Thank you for those who joined us in our
31 Days of Fasting & Prayer last month!
It was such a sweet gift to our members to do this together & begin the New Year in dependency & intimacy, longing for more of the presence & power of God in our lives in 2019 as we turn the page into a new chapter together as a church family.
I just want to personally & publicly thank God for the ways He answered prayers this month. What God seems to be up to is just too much to put in an update, but here's just a few specific requests He answered in specific requests this past month-
:: Incredible opportunities to go deeper with friends in our lives who are not yet enjoying Jesus.
:: Several families had unheard-of housing opportunities open up to move into 'more strategic locations' in our focus neighborhoods and got clarity & open doors on jobs!
:: We've been praying for spiritual breakthrough for some of our members & our friends in the city and we experienced God give freedom in specific ways!
:: We have had several people express interest in what God is doing in & through our church and are at varying stages of pursuing membership with us-- including a few families praying about relocating their lives here to be part of our team. We're asking God to send more and more disciple-makers who desire to live on mission to the nations through being faithful here in this great city!
:: God continues to provide for us financially in ways that honestly, blow us away. During this month we had 2 churches begin partnering with us financially, many significant one-time gifts were given, and we had 3 new churches reach out wanting to partner with us by sending teams this year to help us pray & serve our neighborhoods! Once things are approved by our board, we will share a snapshot of where we are financially & our 2019 budget!
:: This month huge doors were opened with Denver Public Schools and organizations serving our refugee friends here. We aren't to a point to be able to publicly share details quite yet, but it is remarkable the favor God is giving us in certain parts of our neighborhood! We believe it's directly tied to our prayers!
:: We officially signed our contract for our facility to begin gathering this month at our friends' building at Denver Christian Bible Church at a lease rate that is the lowest we've seen or heard of in the city! God is so kind and good.
Celebrating Open Doors…Literally
One of the things I most enjoy about doing ministry in this city is the collaboration & brotherhood experienced by fellow pastors & leaders. The need is so vast & the cost so high that it cultivates a spirit of humility and interdependence & shatters a broader sense of competition. I've witnessed over & over again a celebration of other church's wins & a mourning losses in ways that truly reflect the Kingdom & the gospel.
One of the most vividly tangible examples of this for us is our new friends at Denver Christian Bible Church. Through my friendship with their pastor, they graciously have offered us (without us even asking) to use their space on Sunday evenings. We're so incredibly grateful for the ways God provides and for tangible answers to specific prayers! Real estate here in Denver is grossly high & to have a space like this for us to be together is nothing short of a gift of God. Will you pause for a moment and pray a prayer of blessing over Pastor John & the sweet people of this church?
We are so excited for The Oaks Church to be a host church to GenSend Summer Interns this year along side two other great church plants in our city (Josh Cook of Dwell Church & Skylar Anderson of Cypress Church pictured above at our latest planning meeting).
GenSend is an initiative of the North American Mission Board that provides young adults (ages 19-25) an opportunity to be fully immersed in what church planting looks like in an urban context, but also to be equipped with tools to live on mission in whatever context God calls them!
We believe in this program so much that we're pushing all of our potential interns to be part of this! Know anyone who may be interested in this? Participants who are directly tied to our partners will likely get to work directly with me & The Oaks this summer. Have them reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prayer Gatherings & Family Meal
Throughout January we were able to gather twice for corporate prayer, once in my house & another in our new space at Denver Christian. It was a bit surreal to take this next step & have space to enjoy a family meal afterward for our growing family!
Exponential Multipliers Cohort
I shared in our winter update about being accepted into a year long learning community with Exponential. Exponential is one of the top organizations in our country leading the conversation around the necessity & innovation to multiply churches. This cohort focuses on training & coaching in three essential elements of multiplication- cultivating a disciple-making culture, equipping & releasing 'missionaries' to be mobilized to pursue their calling in every corner of culture, and how to build capacity for our churches to becoming these sending hubs. The last cohort convened in beautiful Tampa, Florida for a couple days of prayer and equipping around what it means to mobilize our churches on mission. It was such a rich time- and it didn't hurt to escape this polar vortex to be in sunny Florida for a bit.
One-Year Anniversary & Commissioning
We just celebrated this past weekend our 1 Year anniversary of moving to Denver! My second full day last year was spent gathering with The Summit Church & The Heights Church for their annual Mile High Family Gathering. Last weekend (2/3) at that same gathering we were commissioned as The Oaks Church! God has been so remarkably faithful these past 365 days and we are eager to see the story we can tell this time next year.
I am so grateful for the friendship of Bryan & Corbin, the pastors of these other two churches in this Family of Churches network we're now officially a part of. It was also so sweet to have dear friends from Tri-Cities (our sending church) be here for this milestone in the life of our church. Through the kindness & generosity of Tri-Cities, a few of our leaders got to celebrate after the gathering together!
M3 Training with Hope Church
Our church would not be what it is today if not for the support of The Send Network & Colorado Baptists. They finanically support us very generously, but their investment in us is so much more. I have been connected with multiple SBC pastors from around the country interested in investing in kingdom work here with us, receive monthly coaching from experienced church planters/mentors, my wife & family have been supported & cared for, a built in network of friendships with other planters in Denver Metro, and multiple training opportunities-- all for free because of churches that give to the Cooperative Program of the SBC.
I just finished one of these trainings with one of the leading examples of what it means to be a sending church that makes disciples & expands the Kingdom among all nations-- Pastor Vance Pitman & his team from Hope Church in Las Vegas. I was equipped in tangible tools to lead our church in a kingdom-first mindset-- to serve & engage the city, make disciples, and then to plant churches out of this faithful gospel growth. May it be so with The Oaks Church and all our churches in this great city!
Strategic Ways to Pray in February
1 | Pray for Strength in the Spirit
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm." -Ephesians 6:10-13
Spiritual warfare is a reality. As we have increased in our intentionality to be a people of prayer & dependence on the Spirit, we have experienced much greater increase in spiritual warfare in multiple different ways. The enemy wants nothing more than to distract us, to divide us, to cause us to be so weary that we don't keep pushing to the frontlines & the margins of what God is doing here and around the world. Please pray we would have strength, not in ourselves, our strategies, our comfort, our preferences, our relationships, but that we would experience supernatural power that comes from the 'strength of his might.'
2 | Pray we would grow as disciples who make disciple-makers
Being sent out from our friends at The Summit means that we are officially moving out of 'Year 0' of my apprenticeship year with The Send Network and transitioning fully to the role of 'Lead Church Planter' and beginning our first year of full life as The Oaks Church. Here's an overview of what that means & ways you can pray for us--
:: Sunday, February 10th marks our first week of gathering weekly as a church family. For clarity, this does not mean our "church is launching," but rather that we are expanding our regular meeting rhythms away from being just for our "core leadership team" to begin to invite others from our city to join us. We will gather weekly to pray, worship, celebrate what God is doing through our efforts in the city & the nations, and cast vision & equip around our core convictions. Our hope is for this to grow naturally through relationships. Our plans are written in erasable ink & the Spirit holds the pen, but we will likely more publicly 'begin' sometime this Fall.
:: Oaks Communities are launched in March. These are not just simply our 'small group option' or one program we offer among others. We see these communities to be the primary means of what it means to be the Church, how we make disciples, how we care for people, how we train leaders, how we engage locally & globally, etc. Please pray for us throughout February as we train these leaders, finalize our development of how we make disciples in these spaces, and for there to be unity, wisdom, and clarity for us as we determine how many groups to have, where they are, and who goes with which Community.
:: Formation & Mobilization. Our strategy is fairly simple & consists of 3 main rhythms: We gather (in Oaks Communities who gather weekly together to celebrate & pray) to help people enjoy Jesus & live for the joy of others through formation (growing as disciples who make disciple-makers) and mobilization (empowering & releasing people to pursue their calling locally & globally). Please pray that we would not get distracted by many, many good things we could do and miss out on what we must do. We believe it's to relationally make disciples and plant churches here in SE Denver & among the nations. Pray for burden, urgency, and commitment to this focus & for fruit as we abide in Jesus to bring it about. We're asking God for a movement and spiritual awakening that begins in the West & spans across out country. We don't in any way assume or believe we're the answer to that, but we sure want to get in on and be a small part of what God is doing.
3 | Pray we would grow in obedience
"For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.
And his commandments are not burdensome." - 1 John 5:3
Each year, instead of New Year's resolutions, I get alone for a day or so to seek God on a specific theme/word He is calling me to pursue for the upcoming year. This is the 7th year I've done this practice and it blows me away to look back on each year to see how what God pressed into my heart at the beginning really did tell the story of that year. 2018 was a year of dependence-- and boy, did I grow in dependence, not just out of need (though we have plenty of that), but truly maturing to learn what it means to fast and pray and be led by the Spirit of God in tangible ways.
I believe God is calling me (and our church) into greater obedience in 2019.
God has been faithful to form a team of leaders around us. He's calling people everyday to pray about joining our community. I'm so proud of our people who are boldly and beautifully loving people in this city who do not yet enjoy Jesus. I'm asking that this year is a year of everyday, small steps of obeying what Jesus has told us to do. I'm asking that this vision He's put down in me and that's been owned by so many other people would not just be crafted words on a website, but would be embodied in all the big things we start and the everyday moments that feel really ordinary. I'm asking that we grow in the love of God and that our obedience would be a joyful response to who we already are and what we already have in the Father's affection for us. But that we also wouldn't be lulled to sleep that this means that we don't obey. As John says, this is what love is- to obey what He has said because we trust him. These commands, though it's leading to a death of self and the things of this world, is a path that leads to resurrection life, intimacy, flourishing.