Yeah, it’s true. Dana and I have chosen to plant a church in the city of Bonney Lake (where we live). We will still be Student Ministry Pastor’s with Northwest Family Church, as they will be the mothering church for the plant. We are crazy excited…here is how it all came about:
Check it out, three days before our winter camp, February 10, 2009, God did something inside my heart that had never been done before. Here is the story (beware…it is all inclusive…and long):
THE INITIAL BOARD MEETING
Pastor Warren invited all of the Pastors to a board meeting with the Northwest Ministry Network’s Church Planting Director, Del Chittim. We had been assisting a church that was without a Pastor in Bonney lake and were facing the need to close it, but we knew there must be a pentecostal church in this fastest growing city in the Northwest. Many of our board members were in agreement, but there was no “who”. If we were to resurrect an Assemblies of God church in Bonney Lake the what, how and when would follow the “who”. As the discussion around the table continued my heart began to skip beats. I caught the vision, I understood that this was a great city and Jesus could lead so many people to His love, it was possible, but was this just my sense of adventure in me or was this the Holy Spirit? P. Warren asked the pastoral team to comment on the discussion. As of yet, none of us had chimed into the debate of whether we should pursue involvement in this vision to plant a church in Bonney Lake. At the end of the table sat myself. Conversation led us to agree that if it were going to be health for NFC it would have to be one of our pastors who would add this to their portfolio. And then I opened my big mouth. I said, “This could be a huge win for NFC, Bonney Lake and the Kingdom. We live in Bonney Lake and know many neighbors who we love and our kids love and yet taking on this would be way outside my realm of expertise, education and comfort, but God never called us to be comfortable or safe!” Feeling like I had just committed job suicide…I nervously said it would be a win for our church, but made no commitment to be “the who”. Although, I did commit to pray about it.
LATER THAT NIGHT
I came home and told Dana, um…yeah…by the way, you may want to be praying with me about something. God may use us to plant a church in Bonney Lake. I began to share with her what the Lord had inspired in me, and how something snapped and just seemed to shift unexplainably in my heart all at once during the meeting. We talked for hours…that was just the first of many very late nights of processing. Did I mention we were getting ready for a winter camp during this…wow, tiring.
THE NEXT DAY
I had emailed P. Warren the night previous after the board meeting saying we need to talk. We went to lunch and looked at a possibly plan of discerning the will of God in all of this fresh inspiration. We began down the road of fasting, praying, laying out the details of what we knew and needed to know in order to make a decision based on reality and the leading of Jesus. We had about three weeks to truly lock in our choice as to weather we would be willing to pursue being “the who” in the Bonney Lake scenario or not.
Dana and I processed our lives away while praying and fasting for insight. And during this many things happened from divinely inspired twitters, blogs that spoke directly to our point of decision, reflection on prophetic words spoken over us, messages that were spoken by both me and guests, and finally a clearly direct word from God in the final moments of our decision making. Below you will see the details of those moments if you desire to read on. Since day one of our processing this we have felt very inadequate and nervous…even humbled if you will. Dana expresses how crazy it is that I would be a senior pastor, due to how strong of opinions I have (a gift from God!!) and just our path has not led us to study up Church Planting…but God spoke…here is how:
- PURSUIT: In the fall of 2008, while praying about the direction God would take our student ministry for 2009 the name pursuit came to me. The reason for this name was that I felt God would lead us to “take new territory for the Lord” in 2009. Since the fall I had crafted a three week series, camp messages and materials that communicated this truth that we must not play it safe any longer, and realize that God was giving us new territory. We could not just sit back and defend the old, but go after the new. I had been preaching this to myself for months and had just finished preaching it to the students when this opportunity arose. How could I sit back and not allow myself to prayerfully consider it after being the very voice of inspiration to the next generation to do the same thing. What a great opportunity to visibly carry out before the students we love and have invested so much into the very essence of “follow me as I follow Christ.”
- ANOINTING: Pretty Christianeese word, but a fitting one here. From that night on my preaching took on a new authority. It was immediately recognized by many. There were people saying, “I don’t know what it is, but you are preaching with such a fire” or “man I am getting so much out of your messages lately” or another like, “I have been so inspired lately.” Sometimes I just blow comments like this off as flattery, but I felt it too. Even in our weekly staff meetings it was like I saw more, another side of things, and had a wisdom imparted to me from Jesus that had yet to ever exist.
- NINE MONTHS PROPHECY: I will be posting the video later this week, but at our summer camp last June, Pastor Keith Kippen spoke a word over us at the final night’s altar. It was that we would birth something in 9 months that we could never predict, figure out through logic, or comprehend, but it would happen in 9 months. Given that Dana and I are trying to get pregnant with our 4th child we naturally assumed…BABY, but that is not the case yet…we are still practicing (makes perfect I hear). When a word of prophecy that is so specific is spoken over your life, you listen to it, remember it and look to see if it will come to pass. It is a confirmation from God…a kiss of grace to us in our daily journey of life. As we continued processing we were very aware that our decision for this was in the 9th month from that camp. As it turns out, the NFC board meeting where they approved the Church Plant was exactly 9 months from that prophetic word! God is amazing!
- MEETING WITH DEL: Dana and I set up a meeting with Del at Starbucks, the only place to truly hear the will of God, and asked all the questions that we did not know. Del would say, “we are just wanting to begin the possible path of ‘who’ could plant this church in Bonney Lake…and if Jesus is in it.” He mentioned that at the beginning of the year he had written a list of those who he felt would launch a successful church plant in the coming year, and low and behold our name topped that list. Dana and I were shocked, but agreed to take some assessment tests to see if we were church plant worthy. As it turns out we scored above the average for having the necessary makeup for a church planter. When expressing that we were interested in putting our names down as the “who” for the Bonney Lake plant I recall the exact text from Del, “I am standing on my desk ripping my shirt off with excitement.” Awkward, but oh so cool. We were excited too, just kept our clothes on! (Del, just having fun you know…letting my DNA leak through in this blog a bit)
- INHERITANCE: When I was 4 years old I met for the last time my Great Grandfather Thaddeaus, whom I was named after. It was at Foss Retirement Center in North Seattle…I remember it still today. My name sake was a Pastor and he grabbed my hand with his huge hand and looked me in the eyes and imparted to me Jesus. And the mantle of anointing on his life…in a moment was handed to me. It was as divine encounter as one could have, but honestly…I had forgotten this moment until I began to search and pray about this Church Plant. I called my mom and asked her again about that moment and as she recalled also, he had passed on his mantle of ministry to me before he passed away. It was as beautiful as it gets. I asked her about his ministry because I had been prompted in prayer that he was a church planter, and as it turns out…he was. And a very successful one at that. It took this door opening for me to recall a seed deposited 33 years ago in my life that was now ready to bear a crazy amount of fruit. Thank you God for your timing.
- TWITTER, FACEBOOK, BLOGS, BOOKS: As we kept praying through the three week period we would get little hints, or maybe big hints from God, “say yes”. Just prior to this board meeting I was at a monthly accountability and ministry brainstorming meeting with some of my friends in youth ministry. The meeting host, Judah Smith, handed me a DVD as we were exiting saying how great of a resource it was. Honestly, I had not even looked at it, but I recalled it and pulled it out of my backpack after the board meeting and to my surprise it was a Church Planting instructional DVD by Marc Driscoll of Mars Hill in Ballard. As well, one morning before giving a devotional at our weekly staff meeting I was praying for God to reveal clearly what we were to do, and my friend Zac Gandara sent this twitter, “God is doing something today. Will you be a part? His greatest commandment was ‘to love God and love people.’ Reach out, invite, disciple.” He had no idea this was from God to me! But it was one of those moments where the Holy Spirit came into the room and kissed me with the ever present touch of God. A friend of ours in the ministry, Steve Shoop, was coming into town and right about this time said he could pop in and do a service for us. I was excited to expose our students to missions and so I said, “yes.” Little did I know it would be a huge piece in the puzzle. He preached a message that basically led everyone in the room to say, “I will go” and made the point that you don’t have to be fully ready, equipped or all together. Just bring your gifts, personality and willingness to the table and see what God will make of it. Dana and I heard every one of these affirmations…believe me there are more than would fit in 30 blogs I can go on and on, including the quote from Benny Perez when I asked him how he know it was time for him to leave youth ministry and plant a church and he said, “if you are ever 100% sure, you are too late.”
- SUMMIT: Dana and I finally reached the point of saying we were going to make a decision. We had countless confirmations but wanted that audible voice to say, “plant this church.” Would you believe…yeah, Jeffery Portmann was preaching at the Youth Pastor and Leaders Summit in Yakima and as he began his message on Friday afternoon he opened by saying, “I believe God is wanting to tell some of you before this message is over that you are going to plant a church.” Dana’s response at that moment was to audibly say, “Shut Up.” We began to tear up…because we realized the Holy Spirit just reached down deep inside of us and turned a page to the next chapter in our lives. Truly I tear up even now…just thinking about it.
I will bring out more of the goods, but to make a long…very long story short, we were willing and at the end of March the NFC Board of Deacons said yes to Dana and I being the staff members that would plant this church. You can take a peek at the plan we have so far here. And the Executive Presbytery of the Northwest Ministry Network of the Assemblies of God said yes on April 7th, and it was just announced today at NFC in both services. The journey begins…now to the details. Can’t wait to celebrate the miracles. You will see everyone of them testified to right here on this new blog site.
We covet your prayers as we carry out this adventure!