the electricians and contractors complete the work they have said will be completed by Tuesday, we should be back in the Spot by Wednesday at the latest.  All praise to Jesus.  He is so very good!

One of the best parts about this Sunday was a chance to honor our mothers.  We purchased 20 $5 Starbucks gift cards and were able to bless 18 moms!  How amazing is that?  We had 18 mom's present!  We also gave one to a deserving single dad who fills both roles in a heroic way.  Stacie Hooks also put together a tribute to The Pathway moms on video.  I've attached it here so all of you can get a glimpse of the moms and families who are a part of The Pathway.  It often helps to have faces to go with your prayers.  We love and appreciate all who follow this blog and pray for The Pathway.  Please keep praying!

video

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Curious.

Curious.  One word that describes the emotions that I have been feeling the last 24 hours.  For those who haven't heard, the fire marshall decided to visit The Spot (our church building) yesterday morning.  Unfortunately, the result was a firm declaration that the building, in its current condition, is unsafe to be occupied.  Effective immediately.

Now, you might think that I would choose a different word to describe and summarize my emotions over the past day.  You might think I would feel "worried," "stressed," "confused," "frustrated," or even "helpless."  I guess I would be less than honest if I tried to say none of those emotions have crossed my heart and mind.  They definitely have.  But here's the deal, those of you who have followed our adventure and mission over the last several years know that God has been so faithful and creative to take care of every need we have had both in our family and our church.  God has met needs, opened doors and provided opportunities that we never dreamed of.  That being the truth, how on earth could I be anything but curious as to what God is up to and why he is allowing this to happen?

Most of the people I have talked to, outside of our church, about this new challenge have been immediately concerned about where we will gather for worship this Sunday.  While that is an issue, it is the least of my worries and I am learning it is the least of our church's worries.  Most of the people within our church have just said, "No worries, we'll just worship outside.  Thank God for the sun coming to Tacoma this past week!"  The bigger worry, as you might imagine, is the opposite message this problem is sending to all the people The Spot has come to serve.

On a weekly or monthly basis The Spot is home to a women's exercise group, men's, women's and youth Intentional Communities, a Narcotics Anonymous group, a neighborhood block group, a non-profit office, and multiple board and group meetings.  This particular week the Spot was also home to a college group who came to do ministry in the inner city.  As of now, all of these groups, who use The Spot for free, have been displaced without notice.  Our intent has been to meet needs in the city and in the name of Jesus, and now we have had to inform multiple groups that they are displaced indefinitely.  While the response, thanks in large part to the heart of our church and in full to the grace of Jesus, has been gracious, why would God allow this to happen?  I honestly don't know.  But I am curious.

Over the last 2 weeks we have seen God do some great things through our church.  We have baptized 11 people!  We have seen growth in the church, in leadership and in mission.  God is working and it's no surprise that Satan is attacking.  Please pray for wisdom, provision and direction as we move forward.  Please pray for the glory of God to be made even greater and the fame of Jesus to increase all the more as a result of this challenge... this trial.  And, pray that our curiosity in this matter will be answered to the praise of His glory!  I can't wait to learn what our gracious and creative God is up to.  I will keep you posted.