,For seven or eight years, when our kids were younger, it happened every winter like clockwork. Debbie would leave our home in Sacramento and head north to be with her grandparents in Southern Oregon somewhere around the 20th of December while I stayed back with the kids. The task list she prepared prior to going left us consumed with getting everything ready and packed for our own trip to Medford on Christmas Eve and then onward to my folks house in Portland early Christmas morning. Oh, the wonder of a promised adventure actually happening!
Although our kids, having had daily and weekly chores from the time they were little, were good workers, somehow these last few days before the annual Christmas voyage proved quite a challenge. In spite of the rather sizable number of tasks that needed to be completed prior to our departure, everyone seemed to be in bit of a dream state. Or distracted. Kind of like the sugarplums dancing in their heads... or something like that. It was a colossal case of wonder and, as a father, although I often ended up repeating myself in order to get some results, it was pretty cool. Such times aren’t a promise in life and should be savored when they come.
In the past year, I’ve had a few days and seasons around here that have inspired some of that same kind of excitement. Frankly, this time last year felt pretty bleak. A lot of soul-searching resulted and some of my thoughts were pretty disconcerting. As I look back, I realize that whatever sense of clarity I may have imagined was still pretty fuzzy. I prayed a lot for a fresh and clear look, as did many of you, and it was slow in coming. But, however slow, the effort is bringing results!
When my old buddy Leonard Lee visited us last January, he made time to guide us through a process that would ultimately lead us to becoming the church that Jesus had envisioned when he left earth to return to heaven. The key was rekindling this original fire and translating it into the 21st century -- of becoming a church of people that love God first, love others next, and are mission-centered so they become disciples who intentionally grow until they may lead others to become replicating disciples, too!
This Sunday’s class, “Exploring and Preparing for Disciple-Making” is full with nearly 40 people registered, which is incredible, since we thought having 12-15 would be great. Like the 50 who came to Leonard’s workshop back in January, far beyond our expectations! Which is where that giddy, distracted, full of joy and expectation thing comes in. If you’re like me. you’ve probably been around churches enough to know what it’s like to over-estimate something; to plan for a good group and have nobody show up. Or cast a dream that nobody seems interested in doing. It’s discouraging, to say the least. Contrast that with a dream we spent seven hours together talking and praying to see where it would lead. Then fast forward nine months to give the Disciple-Making team time to plan and prepare, and realize that, not only are you remembering what we said we said, you are anxious to get going!
Can’t wait to see where the Father takes us, now!
Hard work. Sweat. Prayer. Pondering. Drafting. Changing. Reading. And a lot of all of that.
Back in January, more than 50 of us met together with my friend, Leonard Lee, with the express intention of setting the future of FCC to be more effective in our service to God and His original intentions for us. As we emerged from the two-day, seven-hour process, we came away recognizing that, over time, many American churches, us included, had strayed away from the fundamental template that Jesus had left for those who would become part of His family -- His church -- in the generations and centuries to follow. It was a bit startling, since the basic plan is pretty plain!
Eight months later, and after a lot of hard work from our Disciple-Making Team, we’re underway! Over the next few weeks we’ll lay out the framework and first steps in this process of becoming the church of disciples who are intentionally becoming disciple-makers as we grow toward maturity in our individual and collective walk with God.
Our hope is to engage many of you who have made growing and maturity in Christ a part of your life would create a mentor/discipler relationship with one or two others who are new in their faith, making time and sharing life together for the next year. This goes beyond just hanging out and even beyond holding each other accountable; it’s setting out to intentionally aid in growing them up in their walk with God so they can ultimately begin mentoring and leading others in the same way.
The process being developed by the Disciple-Making leadership will provide ongoing coaching and support throughout the year in order to make the Mentor/Discipler’s work more effective and rewarding. Everyone involved will be learning a lot, especially in this startup year, so those who choose to participate will be part of a ground-floor feedback group who will help the leadership team develop even more effective support for Disciplers in the future.
The point? Will you come and see what we’re up to these next two Sundays? And would you consider where you might fit? Perhaps you’re not sure of whether you are ready to join in this time, but would like to find out how to prepare to lead in the future? We’ll try to answer your questions as well as whet your appetite! See you then!