Monday, July 30, 2012

A couple things...n

First of all, I want to give a major shout out to the five interns... Jack, Sarah, Josh, Ken & Lydia... who have served The Pathway, the people of Tacoma and specifically the people of the Summertree apartments for the past 2 months.  Every summer we have embedded interns into a local apartment complex with the mission of reaching that complex for Jesus.  We have learned a lot each year but in our third year the Holy Spirit saw fit to move mightily.  It was amazing to watch the Spirit soften hearts, stretch our interns and begin to bring about life change.  As I sat around the fire pit at my house this past Friday evening hearing stories of the summer from the interns, my heart was deeply moved.

All of the interns spoke with deep affection about one couple in particular.  The funny thing is that their first encounter with this couple was when the guy asked one of the interns if they wanted to buy some weed.  Who would of thought by the end of the summer the couple would be a part of the Summertree Intentional Community.  God is amazing.

The second story spoke to the response of the Holy Spirit when we are obedient & consistent.  These interns have been faithful to serve their apartment complex consistently all summer long.  This last week Stacie, who oversaw the interns this summer, was knocking on doors and inviting residents to an event.  She came to the door of one of the maintenance ladies who is the grandma of one of the boys the interns have really invested in deeply.  The Grandma looked at Stacie and said, "I'm so glad you all moved in here."  Stacie replied, "Me too, it's all because we love Jesus."  And to that the Grandma replied with tears welling up in her eyes, "You must REALLY love Jesus."  Her grandson has since come to worship with The Pathway and the grandma told Stacie that she will come some day... "but not yet."

The final thing I felt compelled to blog about tonight was a conversation I had with some people this evening.  I'm currently chillin in the lobby of a hotel in Atlanta, GA.  One of our partners was extremely gracious and invited me to attend the North American Mission Board's "Send North America" Conference.  Very cool to see 2000 Southern Baptist leaders gathered to spur on gospel-centered church planting in North America.

While I was at the conference tonight I was chatting with a missions pastor who is praying about where their church should partner and a couple who will be moving to the Seattle area to plant this week.  The new church planter told me that he met with a planter in Portland a while back who actually ended up shutting down and "going home" recently.  When they met, the planter seemed very discouraged and articulated to this new couple, "I just wish somebody cared as much about planting this church as I do."

That is such a hard thing to hear someone say but I know exactly how he feels.  Exactly.  Ultimately, nobody... not even your wife and your mom... cares as much as the pastor does about the church plant. That's a humbling thing.  It can be a defeating thing.  But by the grace of God the Holy Spirit has shown me, in those lonely moments, that there is one that does care about "my" church plant even more than I do and that's the God of the universe.  It may sound cheesy or ultra spiritual, but God cares more than I can fathom.  He cares about HIS church that he has called me to plant.  He cares about me, my wife and our kids.  He cares more than I do and because of that I am confident I can run this race.  I am confident I am not alone.

Praise Jesus for a God who cares.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


This past Sunday we said good-bye to our second and final mission team of the summer.  It was an outstanding week that tested my faith to the limits.  The group was from First Baptist Church in Universal City, TX (FBCUC) and there was a tremendous amount of spiritual warfare from before the team even arrived.  God knew what he was doing though (surprise!  surprise!) and the culmination of the week was simply beautiful.  The team spent the bulk of their week loving on kids and families from the Tacoma Rescue Mission and a local apartment complex called Summertree.  The last night of the trip we had a huge block party and a ton of kids and families from these places came and partied with us.  God was glorified and relationships were launched.  Can't wait to see what God has in store.

This is all well and good, but why is this weeks post entitled "hindsight?"  Well, it's because looking back on the starting point that led up to this amazing week only evokes two responses in me... awe & worship.  Let me tell you briefly the back story of The Pathway's partnership with FBCUC.

I was born an Air Force brat and when I was about 6 months old my dad got orders to move from Florida to Texas and we found ourselves joining FBCUC.  We were there for 3-4 years.  My family was a part of the church and I attended their preschool academy.  When we left for Colorado none of us knew the amazing plan God had in store for his Kingdom through a then 4 year old little boy and a church that was really beginning to grow in Universal City.

When my dad retired out of the Pentagon in 1994 (I think?), we moved back to the Universal City area but we were a part of a different church.  When I went away to college in 2000 my parents went back to FBCUC for a short time before they moved again when my dad took a new job even farther south in Texas.  Around the end of 2007 God started to call me and Kelli to help plant churches and in 2008 we moved to Snoqualmie to join a team to plant Lifepointe Community Church.  When we began raising funds and seeking partnerships to plant The Pathway in Tacoma, I got a call from my dad.  He told me that he hoped I didn't mind, but he had shared our plans with the pastor of FBCUC and he was interested in meeting me and Kelli.  Of course I didn't mind!  But since I had no real relationship with the church and had never met Pastor David, I didn't really expect anything to come of it.  Oh me of little faith.

Before I knew it I was having lunch with Pastor David at a delicious little Mexican joint right next to their church building and it was obvious that the Holy Spirit was moving.  FBCUC committed to partnering with us and has now blessed us with significant and consistent financial support, tons of prayer, 3 summer interns over the course of the last three summers and outstanding mission teams who don't simply show up in Tacoma.  They come passionate, prepared, flexible and most importantly ready to serve and share the gospel.

The hindsight started to really bring me to worship this summer as I sat with the team reflecting on the week.  In the group was Mrs. Rice.  Mrs. Rice has known me since I was a very little boy.  She is now 70 and I am now 30.  Who would have thought when I was running around as a crazy little toddler that 30 years later we would be reconnected on God's mission.  The Kingdom of God is big.  God's plan is bigger.  Hindsight is 20/20 and in the moment we seldom understand the fullness of what God is doing.

The lesson?  Trust God.  Seeing him orchestrate Kingdom work in this way... over a 30 year period... I can't help but trust him.  His plan is perfect.  His timing is perfect.  And hindsight leads me to a place of awe & worship.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Spot

Since I posted late last week I was struggling to know exactly what to blog about today.  I decided I would share with you some BIG stuff going on behind the scenes.  We always appreciate your prayers.  Most of you know that God blessed us with a building a little over a year ago.  Because our hearts desire is to always remember that church is not a place we go, it's who we are, we decided to continue to call the people The Pathway and the building The Spot.  It's been really cool to see how that has taken off and really been a conversation starter for what, or who, the church really is.

The Spot is a 19,000 square foot warehouse in the heart of Hilltop that has a ton of history.   It used to be a car dealership, a dairy, a tent and awning factory and another church met there before we did.   The Spot has another lot right next to it that's the same size and is just a big open grassy space.  It is also included in our lease.  The Spot is actually still owned by the previous church denomination, The Evangelical Covenant Church.  While the majority of the building is just old warehouse space, there is about 3000 square feet that is renovated and usable.  On Sundays we meet for worship in one 1500 sq. ft. area and our Kids Ave. meets in the other 1500 sq. ft. area.

However, Sundays is just a small piece of why The Spot has been such an amazing Kingdom tool.  During the week we are able to use it open-handed for the city in the name of Jesus.  We host block party's and watch parties for major sporting events.  We have board meetings, Narcotics anonymous meetings, Intentional Communities, birthday parties and many other things that meet there.  We have neighborhood block groups that meet at The Spot and we have even had a wedding reception and a memorial service there.  We are also able to use the warehouse for storage space for families in transition as well as for our denomination.  We allow the community to house its Tool Lending Library and the health department keeps their disaster response trailers at The Spot.  We even have a local non-profit that offices at The Spot.

All this to say, this place, this structure, this building, this spot has given us tremendous favor with our community and our city.  Favor in ways that are far greater than we could have asked or imagined.

Two Challenges:
1) The church has been growing and we are running out of usable space.  That is a good thing but it is also a challenge that needs to be overcome.  Renovations are very possible but are expensive and we're not sure how much we would even feel good about doing since we don't own the building.

2) Our lease is up in less than a year and the owners desire to sell.  They strongly desire for us to stay in the building but we are paying less than half of what they are putting into the building every month.  Because the denomination that owns it has their own financing arm they are willing to work with us to purchase the building but in our tough economy and lower income area we are not certain that is the answer.

Behind the Scenes: God is working.  He has given us a partnership with a great church planting network and SBC association ( that is wanting to purchase strategic church planting centers in the heart of major cities, including Tacoma.  God has given us a relationship with a well-known architect in Tacoma who has already donated some of his time in helping us evaluate what could be done.  He also happens to love Jesus!  The church is growing and The Spot is becoming a light in our dark city.  We know that God will continue to do what he wants to do whether we stay at The Spot or not.  That's where your prayers come in.

Pray:  All of this has been, is and will continue to be way bigger than us.  God has done things, changed lives, opened doors and provided resources in ways that have far exceeded our expectations or imaginations.  We are constantly reminded that what is impossible with man is made possible with God.  We lean on that promise.  Please just pray for wisdom, direction and provision.  I know those are broad but that is what we desperately need as the church moves forward and continues to grow.  Thank you for interceding on our behalf.  God is working here in Tacoma.  You are a part of it.  Thank you!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Catching Up

I'm a couple weeks behind on the blog so there is some major catching up to do.  We have had a lot going on and God has definitely been with us and his Spirit has quite obviously been going before us.  The week of June 23-30 we were visited by a mission team from Trinity Baptist Church in Ada, OK and it was awesome to say the least.  The team encouraged me, my wife, my family and our church with their love of God, their joy and their energy.  We worked them hard and they demonstrated a tremendous missional heart and faith in God.  And God honored it.

A couple of stories.  Trinity hosted The Pathway's first VBS and it was focused directly on The Pathway kids, their friends, and the Evergreen neighborhood right around The Spot (our church building).  The first day did not kick off the way everyone had planned.  We had a smaller turn-out than expected, the kids were a little more wild and crazy than the team expected, and it was a perfect opportunity for discouragement.  But the team decided to believe God for what he had called them to do and they regrouped and pressed on.

As the week progressed the team continued to pray, prepare and hit the neighborhood streets to invite new kids.  They prayer walked, had "intentional" lunches at our local park and constantly engaged people with the love of God and and gospel of Jesus Christ.  It was beautiful to watch and God honored it.  One of the first days of prayer walking some of the girls invited a little girl to come to VBS.  She seemed excited but didn't come.  Later in the week the team met a dad/grandpa and invited his 3 kids/grandkids to come to VBS.  He said "yes" and that he had more kids and grandkids at home that he would go get.  He brought back 7-9 kids and one of them was the same little girl that some of the mission team had met prayer walking days before... God knows what he's doing!

There was another kid named Joshua who the team met with his Grandpa Buddy at the park.  Joshua came to VBS and had a blast.  Buddy told us that Joshua called him the next morning to ask how much longer until VBS.  Buddy told Joshua..."Only 7 more hours!"  What a great testimony of the love they felt from the mission team.  Buddy is a Native American with beliefs that are not Christian and the first day he allowed us to love on Joshua but would not come into The Spot with us.  By the end of the week Buddy was hanging out, walking in The Spot and making himself at home!  Praise Jesus.

All of our mission teams culminate with an end of the week block party that the team is inviting people to all week long.  This week was no different and it was a huge success.  The team left on Saturday but on Sunday morning we had our highest worship attendance ever and we had so many new faces as a direct result of the mission team.  It was  a beautiful sight!

Last story.  Everyone who knows The Pathway knows that we believe church is not a place we go, it's who we are.  We strive to be the church through Intentional Community(IC) and our prayer is that our Intentional Communities would multiply so that we have IC's in all the neighborhoods and apartment complexes in Tacoma.  As a part of that strategy, we were praying to be able to start a new IC at a local apartment complex this summer.  Two ladies from our Thursday IC live in that apartment complex and so do our 4 summer interns.  Along with another guy from the Thursday IC they began serving and loving the apartment residents and 3 weeks ago a new IC was launched!  This past Sunday we brought the new IC up to pray over them and it was amazing to see a resident of Summertree... still trying to find her way to belief... there with them.  We got to pray over her and see the mission of God working before our very eyes!

God is so great and he is doing great things around us.  Please pray for us in two specific ways.  One, pray for the mission team from First Baptist Church Universal City, TX that is arriving on Saturday.  Satan has already been working overtime to stop our plans for the team so pray that God wins the victory.  Second, The Pathway more than doubled in size (praise Jesus) as a result of our Gather to Scatter (April is Awesome) outreach that we did in April.  Because of that we are making plans to do a similar outreach in September.  Our leadership team came together on Monday and came up with some amazingly creative ways to reach out again in an intentional and relational way that will cost far less than our April outreaches did.  That being said, we are still going to need to raise some significant funds over a short period of time so please pray that we are able to do that and that God's kingdom will grow as a result!