On September 10, 2017, Reach established a new congregation in Everett, WA...sort of...
The reality is, my wife and I, a handful of friends, and a good number of kids under 5, made a decision to assemble as a new church family. We've been calling it the "pre-launch" phase.
Our intention was to gather a handful of core group of families, host low-key meetups, and build community while diving into conversations around being the church. I imagined a room filled with kids and adults, eating food, singing songs with an acoustic guitar, and having conversations around the Bible and living as disciples.
There were around 30 of us on my radar. By week 2, we had over 60.
The last few weeks have ebbed and flowed numerically (which I'm honestly not worried about), but what I've noticed is this: our pre-launch/core team/family meal/start-up mentality has been completely flipped upside-down, and we're rolling with the punches!
READY FOR WHATEVER
It sort of reminds me of when Jesus spontaneously fed 5,000 people in one sitting.
Now, in no way do I see this story as a direct parallel to what's happening in our church. What I do see, however, is Jesus making room for the unexpected. You see, Jesus' ministry is littered by on-the-fly problem solving. If there were a script, it would seem to the average disciple that Jesus would often throwing it out the window (this is not a comment on sovereignty, for the record!).
JESUS BUILDS HIS CHURCH
In Matthew 16:18, Jesus tells Peter that "on this rock I will build my church." Even this is unexpected. Peter is the dude who denied Jesus 3 times...yet Jesus reinstalls him, describing him as a "rock" worth building upon.
Then again, if you told me 2 years ago that a group of us would plant a church in Downtown Everett, I would have thought you were nuts!
Jesus really does build his church. I'm telling you.
Our primary leadership team was finalized the week of our first "pre-launch" gathering. Our kids lead approached me on a Sunday in Kirkland 6 months ago...I lost her contact info...then she showed up to our first event, asking if she could dive in with us. We have a rent-free facility in the evenings until we can find a more permanent location for our official launch.
My hope in the coming months is simple: that we would be a gospel-people, offer our lives as worshippers, live like family in community, and respond to the mission of Jesus to make disciples. Whether we do this with 30, 60, 160, or beyond...my prayer is that whoever comes along will realize their identity in Christ, and will walk it out boldly and winsomely.
"Church planting is the hardest thing you'll ever do" they say. Yes, there are heavy parts, but I'm honestly having a blast! All credit to Jesus who sustains, and gives grace to undeserved vessels like me.
Making room for the unexpected. What a challenging yet joyful endeavor.
What about you? What are you planning for? In what was is Jesus asking you to loosen your grip and trust that his ways are better?
Humanity: “God, why would you let this happen to us?”
As I've been praying, I've been asking God to make my heart more like his - to give me understanding on what he wants from me in this season. In many ways, as we endeavor to plant a new church (gathering for the first time tomorrow!), I've found myself wrestling with the reality of where I'm at and where I desire to be. Still, even the ambiguity of today is matched with excitement for tomorrow as my family and I learn a new level of trust that we've never experienced. I know God is still molding me as I allow him more and more access to my life and future. Maybe you feel the same in some arena of your life.
Right now, Jesus is calling both faithful disciples and wandering prodigals to himself in Everett and beyond. Individuals and families are making decisions to leave the familiar and enter unknown territory by joining the Reach Everett community. Our mission is simply to respond to that same call of "catching people" with the good news that Jesus is alive, that he loves them, and that the time to follow is now!
Whether you're diving in with us personally or praying from a distance, remember that the invitation to follow Jesus is one that includes him! He's with you - you're not just the carrier of an idea, you're a son or daughter of the King of Kings. Let that frame your thinking today as you respond to your loving King, and as he uses you to "catch" the attention of those who don't yet know him.
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“He who loves his dream of community will destroy community, but he who loves those around him will create community.” | Dietrich Bonhoeffer
When I was asked to lead a small group initiative at a church, this quote became invaluable to me. I’m a worship guy at heart, so shifting from a music/creative vocational focus to envisioning and implementing groups was quite daunting. After all, which blog(s) should I be reading now?! (Who cares, right? But that's not the point of this post.)...
I often pray, “Lord, I desire to experience your presence in my life.” I’m often disappointed. Why?
Because so often, I spend about 30-seconds praying that prayer - between meetings, on a drive with music playing, in a moment of crisis. Many times, it’s during a moment that’s convenient for me, which usually means I’m too busy.
Most Christians would agree, we desire to experience the presence of The Lord in our lives. It would be foolish not to! The problem is, we often seek an “Insta-Jesus” rather than the real Jesus.
Discipleship is often overcomplicated.
From step-by-step discipleship books to yearlong internship programs, the word disciple has begun to evolve into something Jesus most likely did not intend. In the church, a disciple or apprentice often refers to someone who means to graduate high school, attend a Bible college, participate in a church internship, serve as a youth leader for a few years, then possibly take over a youth ministry, eventually retiring as a lead pastor.
Unfortunately, many churches, especially youth ministries, communicate this message without realizing what they are saying. “Maybe God is calling some of you to a life of full-time vocational ministry…” These subtle seeds are often planted by youth pastors into the minds and hearts of their students, and for the majority of the most “dedicated” students, these words are adopted as their one and only calling...