I haven't updated the blog in about 2 weeks. There are two reasons for that. First, I'm just running behind. Second, I've been having trouble finding words lately. For those who know me you understand how strange this is. I'm extremely "wordy" both in speech and in print. So having trouble finding words is a rarity for me. At any rate, I will try this morning because I want you all to know what is happening in Tacoma and how to pray.
First, a word on September for Tacoma. The short update is that it was fantastic. Like any endeavor it had its ups and it's downs but overall it was awesome to see how God worked and specifically how he began to accomplish the things we had asked of him. He doesn't have to do that you know? It's all an outflow of his grace. If you read my blog a couple weeks ago I was a little disappointment in the turn-out of our church at the first weekend of September for Tacoma. While this may seem normal for many churches it has not been the case in 2012 for The Pathway. Our people are excited, bold and willing to do what we feel like God is calling us to do. I was definitely bummed.
A Lesson Learned: After the first weekend we had two more events that were each hosted by one of our Intentional Communities. Those events were very well attended both by the community and our church. It was amazing to see the interaction of our church with the people of our city and specifically the neighborhood of Hilltop. It was fantastic to see the same faces over and over again and it was even more exciting to see many of those faces show up at our worship gatherings and even some of them gather with one of our Intentional Communities. So what was the lesson? Empower the people. I preach this point all the time to our leadership team but I didn't fully embrace it myself. While I gave complete ownership of the last two weekends of events to our IC's I planned and led the majority of the "big" first weekend on my own. Why was I surprised that people didn't show? The people have to own the church... they are the church. The people have to own the vision... they're the ones that will accomplish it. The people have to own the outreach... they're the ones that will connect relationally. Lesson learned.
Second, a word on commitment. This is where we need your prayers. We need our church, the people who have been with us for the last 9 months or more, and those who have recently joined us, to stay committed to the call to "be the church." For the first time in a long time we have started to see life become an excuse for complacency. I want to say upfront that I'm not innocent of this charge either. But we must find a way to overcome. It seems that The Pathway is not immune to the northwest disease of viewing commitment to the church as 50% attendance whether that be at worship, IC, or outreaches. Everyone always has a reason, myself included, and most of the time the reasons are legit. But still, commitment is more than that. The best comparison is to a job. It doesn't matter what happens in your life, you have to show up for work or you get fired. While people don't like to view "being the church" as a job, that is exactly what it is. It's hard work to follow Jesus. It's not just a call to attend worship, serve with your IC or show up at planned outreaches. It's a call to commit to serve people daily in love, share the gospel regularly with the lost and invite people into the community of believers often.
It's hard. It takes surrender, sacrifice and above all else commitment.
We're taking a baby step in October and November. We're asking, challenging and pushing our church to COMMIT to attend three worship gatherings and three IC gatherings in a row during our vision series. That's what we're asking them. Whether that seems big or small to you, it is huge for our church. Please pray that we would see commitment. Please pray that we would show grace along the way. Please then pray that they Holy Spirit would show up in a powerful way and that the kingdom of God would grow through our church in ways that are beyond our control or explanation.