First and foremost I want to thank all of you who prayed for & supported KiDCity kick-off. There is no way we could be saturating as much of Tacoma with the gospel as we have been without your extreme generosity, faithful prayers and willingness to come & help. I thought I'd give you a glimpse at KiDCity Kick-off through my eyes. It will be an honest look & my hope is that it will lead you deeper into fervent prayer not only for our family, church and city, but for your own mission field as well.
KiDCity Kick-off Block Party: This was day #1 and I usually stress over the first day of our BIG outreaches the most. It's the starting point, the event or moment that sets the tone. It was Sunday morning and I had been stressing over logistics and whether or not there would be a good turn-out. I had been in TX the week leading up to the kick-off so I felt like I was a little behind. But God is so good. My beautiful and supportive wife allowed me to get away (as she always does) on Sunday morning and just be with Jesus. During that time he reminded me who does the work... and it's definitely not me. He brought me into our outdoor worship gathering with a peace in my soul and it was awesome not just to worship through the gathering, but through the ensuing block party. We had a group of 2 families from a local church, High Pointe, that supports us in so many ways come out to help us. You have no idea the power of knowing there are other believers who have your back. The block party was a huge success in every way.
HayDay Kids Club: Our expectations were high for Kids Club. Last year we had a mission team lead our first Kids Club. We sprung it on them at the last minute with very little advertising to our church or the community. They did a great job and we learned a lot so we were expecting even greater things this year. We had a new partner coming to host Kids Club this year, Humble Area First Baptist Church. Before I get to the actual Kids Club I just want to share my perspective on this group. Most churches have trouble fielding a mission team that consists of anyone over the age of 22. This church brought 21 adults ages 18-50+ including their senior pastor & wife, missions pastor & wife as well as their children's pastor. Their were multiple ladies on the trip whose husbands had used their vacation time to stay home with the kids while they went on mission. Their was one couple, Paul & Amanda, who found multiple homes for their 5 boys to stay in while they came together on mission.
As I watched the kids club unfold I was amazed. We had more than double the kids that we had the previous year. The gospel was shared. The kids were loved on and the parents were visibly moved by how much we cared about their kids. One young boy was even moved to tears on the final night when he realized many of the adults who had loved him were going home. We have known this boy and his mom for well over a year now and it was amazing to see them in worship on Sunday.
Community Block Party: For those of you who know Tacoma or the Seattle area, you know that although it rains a lot during the year, rain seldom comes in August and we almost never get thunder storms. The night before the block party we got both. Thunder, lightning and rain. And the forecast was calling for more of the same the night of the block party. The band that would be playing even called to see if we were calling it off. We pressed on... with small faith (on my part anyway). But God was so good. Not only did he hold back the rain (that was hitting to the north of us), he also brought the people. We had our largest block party to date. It was amazing to see the "plan" working thanks to the grace of Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit. The mission team was handling all the behind the scenes work and our people were with the community. I think we still have room to grow. These outreaches are supposed to be intentional. We try and sacrifice time with the community of believers so we can spend time with the community as a whole. As I walked around I saw lots of opportunities and I trust that God was moving hearts together. It was amazing to see God move. It was amazing to see the community come together and experience the love of God first hand.
KidCity Launch: Sunday was our launch. We had invited kids and families to come for our KiDCity launch, to get a KiDCity backpack with school supplies and a "Jesus Storybook Bible." We were expecting a HUGE turn-out based on all that God had been doing. I was so excited Sunday morning to see face after face walk into Franklin Elementary that I didn't recognize. It was so amazing to see our church step up and volunteer as greeters, KidCity workers, etc. so that our community would feel welcome. When it was all said and done I will be honest, I was disappointed at the turn-out. I think I'm not supposed to say that as a pastor and leader. But it was hard to see the mass of people at the block party Saturday and the smaller fraction that was at our gathering on Sunday.
But here's what I have to remember. What we have to remember. 3 things really...
1) It's not about the gathering, it's about the gospel. I say it over and over but when the rubber meets the road I often forget. We're trying to change a culture with the love of God and the good news of Jesus. It's going to take time and the harvest isn't going to come from the gathering, the gathering will ultimately come from the harvest. Think about it. There is a significant difference there.
2) Jesus said in Matthew 7:14, For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. I cannot get discouraged when the words of Jesus prove true. But we cannot back down. While the number is few, there is always room for more.
3) 2 Chronicles 7:14, If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, than I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. All those faces, all those people, all those souls created by God at the block party need the good news of Jesus. We cannot force it on them. But we can pray desperately to the Father that he would open their hearts and that they would put their trust in him.
KiDCity Kick-off was a gift from God and he is not finished yet! Please continue to pray for the children and families that we met and that the gospel would not just transform individual lives, but families all over central Tacoma!