Monday, March 30, 2015

It starts TONIGHT!

About a month ago we introduced our church to something we're calling the Best Day Challenge!  In short, we built an Intentional outreach all around what we believe to be the Best Day in history... the day Jesus' rose from the dead... and Challenged every person in our church to pray for, engage and invite 2 people to attend a dinner the week before Easter.

These dinners are hosted by each of our Intentional Communities and were paid for by the generosity of one of our partner churches.  There are 2 goals.  The first is to show love to our friends, family, neighbors and co-workers in an extravagant and tangible way.  How often does a church offer to buy dinner at a delicious restaurant for 40 people a night?  That leads to the second goal.  We want our friends, neighbors, family and co-workers who have been invited to ask us why?  Why is your church doing this?  What's the catch?

And that's when we have the opportunity to share with them.  God has loved us so extravagantly, by sending his son Jesus to die for us, that our church tries to come up with any creative way possible to love the people around us in an extravagant way.  Through these conversations and explanations, our prayer is that our church would have countless opportunities to share the gospel.  We want to specifically share with those we invite how we came to know Jesus and that what Jesus did for us (the church) he also did for them (his creation).

It will never flow completely seamlessly and smoothly.  Gospel conversations are often messy and awkward.  But the point of the Best Day Challenge and specifically our Intentional Community Dinners is to provide opportunities for the people of our church to engage, and love, and share the gospel with the people they are around day in and day out.

But the Best Day Challenge doesn't end there.  Through the dinners we are praying that folks in our church will find out that their friends, neighbors, co-workers and family are intrigued by this extravagant expression of love.  We are praying that our church will be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and when he leads, that we would invite some our loved ones to our Easter gathering this coming Sunday where we will be celebrating and talking about the Best Day in History... the day Jesus rose from the dead!  We are strategically and prayerfully launching a new 6 week connection group the week after Easter for people to get a short-term taste of community.  We have asked all of our existing Intentional Communities to throw parties the week after Easter so that we can have easy invites for our 2 people to be around and have fun with the people of God.

Most ultimately... we are praying and challenging our church to seek opportunities, sometime over the next 2 weeks, to share their story and Jesus' story with their 2 loved ones and then invite them to start following Jesus too!  We are praying, we are crying out to God, that as a result of the Best Day Challenge we would see more people baptized on April 19th (our next baptism gathering) than we ever have before and most importantly, that we would see disciples made and lives changed by the hope of the gospel!

Will you commit to pray Monday 3/30, Tuesday 3/31, Wednesday 4/1 (2 dinners) and Thursday 4/2 as dinners are being hosted each evening.  Please pray for the Holy Spirit to do something only the Holy Spirit can do.

Thank you!

Monday, March 9, 2015

BEST DAY challenge

We're entering an exciting season in the life of the church.  Resurrection Sunday is rapidly approaching!  We have a tradition in our Sunday gathering that whenever the resurrection is mentioned we scream and cheer (well... maybe I'm trying to make it a tradition by telling everyone to yell and scream when I mention the resurrection)!

Either way, as followers of Jesus, the resurrection should evoke in us emotions of awe, joy and gratitude.  It was literally the BEST DAY in history and when we put our faith in Jesus, the one who died and rose again, we will experience the BEST DAY of our lives.  We also know that all of us who have trusted Jesus will one day experience the most ultimate BEST DAY when we see Jesus face to face.

Thanks to the generosity of our partners, we launched what we're calling the BEST DAY challenge a little over a week ago.  Our goal is to give our people the opportunity to love their friends, neighbors, family and co-workers extravagantly.  We're trying to give them a chance to provide multiple "great days" for those they love with the hope and prayer of doors opening for gospel conversations.

We're challenging, encouraging, and praying that through these "great days" our people would have multiple opportunities to share about the BEST DAY in history... to share the good news that Jesus died and rose again to provide forgiveness of sins and restored relationship to God.  Ultimately, we're praying that on our next baptism Sunday we would see more people than we ever have before celebrating new life in Christ!

How can you pray?
1) We challenged everyone in our church to pray for 2 people that they want to pursue with the gospel and to pray for the Holy Spirit to draw them to salvation.  Please pray that our folks would accept this challenge and that God would be working in the hearts of all the "two's" that are being pursued.

2) The first "great day" we want to provide is dinner at a nice restaurant in Central Tacoma called Engine House 9 (E9).  Each of our Intentional Communities have been given a night to take over the party room of E9 and fill it (up to 40 people) for the purpose of showing love and sparking gospel conversations.  Please pray that our people would invite.  Please pray that their 2 would come to dinner.  Pray for gospel conversations.

3) The second "great day" is Easter Sunday.  We're challenging people to invite their 2 to our Easter gathering April 5th.  We have several photographers in our church and one of them will be taking FREE family portraits and we'll be providing one free print per family.  Just another way to show God's love.  Pray that people would come on Easter, that they would hear the gospel, feel the gospel and trust the gospel.  Pray that they would connect to one of our Intentional Communities or to one of 3 new groups (pray that these all materialize) that should be launching after Easter.  Most of all, pray that our people would use our Easter gathering as a catalyst for sharing their faith and inviting their 2 to follow Jesus.

4) The third "great day" is the week following Easter.  All of our Intentional Communities will be throwing parties so that people can come and connect on a relational level with the community of believers.  Some will be having dinners, others might have game nights or go do something fun in the community.  Please pray for people to find themselves immersed in the body of Christ and that they would be radically changed by the gospel.

5) The fourth "great day" will hopefully come after the BEST DAY... the day many of these people put their trust in Jesus.  We will be celebrating baptism April 19th and are praying that more people will be baptized than we could ever imagine!

Thank you for your prayers.  We'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Together: Women

For years and years when someone asked me how they could pray for The Pathway, my response was the same.  "We need leaders."  Specifically, I meant we needed people willing to step up and take initiative.  People willing to see a need and meet a need.  People willing to get outside their comfort zone and take the lead for the glory of God and the advancement of his kingdom.
Having some fun TOGETHER!

If you asked me the same question today... my answer would probably be the same!  I'm not sure we can ever have enough leaders.  But my perspective would be different because we are seeing those leaders raised up.  And it's exciting!

Becca Hurst came with us to Tacoma over 5 years ago to help plant The Pathway.  So much has happened over the last 5 years that she's not even Becca Hurst anymore, she's Becca Smithwick.  She's got a great husband, a precious baby boy named Ethan and another one on the way.  Becca has always been a leader.  But leaders never stop finding new ways to lead and Becca is living proof of that.

Several months ago Becca came to me and said that after some significant life changes including some major trials, she saw the need for the women of The Pathway to be sharpened together.  To grow in spiritual maturity and unity.  And best of all, she said she felt like she was being called out by God to lead the charge.  And from that the idea for Together:Women was born.  A day of training where the women of all our Intentional Communities come together to fellowship, worship and be trained and encouraged.

Because I'm a man, I wasn't there.  But my wife was and I wanted to share her thoughts on the day.  Glory to God and thank you for your continued prayers.

From Kelli... For the first time ever all the women of The Pathway gathered together and had a day of training & worship led and attended by the women of our church. It was wonderful!  God called Becca Smithwick to do something for the women of our church and she obeyed.  She gathered a team of women to organize this event and together they put on a gathering that was encouraging, refreshing and challenging. 

Becca shared her heart and motivation for putting planning the event. We played games together, ate together, listened to the incredible testimony of one of our own...  a testimony of grace and life change.  We worshiped Jesus together and went to several break out sessions led by women of The Pathway where we were challenged by the Scriptures. Women had the opportunity to learn more about prayer, studying the Bible and learning to love the woman God made us all to be. 

It was amazing to sit in that room of around 30 women, some of whom I haven not yet gotten to know, and all grow and be challenged together in our walks with Christ. It was amazing to see how God has worked in the lives of so many women in our church. There are times in church planting when it feels like we are not growing and we are not impacting this city for Jesus at all.  Legitimate times of discouragement.

But there was no mistaking all that God has done and is doing in the lives of the women of the pathway Saturday at Together:Women.