Monday, September 15, 2014

Paradox of The Pathway

The Pathway has never really done things by the book.

In the world of church planting, it is commonly said that you will always reach people that look like you.  Ha!  I think we blew that possibility out of the water when we moved to Tacoma.  From day one God drew us to people, and he drew people to us, who look absolutely nothing like us.  From background and economic status to race and religious heritage (or lack thereof), God has connected us with a diverse bunch of people, very few of whom look like me or Kelli.

Growth.  In "typical" church planting (whatever that means!), summers are always a difficult time.  I'm sure that's true for established churches too.  Rhythm's are broken.  Vacations are taken.  Attendance drops.  Consistency wanes.  Giving goes down.  But of course, for The Pathway, that's never been the case.  Summer has always been an incredible opportunity to embrace the patterns of summer and maximize the opportunity to do life with each other, engage new people and see people decide to make biblical community a part of their new routines.  This summer has been no exception to that.  We've seen doors open, the vibrancy of our gathering increase and more and more people connect to the community of believers.

The list could go on but for some reason I assumed that while we don't follow any other normal patterns of church planting, we would follow the pattern of renewed consistency and momentum heading into the fall.


What was I thinking?!?!  Why would we do that by the book when we do nothing else by the book?  The last 2 weeks have proven to be somewhat "slow," for lack of a better term.  I think people are still clinging to what's left of summer.  Getting kids back into school certainly drains parents and kids alike.  Overall, our worship gathering has decreased in attendance rather than increased and from a cursory look at our Intentional Community gatherings, attendance is sparse as well.

All this to say... pray for consistency.  Not just in the Sunday gathering, although I want people to long for and value that time, but also in community.  Pray for people to consistently do life together, consistently make disciples (and become disciples), consistently serve, give, love and worship.  Pray for people to see the need for disciple-makers, Intentional Community hosts and Intentional Community leaders.  Pray that our church, starting with myself, would embrace the call of God on all of us to be missionaries for the gospel in our own world, our own neighborhood and even in our own homes.

We're learning to be the church together.  We're learning the rhythm's of life together.  It's messy and it's fun but it is never ever "typical!"

Monday, September 8, 2014

One of those moments

I had one of those moments Sunday night.  It was a good moment.  It was a sweet moment.  It was one of those moments where God reminds you that he is at work in big ways.  He's at work in God-sized ways, doing God-sized things that for the most part I will never know about or comprehend.

I've shared on this blog before that 2014 is a year of focused and intentional congregational prayer for The Pathway.  By God's grace he gave us a reminder at the end of last year that we are really good at working hard.  We're really good at serving our communities, hosting block parties, moving people and meeting needs.  But we're not so good (mainly because I've led poorly in this area) at slowing down and asking the God of the universe to move in power, to change lives and to see God's kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

We definitely don't have it all figured out, but the first Sunday of every month this year we've committed to coming together as a church to pray for the spiritual healing of our city.  It's not glamorous by any stretch of the imagination.  At times it's down right frustrating and discouraging.  Prayer is hard.  For the most part we don't have a big turn-out.  Overall our numbers have been decreasing as the year has progressed.

Sometimes it's hard to focus.  We bring our twin 4 year olds with us.  Try praying for an hour with 4 year olds!  For us it really doesn't happen.  We make it as long as we can (usually 30 minutes), praying together as a family for our friends and neighbors.  Coaching our kids in what it means to pray, why it's a crucial part of life and the powerful affect it has.  Then either myself or Kelli takes the kids home while the other parent stays and continues to pray.

One of the stations we have set-up at the concert of prayer is really just a row of poster boards.  All year long we've been writing names on those poster boards.  But they're not just names, they're souls. They're human lives who need to be radically changed by the power of the Holy Spirit.  We write names every month and then we pray over those names.  It doesn't matter if we know them or not, God knows them and is honored by our prayers for them.

Last night was when I experienced one of those moments.  To be honest, my prayer time had not been incredibly deep and passionate.  It was a struggle.  But I made my way over to the poster boards as I do every month, kneeling next to them, and asking God to move in the lives of the people as I read their names in prayer.  I began reading names and then I saw my own handwriting.  The name of a man named Paul who our summer interns had met and served as they sought to saturate their apartment complex with the gospel.

I had attended a few of the intentional cook-outs our interns put together and that's where I met Paul.  We struck up a conversation and I asked him for his phone number (one of the most awkward, yet absolutely crucial parts of missional living... asking another dude for his number).  The interns continued to love on him and I reached out to him.  I prayed for him, had lunch with him and God started to soften him and work in his life.

The reason it was one of those moments, is that as I came to Paul's name on the list, I looked over my shoulder and there was Paul, sitting at another station in the room, praying.  Paul is still wrestling with God over many issues in his life, but God is moving.  Paul is now a part of my Intentional Community and becoming a friend. God is moving in people's lives.  Prayer works.  Lets not ever forget that!