August & September Update

August & September have been fruitful & beautiful months as our church continues to deepen in what it means to enjoy Jesus & live for the joy of others here in Denver. On behalf of our church family, we cannot thank you enough for the ways you are partnering with us for the beauty of God, the good of Denver, and the joy of all nations.

We’ve provided a brief snapshot of what God has been up to so far this Fall & some strategic ways you can pray as we finish out the last few months of this ‘pre-launch’ year faithfully.


Meet sweet Adalyn

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We welcomed our beautiful little girl, Adalyn, into the world in the early hours of August 1st. Much of August was spent enjoying this gift with family & friends. It was refreshing (as much as possible having a newborn added to your home) to have extended time with family & we were overwhelmed how our new church community came around us in love & tangible help! God is kind & we are grateful.

Adalyn means ‘noble,’ which is “Good, virtuous, righteous, honorable, upright, generous, kind, unselfish.”

We’re praying she would live into her name- that she would be this picture of true womanhood. That God would give her a gentle, kind, gracious spirit, and that she would use it furiously to give her life away in unselfish generosity for the things that matter most. And that from the beginning she would experience in us and come to know for herself God as good, faithful, and full of never giving up love.

Kingdom Development


George Washington High School Mentorship Program

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Thank you for praying for continued open doors to love the students, families, and faculty/staff of George Washington High School in our neighborhood! There are several open opportunities for us, including our participation with a life coaching program called ‘Life After George’ where we (alongside some parents & faculty) will meet with every Junior & Senior at GW throughout this school year to help them plan & prepare for what’s next after graduation. Please pray for these relationships & conversations as they develop.


Denver Metro YMCA Community Picnic

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God has opened up the doors for me to sit on 2 different boards associated with the Denver Metro YMCA as a way to learn how we can tangibly meet the needs of our community & to network with people in positions of influence in our city. My family’s local Y branch hosted a Fall Kickoff community picnic where we were able to meet a lot of new neighbors!

Mission98

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Through friendships with leaders who attend The Summit Church, we’ve learned about a great new nonprofit in our city called Mission98 who are pursuing holistic restoration within multi-housing communities throughout the metro area, where 98% of apartment residents are not meaningfully connected to a local church. We are prayerfully pursuing potential opportunities to replicate this model of ministry in our corner of the city to more effectively engage the many apartment complexes that are home to thousands of people.

Training Burmese Pastors & Planting International Churches

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Through our continually deepening partnership with Ethne Global Services we have been relationally connected with dozens of ethnic leaders from all around the world who have settled in Denver & desire to see churches planted to reach their people groups. Doors are opening to be part of training these pastors. Pictured above is a room full of Burmese Pastors from Southeast Denver/West Aurora.

The Oaks Church is in early conversations with one church in particular, Myanmar Mission Church, about helping them develop a family discipleship process for their English Speaking children, while using the curriculum to train the adults, not only in learning the English language, but as a means for their personal discipleship, as well. This would also provide opportunities for the kids of our church to develop multi-cultural friendships, while still be invested in by our leaders. Please be in prayer for wisdom & continued favor as we pursue these relationships.



Strategic Partnerships & Learning

  This Network’s Core Convictions

This Network’s Core Convictions

One of our leaders & I had the opportunity to spend a few days in Florida with a church planting network learning how to train & release communities of missionaries to pursue their calling & engage lostness & culture strategically. We’re grateful for people who have been pursuing similar visions & ways of multiplying the Church who have gone before us that we can learn from as we build critical foundational DNA of what we pray the Oaks Church will become.

Church Development

Send Network Assessment

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We are partnering with The Send Network, the church planting initiative of the North American Mission Board of the SBC. We are deeply grateful for organizations like this that provide coaching, care, and strategic opportunities to not only plant a healthy church, but to be part of collaborating to plant multiple churches along the Front Range. These last two months our church has benefited directly through multiple coaching meetings, a care package for our growing family, two training events, and a free ‘family night’ at a Colorado Rockies game. Pictured above is a recent Send Network Assessment where 4 potential church planter families were here being assessed to begin their journey of seeing 4 more churches started here. For those who have been walking this journey with us for some time, this is the exact thing Cayla & I walked through a couple years ago as we started this process. It’s a joy (and a bit surreal) to be a small part of encouraging & serving those who are right behind us! We’re praying for many planters to be sent here!


NAMB Vision Tours

  Vision Tour with 6 churches from Texas

Vision Tour with 6 churches from Texas

Another aspect of our partnership with The Send Network is being connected with churches from around the country who are exploring partnership with church planting in Denver through becoming Supporting Churches of The Oaks Church. These last two months I’ve had the privilege of sharing the vision of our Church and the needs & opportunities of our neighborhood to 8 different churches. Please continue to pray for more strategic partners to lock arms with us!

Growing as a Church Family

  Commissioning Prayer for our kids heading back to school

Commissioning Prayer for our kids heading back to school

  Neighborhood Brunch at the park

Neighborhood Brunch at the park

  Enjoying a Rockies game with a few Oaks members & a couple Ethiopian friends from our neighborhood who are becoming part of our community.

Enjoying a Rockies game with a few Oaks members & a couple Ethiopian friends from our neighborhood who are becoming part of our community.

This Fall has marked ‘Phase 2’ of our church’s journey. Phase 1 was getting each member of our team relocated here and taking unhurried time to get acclimated to our new city and begin learning everything we can about our neighborhoods and showing hospitality to neighbors. By God’s grace, we welcomed our last ‘committed’ team member this Fall, which allows us to begin Vision Casting, strategic planning, and developing leaders more intentionally.

In addition to gathering with our friends at The Summit Church each Sunday, The Oaks Leadership team gathers in one of our member’s home each Wednesday night. We are balancing these weekly rhythms with different emphases. Every 1st Wednesday is Prayer, Worship, & Vision Casting as we unpack different core convictions each month (if you haven’t read the convictions that drive our church, check them out.), every 2nd & 4th Wednesday is guy/girl nights where we intentionally ask discipleship questions & care for one another, and every 3rd Wednesday is a fun relational hangout where we just enjoy one another & create space to invite neighbors to live life with us.

Leadership Retreat

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Last weekend we enjoyed our first annual Leadership Retreat in beautiful Estes Park just outside of Denver. It was such a sweet time of unhurried time together and extended time to cultivate unity & take steps toward each member of our Leadership Team discerning their own unique callings, gifting, and personality typing as we look into more strategically multiplying these leaders as we seek to be faithful to make disciples and plant churches.

Sending Church Encouragement

  The Oaks kids sharing what they’ve learned this weekend about being ambassadors of Christ

The Oaks kids sharing what they’ve learned this weekend about being ambassadors of Christ

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Our sending church, Tri-Cities Baptist in East Tennessee, generously sent a team of 5 people to make our Leadership Retreat possible. 3 people invested deeply in our kids & 2 leaders spent time encouraging the adults during our main sessions. This was the first time our Leadership Team has had uninterrupted, extended time together & space to unhurriedly discuss strategic things. This move has also been difficult on our kids, so to have people fly out to love them in really meaningful ways was such a gift to us. After our retreat, the team stayed an extra day to pray through our neighborhoods!

  Pastor Gene investing in our church at our weekly home gathering

Pastor Gene investing in our church at our weekly home gathering

Pastor Gene & his wife Gayle from Tri-Cities spent an entire week touring our neighborhoods & meeting with each member of our team as part of Tri-Cities efforts for ‘missionary care.’ They loved us so well & it’s especially meaningful for the members of our team not sent from Tri-Cities to have such intentional and thoughtful care from people they don’t even know! Churches really do plant churches and I pray The Oaks will learn from this example of what it means to ‘hold the rope’ for those sent!

Ways to Pray in October

  • Each member of our church has people who are not yet enjoying Jesus we are building relationship with & sharing the good news about Jesus. Please pray for boldness to talk about things that matter most. Will you ask God to open these people’s eyes to see the beauty of God and that they would keep taking steps to follow Jesus?

  • Pray for wisdom & creativity for our Church to practice hospitality as we enter into the winter months. There are many strategic opportunities with the holiday season coming up that we want to be intentional with. We’ve found that urban people here in Denver are somewhat skeptical of being invited into homes until a depth of trust has been developed, which makes hospitality a unique challenge. With the weather being so nice we’ve met people in neutral ‘3rd spaces,’ but with cold weather official making it’s way here for a while we will need to be creative in what it means to continue to deepen friendships with our neighbors. Please pray for quick learning of where people go to hid out in the colder months & for increased favor with people trusting us.

  • We have begun bi-weekly Strategic Planning Meetings in addition to our weekly rhythms of life together where we are prayerfully white boarding how we will organize ourselves in February after we are sent out from The Summit Church. Will you please join us in fasting & prayer in clarity & discernment of the timing and specific organizational structures to build. We want to continually walk in the tensions of radical urgency & simple faithfulness. We don’t want to feel the pressure to start Day 1 trying to do everything & give ourselves permission to build this over time, but also desire to embody a holistic approach to disciple making in light of the tremendous need here & around the world. Pray for faith, courage, and sensitivity to be led by the Spirit in our planning.

  • Pray for unity of The Oaks Leadership team. We have been so deeply blessed with a diversity of gifts, passions, burdens, and experiences on our team. Pray we would not seek to build a culture of uniformity, but also that our unique perspectives would not be scattered & divisive. Pray for me, personally, that I will have wisdom to know how to lead & empower this mature group of disciple-makers to ‘do the work of the ministry.’

  • Thank you for praying for more strategic partnerships. Since our last update we have made progress on the Fall Partnership Goals I mentioned…

    • Goal of 5 more Partner Churches || We have added 2 partnering churches since our last update!

    • Goal of 20 more individual donors || We have added 6 monthly donors since our last update!

    • Goal of $25,000 in one time investments || Over $6,000 in one-time gifts have been given since our last update!

Will you join us in praying for these goals specifically?
Will you ask God how He may have you lock arms with us in this way?

If you have any questions, please reach out at derick@theoakschurch.net.

June & July Update

I had just finished a meeting discussing opportunities to love refugees in our city when the director of the program asks me to stay for lunch to meet his mentor of the last two decades. He asks me to share which neighborhoods we are planting The Oaks. And then a moment happened that I'll never forget.

Kenny- a seasoned, spirit-filled, humble man- looks at me with tears running down his face and says, "Son, I've been praying for you for over 25 years." 

This organization, and Kenny in particular, have been driving into the city from down South every week for decades to love the people in our neighborhood. They've been praying for churches to be started here, and have tried to help start a few multiple times, but nothing has lasted. We were both equal parts floored and grateful that the same God he has been praying to for decades for this neighborhood was the same God who had been so vividly calling us to these neighborhoods. The prayers we have been praying for favor, opportunity, and people who have been on this way to mentor us were being answered every time this man got his knees before the Father for 'us.' 

Since that conversation I have been reveling in the reality that God sees us. He cares about these people who are far from Him. He cares about this little bizarre 3 mile circle tucked away in a forgotten corner of Southeast Denver. And He is sovereignly moving human history- guiding, burdening, stirring, calling- His kids to be about their Father's business in ways only He can orchestrate. And this is just for a couple hundred thousand people in one little city on one little spec of the globe. Our God is a God of the nations & He is King ushering in His beautiful Kingdom in every nook and cranny of our world, among every people group He has created. He will get his praise through the Church multiplying among the nations. 

This was one of those moments church planters will tell for decades as part of the story of the church being birthed. But really, I don't know why I'm so surprised. This is consistent with what God has been doing virtually every week since we started on this journey. And it's the way He has worked throughout history.

Can I encourage you in something? Our God can be trusted. He is more committed to accomplishing this mission IN us and THROUGH us than we will ever be. He is ruling & reigning- which is such a relief that we don't have to be in control of any outcomes. And that He is a good King who is using His power for the flourishing of His enemies, making us and *them* His kids. 

What you have given up praying for because God has tarried longer than you have patience for? Let me stir you up to believe, to take God at His Word, and to ask in faith for His kingdom to come and his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. And do so with open hands to your life, letting the Good Shepherd fill them with better things and guide you along 'right paths for the sake of His name.' He gets glory when we walk in faith and dependence on Him to do what only He can do. How often we miss out on intimacy with our King and impact in the Kingdom simply because we do not ask. THANK YOU for praying for us. Please don't stop. He's answering. 

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  -Matthew 28:18-20

Updates from the Summer

Please see the bottom for specific prayer requests
as we head into August

 

George Washington High School 

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THANK YOU for praying for open doors to serve the school system! We have been attempting to reach out to the leadership of Denver Public Schools for months, but since our May Update we have been welcomed into wide open doors in two of the largest schools in our neighborhood. Only God!

George Washington (GW) is the only high school in our neighborhood. GW is home to over 2,000 students of over 60 ethnicities and represents one of the largest socioeconomic gaps in the city with students from some of the poorest & most wealthy (reflecting the diversity of our neighborhood).

Assistant Principal Kate told us we were the FIRST people in the community to reach out to help the school in her six years there. The school has suffered 6 different principals over the past 8 years, so there are significant issues at play. They have opened the doors wide open for us to mentor their 'at-risk' students, run their food pantry serving homeless & low income students, and tutor their athletes. Please pray for continued favor & wisdom for how to serve this school well.
 

YMCA & The DIG (Diversity, Inclusion, Global) Initiative

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One of the first open doors for me months ago was being asked to sit on the Board of Directors for a program of the Denver Metro YMCA (where our family spends a lot of intentional time) that focuses on serving the under-served segments of the population (refugee, homeless, lower socio-economic, veterans, disabled, etc.). This allows me to not only help shape the direction of this board, but also to sit at the table with all the major refugee resettlement agencies & the local government & local school systems. One of the main projects for this Fall is conducting a neighborhood mapping & survey of metro Denver to learn about the demographics & specific needs, as well as applying for grants from the federal government to allow the Denver Y to become a 'Welcome Center' for refugees, which would open up tons of opportunity. Just last week the Executive Director of one of the YMCA branches asked me to also sit on their Board & help connect that branch's members to be more involved in the community. Please pray for continued favor here!!

Ethne Global Services

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As great as the opportunities with the YMCA & local agencies are, there are significant gaps in what we are able to do with them together as the church because of strict stipulations on not allowing any association with faith-based groups. So, we've been praying for partnerships that will allow us to talk about Jesus & be part of planting ethnic churches here in Southeast Denver & around the world. 

Last week I crossed paths through unlikely, but clearly sovereign, means with a nonprofit called Ethne Global Services. These sisters & brothers have been loving refugees & immigrants for years in really holistic ways- from helping them transition into US culture, aiding them legally & medically, and training them in their language and occupational needs. Out of this, they've seen many begin to follow Jesus and have planted dozens of ethnic house churches through empowering indigenous leaders. What we love most is the opportunity to not only be faithful to make disciples of the nations here, but to connect this work globally- particularly in training pastors among these people groups overseas & working for holistic renewal of these unreached/unengaged regions. 

Through our friendship with EGS we have learned that one of the main people groups in our neighborhood are the Karen people from Myanmar/Burma. Based upon the need here we feel led for this people group to be where we focus a lot of our initial energy. 

Hosting Teams

We have been blessed by the 3 teams who have come to Denver this summer to love The Oaks Church & Garland Park. These teams have served us primarily through Prayer Walking the streets of our neighborhood, tiling up the soil, and believing with us for Oaks of Righteousness to spring up here. We also welcomed our first intern, Cameron Tucker, from Tri-Cities who spent 5 weeks with us meeting really tangible needs of our start-up church and spending intentional time mapping Garland Park & building relationships with people & organizations there. It's been a busy, but fruitful summer of kingdom investment!

 A WMU Team (Women's Mission Union of the Southern Baptist Convention) who prayer walked Garland Park

A WMU Team (Women's Mission Union of the Southern Baptist Convention) who prayer walked Garland Park

 Another WMU Team of ladies from various TN Baptist Churches who came to prayer walk our neighborhood.

Another WMU Team of ladies from various TN Baptist Churches who came to prayer walk our neighborhood.

 Our first team from our Sending Church, Tri-Cities Baptist Church in East Tennessee's orientation led by our Summer Intern Cameron Tucker.

Our first team from our Sending Church, Tri-Cities Baptist Church in East Tennessee's orientation led by our Summer Intern Cameron Tucker.

 I had the opportunity to be a small part of the equipping of a group of university students spending their summer serving Denver through a program called 'GenSend' through our partners with The North American Mission Board.

I had the opportunity to be a small part of the equipping of a group of university students spending their summer serving Denver through a program called 'GenSend' through our partners with The North American Mission Board.

Growing as a Church

This summer we welcomed another family to our Church from Louisville, KY, making 6 families total as part of our Lead Team. We have continued to spend intentional time together in the everyday stuff of life & engaging our neighborhood in tangible ways. We gather weekly on Wednesdays at 7pm for a mix of prayer, worship, and community. Please pray for us as this August begins 'Phase 2' of our church where we will begin to transition to much more equipping & vision as we gear up for being officially 'sent out' by The Summit Church to begin Year 1 in February of 2019. 

 Church together in the park

Church together in the park

 Night of Prayer & Worship in one of our member's home

Night of Prayer & Worship in one of our member's home

 4th of July picnic

4th of July picnic

 Because of the gracious gift of the Tri-Cities mission team watching our kiddos, The Oaks Team got to spend our first night out together!

Because of the gracious gift of the Tri-Cities mission team watching our kiddos, The Oaks Team got to spend our first night out together!

 Through partnership with Tri-Cities Baptist Church & the International Mission Board, The Oaks Church is serving as a Supporting Church for James Delatte who is spending 2 years as a Journeyman in SE Asia. James has relationship with 3 of The Oaks families, making this a sweet first way to engage in God's global activity.

Through partnership with Tri-Cities Baptist Church & the International Mission Board, The Oaks Church is serving as a Supporting Church for James Delatte who is spending 2 years as a Journeyman in SE Asia. James has relationship with 3 of The Oaks families, making this a sweet first way to engage in God's global activity.

Things to Pray for in August

Our Family

  • Our baby girl is due July 31st, so we're expecting her to come any day now! Obviously this will be a lot of what our family is doing for the first few weeks of August. Please pray for my wife as she sacrifices for this new life to enter the world. Pray for Beau in the transition as his only child world comes crashing down. And pray for me to be fully present to love my family well (if I can pull myself together through all the tears of having a little girl, ha)

Our Church 

  • Please pray for our members as we all continue to love our neighbors. As we live intentionally in our neighborhoods, workplaces, parks, and begin to serve alongside these organizations that we would be sensitive to the Spirit and be bold to talk about Jesus. Will you pray with us specifically that each person will have favor this month to build or deepen a relationship with at least one person who is far from God?

  • When I come back from paternity leave around mid-August we will begin 'Phase 2' of our Church development. This basically means that this Fall will be much more intentional in terms of casting vision, equipping leaders, and making strategic decisions as we head into being sent out by The Summit Church February 2019.

  • Some have chosen to do a 21 Day Fast to seek God's direction in these big decisions as we lay a foundation for our Church. If you would like to join us in this, please let me know.

Our Partnerships

  • We are in the final step of The Oaks becoming our own 501c3. Please pray this goes quickly so we can set up our financial process, giving us more flexibility to be generous with our resources here and around the world. If you are a monthly partner, we will be in contact with you this Fall about switching over your giving information! Thank you for your support!!

  • We are finalizing our 2019 Budget/Vision Document. As we head into the Fall, we will be working to increase our partnerships to ensure we enter 2019 fully equipped to do what God has called us to do.

Our Partnership Goals For This Fall:

  • 5 more partnering churches who will commit to pray strategically, give generously, and serve us on the ground faithfully

  • 20 more individual monthly donors of any amount

  • $25,000 in one-time gifts to help with our many start-up costs in 2019

Will you join us in praying for these goals specifically? Will you ask God how He may have you lock arms with us in this way? If you have any questions, please reach out at derick@theoakschurch.net.

 

May Update | 2018 Prayer Initiative

For practical update and prayer requests looking ahead to the summer, start at the 10 minute mark.

 

Lifestyle of Hospitality & Finding People of Peace

  • For people to come to know Jesus and be baptized
  • For each member of The Oaks to create margin & live intentionally to be present in the places of influence God has placed us.
  • For favor from the Spirit to open doors for each one of us with “People of Peace” -people in our city who are not yet enjoying Jesus, but who are open to relationship with us and conversations about Jesus
  • For wisdom to know how to ‘overlap’ our ‘life together’ as the Church & our ‘life on mission’ with people in our community

Pursuit of Holistic, Healthy Diversity

  • For ‘Denverites’ (believers and not) to join our Church to provide balance of cultural understanding & relational networks to our team of transplants
  • For people of color to be called to join our Leadership Team so we can holistically serve the ethnic diversity represented in our neighborhood
  • For wisdom & favor to love & empower the women in our church, both in leadership capacities & overall culture of The Oaks
  • For healthy, holistic wisdom & favor to learn how to enter in to the various socio-economic & generational diversity that exists in our neighborhood & that our church would grow reflecting this

Dependence on the Spirit

  • For moment by moment enjoying & trusting Jesus, follow the Spirit’s leading in everyday life, and a posture of intentional, focused, bold faith & prayer
  • For understanding & boldness to be a Church that is sensitive to and operating in the full gifts of the Spirit with the authority of God’s Word
  • For each of us to have a greater sense of clarity of our God-given purpose, including an understanding & identification of each of our gifts of the Spirit, clarity of each’s specific role to play in making disciples/leadership through The Oaks, and a depth of self-awareness/soul care of how we each have been formed uniquely by God

Continued Favor of Partnerships

  • For continued open doors in the cultural domains that exist in our neighborhoods with neighbors, organizations to love & serve, local government officials, and local businesses/events in SouthEast Denver to be a faithful presence embodying and pursuing the Kingdom of God here
  • For more churches & individuals to be called to partner together with us by investing money, prayer, and relational support to help us advance the mission we’re called to
  • For wisdom as we develop our 2019 budget/strategy in terms of how to leverage our money & time, which partnerships to develop, how much to save/give away, etc.
  • For clarity around our 2-5 year plan. Pray that as we experience gospel growth, that we would prioritize multiplication, not merely addition. If/when The Oaks grows through multiplication of home groups, what is the long-term outcome? Do we pursue a building to gather weekly? If so, where & when? Do we look to buy? If so, what could we use a facility for throughout the week that seeks the holistic flourishing of our city and not just a place for us to “do church”? When & where will we seek to multiply by planting more churches/send to the nations? 

March & April Update | Answered Prayers

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
- 1 John 5:14-15

2018 is a year I believe God is inviting me into deeper dependence. As I look back on the last couple months since our last update, our days have been filled with grace upon grace of subtle (and sometimes obvious) gifts of a heightened awareness of God's presence, coming face-to-face with how foolish any attempts at self-sufficiency are, and door after door of opportunity and favor being opened wide in ways only explainable as answers to the prayers of God's people. I am learning dependence- not just because I am studying it, but because I am living it. 

My first couple weeks in the city were frustrating. Filled with fear, struggling to know what to do in this 'in between' stage of our church, and the unsettledness of learning and living with new everything- new relationships, new surroundings, new culture, new jobs. I was driving up I-25 early one morning into downtown, grumbling to God about how he felt far away and I felt alone, overwhelmed to know what to do first or what to do next- and how futile everything seemed that I had done over the last several days.

Then I saw the Rocky Mountains.

I mean, I always see them (Denver ain't a hard place to live, ya'll). And they're always beautiful and awe-inspiring. But that morning I saw through them to the God who spoke them into existence by the power of His Word. Those mountains are majestic...how much more must their maker be? It was almost instant... clarity, conviction, confidence.

My God is big. Really big. With man, a lot of stuff is impossible, but with God all things are possible.
My God is glorious. All the longings of my restless heart are filled up with just one glimpse of His beauty.
My God is able. The God who simply spoke everything from nothing and holds it all together is the one who has spoken new life into my dead soul and is the one who sustains my feeble faith, promising to keep me until I see him face to face and he makes it all new.
My God is near. He's not just my sovereign king, but my kind-hearted Father who has come near. This gospel we're giving our lives to is first the gospel that gives me life.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd who led us here to Denver, who made me and lit these convictions and dreams in me. He promises to lead me, to protect me, to provide for me. He's proven this by laying down His life for us, His sheep. Sheep are stupid, defenseless, and totally in need of someone outside of them to do for them what they cannot do for themselves. And just as Jesus walked in sync with the Father's heart, hearing and obeying His voice, he tells us that he knows us and we will know him- that we can hear his voice and follow him. 

That morning was a turning point in my heart. It was almost a tangible experience of what Paul prays for when he asks to have "the eyes of our heart enlightened." It's a gift to have the lights turned on to the liberating reality that our insufficiencies do not get in the way of God's sufficiency. It's the proud (self-focused, self-reliant) that God opposes. It's the humble (God-focused, self-forgetful) that gets His grace. It was in this humbling embrace that I was convicted of my prayerlessness. Sure, I pray. I'm talking about a life saturated in a posture of prayer because we've come to know the desperation Peter felt when he said, "where else will we go? You have the words of life."

Most of my anxiety and "feeling stuck" could be traced back to functionally picking up the cares I had cast on him, because deep down I really didn't think he cared for me like His Word tells me He does.

I'm learning what it means to cast cares at his feet and leave them there. To truly pray, fast, and seek his heart. To not just tell people you will pray for them, but to actually pray. I'm learning that there's a difference between praying expectantly and praying presumptuously- for far too long I've let fear of the latter keep me from doing the former. I'm learning that there is a level of intimacy and communion with God when you stop trying to make things happen and instead, you pray and trust and wait. I'm learning that feelings and faith aren't the prerequisite to a prayerful life; they're the result of one. The things God has stirred up in me while praying, the very specific requests He has been answering in very specific ways, the hope that is welling up from taking God at His Word and simply asking. I could tell you story after story of how we have been experiencing answered prayers. There are many prayers we're still waiting on God to act according to His good purposes and his perfect timing. In it all, we're learning to live dependent on Him for everything. This isn't an easy thing, but I'm eager for more.

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Here are a few specific updates & requests for The Oaks...

Clarity of Neighborhoods

In our last update back at the end of February I asked you to pray God would give us clarity within 90 days of which neighborhoods we will focus in on to love & serve. THANK YOU for praying. By God's grace He has answered. God is calling The Oaks to begin in SouthEast Denver. 

We've identified roughly a 3 mile radius that we as The Oaks will take spiritual and social responsibility for. In that 3 mile circle there are several distinct neighborhoods- Glendale, Virginia Village, Washington Virginia Vale, Windsor, Indian Creek, Dayton Triangle, University Hills.

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Why this southeast corridor?

  • Density | In this 3 mile radius there are approximately 235,000 people. 

  • Spiritual Apathy | Even the most liberal statistics estimate only 10% of Denver's population claim to follow Jesus. The more realistic prospectives push this number to more like 3-5%. That means that in this corridor of 235,000 people, over
    211,500 to 227,950 people are not yet enjoying Jesus.

  • Lack of Gospel Presence | There is only 1 SBC Church in this corridor of 235,000 (an established African American Church) and only ~ 10 more evangelical churches, most of which are plateaued or declining and several would not be considered gospel-centered or engaging in mission to their neighbors. 

  • Diversity | Denver is a city that is predominately white, fairly affluent (cost of living is significantly high), and is one of the top destination cities for millennials, so the city trends very young (and insanely 'hip'). This part of town is one of the exceptions. Within this 3 mile corridor you have a neighborhood like Glendale, which is largely high-rise apartments filled with mostly young singles. Just South of there is Virginia Village which is filled with somewhat older, more established families who have lived in Denver longer than the average (which is ~2-5 years). University Hills is highly educated and very affluent, but head just 1 mile NorthEast into Washington Virginia Vale, Windsor, and the Dayton Triangle into lower income, lesser educated, and very diverse communities. One school in this neighborhood has students speaking over 60 different languages from 40 different countries. The socioeconomic, generational, and ethnic diversity of this corridor creates many obstacles to church planting, but by faith we see those obstacles to be tremendous opportunities to be obedient to Jesus' command to make disciples of all nations & to see an expression of the Kingdom of God in the midst of a city struggling with significant division and segregation.
  • Please pray for us to have supernatural wisdom as we seek to learn the culture, the people's stories, their fears, and the idols that exist here. Pray we could have discernment to know what areas of brokenness to step into and to do the good work of learning the 'language' of this particular subset of Denver so we can speak the good news about Jesus in ways that makes sense to them. 

Development of Kingdom Relationships

Since identifying our focus area, our team has been praying, asking questions, and spending intentional time in these neighborhoods to learn the specific aspects of both the beauty and the brokenness of this area and discover how the gospel uniquely speaks to both. There's 3 things I'd love you to pray:

1 | Pray for our team as they begin to look for housing in this corridor. 2 families have secured homes here and the rest will be looking to relocate there within the year. Where we all find housing with narrow our focus even more, as this gives greater clarity on which neighborhoods to serve first & determines a centralized location where we will seek to gather when that time comes (likely Fall 2019 or early 2020).

2 | Pray for favor & open doors for partnerships with organizations, schools, local businesses, and other churches in this corridor. We are isolating our initial focus on organizations serving refugees/poverty & the Denver Public Schools. We have had several opened doors within the last 3 weeks. One that we're really excited about is a subset of the Denver Metro YMCA called the Diversity, Inclusion, Global Initiative which partners with refugee resettlement organizations, the school system in Denver & Aurora, and the local government to provide holistic help for refugee and immigrant families. The director of this program has been gracious to us and helped us network with several people and opened the doors wide for us to serve with them. After some initial meetings, I accepted their offer to sit on their board. The Oaks will help with our first event with refugee families next weekend (4/21). Please pray God will continue to show favor to us and that we will be humble, bold, selfless servants to our community.

3 | Pray for needed relationships. We're asking God for continued favor with people in this corridor. We're asking God to show us "people of peace" who are open to hearing the gospel and sharing life with our church as we seek to be hospitable and who can help us enter into relational networks in our city. We're asking God for diversity for our team, particularly in the area of leadership within our church so we can love and serve our diverse culture in healthy, reproducible ways. We're asking God for "Denverites" to join our team. God has been so kind in the way He has raised up men & women to relocate to Denver to help see the vision of The Oaks become a reality (and we're praying for more to do just that), but we also see the tremendous need for believers who know Denver and its unique culture to join our team to ensure we do not try to plant "a southern church" here. We have blindspots we're not aware of, and we need people with different cultural backgrounds to help us. 

Pray for Gospel Partnerships

Our 2019 budget is ~175,000 in ministry expenses + a goal of $50,000 in our account for startup expenses + savings for after Years 3-5 when our church partnerships begin to dwindle to account for potential gaps in self-sustainability. 

We are currently at ~$107,000/year and $22,000 in our start-up account. We are asking God for 10 more supporting churches and 20 more supporting individuals/families investing in what God is doing through The Oaks. Will you pray with us toward this end? Will you join our team of financial partners to help fund this mission going forward in Denver? Can you help us network with churches/partners who may be interested in what we're doing? We cannot do this alone.

Thank you for walking this journey with us! 

-Derick & The Oaks' members

 

February Update | Boldness in Fear

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…praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

-Ephesians 6:18-20

I am filled with fear. 

That’s a statement that is typically not true of me. Self-sufficiency, disappointment, insecurity— these are all emotions I feel regularly, but not fear... except that fear has been the predominant mood I’ve experienced these last three weeks living in Denver. 

Many of you have asked how we are adjusting to our new life in our new city and our answer has been “really, really naturally.” In many ways Denver is not a hard city to live in- it is absolutely gorgeous, the people are kind and really open to conversation (for the most part), the vibe & culture of this place is really laid back, and we have fantastic relational networks here already (part of our team who have already relocated, the Summit Church, other planters in our network, and even some old college friends who now live here). This fear isn’t stemming from “culture shock” or even trying to acclimate to a cross-country move. My fear is far more convicting than that.

The pastors at The Summit Church are preaching through the book of Romans throughout 2018, and this past Sunday was the theme verse of the book- “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” As I came across this text last week I wept as the Spirit exposed the root of my fear— a subtle (but real) shame to be associated with the name of Jesus. 

I am fearful in every conversation with neighbors when the first question I am asked after they find out I just moved here is, “Oh, so, what brought you out here?” I should be the bold church planter and walk confidently and expectantly into this gospel opportunity as I let them know God called us here to plant churches to help people like them know, enjoy, and follow Jesus. Instead, I’d rather punt the fact that I'm a pastor down the field for a later conversation. Some of this may be coming out of a healthy, loving concern to help remove some big stumbling blocks to getting to know Jesus caused by the negative stereo-types (many of which are true) of what urban Denverites feel and assume toward Christians in general and churches in particular. But it also reveals my disbelief in the goodness and power of God in the gospel- that the gospel doesn't just have power, but that it literally IS power to save.

Jesus doesn’t need me to be cool, winsome, or relational. The gospel works. I believe that so deeply, yet functionally I live as if the gospel needs to be propped up by something I bring to the table. The beauty of the gospel is often drowned out by my fear of man and I can almost become apologetic of the truth. I functionally don’t trust that the Spirit of God is at work or that He is inviting me to join what He is doing— even if that means bearing reproach and enduring loss. The way of our Savior is the way of suffering, after all. “Don’t be surprised,” Jesus tells us, “when the world hates you. They hated me without cause.” 

I know, I'm a hot mess. 

This inward struggle has taken me off guard, but God has been so faithful to show Himself in the middle of it. In some weird way, I’m becoming thankful for the fear (but deeply repentant of the sin it causes). I’m really not even asking God to take it away right now, but instead to teach me what it means to move forward in spite of it. I’m learning to be grateful for things that expose my weaknesses and inabilities because those pry my grip off the illusions of control & self-sufficiency and become a call of invitation to fall into the arms of a loving, strong Father. My heart grows courage as he pours his love over me no matter how dark my heart can get. In fact, He maybe gets more glory as He fills up the caverns of my weakness with His strength. His grace really is greater than our sin.

In my pride I so want to get to a place in my walk with God to no longer
have to be dependent on him for everything,
but being dependent on Jesus is what Christianity is.

As you pray for us, please pray that we would continue to live, not for the approval of others, but for the pleasure of God. Pray there would be no fear or shame as we see the surpassing weight and beauty of this good news! Pray we would gladly endure reproach and if need be, suffering, for the name of Jesus. Pray we would love our neighbors well be humbly and boldly talking about the good news about Jesus. Pray the Spirit would go before us, preparing the soil of hearts of the people of Denver to be able to see Jesus is better. Pray for wisdom and favor as we seek to embody the values of the kingdom of God as we live life on display serving our neighborhoods. Pray our joy in Jesus would spill over into the joy of real people in Denver.

_____________


Here’s some things we’re thanking God for as we look back over the last month

I’m thankful for the Church.

We don’t want to move across the country again any time soon, but God was so kind through the entire process! It was bittersweet to say goodbye & be sent out by our friends at Sojourn Community Church. We are so thankful for what God did in us during our time with them and we’re thankful for their partnership in the coming days!

  Commissioning from Sojourn Church

Commissioning from Sojourn Church

We spent a week back in East Tennessee spending time with family and friends before we made the thousand mile trek to the Rockies. We cannot put into words how much we feel loved by our faith family and sending Church at Tri-Cities. We have been loved on, prayed for, and just covered in generosity by our brothers and sisters there. Some of our best friends, Wes & Jennifer Tucker, even made the 2 day drive with me. It worked out that Pastor Gene and his wife, Gayle, were in the city the same weekend we arrived, and they cared for us by taking our entire team out to lunch. Their help was so crucial, but I can’t put into words how much just having them with me for my first weekend in the city meant. They (and many others) have loved us in ways we didn’t even know how to ask for or knew we needed. Churches really do plant churches and I am so glad we’re not alone in this. Tri-Cities has modeled what it means to be a sending church and I pray The Oaks can care for those we send out the way they have cared for us.

  Our dear friends, Wes & Jennifer Tucker

Our dear friends, Wes & Jennifer Tucker

I’m thankful for kingdom partnerships. 

As most of you know, we are planting with The Send Network. This entire process has been such a gift for Cayla and me. I am serving through 2018 as a Church Planting Apprentice. One of the generous ways NAMB is blessing us is they are allowing us to live in one of the homes they own in the city for an insanely discounted monthly lease. As part of the apprenticeship I am working part-time on staff with The Summit Church (summitdenver.org) as a Church Planting Resident. It has been so refreshing to work closely, serve, and learn from these like-minded brothers and sisters to learn what faithful gospel-shaped mission looks like in Denver. We’ve been met with such hospitality and care from other fellow planters all across the city. And just this week I’ve been part of two fantastic equipping and networking events for pastors. I’ve been blown away by the collaboration and lack of competition of churches in urban Denver! It makes me so hopeful of what God will continue to do through the larger Church displaying the unity of the Body of Christ!

  Our Duplex (we're on the left!)

Our Duplex (we're on the left!)

I’m thankful for community.

We have 3 families who are now with us in Denver already (with a few more joining us over the summer). It was a bit surreal to have everyone in our home for the first time last weekend. Our faith is strengthened as we keep hearing the stories of how God has called each of them to Denver to be members of The Oaks. I’m eager to see the story He is writing with our lives together.

  Our first shared meal of The Oaks members (of those who have already relocated to CO)

Our first shared meal of The Oaks members (of those who have already relocated to CO)

Please pray for these
4 Main Goals for The Oaks
in 2018

1 || Pray we would lead and love out of an overflow of walking with God

There’s a lot going on in all of our lives as we get settled in, learn our city, work jobs, and do all the logistics of finding our new rhythms. Pray our team would carve out intentional space to be with God, our joy would be full, and we would live everyday life with a posture of intimacy and awareness of God's presence. Pray we would not reach the city of Denver and lose our souls or neglect the joy and flourishing of our own families. 

2 || Pray we would love one another as family

Our team is just now getting to know one another. All of us have been called from different contexts, so a top priority together is just to build a depth of relationships with each another. Pray we would not try to manufacture this, but instead live out of our identity as the family of God united around our position in Jesus. Pray for unity and a devotion to lean into “the one anothers” that God has called us to. Pray for wisdom and clarity around each person’s unique gifts and personalities they bring and how they fit into the mission & vision of The Oaks.

3 || Pray for wisdom to live in the tension of rest & fruitfulness

We are in an unique season. 2018 is a gift for the pressure to be removed to have to “build something.” The tension comes in that we're all having to “unlearn” what it means to be faithful right now. We all come from established churches (thanks be to God for established churches), but the reality is the “baby-stage” of our church planting journey means that a lot of the roles and practices we're all used to when we think of being the church just isn’t formed yet. Pray we would learn from the Word what it means to truly live as a community shaped by the gospel and sent on mission, even before a lot of the "structures" are ever in place. Pray we would rest well and enjoy this season of extended opportunity to listen and learn without many other demands. Pray for wisdom as we do begin to have conversations and build systems and structures of what it means to be The Oaks Church.

Throughout this year our team will be gathering in our home each Thursday night to pray, immerse ourselves in the Scriptures, and talk vision! Pray this time will be fruitful and rich! We are currently doing a study on how we grow to be like Jesus by faith in Jesus. Pray we would learn to know the gospel, love the gospel, and seek to apply the gospel to our own hearts and speak it to one another as we make disciples!

4 || Pray for a burden & direction for the context of our mission

Our entire team lives within 10 minutes of our house in South Denver, but our current neighborhood isn’t where we will be long-term. Our goal is to prayerfully explore a diversity of neighborhoods throughout urban Denver before we officially identify the spot where we will plant our lives over the long haul. Our goal we are praying and working toward is to have clarity in 90 days of which neighborhoods God is calling us to plant The Oaks. Will you pray for this massive decision? In the meantime, pray we will love our current neighbors well. Pray for time mangagement and sacrifice for all of us to be hospitable and to spend intentional time in our target areas learning and asking good questions! Pray for me as I seek to spend time intentionally with people far from God. My personal goal is to have conversations with 100 people in the next 100 days.

Partners & Friends,
thank you for locking arms with us, staying informed, and lifting us up in prayer! We love you!

_______________________

If you would like to invest in The Oaks by partnering financially you may set up monthly gifts or give a one-time gift! We can't do this without the generosity of God's people!

 

 

Meet Our Team | The Hutchisons

In 2015 Cayla and I began to name a deep stirring and restlessness down deep in our souls. After many prayers, tears, conversations, doubts, and affirmations- here we are three years later just a few days away from moving across the country to call Denver 'home,' believing that God is able to do more than we could ever ask for or imagine. 

A prayer I have been praying- even before we knew a city or had any 'vision or strategy' language down on paper or had even fully surrendered to 'go'- was for God to be faithful to raise up people to join us; specifically for deep relationships to form and for leaders who share a burden to help people know, enjoy, and follow Jesus. Cay and I are always floored when people approach us telling us they are praying about relocating their lives to be first members of The Oaks and 'live sent' to the neighborhoods of Denver and the nations of the world with us. 

Throughout 2018 I want to introduce you to our team as they move in to the city.
Our first family to relocate to Denver is The Hutchisons. 
I'm excited to share their story with you!


Meet The Hutchisons

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My name is Ben Hutchison, and with my wife Kate and two kids, Eli and Emma, we have been on the pursuit of abundant life and rich fellowship with the Lord. In our pursuit for the abundant, Spirit-filled life, we’ve been brought into alignment with the vision and mission of the Oaks Community Church. We are by grace, in faith, learning to leverage our lives, every decision and opportunity, for the sake of Kingdom love and growth. 

You should know, I am a man who views the world through a lens of reason. I find safety in intellect, and I typically don’t make a move without a well thought through plan. So you can imagine what a humbling, fumbling path of submission this journey to embrace the abundant life of fellowship with the Lord has been for me. You can also imagine my wife’s surprise way back in 2015 when I brought our youth group home from summer camp with a hesitant yet confident proclamation that God was telling me to have faith. To have faith in what? I didn’t know. To do what? I didn’t know.

By faith I was brought into the family of God as a kid, but through sanctification I was being moved away from a predictable and manageable faith into a functional position of surrender. I was being invited to let go of my control over this life.

So my wife and I prayed for the reckless faith that it would take for us to step wherever the Lord led, to follow Him in hope and confidence. This call to faithfulness fell on the uninhibited and adventurous ears of my wife – yes, it’s true, opposites attract. And so we began eagerly praying. This was followed by months of pruning, searching through doubts, engaging in difficult discernment, and waiting in anticipation. 

I was serving as a youth minister in Mississippi at the time, and the Lord had begun igniting a desire deep within my heart. My wife and I would almost whisper when we seldom brought up this seemingly unrealistic, definitely unreasonable, desire to serve internationals in the West and to be a part of the multiplication of churches through the urban church planting model. If I talked too loudly, the voice of reason would rise up and bring reality crashing down on us. What about my dream to teach? How will we afford living in the city? How could we raise our children so far from their grandparents? 

In January of 2018 as I sit here in Colorado, a church planting team member and affiliate professor at Colorado Christian University, I see how reasonable the Lord’s path has been for my preparation and equipping to bring glory to his name. But in the Fall of 2015, accepting the invitation of the Lord to hold fast in faith to the vision he rooted in our souls felt absurd on the good days and down right irresponsible on the bad days. 

In faith, I followed the Lord as he led my family away from a secure, fruitful ministry in the spring of 2016. We re-rooted in New Orleans, a city we thought we’d never live in again. We both started seminary at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in 2010 as newlyweds. In 2013 we moved away for a full time ministry opportunity and a chance to grow our family closer to our parents. We love New Orleans, its rich culture, diversity, and hospitality, but the city signified a place of financial struggle, uncertainty, and grueling scholarship. In His goodness, through these difficulties we were reintroduced to, God provided. Most importantly, he provided a partnership with an established church plant in the city where I was mentored and introduced to the realities of urban church planting. 

During this time I pursued ministry opportunities in California. How much further West could we go? I pushed on doors, many doors, and the Lord kept them closed. In May 2017, my wife and I decided to plan a trip to California in October, praying that God would direct our steps as we planned the details. Show us the churches and seminaries to visit, the people to meet, the city to go to. Within the week of us committing this “unreasonable” plan to the Lord, I was talking to a former youth student of ours who attends Tri-Cities Baptist Church in Tennessee. Listening to the story of God’s leading in our lives, James felt compelled to share about one of his pastors who was leaving Tennessee to plant a church in the West. In God’s providence, I was connected with Derick Sherfey, the pastor of the Oaks Community Church. A few conversations with him, a few stubborn, failed attempts at more “reasonable” ministry opportunities, and I became confident and humbled in the Lord’s leadership as it became apparent The Oaks Community Church would be the fulfillment of the vision we felt rising up in our souls back in 2015.

In my pursuit for abundant life and rich fellowship with the Lord, God has redefined my idea of what qualifies as reasonable. He has baptized me in his truth and sanctified me in his wisdom. In 2015, my son Eli was 2 and he began asking us to sing “Trust and Obey” at bedtime. We’ve sung it every single night since, and every single night I sing with the conviction that these children don’t need to be protected by my sense of reason. They need to be guided into Kingdom minded living, forsaking this world for the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus as their Lord. I am reminded night after night of the simple assurance of trusting in God’s goodness and obeying his guidance. I fight against the rationality of this world every day and ask your prayers for strength of mind and focused intentionality as we seek to love our neighbors here in Denver, learn their needs, and humbly offer the love of Christ through our words and deeds. 

-The Hutchisons

 

January Update | Dependence

As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments. The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.”

-Psalm 103:13-19

 When you read God’s Word as given to us in the Scriptures, how do you imagine God’s tone? Do you envision him as harsh, impatient, and disappointed by you? Or kind, full of grace, and delighting in you?

One of our pastors at Sojourn Church asks this question frequently and I think it is an important one. The reality is God has revealed himself repeatedly as “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.” Tozer famously said, “What you think about God is the most important thing about you.” So much of my growth in faith, hope, and love these past few months has come from seeking to “unlearn” so many subtle, yet dangerously wrong caricatures of God that have been twisting and clouding my view of and intimacy with God as Father. And when our view of God becomes distorted, the lens through which we see everything else will be off, as well.  

We have learned SO much during our time in Louisville, but by far the biggest lesson I have learned (and I pray will never stop learning) is “Jesus loves me; this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong; they are weak, but he is strong.” 

Beau is just now beginning to learn this song
and his mommy and daddy are just now learning to believe it. 

God’s love for us does not ebb and flow. Sally Lloyd Jones describes the Father’s steadfast love to be a “never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always, and forever” kind of love. He is for us. He is proud of us and he delights to be with us. There is no condemnation for those of us who are in Christ Jesus, not because we aren’t worthy of being condemned, but because Jesus himself took our guilt, our shame, and our death and freely and fully gives us his righteousness, his favor, and his life as if it were ours. He chose us and he won’t change his mind. To say God’s commands are more like invitations to intimacy from Abba instead of orders barked from a slaveowner doesn’t mean God doesn’t take sin seriously or that sin doesn’t have serious consequences or that he doesn’t warn us or discipline us. It’s just that we must learn to see all these things (and all our doubts and inconsistencies) as they are and not how we may have wrongly learned them. This makes all the difference when it comes to our pursuit of joy, obedience, faithfulness, and empowerment for this mission He is letting us take part in.

___________________

Like many of you I have tried to carve out intentional time over these last few weeks to look back over 2017 & look ahead into 2018. While we may have grown more than any other season before, this past year was a really difficult one for us personally. And if I am entirely honest, while I am filled with eager anticipation for all 2018 holds, we have a great deal of anxiety and fear of the uncertainty and “bigger-than-us-ness” of all this.

For those of you who know me know that each year, instead of resolutions, I try to listen to what I sense God calling me into for the new year and identify a “theme” for the year. 2017’s was TRUST. Looking back it is startling how faithful God has been to deepen our trust in Him. I believe 2018 God is calling us into greater DEPENDENCE

My prayer for 2018 is that we will continue to deepen in trusting God’s heart for us- that his commands are invitations to intimacy and his ways are better than mine could ever be. “If you love me, you will obey my commands,” Jesus tells us. I want my affections for my Savior to be so real that nothing he asks of me is too much and no area of my soul is off limits. I think this next season, though, is going to be one of relinquishing control and truly experiencing the Spirit’s power to be strong through our weaknesses and witness God do the impossible in our limitations as we seek to fully surrender ourselves to his control, his leading, and his agenda. 

I so often see myself watching my strong-willed, stubborn, and naive 2 year old think he can do so much on his own already. And I also see myself when he becomes frustrated- and sometimes terrified or hurt- when his way doesn’t work or causes him harm.

I’m all for my way until it is exposed to be the toddler-folly that it is.

I pray I can begin to see myself more in more the way Beau runs up to me, his daddy, asking me to fix it or hold him or whatever it is...just trust and dependence after a broken will and a renewed confidence in daddy’s abilities and an embracing the safe place in daddy’s arms.

Dependence is a call to do all The Father has demanded from us, but to do it the way he always intended- to stand up and move forward being held up in his arms, with his wisdom and his power working through us and in spite of us. Let it be so!

Here’s a few specific updates & prayer requests. Thank you for locking arms with us!
We love you!

  • Cayla & I received word mid-December that we have officially received the “green light” in our assessment process with The Send Network. As most of you know this has been an intense, but deeply transformative process that started for us early in 2016. While this doesn’t make us “more called or more qualified,” it has been very affirming for us and we are grateful for partnerships that work alongside our sending church to ensure we not only plant a church, but plant healthy churches that last. Hitting this mile stone means we are now able to take our next step, which means we will relocate to Denver on February 1st!  We will ship our belongings on January 22nd and we will spend the last several days of January back in East Tennessee before we head West! Denver has been just an idea for so long, so it’s a bit surreal and really exciting to actually be packing boxes (again!!), but this time to actually move to this place!
     
  • The remainder of 2018 will be the next phase of our preparation before we actually “launch” our life together as The Oaks Community Church. Starting in February I will begin serving as a Church Planting Apprentice in partnership with The Send Network and a local church in downtown Denver called The Summit Church (summitdenver.org). The purpose of these relationships is to continue to deepen in our development of what it means to plant healthy churches who are faithfully on mission in a unique cultural urban context like Denver, as well as cultivate kingdom partnerships to truly learn and seek the good of our city. What we’re called to is so much bigger than The Oaks and we long to collaborate in strategic ways with like-minded brothers and sisters who have been in the trenches serving faithfully. God is already at work in this city and we are just seeking to discern where and how and jump into what He’s already up to! Practically this means my family (and our team as they begin to arrive to the city) will be part of the community at The Summit and I will personally be invested in by the leadership there and we will seek to love and serve them for 1 year. Throughout 2018 we will focus on getting to know our city and will seek to deepen relationships, pray like crazy, cast vision, and equip one another on what it means to be on mission to make disciples through The Oaks church in our unique neighborhoods. In February 2019, The Oaks Church will officially “launch” and we will begin multiplying our groups, gathering together, and serving locally and globally in much more intentional and strategic ways. At least that's the plan right now, but we're learning to write our plans in pencil and to keep a really big eraser handy. 
     
  • God has absolutely humbled Cay & I as we have watched him write a story that we could’ve never even known to have dreamt up in the way He has built a team around us. Currently we have ~15 adults (and about that many kiddos) who have committed to join us and are at varying stages of finding jobs and planning logistics. One family arrived in the city on December 26th and another will make the trek this month. The rest will likely arrive at various times, but most should be in Denver by the start of the Fall. Please continue to pray for God to work out all the specifics as these people look for work and housing and make the expensive and complex process of relocating 2,000 miles away. Also, keep praying for God to raise up more workers to be sent & for the people in Denver who have yet to find their joy in Jesus who will join our church! I can’t wait for you to meet these awesome people in “guest posts” this year!
     
  • I am excited to let you all know I have accepted a part-time job with The Upstream Collective (theupstreamcollective.org)! This is a huge answer to many prayers- not only for needed income, but also as an opportunity to pursue what I know God has called, burdened, and gifted me to do. Upstream is a nonprofit committed to helping every church be a ‘sending church’ and every Christian to live out their identity as ‘sent ones.’ I am joining their team primarily to help develop and implement a content strategy to help produce and market an intentional online/social media presence, blog & podcast content, and the development of other resources like e-books/books, tools, and papers to help equip the church on mission. May the nations be glad and sing for joy!
     
  • An update on where we are financially: We are at ~$72,000 of our $100,000 annual goal from monthly support. God has also provided ~$15,000 in one-time gifts that have been helping with our vision trips & our team’s moving expenses and will help with start-up costs during our first years in the city. We also have $12,000/annually for our MULTIPLY Fund that is devoted exclusively to our global sending strategy. In 2019 we are anticipating our budget to increase to $250,000/year. 

We invite you to invest in what God is doing and will do through The Oaks Church. Will you pray about how God would have you contribute financially? We are trusting God to continue to show himself strong for our remaining needs- and even the needs we don’t know to ask him for yet! 

Thank you for partnering with us for gospel advancement for the glory of God, the good of Denver, and the joy of all nations!

-Derick

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December Update | God's Generous Heart through God's Generous People

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God is a generous God. He’s not stingy. He “opens his hand and satisfies the desire of every living thing.” He promises “no good thing will he withhold from those who walk uprightly.” His posture is open toward us as His kids. He is a good Father who “delights to give good gifts to His kids.” His generosity is defined out of the abundance of who He is, who supplies “all our need according to his riches in glory.” He love isn’t like our love. He ‘lavishes’ his love on us to the point that it’s almost too good to be true.

But it is true. He teaches us what this means in its fullest sense as we gaze at “God with skin on” in the person and teachings of Jesus, who “did not count equality with God a thing to be held onto, but emptied himself" by taking the form of a servant who would die for his enemies to make us his kids. He teaches us that it is “more blessed to give than to receive” and he embodied this in the way he lived, as Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve us.

This is beautiful, isn’t it?

I pray we can all slow down our pace during this Advent season to take a long, lingering look at him. All our problems have as their root a problem of ‘seeing.’ We refuse (or have become too distracted) to see just how gorgeous God’s heart is, how perfect his ways, and how reasonable any sacrifice or obedience is in light of who he really is and what he has actually done, is doing, and will do. This new Kingdom reality we’ve been caught up into is the thing we’re all desiring and longing for. It’s coming, but in very real ways it’s already here if we just have eyes to see. But it’s hidden in places we may never look if not for the Spirit’s work in us.

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I took time this morning to pray for all of our partners by name. I’m praying this season of Advent we’re in would be a deep, meaningful one of renewal and a refreshing breathe for all of us. I’m also praying a fresh experience of the generosity of God towards us in the gospel would produce an open handedness in our lives where we acknowledge that every “good gift and perfect gift comes from above.” Paul understood this in his second letter to the church at Corinth when he links their generosity to the generosity of God. He exclaims, “thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” after he has reminded them that God does not need our generosity, but he does get glory from multiplying our little into more than we could ever comprehend. He writes,

“He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For this ministry of service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.” (2 Cor. 8:10-13)

This passage has always been true and we’ve always believed it, but these last few weeks we have been tasting it and experiencing it doing a work in us as we’ve witnessed the love and generosity of so many people towards us.

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As most of you know, we hosted our first Vision Dinner a month ago back in East Tennessee. What a special night! We had over 120 people join us as we shared a meal and shared a glimpse of what God has been up to these months as we prepare for The Oaks Church to become a reality in Denver. We were also able to introduce a portion of our team (who will each be writing a ‘guest post’ in the coming months, so you will be ‘meeting’ them soon!), and spend time in worship and prayer for Jesus to be enjoyed through the multiplication of churches through The Oaks! It was definitely one of those moments we will forever look back on as pivotal in our journey.

I also want to provide a snapshot of where we are in terms of financial provision from partners who are called to invest in The Oaks. Our financial goal for 2018 is to raise $100,000 in monthly partners as well as $20,000 in one-time gifts for our start-up expenses.

The $100,000 includes my salary/benefits (which is set through the Send Network alongside our sending church, Tri-Cities) and an initial ministry operating budget which includes hospitality, loving & serving our neighbors, resources to get the word out about church, and initial start-up expenses.

By 2019 our goal will increase to ~$175,000/year due to legal fees, increased ministry budgets, and the inflated real estate cost of leasing a space to gather within the city of Denver.

 

Here’s where we are to date:
 

~$14,000 in one-time gifts

 ~$5,200 in monthly partnerships

$12,000 annually for specific use for our global partnerships/sending strategy among the nations (separate from our budgeted needs)

This means we are trusting God to provide for 2018 through His people an additional…
 

$6,000 in one-time gifts

$3,100 in monthly partnerships

We know partnering financially with us is not something everyone ought to do, but we do want to invite you to prayerfully consider investing in the vision & mission of The Oaks Church for the glory of God, the good of Denver, and the joy of all nations!

If you would like to begin investing monthly gifts or contribute a one-time gift, we would be deeply humbled and grateful!


Thank you for joining with us by staying informed and praying specifically for us! 
-The Sherfeys

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Fall Update [October & November]

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Friends,

I cannot thank you enough for how you all continue to pray with us and for us! It has been a very busy couple months since our last update, but I wanted to give a brief recap of what has been happening in our lives and invite you to pray for us in what's to come!
 

  • We continue to enjoy our time with Sojourn Community Church. In October my "field work" assignments (where I spend intentional time prayerfully learning the neighborhood and its culture, building relationships, sharing the gospel, and developing partnerships) switched to another neighborhood on the South End of Louisville called Beechmont. I am excited to spend the remaining of my time here in this part of the city as it is one of the most ethnically and economically diverse neighborhoods in Louisville, with thousands of people from people groups all over the globe. I will largely be focusing on learning from various organizations in this part of town and learning how to bridge disciple making in the Church through collaboration with nonprofits in the community! Cayla just finished up helping lead a women's bible study through the book of Colossians. And our Community Group continues to grow!
  • Several weeks ago I was able to sit in on a week long field training for cross cultural workers with our friends at The Upstream Collective, an organization based out of Louisville that helps equip every follower of Jesus live as a "sent one" and every church to be a sending church. This training largely focused on learning how to understand and best engage a new culture and how the gospel uniquely speaks to the specific narratives and idols of a particular place. This is crucial as we look to move to neighborhoods in Denver and seek to take the posture of "learner" that we might love our new neighbors well. Also, through my close relationships with the folks at Upstream, we are learning tons about what it means to build sending + mission into The Oaks Church DNA from day 1! 
  • We were blessed to make several trips back to East Tennessee the last couple months where I officiated two weddings of couples, updated & preached to our sending church, as well as preached at their student + college retreat. This was a rich, sweet time of ministry and spending time with family and friends that was deeply good for our souls!
  • A few weeks back I helped serve with logistics for a leadership conference for The Sojourn Network, hosted at our church here in Louisville. Several hundred church planters and pastors around the U.S. came to be equipped and encouraged. I was thankful to not only be poured into at this event, but also to love on, pray for, and learn from so many faithful brothers in the trenches of ministry. 
  • This past week I was part of a two-day training intensive for a handful of pastors in California learning from We Are Church, a collective of churches in San Francisco led by Francis Chan and his team of elders. This was such a gift to learn how these brothers are structuring the replication of missional churches. It was a challenging and sharpening couple days and I learned a lot about what it means to love neighbors, train leaders, multiply disciples, and plant churches in very reproducible and financially responsible ways. 
  • On my way back from San Francisco I stopped in Denver for the weekend to spend some alone time prayer walking some of the neighborhoods where we believe we may plant our lives as we and our team move to Denver. I was able to gather with 3 different Send Network church plants in the city and networked with several planters as we continue to learn about our new home! 

As you can see, it's been a busy few weeks!
Here's how you can pray for some next steps!

  1. Our Vision Dinner is this Saturday, November 11th at 6pm at Tri-Cities Baptist Church. Cayla and I are eager to share more of the vision, introduce some of our team, and discuss how people can partner with us for gospel multiplication for the glory of God, the good of Denver, and the joy of all nations! Please pray this is an encouraging, fruitful time as we take this massive next step in our journey of financial provision and prayer partners! It's not too late to RSVP if you haven't already. You can find more information at theoakschurch.net/dinner.
  2. Please pray for the team God is forming. Currently we have a group of 8 adults and 9 kids who have completed our process and believe God is calling them to relocate to Denver in 2018 as first members of The Oaks and as missionaries to Denver. Please pray for all things involved in such a massive transition, but mainly for their joy in Jesus as they trust Him with everything! There are more people who are in various parts of the journey of discerning God's call. Please continue to pray they would have great clarity.
  3. Before we officially nail down a timeline of when Cayla, Beau, and I will move to Denver, we have one last step in our assessment process with The Send Network. We have a meeting coming up before the holidays with the North American Mission Board where they will help (alongside our sending churches) assess our readiness and health with our development of the vision and team. We pray this is a helpful, clarifying, and affirming step in our journey. Afterwards we will be working with our sending agency and sending church to determine an official date when we will move. Unless something dramatically changes, we are looking at getting on the ground in February/March of 2018! 

Thank you for walking this journey with us by keeping in the loop and praying on our behalf! May Jesus be enjoyed by all the peoples of this world! 

-Derick

September Update| Beauty in the Journey

If you are one of the 103 people receiving this update via email, thank you for joining with us as a prayer partner. If you are reading this through social media or on our website, would you consider locking arms with us in this way? If so, just subscribe at theoakschurch.net to be added to our Prayer Partner List who receives these monthly updates to their inbox. Our goal is 250 prayer partners by the time we relocate to Denver next Spring.

Please help us network by sharing these updates!

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Every time I become crippled by fear or insecurity about the unknowns and “bigger-than-us” calling we’re stepping into…

…or when I get fatigued deep in soul and become plagued with a sense of
“I just don’t know if I want to do this”…

...or when my ego becomes overinflated with pride and I become deceived by the illusions of self-sufficiency and forget my desperate need for the Spirit to breathe life into my plans…

…our Father is faithful to keep doing His good, slow work in me to get my eyes off of me, my desires, my sin, the insane prices of Denver homes on Zillow (I think you get the idea), and lifts up my head to get a glimpse of who HE is, what HE has already won for us, what HE is working even when we cannot see, and what HE has promised He will do.
By His grace and through His Spirit, I pray I can linger there.

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With every step on this journey, we go deeper in a knowing of His almost-to-good-to-be-true grace, His comforting presence, His steady never-giving-up love, His faithful work of cutting off the barrenness in us to make room for the fruit of a fully formed us that is like Jesus. And we’re learning that ‘Denver’ and ‘The Oaks’ isn’t really the destination. The destination and goal is more of Jesus…and the beauty of the journey is that anything and everything is being used to die to self and come alive to all that He is for us. This adventure has been beautiful so far, but it definitely hasn’t looked exactly like we thought it would. It’s not as hard as it could be by any means, but it’s definitely been anything but easy or comfortable.

Yet I look back on how He has so sovereignly and wisely led us down paths we never would’ve walked on our own and I am overwhelmed at His good, sweet providence. He really is writing a better story for us than we could ever write on our own. I don’t know what the specifics of obedience looks like for you today and in this season of your life, but…
trust Him with whatever it is. He is better.

Remembering God’s faithfulness in our pasts and being aware of how God is working in our present is what fuels hope, courage, and boldness that
motivates and sustains us to take steps of obedience into tomorrow-
whatever that may hold.
 
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Last week Cayla and I spent a few days in beautiful Denver spending time with two couples who are praying about joining our team as some of the first members of The Oaks and missionaries to Denver. Above is a photo of one of those ‘moments that a church planter will never forget’, as this group of new friends read and prayed Isaiah 61 over the city of Denver in a neighborhood we love and believe may be a great place to plant roots to live our lives next year. As we prayed, verse 11 was shouting at me…

For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations.
-Isaiah 61:11

We have great anticipation of what God will do in this city and among the nations through The Oaks and we are overwhelmed with the reality that it is utterly impossible in our own strength. Just as the physical world grows and reproduces only by the work of God in slow, often unseen ways, so God is the one who will cause the growth of our joy and the joy of others to sprout up into Oaks of Righteousness, the planting of the Lord that He may display His beauty.” (Isaiah 61:3) We are resting and clinging to the reality that success is God’s work; faithfulness is ours. God has been working in Denver long before He called us there and He will continue long after we're gone. We're just eager to join Him.

Here’s how you can pray specifically for us
as we pursue faithfulness this month:

  • Pray for our team| God is stirring in the hearts of many who are living in a posture of surrender, willingness, and trust to however, wherever, whenever God would lead them. Please pray for those who are seeking discernment of whether or not that means Denver and joining our team. Cayla and I’s faith has been so strengthened seeing how God has put the vision of The Oaks down deep in others- some we know well, others we had never met before. For those who are still uncertain, pray for clarity. For some who are to the point of looking for jobs and housing, pray for the needed open doors and wisdom to know which ones to walk through and grace as they begin to transition from life where they are to their new city. And will you pray for yourself, personally? Is God calling you to join us?
  • Pray for our development| We are so thankful for the people of Sojourn Community Church here in Louisville. Being part of this community has been so good for us. The residency and training I am receiving is affirming and deepening our calling and clarifying the vision and mission God has put in my heart and helping me strengthen these muscles to better live it out when we get to Denver. Pray for us to continue to balance things well and to grow in the ways we need. Cayla and I will have a final assessment with our partners with The Send Network (NAMB) sometime in October/early November (date TBA soon), which will help clarify a lot of specifics about partnerships and specific details about our first year once we move to Denver. Please pray this will be a helpful ‘next step’ in this journey. Pray for wisdom and direction on a specific timetable for our family’s move to Denver. It’s so surreal that we’re getting close to finalizing these things.

  • Pray for partnerships| On Saturday, November 11th Cayla and I will host a Vision Dinner at Tri-Cities Baptist Church Gray Campus. We are finalizing details over the next few days. Once everything is set, I will send out another update and official invite of how you can register for this. I will also be preaching in all 3 services at Tri-Cities on Sunday, October 15th providing an update and details about this, as well.

But for now, here’s what I'm asking of you... 

1| Mark this date (11/11) on your calendars

2| Set a reminder on your phone to remember to pray for us once a week. As you pray, please pray for the right people to partner with us and for our needed finances to be provided

3| Will you pray about how God would have you partner with us financially by giving monthly or a one time gift to help with start-up costs? You can do that now at theoakschurch.net/partner by clicking “Give Now.”

We love you. Thank you for loving us by praying for us.

Until we see His face,
The Sherfeys

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