Ministry is definitely not a sprint... it's a marathon. But in the midst of the marathon of church planting we have realized an occasional sprint is necessary and helpful. That is what March into April has been for us. We've asked our church to work extra hard, to put in extra time, to be extra intentional as we have prayed for the Holy Spirit to ignite an extraordinary spark in Tacoma that would send the flame of the gospel rip-roaring across our city!
As we approach our last March into April event this Saturday I want to give you a brief update on what God has been doing but I also want to remind you that as we slow our sprint we are still in the midst of the marathon. What does that mean? It means we're not stopping our call to make disciples in Tacoma and we hope that you will not stop praying for the gospel to take root. God is far from finished and we want to continue to approach him confidently, asking him to bring spiritual awakening in our city.
Community Dinners-- We kicked off our month of outreaches with 2 Community Dinners at a local hot spot called Masa. A couple things stood out to me. First, we were praising Jesus for the turn out at the first dinner. The place was packed and conversations were great. You could just sense that God was up to something and that the right people were in the right place at the right time. Second, the next dinner was anything but packed. The sign-up for that dinner was smaller but we also had a lot of people simply not show up. I'd love to give you some intelligent and insightful answer as to why that happened... but I simply don't have one. God knows. What I do know, is that our people did not slow down. They continued to go out of their way to make conversations with folks, make them feel welcome and show the love of Jesus to them. All in all it was a good start. But would people come back for the next event?
Pre-launch gathering @ Franklin-- Most of you know that on Easter Sunday we launched or worship gathering at a new location. We decided to do a trial run the week before which happened to be the Sunday after our Community Dinners. We were not anticipating many people from the dinners to come to worship the very next morning but that's exactly what happened. We had quite a few people come and worship with us that first day and it was an awesome day. We had been down to around 60 in worship and that first Sunday at Franklin we jumped up to 80!!! Praise God for new people hearing the gospel.
Community Fun Nights-- We hosted Community Fun nights on the Friday and Saturday before our Easter Launch at Franklin. They both had average attendance. It didn't blow our expectations out of the water but again, our church took ownership of the mission, engaged new folks in conversation and demonstrated the love of Jesus. The highlight of that weekend was our Good Friday Worship Night at Franklin. It was after the Community Fun Night and our worship leader Donna planned and led it. I told multiple people that it was definitely the best thing our church had ever done. It was powerful worship and it was focused on the cross. It was just what we needed after a couple weeks of exhausting outreach.
Easter Launch-- One of the things I tried to remind our leaders is that although Easter has so much potential for folks to hear the gospel and connect to the church, we cannot look at Easter as the finish line. Easter is merely a launching point for making disciples. We did a lot of publicity (a lot for us) leading up to Easter and we had our highest worship attendance ever... 103! But two things stood out that were behind those numbers. First, there were tons of folks from our March into April events... that's the point right? Second, we had challenged our church the 6 weeks leading up to Easter to pray for 2 people they were going to invite. As I walked around introducing myself to people and asking them how they ended up coming to worship, so many told me they were invited by one of our church members! That is mission in action... praise to Jesus!
Tacoma Goest to the Movies-- So this was the one that was destined to be a disaster if not for the merciful intervention of our Savior! Right in the midst of March into April we slipped away to Texas for a wedding of 2 of our core team members. It was amazing time and we spent some extra days visiting with many of our amazing partners. Somehow in the midst of it my brian was got fried and I thought the movie was 2 Saturdays away. I got sick at the end of the trip and when I was finally home in bed that Friday, I somehow realized that the movie was the next day! We had done a good job of communicating the correct info to our March into April guests, but I had not communicated anything to our church. I put the word out fast & our church responded. We had a great turn out to go see opening weekend of the movie "42." Well, more potential disaster loomed as we found ourselves sitting in the theater for an hour and a half before the move ever started... technical difficulties. By God's grace no one was upset and only 3 people had to leave. That hour and a half turned out to be wonderful. I got to meet and talk to so many people I did not know and would not have been able to talk to without that time. God knew what he was doing even when I didn't!
"Building a Budget" Workshop-- This Saturday is our final event and so far the sign-ups have been strong. This is outside the box of anything we've ever done before but we're excited about it for the relational opportunities and the practical help it will bring. We believe that stewardship is part of discipleship and we're excited to have David Bragonier, a financial professional from California coming in to lead this for us. Please pray that everyone who signed up, shows up and even more people come. We are also having a childcare issue so pray that God works out those details!
Last but not least... While all of these events are incredible, you know that our heart is to be the church. How does that happen? First of all people need to experience authentic biblical community... we call it Intentional Community. We were able to relaunch 2 IC's the weeks following Easter and we were also able to launch 2 brand new IC's! The turn out for those gatherings have blown us away. People are hungry to learn, hungry to grow and they are craving discipleship! The second thing we desire is to see people place their trust in Jesus! So far we have had 2 public professions of faith this month and we are asking God to open the flood gates.
Thank you so much for your prayers. Please keep it up. The Holy Spirit is at work and we believe he is no where near finished!