Monday, November 26, 2012

Advent Conspiracy

For those who don't know, my wife Kelli had strange abscess in her bottom lip that popped up very quickly about 2 weeks ago.  She went from bad to worse pretty quickly and before we knew it she was in major pain, had her lip sliced open three times and was extremely sick.  A week ago Thursday we found ourselves in a plastic surgeons office and Friday Kelli had surgery to clean out her lip.  By God's grace Kelli's mom flew in from Dallas to help with her recovery, help with the kids and ultimately to celebrate thanksgiving with us.  For all the health issues Jagen and Rylan have had I often take Kelli's health for granted.  She's pretty much back to 100% now and I'm certainly thankful for that.  God is so gracious.  Thank you for your prayers.

Two weeks ago when I posted an update on our vision series I asked you to be praying for several things.  One of those things is the series we launched this past Sunday called Advent Conspiracy.  If you're not familiar with it you can learn about it at  It's an awesome movement of churches in America who are trying to reclaim Christmas from our consumeristic culture for the glory of God.  I tell you what, we're in week 1 and it is rocking my world.  Each week has a different theme but the basic idea is to remind ourselves that Christmas is about Jesus.  In doing so, the goal is that we would be much more intentional with our spending and gift giving.  The idea is that if we think more about what we give, we will not spend our money on frivilous things that will be forgotten about or thrown away in a month.  The hope and prayer of Advent Conspiracy is that the money we save by getting creative and thoughtful with our giving, can be given back to Jesus for his glory, his mission and his purpose.

I'm incredibly excited about the way The Pathway has decided to give back to Jesus.  Some of our ladies have set up a weekend of inexpensive and creative gift making using our church network called The City along with that insane thing called Pintrest.  They are rallying the church to spend less and give more... two of the Advent Conspiracy themes.  In the meantime, we have picked a local cause and a global cause that our church is going to give to.  Every week people can designate their giving to one of these causes and then we are going to take up an offering at our Christmas Eve gathering where 100% of the giving will go to these causes.  

The first cause is a halfway house in our neighborhood .  It's a home for women and their children who are in recovery and God has blessed us with the opportunity to get to know many of the ladies.  Quite a few of them are now an active part of our church.  It's amazing to see the change in these ladies lives and their hunger to know Jesus.  The global cause is to support an organization called Living Water International.  The mission is pretty amazing.  They have identified a need... the global water crisis... and they are intentionally helping provide clean water for people who don't have access to it and at the same time are sharing living water, the gospel of Jesus.

In just one week it's been phenomenal to see the response of our church.  This is the first time we've intentionally pushed ourselves to look beyond Tacoma for the purpose of meeting physical and spiritual needs.  I don't know what will happen over the next 4 weeks but I ask you to pray that our church, myself included, would take our eyes off the gods of consumerism that have attempted to steal Christmas and place our faith back in the God of the universe who gave us his only Son Jesus.

A closing story... the first week's theme was Worship Fully.  One of the things we talked about was that to worship fully means that we have to always worship.  We have to take worship into our homes.  I challenged our church to read the Christmas story in Luke 2 with our families at least once a week for the rest of the advent season.  Kelli and I started tonight by reading to our kids from the Jesus Storybook Bible.  As a parent, it was one of those moments that humbles you and makes you so thankful for the love and grace of God.  By the time we were part way through the story Jagen was anxiously awaiting what would happen next with "baby Jesus."  Of course it hasn't all registered yet.  But we are prayerfully and intentionally trying to teach our children (and ourselves), that Christmas isn't about giving in general, it's about the one gift that changed everything.  It's about God's gift to us... Jesus.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Vision Series Update

Where to begin?  Sometimes my heart and soul are so full, excited and even overwhelmed that I don't know how to start sharing with you all that God has been doing in an adequate way.  I've shared that we have been going through our 2012 vision series entitled What if? and we challenged our entire church with an initial question.  We spent the entire month leading up to the vision series asking...

     What if... you committed to taking part in the 3 week vision series including all three worship gatherings and 3 Intentional Community gatherings?

To be fair that is a hard thing to ask of people.  Lives are full and busy.  Plans are made for things in advance.  Work happens.  Life happens.  We tried to be clear that we know some people just won't be able to do all 6 gatherings.  But we were also clear that we believed many people could do it.  We asked unapologetically for people to rearrange their schedules, ask off of work, stay in town and quite simply to make the vision series a priority.  Why?  Because our leadership truly desires for the entire church to know where we've been, where we are, where we're going and what we're asking each individual and family to do in order to get us there.  We challenged, but the question remained... how would our church respond?

Let me just tell you the response was overwhelming!  People have gotten excited.  People have decided to commit.  People have shown up.  We asked three questions over the course of the three week series and it was all based around our vision scripture and vision statement...

Vision Scripture

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in 
       him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?  
       And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of
       those who preach the good news!”
(Romans 10:13-15 ESV)

Vision Statement:
We want to be a church with beautiful feet committed to walking with our city down The Pathway of life by...
          Serving our communities extravagantly.
          Sharing the gospel with those we serve.
          Showing people how to grow with Jesus.
          Sending missionaries to start new Intentional Communities and new churches in Tacoma &

The 3 Big Vision Series Questions:
1) What if... we served our communities extravagantly? (serve)
2) What if... we make our mission making disciples? (share & show)
3) What if... you ARE a missionary? (send)

As we preached through the series and dug deeper at our IC gatherings it was amazing to see the response, the consistency and the commitment.  Every week I got to hear stories of how God is working in the lives of the people who make up The Pathway.  I had a teenager come up and ask me to help him serve his school extravagantly. I had a couple ask for prayer as they welcome an unbelieving family into their home as they try to get back on their feet.  They said they don't just want to serve them but they also want to try and make disciples.  I had a young dating couple come to me desiring to be baptized.  We had a man who has only been to our worship gathering once but is a committed part of one of our IC's give his life to Jesus last week!!!  That's right, you should be saying "Amen!" and jumping up and down... the Kingdom is growing!

Numerically speaking we are so encouraged!  We are basically out of room in our Kids Ave area... we're trying to figure out how to cram them all in!!!  Our Wednesday IC had over 15 adults this past week and more kids than I could count as we talked about how to engage in making disciples.  One of our IC's meets in a local apartment complex and they had 15 adults crammed into a tiny one bedroom apartment!  Now I know sometimes people don't want to focus on the numbers... I get that... I actually put filters in place for myself so I don't even see our numerical growth on a regular basis.  But lets face it... the people I just mentioned are not just numbers.  The 2 getting baptized, the teenager wanting to serve his friends, the couple opening their home, the man who gave his life to Jesus... the over 30 adults in two IC's.  These are not numbers, they are souls.  They are lives that God cares deeply about.  They are lives being changed, transformed & saved by the gospel of Jesus!  Praise Jesus for those numbers!!!  Our desire is to see the Kingdom of God grow in Tacoma.

So what's next?  How can you pray?  Let me tell you a few things.
     1) Pray that the commitment we've seen over the last 3 weeks does not dwindle.  Pray that it
         multiplies.  I don't know how it will happen.  But God does!

     2) Pray for the Christmas season.  We are taking part in a pretty amazing movement within the
         church in America called Advent Conspiracy.  We are going to be launching this series the last
         Sunday of November.  It's all about Jesus & all about the true meaning of Christmas... that would
         be Christ being born for us!

     3) Pray for salvation and life change.  Pray that God continues to change lives and bring people  
         from lostness to salvation and from spiritual milk to solid food.

     4) Pray for our Christmas Eve gathering.  We have never done this before but everyone is so
         excited!  We want it to bring glory to God, be an awesome worship time for the church and a way
         to connect our community with the gospel!

That was a lot.  Thank you for caring.  Thank you for praying.  Hard times will come.  Satan doesn't like God's kingdom growing.  Please go to battle with us in prayer.