Who is Jesus?

As part of the “homework” for our discernment team last week we asked people the question: “What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘Jesus?'” We asked the same question about the word “church.” We talked about the various responses in our second “gathering” with the team this past Sunday and also about how we respond to those same questions. We spent some time in Matthew 16:13-25. Now we are digging even deeper and this week we all have to come up with our own short answers for the following:

Who is Jesus?
What is the church?
What is salvation?
What is service?
What is evangelism?

Our goal is that in the next two meetings (or perhaps three) that we will be able to bring all of our answers together and create a “foundational statement” that will answer all of these questions in brief, everyday terms. We are not trying to create another creed for the Book of Confessions, but rather to find our heart and common ground around these questions so that we can work from there as we seek God’s vision for our new community. Once we complete this task I will be sure to post it here for all to read and comment. In the meantime, feel free to leave your “gut response” to the question: “Who is Jesus?”

» Top 10 Reasons NOT to Join a Church Plant

The following is a list I found on a blog by Justin Buzzard, pastor of Garden City Church in San Jose, CA (link to blog at bottom of article). If you check out his blog you will also find the positive version of this list (10 Reasons to Join a Church Plant). I find this list compelling because it is a good reminder that what we are trying to do may be different than some people’s conceptions.

1.    If you’re looking for the next cool thing in town (We want to grow by conversion growth, not church-goer transfer growth).

2.    If you’re a Christian and you don’t like your current church (You will find reasons to not like this church).

3.    If you have a bad track record at churches of being unteachable and causing problems (You won’t change here, you’ll repeat the pattern).

4.    If you’re a consumer wanting to “go to church” 1x a week for a nice show (We are not a Sunday show, we are a community of disciples on a mission).

5.    If you want religion (This church will be built on the radical gospel of grace).

6.    If you have an agenda (We have our vision, our mission, and our values–your private agenda does not supercede them).

7.    If you’re a wolf (We will sniff you out).

8.    If you think this will be a nice little church that stays the same size, where everybody knows your name and you have my cell number on speed dial and we have a picnic lunch together every week (By God’s grace, we want to grow).

9.    If you think this will be easy and smooth (This will be hard and difficult; this will be a fight, a battle, a challenging mission).

10. If you want to hold onto your comfortable life (You must lose your life).


via » Top 10 Reasons NOT to Join a Church Plant Buzzard Blog.

First “Gathering”

Our discernment team had our first meeting last Friday night, and our second meeting is scheduled for this coming Sunday. It feels wonderful to finally be underway and moving into the discernment process! Currently, our discernment team consists of the following people: Adam and Andrea Anderson, John and Jackie Fuller, Jason and Becca Kreutz, Brandon and Kristina Bailey.

I am very excited about the group that God has called to this process so far. They bring a wealth of experiences and insight to the table. Our first gathering was exactly what I have hoped and prayed for. We spent time eating dinner together, praying, reading scripture, planning, laughing, and talking about Jesus. What could be better?

We have a lot of work ahead. In the next two gatherings we will work on creating a “foundational statement.” This will be a one-page statement that answers the question, “Who is Jesus?” and defines “church,” “salvation,” “evangelism,” and “service.” The responses will determine what is started.

If you are interested in knowing more about this process, take a look at the Starting New Churches handbook (the above definition comes from that document). When we complete the foundational statement I will be sure to post it on this blog.

Workshop Complete!

Sign Showing Businesses on CamanoWe had a great time at the “Planting New Churches” workshop this last week. We spent three evenings with Craig Williams talking about how the process works and getting a glimpse of what the work ahead will look like. Saturday we went out in small groups to various locations in Stanwood and Camano Island and engaged people in conversation in order to gather more information about the area and some of the neighborhoods. This is something that we will do in more depth as a discernment team later, but already we gained some valuable insights. Personally, I am ready to move to Stanwood! Now we just have to pray that God will open the right doors for that to happen in the near future.

Here are some of the highlights of the workshop for me:

  • I was able to get a better feel of what our “gatherings” will be like as a discernment team and how I might facilitate the process as the “point person.” I also had a number of questions answered about the process itself.
  • All of the current session elders of Mountain View  made an appearance at least once during our workshop. I value their insights and I am glad that they had a chance to get a better sense of the process. It was encouraging for me and our discernment team to have them participate!
  • We had fun! Seriously! The small group times and the trips into the community were marked by authentic moments of laughter, prayer, excitement, and lively discussion. This despite that fact that many of us were tired after long days at work and even struggling with illness. For me, this is a clear sign that we are currently on the right track.
Falling Can Be Deadly
In case you were wondering...

Now we move on to the next step and will begin gathering together with the discernment team on a regular basis. We are aiming to have our first gathering the third week of January and go from there. It is exciting to be moving forward!

Workshop: Day 1

Last night we had our first evening of our “Planting New Churches” workshop led by Craig Williams. It gave us just a glimpse of what lies ahead during the discernment process. We focused on the first step of the process: developing a foundation statement. Specifically, we spent time answering the question: “Who is Jesus?”

At first, it seems like this question is something that we should already be in agreement on and not need to spend much time one. However, when you really try to sit down with a group of believers and talk about this without using “church speak” or fancy theological language you quickly discover the power of having that conversation. As Craig pointed out, we don’t spend enough time talking about this with each other. Even last night I began to sense how quickly talking about our understanding of Jesus pushes us into deeper waters where there is depth and substance. I look forward to working on this task more thoroughly with the discernment team when we begin our “gatherings.”

Tonight we will have our second workshop meeting. If you are in the area and interested in joining us, we would love to have you. We will be meeting from 6:30 – 9:30 PM at Mountain View PC.