It's been far too long since my last post. I have started to write multiple times but sometimes the words just aren't there. God has been doing much in my life personally. He's far from finished and I'm thankful for that.
The church is moving a long at what seems from one angle to be 100mph and from another angle to be a snail's pace. The 100mph angle includes the following...
Summer interns-- Our interns arrived at the beginning of June and they are absolutely incredible. God gave us a gift by hand picking 7 interns whose lives, personalities, spiritual gifts, passion for Jesus, commitment to mission and openness to being stretched seem to fit together like a perfect puzzle. They are fun, energetic, kind, unified and are willing to work hard... really hard. Our Associate Pastor Adam and his wife Khylee are leading them well and our Intentional Community Director Stacie Hooks has empowered them to help lead our mission teams in an incredible way. Sometimes I sit back and wonder what they need me for! It's a beautiful picture of what we desire this church to be built on. Not a person or a program. On Jesus Christ flexing his muscles through the unity and diversity found in his body. Glory to God!
Mission teams-- We've already seen our first 2 mission teams come and go and we just welcomed teams 3 & 4 to Tacoma today! The summer mission team blitz started strong with FBC Charlotte and Trinity Baptist from Ada, OK. These churches have been with us for a long time now and it seems that every time they come back they just pick up where they left off. They are united with us in our heart and our vision for The Pathway in Tacoma and they have a clear understanding of the role God has called them to play. They are truly a beautiful picture of partnership when it comes to sending mission teams. Fielder Church from Arlington, TX and FBC Universal City, TX have started strong today. It's exciting to see them back together for a second year in a row and focusing on one of our newer neighborhoods of focus. It's a challenge and they're truly engaging in missionary work. Please pray for them and our next 4 teams as they seek to find persons of peace and saturate Tacoma with the gospel of Jesus! We have a block party the next 2 Saturdays and the following Friday. Please pray for lots of connections!
Mission trip-- It seems like an eternity ago that we took our first North American Mission Trip to Santa Clara, CA. It was an exciting opportunity led by one of our long-time, amazing leaders Donna Christian. We went to serve a small church in Santa Clara that is the home church of one of our college students, Stephen Abishema. The church is small but has an incredible outreach to the community through their annual Vacation Bible School. They are going through a lot of transition right now and needed more bodies on the ground so we were able to come and be just that. It was challenging, rewarding, stretching, humbling and most ultimately God-glorifying. It was incredible to be on the sending side of missions rather than the receiving side of things.
Now for the snails pace angle...
Summer-- We are struggling... for the first time really... with what so many churches struggle with. The summer disappearing act! It's so frustrating but so understandable that it's hard to know what to do with it. As a new church we rely heavily on the consistency of our people. With summer comes weddings, vacations, routines flipped upside down with kids home from school and the list goes on. People literally will work like crazy all week long and then leave town on the weekends. As a pastor, I get so frustrated and discouraged because I don't feel like the new people we're connecting with get a true picture of who we are. But as a husband and father I know the importance of recreation, rest, vacation, family visits and more! I have to constantly remind myself that church isn't just a place we go, it's who we are. And that if we're really committed to being the church, that isn't affected by travel plans, sports and more. Being the church happens in day to day life, phone calls, Intentional Community gatherings and the like. I get the summer blues like any other pastor but I believe we are going to emerge stronger, fresher and healthier as a result of the challenge summer brings.
Salvation-- There is a reality that we're not seeing a lot of salvation over the last year and a half. This breaks my heart. This disturbs me. This causes me to ask God a lot of questions. Our people truly seem to be growing spiritually. I honestly believe more of our people are reading their Bibles with more consistency than ever before. I believe more of our people are engaging the lost and being intentional with their lives. But we're just not seeing a lot of people saved. Why? I have no idea. But I'm praying for patience and for the Holy Spirit to fall in a powerful way. I pray that God will bring so much life change that it would be impossible for anyone but him to get the credit. We're currently moving at a snails pace but I'm praying that we would continue to faithfully engage the lost and share the gospel and I trust that God will respond!
I think I'll stop here. I want everyone to know that your prayers are working. I believe God is doing things in Tacoma that we can't even begin to fathom. I believe he wants to bring salvation and that if we continue to engage the lost that salvation will come. I believe he wants our church to grow and reproduce and that if we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus that's exactly what will happen. Please continue to pray for Kingdom growth and for God to get the glory. However he decides to allow those two things to play out I trust HIM completely!