Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Church Leadership and Planting and the Grace to Die - BSSM2 Update #4

Dear friends and family,

There seems to be a lot of moving pieces to this particular season of mine, which has been a great opportunity for learning how to hold onto peace and rest in the midst of craziness, and let go of needing control (I didn't realize till this Fall how deep my need for control - or at least perceived control - went).

Church Leadership and Planting

One reason for this that I haven't mentioned yet is that I'm actually the leader of a "micro-church" plant here in Redding. This comes as a part of a combined class and city-service track that I'm in - Church Leadership and Planting. It's been the most intimidating part of school for me. I knew it would be, but I felt God leading me both to be a part of the track and also to apply for a leadership position (being the primary leader / vision-caster for anything is not a comfortable place for me, I'm much more comfortable giving input on how to make someone else's vision work well).

I lead a team of seven (that includes me), and my housemate of two years, Wynand, is my co-leader. We have three other second-years and two first-years. It's a classic example of the leader being the one who's probably the least qualified, really. We have a woman who helped lead a full-blown revival in her high school in Trinidad and Tobago, another from England who was a missionary in Cambodia for five years, working in a red-light district. And our ringers are a couple who have been in church leadership and ministry for over 30 years! Even my co-leader has been to seminary and I haven't. But it builds confidence to know that I felt like I was supposed to apply, and that the leaders of the track felt the same, so I'm learning to just own it, keep learning, and pushing into his voice and presence and word when I start to feel overwhelmed.

The track overall is run by seasoned church planter Michael Brodeur who planted and led churches in San Francisco for over 30 years, and who now coaches pastors all around the globe. Getting to hear him teach almost every week is one of my favorite parts of school - his insights into church government, culture, and developing leaders are absolutely incredible. Sitting under him is like drinking from a fire-hose: he moves fast and packs every minute with loads of scripture and insight.

Relational connections have also been a big part of the track - it's crazy how many people in the track (both students and leadership) have a huge heart for the ME, including my third-year overseer. Given that's where I feel I'm headed, it'll be exciting to see what might be in store.

The Grace to Die

I'd say another big part of the last month or so has been this increasing, almost throbbing prayer in my system for the grace to die. By that I mean I've been experiencing a building longing for the reality of the cross to be made known in every area of my life. Because any area in our lives not touched by the cross cannot be touched by resurrection life, and so will only experience a cheap form of life and not the fullness of what our King paid for. Along with this, I want to experience a greater measure of the person of the Holy Spirit, and operate out of the faith of God, rather than depending on my own measly measure of faith.

It's a lot of nice words, but how do we actually step into that?

In just a week we have preach week and I was assigned Philippines 2:3-11. As I've been reflecting on that passage and the kind of life that Christ puts before us, it dawned on me afresh that this passage actually affirms that both humility and glorification are part of our portion as the Bride of Christ, but we don't actually have direct control over either of those things in our lives - glorification only lies on the other side of humility, and humility actually only lies on the other side of obedience. How do you walk in love? You walk in the commandments of Christ, and in so-doing abide in him and become love.

May each of us have the grace every day to see what's asked of us, and to step into it.


Our micro-church focuses on reaching out to students at our local community college - Shasta College. During our first outreach on campus, two people gave their lives to Jesus! The greatest miracle of all. Hallelujah. Needless to say we were all bouncing off the wall with joy. Another person gave their life to Jesus the next week.

A couple of weeks ago Bethel hosted a leaders conference. Wynand went to a barbecue for South Africans and met an amazing South African living and working in London. Wynand invited the man to go to the service with us the next day, and the man offered to get brunch for him and a friend. So Wynand invited me. We ended up hanging out pretty much all day, just enjoying each other's company and talking about Jesus and what we're seeing him do in our different spheres. Before the gentleman left we prayed and prophesied for him, then he shared that God had told him to give us each $500 towards ministry / missions! How wild is that! I put it all towards The Send and now only have to raise slightly less than $300 more dollars.

This one's not directly connected to me, but it's so awesome I have to share. Right now a big stadium event is happening in Melbourne, Australia, put on by an Australian graduate of BSSM. Almost 100 of my classmates and friends are there serving and flooding the streets with the love and power of God. At one of the sessions, a man who had been mute for 25 years asked for prayer, typing out his request on his phone. Well, he got totally restored and the first words out of his mouth were "Thank you, Jesus!" Come on!

And lastly - a few weeks ago we had the privilege of hearing Andy Byrd of YWAM speak (one of the most hope-inducing speakers I've heard). At the end of his message the power went out in the building, and it turned into a powerful time of corporate worship in the dark. Just the day before Bill Johnson had preached a message that had brought the conviction of the Spirit upon me as He revealed the depth to which I still allowed finances to control my peace, and the extent to which I still held onto control. I had allowed myself to fall into the assumption that it would take a long time to get that out of my system. But as we worshiped in the dark the Spirit took me back to when he had fallen on me in the plane returning from East Asia and performed that amazing heart surgery over the course of just a few days. So he took me into a time of confession and repentance and fell on me like that once more. And it was incredible, like before - bringing fresh passion that conviction really is one of the most priceless and beautiful treasures.

Prayer Requests

That my micro-church would find a venue to host our meetings. We've been struggling on this front, but know God will pave a way. We had our first informal meet-and-greet at a tea shop, but need a private space we can use starting the week after Thanksgiving.

For a greater sense of clarity each day during this season to know what to focus on and how to get the most out of my time here. Much more than first year, I feel like I don't have a particularly clear gauge of how I'm growing or what exactly's happening in my overarching season. So I've been focusing first and foremost on being present each day and moment and getting the most out of what's in front of me, trusting that down the road I'll have more understanding. I don't think it's a bad thing, I think it's mostly part of this journey of God stripping away my need for control or understanding of what's going on in and around me.

For the finances to make my trips to The Send and the Philippines happen. I've linked to accounts for both trips if you would like to give. You can read more about either trip in the last update I sent (which came from and via mailchimp, as I was trying a new thing. For some of you it may have ended up being shucked into a promotional tab within your inbox).

Since the last update we've had our first Philippines team meeting. One of the things I'm excited about is that I really do think it's just about the best you can get of short-term missions. We're being lead by a born and raised Filipino who's from one of the cities we'll be going to. This trip has been running for 9 years, and we've been partnering with many of these churches and ministries the whole time, and our leader has been leading the entire 9 years as well. So there's an established history, and they know how to utilize us and also build upon and manage what we're able to do in our short two weeks. We even have a few Filipinos on our team who grew up receiving from the Bethel team in the past, and are now at BSSM themselves and going back on the trip!

The next deadline I have is for the Philippines on December 14th - $225 (with $1,605 due total at the time of this writing).

As always, thank you for your time and your support in all the wonderful and various ways! May the Lord's face shine upon you.


No comments:

Post a Comment