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

advent.jpg

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.

__________________________

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.

vision dinner.jpg

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

fam thanksgiving.jpg

Fall Update [October & November]

Denver 4.jpg

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!

 ______

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.

_____

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.
 
IMG_4590.jpg

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

IMG_4586.jpg

August Update| Extraordinary in the Ordinary

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!

 ______________________________________________________________________________

 

Learning to follow Jesus means we must learn to live in the tension. Grace and truth, God’s sovereignty and our responsibility, joy and suffering, rest and obedience are a few of the tensions we must learn to live in so we don’t get stuck in the ditches that exist on either side of the road of faithfulness. Over-focus on one leads us to neglect the other.

One of these tensions I have been wrestling with the last few months is the tension between urgency and waiting on God. If you were to ask me how I’m doing, most days I’d probably lead with Busy…” I hear it a lot from others, too, so I feel like I’m not alone. There are a lot of reasons for our incessant busyness. My biggest excuse often is some version of how weighty and hard the calling to ministry is. In other words, I tend to link all my frantic activity to faithfulness- that this is just what is required of us. This mission is big and massive and urgent, after all. In a lot of ways this is true. In light of eternity, the glory of God, and the need around the world, we all probably should spend and be spent for the Kingdom in ways we’re not currently doing.

Yet the other side of this tension pulls me closer to ‘center’ as we take a long, hard look at just what God is really inviting us into as His children. I’m learning its crucial to not view “faithful obedience” merely through the lens of checking the boxes on all the right “what’s” that God requires of me in this season of life, but equally caring about “how” I am doing these things, “why” I am doing them, and maybe most importantly- “who” I am becoming in all the good stuff I am doing. God is not merely after our behavior with the posture of “slave.” His work is much more thorough and beautiful than that. He is inviting us to join Him in a way of life, posturing as his beloved children with the imputed righteousness of Jesus already covering us as a free gift of His grace. Much of the output may even stay the same…but my, how much of a difference this makes. Wasn’t this true of our King and Savior? His life shows us what a life lived toward the Father looks like- a perfect, holistic obedience of proclamation, doing, and being. If He’s making me like Jesus, then this is the goal of my life, too!

Somebody much smarter than me said once that
God is not asking of us a less busy life, but a less busy heart.
On one hand, we should live with a sense of urgency,
but we must guard against the impulse to get in a hurry.

The way of life in the kingdom of God is often slow. It’s unseen, subversive, and upside down from the way of our culture and the ways our hearts are prone to label “success” and what “good” really means. We all want to enjoy the exquisite tastes of a home cooked meal, but we want it in ‘microwave’ time. God is teaching us that extended, focused time in prayer is not wasted time. That sometimes the ‘holiest’ thing I can do is say no to another meeting and wrestle my boy. I’m learning that there is joy in receiving moments as good gifts from His hands- not just the explicitly “Christian” things, but just small, everyday moments. Maybe that’s why God made the Sabbath a thing- to regularly STOP doing things for God and rest in who He is and what He is doing for us, in us, through us- that we’re loved by Him because He chooses to love us, not because we are useful to Him or getting it right today. It’s a declaration with our lives the theology we declare from our lips.   

This has been a wonderful and miserable lesson as we continue to trek through our church planting residency. Wonderful, because its freeing to come to Jesus in our weariness and find burdens that are light and to find a deep soul rest as He speaks over us “It’s already Done!”

It’s also been miserable because I place so much pressure on myself to “figure out” the perfect strategy for this church-in-the-making. This season is such a sweet gift of learning, equipping, and preparation, but we’re learning that the goal of this time is not to get the answer to every question just right or develop the best vision, mission, and strategy. God is graciously beginning to shift the questions we are asking and He’s beginning to open up the bud of new life of the beauty of what kind of people He may choose to make us as The Oaks and what the Kingdom of God could look like in the neighborhoods of Denver.

The mission is extraordinary, but it is often carried out in really, really ordinary ways.

It’s extraordinary because it’s only possible by the Spirit tilling up the rocky soils of our hearts so that the good seed of the gospel may take root and grow into all He has for us (insert great reference about being Oaks of Righteousness here).  The extraordinary parts are up to God and we by faith trust Him to do what only He can do. Our part is pretty ordinary. Just steady, small acts of obedience to what He has called us to do right now. If the gospel is to be preached into the everyday stuff of life, then the everyday stuff of life actually matters. We’re learning to change the conversation a bit from “how do we plant a church?” to “how can we really love God and love people” in a particular place over the long haul. Peterson once called faithfulness “a long obedience in the same direction.” I want to learn what these means as we dream really big dreams! When we see as God sees, we will begin to feel, speak, and do as God feels, speaks, and does.

Here’s a few more ways you can pray for us…

  • Long story, but God has provided a better part-time job opportunity for me for my reminder here in Louisville. This month I transitioned away from my job at the coffee shop downtown and I’m now working for the YMCA. I’m working a couple mornings at the front desk, but the bulk of this new job is as Teen Leadership Development Director. I’ll be leading a program that works with youth throughout the city to cultivate leadership characteristics and creates opportunities for involvement and service in the community. I’m very thankful for this open door, as it is better for our schedule and our budget and is work more in line with some of the ways God has wired me. Cayla is enjoying her part-time job as a nanny—and it’s great for Beau to realize the world doesn’t revolve around him! His ‘only child syndrome’ is being challenged, and this is a good thing. 
  • Speaking of Beau, he’s growing a ton. He talks non-stop (wonder where he gets that from?) and never, ever stops playing. He is a lot of fun and we are tired! Pray for us as we learn all the new things that comes with each new stage of his growth, particularly that we would model what it means to follow Jesus in front of him!
  • Cayla and I just launched a new Community Group with folk from Sojourn Church and we’re jumping in head-first with various ministries and bible studies. Pray for us as we continue to learn and grow in what it means to make disciples and build friendships, knowing we’re leaving again so soon.
  • Pray for us as we come to our final few weeks of ‘field work’ where we have been strategically engaging a particular neighborhood here in east Louisville learning what it means to live missionally and lay the groundwork of what church planting actually is. Pray for gospel fruit here, even if we may never see it personally.
  • Continue to pray for God to build our core team as He sees fit. There are several people who are in conversations with us at varying levels of praying about what moving to Denver could look like. We have a few people visiting Denver on vision trips this fall. Pray for clarity and a posture of obedience to what God is calling them to specifically and open doors as they pursue jobs and housing.
  • Cayla and I will be traveling to Denver on September 21st-24th to meet with partners there and prayerfully focus-in on specific neighborhoods to take more steps in determining where God is calling us to live life beginning next Spring. We’d love your prayers for God to speak clearly as we seek direction and discernment on this important decision.
  • We hit a technical road block this month to being able to begin raising financial support. We pray this will be solved in the next few days. Once all the logistics are finalized, please pray that we will have the humility, boldness, and energy to begin this journey of partnership development. Will you begin praying about how God may have you join us in this way?

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

Please share this link to those in your circles that may resonate with what we’re doing and want to jump on board as a prayer partner. Remember, make it ‘official’ by subscribing to our email list!

-The Sherfeys

 

DSC_0102.jpg

July Update | We walk by faith, not by sight

If you are one of the 101 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!

_______________________________________________________________________________

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
-Hebrews 11:1

We are being stretched and pushed a lot, but we are learning and growing a lot. God seems to be continually drawing us deeper into this journey of what it means to truly trust Him- to walk by faith and not by sight.

According to this verse from Hebrews 11, faith is not just a ‘religious’ thing. We all have faith in something or someone. Faith is living one’s life with a sense of assurance (it will be) and conviction (it must be)…even though we cannot see or directly experience what we’re hoping for. We all build and align our entire selves around things we cannot make sense of or experience directly with any of our senses. When we do this, that’s called faith. Everyone, everywhere, then, has faith. The question is in what or in whom will we place our faith? (Relationships, power, money, pleasure, etc.) And will that thing prove to be worthy of our assurance and hope and trust and come through for us? Or will it leave us lacking, frustrated, or worse…totally lost and destroyed?

For those of us seeking to follow Jesus, life is a journey of “fighting the good fight of faith” – or, pushing through in grace by His Spirit to keep the object of our faith God as He has shown Himself to us in Scripture. We can’t see Him or what exactly He’s doing around us. We weren’t there to witness the crucifixion and resurrection. We have no empirical way of objectively knowing that all God has promised for our futures will prove true. Yet even though we cannot see fully, we step out in trust that God is who He says He is and that He will do what He said He would do.

The strength of our faith in Jesus lies not in how strong our belief and trust is, but rather in the surety of God to be faithful to us. It’s the object of our faith- not the amount- that ultimately matters.

_______________________

Cayla and I have been experiencing the gift of conviction. Our Father is peeling back layers in our souls to reveal our faith is very weak and how so often we allow our own insecurities, fears, worries, and the circumstances around us to cause us to doubt God and clutch for other things in which to put our trust.

Yet we are also experiencing the gift of His presence. The Spirit is teaching us more about who we are (and who we are not) and it’s in this place that He is revealing so much about Himself- things we thought we knew, things we had totally wrong, and things we’re unlearning and relearning about His heart and His work.

It’s been weighty, but wonderful. We have had some dark moments these last few months, but there is light that He really is enough, His ways are better, and He always is worthy of our trust. We constantly find ourselves crying, “We believe, help our unbelief!”

________________

How you can pray for us

Our pace has slowly increased during the month of July as our time of sabbatical has come to a close and I have officially begun the initial stages of our residency with Sojourn Community Church. We have deeply enjoyed the unhurried way of life and extended time with family the past 2 months, but it’s also refreshing now to get back at it in this next chapter of our lives and calling.

Pray for the health of our souls & marriage

  • God has opened our eyes to see that, while we are here to prepare for Denver and to work on our church plant, we are primarily here for God to prepare and work on us. I would totally have said that before we moved, but I’m not sure I really meant it. In my pride, I didn’t really think we needed it as deeply as we do. God is showing us the vision of The Oaks and all we hope to see happen in others needs to happen in us. I (probably more than anyone else) need His love to keep redeeming me, renewing me, reconciling me, and restoring me. Pray that we would continue to learn ourselves so we can better speak the good news of the gospel into every part of who we are and what we are to do. Pray for Cayla and I to keep learning what it means to keep our hearts open to one another as we both process and grow and learn through our time here. We don’t want to focus on loving and serving everyone else and be tempted to neglect our relationship with one another and our discipleship of Beau.

 Pray for our development & disciple-making

  • Our residency with Sojourn will focus on a holistic paradigm for development for Cayla and me. We are jumping head first into the life of the church as we visit Community Groups, join serving teams, get involved in loving the city with various partnerships, and diving deep into relationships with the great people of this Faith Family. We have focused readings (roughly a couple books every month) to sharpen our understanding. We will have many one-on-one meetings with various Sojourn Elders and members for soul care, mentorship, and to help us think through various aspects of leading and becoming a church on mission in Denver. Another specific aspect of our residency includes “field work” where we are being taught practical skills of what it means to live life on mission in a specific context and seeking to put it into practice in particular neighborhoods in Louisville. The next 3 months we will be focusing on a neighborhood in East Louisville (followed by 2 other neighborhoods over our remaining time here) where we will seek to apply things like following the Spirit’s leading/prayer walking, neighborhood mapping, learning the culture, building relationships, and speaking the better story of Jesus into the story of this area of the city and the individual people God sends our way. Pray that as we spend time here that we would not only be better equipped as we learn how to love our future neighborhoods of Denver well, but that we would also see redemption, renewal, reconciliation, and restoration happen here in East Louisville! Pray for us as we seek to bring leaders and other followers of Jesus from Sojourn and other area churches along with us, that we would find ‘people of peace’ where we can begin to see intentional discipleship taking place that could potentially multiply long after the Sherfeys move!
     
  • A big prayer request right now is that we would learn to truly love others. We talk often about wanting to learn the simplicity of becoming better neighbors who live open to what God is doing around us and in the lives of others. Pray we would leverage our ‘unhurried’ pace, not for ourselves and our comfort, but for the good of others and the flourishing of our neighborhood and workplaces. Keep praying for me (Derick) as I build friendships with folks downtown through my part-time barista job and for Cayla as she begins a part-time job next week where she will be a nanny for a family we have been connected with. We thank God for providing strategic jobs for our needed income, but also as pathways for relationships!

Pray for partnerships & provision

From the very start of this journey Cayla and I have prayed that God would use our story to strengthen the Church and help be a catalyst for mission and sending. We have been so encouraged to see how this prayer is already been actualized and we’re hopeful to see how this deepens in the months and years ahead as we partner together with individuals and churches for gospel advancement in Denver and among all nations. 

  • Pray for our Missionary Team | There are several adults who are in various stages of our ‘pipeline’ who are praying about relocating out West to be missionaries to Denver and first members of The Oaks Community Church. Please pray for these individuals and families, that the Spirit would make each step clear as these people begin to take steps in obedience to discern whether or not God would have them join Him in what He is doing in Denver with our team. Pray I would have the grace and wisdom to shepherd them well and learn what it means to equip these members as the team grows. Pray God would continue to raise up the right people as He sees fit!
  • Pray for Local Church Partnerships | We are in conversations with several local churches casting vision of what God has called us to. We have a few churches already committed to locking arms with us through prayer, finances, and relationships! Please continue to pray God would show Himself strong in developing the base of local churches that will be essential for the holistic mission He has given us with The Oaks.
  • Pray for Financial Partnerships | Beginning in August, Cayla and I will jump into the journey of raising financial support. Honestly, this is something that we have deeply dreaded doing and we have many fears and insecurities about this. Pray that as we gear up for this that we would not make it about us and our feelings toward “having to raise money,” but that we would continue to learn what it means to lean into and rely on Jesus’ Church. We truly want people to give out of a love for Jesus and obedience to Jesus’ mission and ownership of our vision of making much of Jesus in Denver and among all nations. Pray for humility, boldness, and wisdom as we take this next step of trusting God to provide through His people. Pray for God to prepare and make clear the natural relationships of people we are to make Kingdom investments in this way.
     
  • Mark your calendars | On Saturday night, November 11th we will have a Vision Dinner hosted at Tri-Cities Baptist Church in East Tennessee. We will share much more details in the coming months, but if this is something you’d be interested in, please carve out this time on your calendars.

We love you. Thank you for loving us by praying for us! Please share this update and invite people to subscribe at theoakschurch.net as Prayer Partners so we can reach our goal of 250 by Spring 2018.

Jesus is worth it,
The Sherfeys

 

June Update | Jesus is making all things new

If you are one of the 91 people receiving this update via email, thank you for joining with us as a prayer partner. If you reading this through Social Media or on our site, would you consider partnering with us in this way?
 If so, subscribe on our website to receive these monthly updates by email. Our goal is to have 250 prayer partners by the time we relocate to Denver next Spring. Please help us network by sharing these updates with those who may be interested in interceding on our behalf.

_______________________________________________________________________________

This past month I (Derick) began devotionally meditating on Ecclesiastes. If you know me well, you know it’s difficult for me not to turn every forum into an opportunity for a sermon. So, I’ll spare you and try not to squeeze in everything God is teaching me through this book. I’m only on Chapter 2 after 5 weeks, if that’s any indication.

The overarching theme that keeps resurfacing is perspective. The “preacher” repeatedly echoes his seemingly depressing refrain: “everything is vanity.” It’s all empty, a breathe. Life is just a big let down. I’m deeply thankful for the raw honesty of God’s Word, but I’m also learning to read this book (as we should all of Scripture) through the lens of Jesus and His work.

The “preacher” repeats a clarifying phrase: “under the sun.” Everything- and I do mean everything- when seen through the lens of a merely human, secular, horizontal perspective- is vanity.  But the good news is “under the sun” doesn’t completely define our reality as the loved children of Abba. Meaningless doesn’t have the final word.

In a despairing statement rising out of the monotony of everyday life, the author exclaims, “Can anyone say about anything, ‘Look, this new’?”(Ecclesiastes 1:10) If we’re looking through the eyes of “under the sun,” the answer is a haunting “NO!” But there is one “over the sun,” the God of eternity who entered human history in the person of Jesus who stepped into the brokenness, the darkness, and the mundane-ness of everyday life to set it right, to light up the way so we can see and know God, and to color purpose into the black-and-white of even the most trivial of moments.

Our Jesus, the True and Better Preacher, victoriously exclaims in the end-of-days, “Look, I am making all things new.” (Revelation 21:5) He alone is the hope in our hopeless questions.

God is graciously and patiently teaching me that the most loving thing He can do for us is to shift our perspective so that we finally begin to see that all the things of this world that we so often cling to in order to find security, comfort, acceptance, power, meaning, significance- will not fully quench our thirsty souls. “Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Him”, said Augustine. I think he’s right because I think that’s the whole point of Ecclesiastes- and the whole Bible: we were made for Jesus. Everything else just serves as means to enjoy Him and for others to enjoy Him. It’s really freeing to discover that everything is meaningless because it’s only then that we can be shaken out of our delusions to see created things make really terrible gods.

The last several weeks have been a beautiful, hard illustration of this discovery and shift of perspective for the Sherfey family. In some ways we have absolutely loved the change of pace, exploring our new city (Beau really loves the splash pad in our neighborhood park), beginning new relationships, and spending unhurried time with family and friends. In other ways these few weeks have been difficult, as we have struggled to follow and believe Jesus, doubted this process, and at times felt lonely. In all things, we are stumbling forward in faith, constantly praying, “We believe; help our unbelief.”

Here’s some ways you can pray for us
over the next few weeks:
 

Meaningful Rest

  • Our responsibilities at Sojourn Community Church as Church Planting Residents doesn’t officially begin for a few more weeks which makes our pace much slower, allowing margin in our schedules that we’re not accustomed to. Pray we would not waste this gift, but instead truly lean into Jesus and His Word and enjoy family time. Pray for us to learn to find our identity in who God says we are. We’re learning that our worth as children of God really isn’t in what we are doing for Him, but solely in what He has done, is doing, and will do for us. Pray we learn what it means to follow Him and make disciples- not because its our “job,” but because we love Him.

Deep Relationships

  • One of our favorite parts of Louisville so far has been meeting the people of Sojourn. Pray for Cayla and I to keep our hearts open to going deep with folks here, not letting the inevitable “goodbyes” coming in a few months to close up our hearts. Pray God would give us clarity of what it means to be disciple-makers here in this new context. Pray for us as we seek to find a small group to begin to live in community and as we begin to jump into serving with various ministries through the Church here.
  • Pray for Cayla as she searches for a part-time job as a nanny. We’re asking God for a family that can be more than income for us, but that we can also bless and encourage as Cay joins in the discipleship of their kids. Pray for the right relationships to open up in God’s timing!

Favor & Boldness

  • Pray for us to grow in learning and applying missional rhythms in everyday life. Pray for us to not be selfish with our time and resources, but truly live with open lives and an open table.
  • Our neighborhood is extremely diverse. We are the minority in our apartment complex. This is an unexpected gift from God. As most of you know, God has given us a burden for the nations and by His sweet providence He has placed us in one of the most diverse neighborhoods of Louisville- all by “accident.” There are significant language and cultural barriers we’ve hit as we’ve tried to get to know folks here. Pray for wisdom, boldness, and people of peace as we seek to reach out to our neighbors. It’s been much harder than we expected and we’re a bit discouraged, but we know God is shaping us to be better equipped for our calling and ridding some of our illusions of what being on mission looks like.
  • I (Derick) began working part-time at a local coffee shop in Louisville called Heine Brothers. Thank you for praying for a job to open up! It’s been fun- and frustrating- to learn the art of coffee making and different to go back to punching-a-timeclock type of job. Pray for me to remember the purpose in everyday small tasks of serving others and doing little things well for His glory. Pray for me as I build relationships with my coworkers and speak Jesus’ story into their stories I am beginning to learn. I am excited to be working in downtown Louisville. Pray that as I spend a lot of time in the city center that I would begin to learn what mission looks like in a city. This has already been a huge learning curve. Although Denver is a much larger and much different cultural context than here in Kentucky, we feel living and working here will be pivotal in helping prepare us to love our new city of Denver well.

Thank you for walking this journey with us,
The Sherfeys

 

 

We do not lose heart...

Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.

 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you. 13 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, 14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.

  15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

-2 Corinthians 4:1, 5-7, 11-13

 I found this sentiment and truth from the heart of the apostle Paul to the churches at Corinth filling my heart last Sunday night as Cay and I drove through the heart of our little city up South Roan Street to the little building where Tri-Cities Baptist Church, Johnson City Campus has gathered for the last time as one of the elders to be prayed over and sent out from this Fellowship we love dearly. Before we walked in I sat in my Jeep out in the parking lot to read this chapter again, asking the Spirit to press it deeply into my soul.

He did. And He continues to shape my heart through the truths tucked away in this chapter as we get our lives settled in here in Louisville.

Here’s some ways you can pray these things over us as we officially begin our time here.

The calling to ministry is hard and weighty. People are broken, expectations often go unmet, and sometimes life hurts. Worse than any of the rest, I am deeply broken, my life is often inconsistent with what I know to be true, and I know my sin hurts others. None of us have experienced even a fraction of the suffering Paul went through for the sake of the gospel, but if following Jesus hasn’t cost us anything yet we may want to evaluate whether or not we’re really being obedient.

  • Pray for rest, healing, and repentance for Cay and I. Not that we’re burnt out or upset or caught in unrepentant sin. Actually, that’s the exact reason I need you to pray this for us- that we would begin this journey of our year in Louisville with a posture of desperate dependence and humble repentance so He can continue to prune us, empty us, and shape us so the things that are hindering growth, quenching His Spirit, and that doesn’t look like Jesus would be removed, resulting in great fruit bearing, filling of His Spirit, and Christ-likeness in thought, motive, and deed.

The calling to ministry is a beautiful gift. Paul is rawly honest about his struggles and what it cost him to follow Jesus, but what kept him going was his experience of the surpassing worth of God. By grace and through the Spirit, Paul had witnessed an awakening of his heart- a reviving of soul- as He got glimpses of all God is for us in Jesus.

  • Please pray for our faith and for our joy. Pray for the light of who He really is to shine brighter into our darkness of doubt and worry and sometimes cynicism. If in this next year we learn a lot, develop all the right partnerships, and build a stellar team and through it all miss Him, this is all wasted. Pray we’d see Him vividly and love Him supremely.

Ministry is a gift because He is the Treasure. We “do not lose heart”- no matter what we feel, no matter what it costs, no matter how things are going. Why? I think Paul gives two reasons.

First, we don’t lose heart because Jesus is better. No matter what following Jesus costs, the reward of knowing Jesus, experiencing Jesus, and putting Jesus on display makes even the greatest of sacrifices worth it. When you have everything you need in someone who cannot be lost, you are free to live with it all held with an open hand. I want to believe this with everything I am.

Second, we don’t lose heart because there’s more to life than self-fulfillment. I pray to have such an understanding of and commitment to the gospel that oozes out of Paul. He knew that if the gospel of a suffering, yet exalted Savior was going to be on display to the world and in the Church, that message must be boldly declared from the lips of one whose ‘manner of life is worthy of the gospel.’ Paul saw that all the suffering was not just for His worship, but also for their worship- for the world who is veiled to see the beauty of Jesus and for those in the Church who experience life through Paul’s continual death.

  • Pray for us to pursue God’s calling on our lives with humility. Pray that we would continue to learn to ‘forget ourselves’ so we can proclaim Jesus. Pray we would gladly take the role of servant so others will see Him.
  • Pray for us to continually learn how to die, so that the way we enjoy life’s sweet moments and the way we respond to the bitter and dark moments and the way we continue in everyday obedience in the little things- that all of it would would be illustrations of the gospel and little beacons of light pointing up to our Father in Heaven. 
  • I have spent the week interviewing for part-time work. I have been offered a few different positions. We thank God for His provision for employment. We ask you pray for us this week for clarity and discernment for us to choose the place where we can not only make a paycheck, but can love and serve people well strategically for the Kingdom.

Longing to see His face,

The Sherfeys 

Trust and Obey

You are receiving this because you are one of 77 of our partners who have committed to walking this journey with us by interceding on our behalf. I cannot thank each of you enough for coming alongside us to call out to God with our family, our newly forming church, and for Denver and the nations. Our goal is to have at least 250 prayer partners committed before we get on the ground in Denver. We would love for you to help advocate for us by sharing our website with people you know who has a heart for disciple-making and church planting to lock arms with us for gospel advancement.

This journey we are on is moving forward quickly. Our Father has continually pressed Psalm 23 on our hearts as have we have taken one step of obedience at a time.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.

He restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.

God is teaching Cayla and me about obedience and trust. We are learning that often God only gives enough clarity for us to obey and take ‘the next step.’ I often get overwhelmed at this daunting journey ahead of us- all of the details that are not yet clear, the fears and worries around the uncertainty around so many things, and the deep feelings of inadequacy and inexperience that sometimes cripples us with inactivity.

We are learning doubt is not the opposite of faith; sight is.

The life that follows Jesus is a journey that must be “walked by faith, not by sight.” Faith says, “I will obey, even when I cannot see, because I trust the goodness and faithfulness and worthiness of my God.”

Faith is refusing to project our limitations on a limitless God.

We are learning that obedience even when we cannot see is the root of deep, genuine worship.


“Without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Faith without works is dead, because if my belief in God and His promises is not enough to step out in obedience no matter the cost, we prove that we are worshipping whatever we are holding on to in disobedience more than the God who is worth our all.

We are learning obedience is just one step at a time.

We do not have to have the energy for all the steps right now. It’s okay that we do not know every twist and turn of these ‘right paths’ He is leading us on because we know the destination is more of Jesus- and that is better than anything we could ever hope to manufacture or plan on our own. “His word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.” Just enough clarity for the next step, causing us to remain desperately close to Him.

Please pray for us to keep surrendering our will to His. Pray we will be captivated by His beauty and the urgency of His Kingdom over our comfort, our plans, and our desires. We want to believe He is better than anything this world has to offer and we want that belief to fuel every aspect of our lives. Pray for us that we would keep abiding in Him- listening to His voice, learning His heart, trusting His ways.

Many have asked for specific things to be praying for right now.
Here are 3 of the big ones:

  1.  Our house is under contract to close April 28th. God has opened up an apartment in East Louisville and we will move our things up there April 21st. Please pray all the necessary details around this goes as planned. I will be preaching my last sermon on staff at Tri-Cities Baptist on Sunday, April 30th in all 3 services at both campuses and we’ll be back for our Family Meeting the next week on May 7th to be sent out from our Faith Family here. These next few weeks will be busy and emotional ones for our family. Pray for our joy in all this transition.
     
  2. May and June will be months of transition for us. Our residency at Sojourn Community Church in Louisville does not officially begin until July, so May and June will be a sabbatical of sorts for us, mixed in with getting acclimated in our new city, interviewing for part-time work, and spending time with our families before we hit the ground running with our training and partnership development in July. Pray God would deeply shape us and renew our souls during this time and into our 9 months of focused prayer and equipping for our stent in Kentucky.
     
  3. Pray for all of the partnerships that are beginning to develop with The Oaks Community Church. We are beginning to reach out to churches to strategically partner with us holistically for a 3-5 year commitment including prayer, financial resources, and eventually people for short, mid, and long term engagement in the city of Denver. This summer and fall we will begin to really reach out to individual partners to commit to pray and support us financially. There are many people who are in our process and are currently praying about relocating to Denver in 2018-19 to be the first members of The Oaks and missionaries to Denver. Please pray for these families and individuals as they seek God’s will in their lives. We are trusting God to form the team He wills for this vision He has given us.

 

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. –Philippians 1:3-5