Monday, January 26, 2015

The Power of Partnership

If you're familiar with The Pathway or follow this blog at all you know that partner churches play a huge role in what God has done and is doing in Tacoma through The Pathway.  Seven years ago Kelli and I were prayed over and sent out by our home church, Trinity Baptist in Ada, OK.  Seven years ago!  And they are more engaged in partnership than ever before.

Now, the focus of this blog will be Trinity Baptist.  But let me tell you the truth, we have 12 partner churches and even more individuals, couples and families that pray for, give to and engage with our family and our church.  But you have to know, unfortunately, this is not a common tale.  Somewhere along the church planting trail of tears, churches got the idea that they should partner with plants for 2-3 years and then move on.  Of course I cannot speak for all plants, all partners and all situations, but for us, that would have meant the death of The Pathway.

But by God's grace alone, and for God's glory alone, our partners have been so faithful, so engaged and so generous to us.  And by God's grace alone and for God's glory alone, I believe The Pathway will become a generous, engaged, reproducing church planting church.  That is thanks, in large part, to the kingdom minded example set for us by all of our partners.
Trinity Baptist, Lifepointe Community & The Pathway

Seven years ago Kelli and I were sent out by Trinity to help plant Lifepointe Community Church in Snoqualmie, WA.  The plan was to spend 2 years helping plant, learning the Northwest culture, and finding the city where God had called us to plant our lives and the gospel.  During that time so many families from Trinity prayed for us, supported us financially and encouraged us as we struggled with this new calling on our lives.  Trinity sent a short term mission team to serve with us and Lifepointe in the summer of 2009.

Then God called us to Tacoma.  And let me show you the power of partnership.  Trinity could have easily said good-bye to us after walking with us for almost 2 years.  They could have easily said good-bye to Lifepointe because they had committed to supporting us as a couple and not Lifepointe as a church.  They could have done a lot of things.

What did they do?  They stuck with Lifepointe & The Pathway!

Over the years Trinity has sent Lifepointe and The Pathway more mission teams than I can count.  Trinity has sent both churches summer interns.  Over the course of the years Trinity has sent us young, fired-up young couples and singles who felt compelled by the gospel and supported by their home church to move to an unchurched part of the country and use their gifts for God's glory and mission.  Incredible.

Then in 2014 God called Trinity's own worship pastor, Adam Forgety, and family to come and serve with The Pathway.  Again, the people of Trinity embraced them, encouraged them, prayed for them, and sent them out.  There are individuals and families at Trinity who have been financially supporting The Pathway for 5 years.  They could have easily said they were done.  They could have stopped supporting The Pathway and started supporting Adam and Khylee Forgety.  Instead, so many have continued their generous support of The Pathway and have decided to generously support The Forgety's as well.  WOW!

But why?

I don't think I have an exact answer for that.  But I do believe part of the reason is that Trinity understands and believes in partnership.  Specifically partnership in the gospel.  I believe they love Jesus and the gospel so much that they are committed to seeing lives changed all over the world... Tacoma included.  I believe it's because that church is filled with families, leaders and pastors who passionately love God, believe the gospel whole-heartedly, and are committed to the Great Commission.

Then this weekend, in an attempted "surprise," (thank you Chris & Courtney!) Trinity sent a 10 member team (5 to Snoqualmie and 5 to Tacoma) to bless our churches and our leaders.  They came simply to encourage our family, the Forgety's and the pastors and staff in Snoqualmie.  That's it.  No agenda other than to bless and encourage us.  And they sent our friends... really, they sent the spiritual family we left behind in Ada, OK.

They sent Irby and Cheryl Clary.  They Clary's stayed with our family for 4 days and we were blessed beyond measure.  Irby and Cheryl were our Bible Fellowship teachers at Trinity.  They were the first people we asked to pray for us about our decision to move to the Northwest.  They came to serve on the first mission team to Trinity sent to Tacoma.  They allow us to stay in their home when we come to Oklahoma.  They genuinely love us, they faithfully support us in multiple ways, and they encourage us all the time.

And not surprising, Irby and Cheryl were also Adam and Khylee's Bible Fellowship teachers.  They love them, support them, and have encouraged them through this entire life transition.  One of Khylee's closest friends, Courtney Folsom, came to love on her.  She came to bless all of the women who lead in our church.  She came and encouraged us.  Brett Wiseman, a close personal friend of both Adam and myself, came to the west coast for the first time to minister to us.  He left his family (thank you Rachel) and all the things in life I'm sure he is falling behind on, simple to bless us.

Partnership.  It's a beautiful thing when embraced fully.  And by God's grace alone we have been blessed with "all-in" partners.  And it's those partners... God working through those partners... that keeps me believing that someday soon, our church will mature to become a generous, reproducing, church planting church.

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