Monday, July 22, 2013

Life Change

It's hard to actually define "Day 1" of The Pathway Church.  I'm not sure if it's the day that Kelli and I said "yes" to church planting, the day we realized that Tacoma was where God had placed our lives, the first day we went to Tacoma on mission or any of the other major milestones along the way.  Either way, I can confidently say that since "Day 1," our biggest and most repeated prayer has been for God to bring life change in Tacoma.  As I think back on on our journey, I even remember speaking at Trinity Baptist, our home church in Ada, OK, during my ordination service.  I read Romans 10:1... My hearts desire and prayer to God for them is for their salvation.

Well, by the grace of God, it's happened.  More accurately, it's happening.  Let me give you a few examples.

About 3 years ago we met a single mom with 3 boys.  She was in pain.  She was coming out of a transitional housing program, was facing more challenges in a day than I think I faced in a life time, but she was looking for hope in the right place... the God who created her.  As we walked with her things seemed to take 1 step forward and 3 steps back.  But along the way we were able to meet a need a friend of hers had.  Now if you were going to make me bet money on which one of them I thought would still be a part of The Pathway today, I'd have guessed the first.  But God's ways are not our ways right?  Well, over the course of time the single mom pulled back from her creator. But the friend, also a single mom, stuck with Jesus and his church.  And her life is radically different.

She struggled for quite some time with her roots as a catholic girl who feared God.  She wrestled (and still wrestles) with the difference between belief in God and becoming a follower of his Son Jesus.  But she's choosing to follow as she grows.  And guess what, she's growing as she follows.  In the last several months she has faced an incredibly difficult obstacle in life... but in the midst of it she chose to place her trust in Jesus.  She has approached one of our leaders and asked for help discipling her children.  She is in a discipleship group with my wife and has even led the group in Kelli's absence.  And just recently she has volunteered to play an extremely significant role in multiplying our Intentional Communities.  Life Change.  Glory to God!

There's another young single mom that connected with our church during September for Tacoma. She too wrestled with the difference between belief in God and being a follower of his Son Jesus.  She had a difficult past and had been baptized multiple times.  Trying to find forgiveness and hope, she kept falling back into her old life.  But then she met Jesus!  I mean, really met him.  To see the hunger in her eyes, the change in her life has been incredible.  She is a missionary to the people she lives with.  She is passionately pursuing what it means to be a godly mom.  She is embracing community, accountability and discipleship.  And just this week we asked her to be one of the first Pathway missionaries to go global on a short term trip to South Africa.  It was amazing to see the fear in her eyes almost immediately overcome by faith.  And then to read the text she sent Kelli this morning letting us know that she wanted to pursue this opportunity that God had obviously put in front of her.  Life Change.  Glory to God.

Then there's a young man who came to faith in Christ very recently.  He too wrestled with his catholic background and particularly the strong religious ties of his family.  He finally professed faith in Jesus but when it came time to be baptized he showed up at the service still not sure that he could go through with it.  Even though we know baptism doesn't save, you could see the beauty of this ordinance as he wrestled with this tangible demonstration of faith that would be a solidifying moment in his walk with Jesus.  When he finally chose to publicly proclaim his faith in Jesus, it was one of the most beautiful moments I have ever been a part of.  As he came up from the water he threw his hands in the air.  He was balling.  The congregation was cheering.  The kingdom is growing.  Life Change.  Glory to God.

As we approach Kid-City Kick-off, please join us in praying for life change.  Church growth is great.  But without changed lives it's only an earthly accomplishment.  We are praying for the kingdom of God to grow & that happens through the radical transformation of lives by the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit!  Glory to God!!!

Monday, July 15, 2013

KidCity Kick-off

We're excited to announce The Pathway's next major outreach and serving opportunity.  August 4th will be the start of a highly intensive week that we're calling KidCity Kick-off.  We are incredibly excited about what God has in store for our community that week.  We are prayerfully approaching the week of August 4th and we want to ask you to join us in prayer.  

What is KidCity Kick-off? Up to now our kids ministry has been called Kids Ave. However, as we have been growing and God has been bringing us more families and children and plating in us a vision to see families in Tacoma transformed by the gospel, he was also laying on our Kids Ministry Director a new vision.  To sum it up, we desperately want to be a church that equips parents to disciple their children and we believe that involves so much more than Sunday morning.  We are trying to partner with parents to teach their kids about God's love.  With this in mind, we decided to make some needed changes to our current Sunday theme and approach and we figured when we were finished we might as well make a BIG DEAL about launching the new and improved KidCity!

Well, as we were talking about this we were also planning a major outreach push for the month of September.  Long story short, God began closing the doors for our intensive September outreach (although we will still be doing a lot with some mission teams) and rapidly opening doors to serve, spend time with and show God's love to the families in our community in August.  We've never done anything quite like this but we are praying that God would open the flood gates of life change in the lost and unchurched families in Tacoma.

How can you pray?  First and foremost please pray that God would be glorified through this outreach.  Second, please make note of the calendar below and pray for all the events going on.  We already have upwards of 30 kids signed up for our Kids Club and we are hoping to gain a huge amount of community sign-ups at our August 4th block party!  Please pray for the mailers we will be sending out to central Tacoma inviting them to the block party.  Please pray that logistics would fall into place and that central Tacoma, including Hilltop, would feel the love of God through our church.

Please pray for our church.  Pray that the families in our church would be bold in inviting friends and neighbors to the block party and to the kids club.  Finally, pray for a HUGE kingdom harvest that we are asking God to bring on Sunday August 11th.  The entire week we are going to be pushing our KidCity Launch on Sunday August 11th.  We averaged about 21 kids on Sunday mornings in the month of June.  We are asking God to bring 60 kids Sunday August 11th!  I hope this is not a foolish prayer.  I really believe God can do this.  That Sunday we will be letting the kids show off what they learned in Kids Club, passing out KidCity back-packs stuffed with school supplies and most importantly presenting the gospel in a very clear way.

God knows what he wants to do through KidCity Kick-off.  We trust that.  Lets pray together for his will to be done, the name of his son Jesus to be lifted high and his glory to be made known.  Thanks!

Monday, July 1, 2013

A new neighborhood... an old approach!

Thank you so much for praying for the mission team from Oklahoma that served with us last week.  It was an intense week of funky weather, spiritual warfare and the Holy Spirit in action.  I believe with all my heart that your prayers were powerful and effective as God used the team to accomplish the mission laid out for them.

Most of you know that we recently moved our worship gathering to Franklin Elementary in central Tacoma.  For logistical reasons alone we have love the change!  The school staff have been so good to us & we have room to spread out & grow.  But we love the move for another reason too.  Since the end of last summer we have been praying about what neighborhood we would strategically target to saturate with the gospel next.  While this may seem to be a simple choice, it was no small decision.  For 3 years we have been pouring our heart and soul into the Hilltop.  We've served, loved, met needs, prayer walked, thrown events and parties... all for the Hilltop neighborhood in Tacoma.  In the process, we have seen God bring salvation!  By God's grace alone, in these first 3 years, we have seen 37 professions of faith & 31 baptisms!!!  All as we focused on being intentional and saturating Hilltop with the gospel.  

But what I found over the last year is that people were either forgetting that God didn't call us to plant a church on the Hilltop alone.  He called us to start in the Hilltop, but he called us to plant the gospel in Tacoma!  With that in mind we felt God leading us to continue serving and sharing the gospel with the Hilltop, but to strategically use our mission teams this summer to start seeing where doors are open in Central Tacoma.  While we've done a small thing or two since we moved to Franklin, this last week was the first time we intentionally infiltrated central Tacoma with the gospel. 

What we found was another neighborhood ripe for the harvest!  Central Tacoma is a big area but it is a neighbor to the hilltop.  All week long the mission team intentionally went out and met our central Tacoma neighbors.  They walked around and handed out Starbucks coffee one morning.  Another day they baked cookies and delivered them to local businesses.  They prayer walked and passed out fliers inviting the community to a block party at Franklin.  All-in-all the team was so faithful to get out of their comfort zones and try to make gospel connections in central Tacoma.  Our prayer was that many of these connections would come to Thursday's block party so the people of The Pathway could meet them.

Well, Thursday came and so did the rain.  The party was supposed to begin at 6:00pm but the rain was coming... along with the health inspector!  We've never had to work with the health department because we've always done block parties at The Spot.  I tell you what, she kept coming up with things that were done wrong.  It was so awesome to see the church come together to get the job done!  Finally, about 6:30pm the rain moved out.  About 6:45 the health inspector said we could start cooking hot dogs.  Then at 7:00pm the neighbors came!  God knew what he was doing and literally people started pouring in as soon as we were ready to start serving food.  

Conversations were had, the foundations of new potential friendships were laid, the Spirit of God was obviously working.  This past Sunday we had more new faces at our worship gathering than I could count.  I recognized people from the block party and it was amazing to see our church welcome so many new faces.  Please don't stop praying though.  In order for us to reach central Tacoma we have to begin planting Intentional Communities.  In order for that to happen we need leaders and commitments from folks who are seeking Jesus.

Hilltop.  Central Tacoma.  I don't know what God has in store but I believe he wants to radically change the people of these neighborhoods with the gospel of Jesus Christ!