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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A random night building connections

A few weeks ago I met a Scottish guy at Enterprise car rental. He is pretty cool. Big arms, awesome accent and quite friendly. So I did the logical thing, I invited him and his fiance over for a BBQ and they came! Amazing I know.

He called me last night and cashed in on my offer to help them move house. I immediately went over because he's a cool guy, I had given him my word and we are trying to build friendships in St. Louis. My brother in-law came for a bit as well. Here is how the night went:
  1. 3 trips back and forth moving the big stuff.
  2. Failed attempt to get the box springs up the stairs.
  3. They have an "Adams Family" stair doorway thing that is truly something from a kids adventure movie.
  4. He has an expensive plasma TV, sub and blueray player -- I was jealous.
  5. I met 2 of their friends.
  6. They talked about some colorful things.
  7. Afterwards we drank beer until 1am in the morning. (I had 2 bottles of bud select)
  8. I got to bed about 1.30am.
Why would I do this? Simple. People are AMAZING! People have been made by God for HIS fame. I want to connect with these random people so that they are not so random. I am paying the relational rent.

I pray that they get HUNGRY for God. I shared with them about my internship and Jubilee Church. The great thing is that I'm making friends and making friends of their friends. I love getting in on social networks. They are so fun. People are WORTH it.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Interview with a Kansas City Church Planter

Today I interviewed Jason Allen of LifeConnectionChurch in Kansas City. Jason launched the church in February this year and has some great pointers to share with us about his calling and the process he's going through. You can listen to the podcast using the player on the right. You can also download the mp3 file here or read below.

Matt: Jason, briefly tell me a bit about yourself. How did you get to where you are?

Jason: I grew up in Southern Missouri, in a little town called West Plain, for those who don't know, which would be just about everybody, its South East of Springfield -- out in the middle of nowhere. I grew up in a typical family. We were irreligious, we didn't even go to church for Easter or Christmas. My parents divorced when I was in High School. I was the kid who had lots of questions about spiritual things but at the same time was living a lifestyle that was running away from God. I had convictions that their was a God who existed but it didn't make much difference to my life. I became good a drinking and picking up girls.

I did have this other side where I was very inquisitive about spiritual things, asking lots of questions. It was really kinda weird that I was even concerned about that stuff. A guy helped me walk through some of those questions. Not many took my questions seriously. I can't say that I remember tones of his answers but what I remember is that he took the time and took it seriously. God used that to get my attention. That was THE thing that was instrumental in me coming to Christ.

Matt: That's awesome, you just gave me your testimony!

Jason: Yeah, that is pretty important to me in your question. That is what sparked an interest in campus ministry. My last 7-8 years since graduating has been in collegiate ministry. The environment of having people openly ask you questions and searching for direction in life. The collegiate population is doing that. A lot of times I had Christian friends who were very sceptical of the academic environment and even anti state school, which was the environment where I felt I fit the best. I found people more like myself, wrestling with questions in life and trying to self-medicate and having very little success along the way.

Matt: How did you get to the decision of starting a new church?

Jason: It was definitely a long process. It started about 7 years ago when church planting first came on my radar. I was like a lot of young 20 somethings, and I was a guy, very immature, extremely arrogant, extremely over confident in my own abilities.

Matt: I cannot relate to what you are saying at all!

Jason: Yeah, I know, you probably have a friend right?

Matt: Yeah, I know a guy!

Jason: So, I had this vague discontent with church stuff. It didn't fit with the people I was around. They weren't interested in this antiquated institution. Church planting popped on my radar and it was weird! It didn't look like any kind of church meeting I'd ever experienced. The kind of stories I was hearing about changed lives and then learning about the strategy of church planting. The statistics that are indicating that if you want to reach people with the gospel you want to plant churches it takes far fewer people for every single conversion in a church plant than an existing church. Those kind of things started at least to peek my curiosity.

I often struggled through motivation because I was extremely immature, God had given enough Grace for me to realize that to try to start a church because you are ticked off is not the place to go. I continually wrestled with what is driving this desire to think that we might need to start a church? Is it just being disgruntled and not being able to exist in an existing church? Is it thinking that we are better than other people and so we can do this far better than the church down the street can? But, overtime I started to see a shift. Even after wrestling through the motivation I could see that God was calling us to personally take part in church planting. We have always done what we can to point students in the direction of church planting. I'd always tried to get students connected with church plants when they graduate. Or with opportunities during the summer to do internships.

About 2 years ago my wife and I invited some people in the process with us. Community is really important to us, especially in decision making. If the people that know me well come back and say church planting isn't right for you guys then I'd need to take that seriously. Along the way we continued to have validation from people. There came a point where we made a decision to launch a new church.

Matt: During your college ministry did your desire to see students being involved in church planting increase a desire for it yourself?

Jason: Yes. I don't want to over evaluate what we did. We hadn't developed a pipeline where people where leaving the ministry and starting churches but we would say "Hey, you are graduating and moving to St. Louis, I know a church plant in St. Louis you could get involved with". I don't want to be grandeur in what we accomplished. But, we did in our experience at the University of Central Missouri, in the last year and a half of my time there we started The Campus Church Network. It was more of a house church model, or a dorm/apartment model, where we were tying to spark something organically.

In a campus like that there seemed to be some correlation between that and the church planting movement around the world. But it is not taking root in the US, although we thought if there is an opportunity anywhere it might be on the college campus. We experimented with trying to start a few campus churches and see those multiply. We didn't see the results the like in other parts of the world, thousands being baptized, but we did have some cool stories and saw some people encounter Christ that would have never done so otherwise.

Matt: Do you have students involved in the new church?

Jason: Yeah, in my mind it's obvious that when starting a church you are beginning with your relational network. If you think about recruiting it's who you know. For us the last 8 years of our life has been student work so on the one side our team that began, accept for a couple of them, were all a part of ministry with us along the way. And that is the large reason that our average age right now is 24, and we are not huge, it's not like we have 5,000 people. Our reason for it is because of our experience with ministry. We are close enough to the University of Central Missouri that we have people who are involved even on a limited week to week basis as well UCM is regional and so a lot of people who are there are Kansas City people. So we are going to have maybe ten people this summer who will be coming back home and are planning on getting involved.

Matt: Give me some basic details about the church. Were you planted out, who are you affiliated with?

Jason: The spearheading of the church planting process really began with us. Our primary sponsoring church is First Baptist Church of Warrensburg. They did not initiate the process but we said we want to start a church. They have been THE key church in helping us get to where we are at right now. Their support has been invaluable. With that we are connected in the network of the Southern Baptist Convention. I get questions like "Why SBC? Why no be independent?" To be honest with you I think that part of it has been knowing myself, my own tendencies towards pride. Thinking that I am self sufficient. I didn't want to become the ruggedly independent church "Look at us, look at what we can accomplish on our own, without you!" I see that a lot. Not every independent church is like that. We wanted to be able community. It exists at a network level. Where SBC is like any family. You've got the weird uncle, and they look at me and think I am like the weird cousin.

Too often people are intrigued by the ideal of community but when the rubber meets the road and relationships get ugly and messy we want to jet and I wonder how often that plays a part into people doing church hoping. Someone upset me here, and instead of doing the hard work of community and living life together and dealing with hurt together. Network wise, this has been what we know. I have not always been a part of SBC life. But, I was for the last 7-8 years. I don't think you just walk out on a family just because there is something better down the road.

Matt: Why Kansas City?

Jason: We love Kansas City. My wife grew up in this area. When we first got married we lived here for a few years before we moved to Warrensburg. We love the city. It's great. We understand it, it makes sense to us culturally, so in some way the "why" really was a short missiological leap. We knew what it was like to live here. We know the personality. In one way will require less work. Not that it's easy, but it would be different if we headed to New York City or Boston.

Also, tied with that, Kansas City is strategic for this region. 53-58% of the 2 million metropolitan population are in no worshipping community. 1.2 million. If we think about the opportunity to affect this entire region the Kansas City makes a lot of sense. We are specifically in Independence, the eastern side of Kansas City. As you know it is a weird combination of suburbs and townships. It's a different kind of city. Independence is one of the largest cities geographically. There is over a 110,000 in population. Up until this last fall we had 6-7 school districts in Independence.

It seemed strategic that in Independence we can influence students who will end up going to school in other places.

Matt: Give me a step by step process on how you started the church? From the initial group to going public?

Jason: It's been about a year and a half that we started quietly recruiting people which happened very relationally. We went to people who had graduated from the ministry we had been a part of and where getting ready to graduate from University and just opened the invitation to come with us. We didn't see tones of people from that. We landed in June 2007 with 16 people on the launch team. For good or ill we have not had any churches who have had people interested in coming. We began a Sunday night gathering where the first half was a bible study where we looked at our core DNA of the early church and tracked it through the scriptures. We talked about the implication of living out mission here in the city. What does it look like to be in community. Truth, beauty and generosity: what does all that look like? What does it mean for us?

The second part of the Sunday night gathering was planning and preparation. It began as preparation for ministry events. Last summer we hosted a couple of block parties and some kids camps in neighborhoods. We had some mixed results in terms of how beneficial they were. But, we were trying to make connection with people in the neighborhood. Along the way that planning and preparation shifted from events to structure. Like what is a Sunday more system going to look like? In the fall of last year we started a monthly preview service which essentially was a Sunday morning worship experience. Everything that we were going to do once we launched happened on that Sunday. So there was music, teaching, kids ministry. From that we built some momentum and exposure in the community. It was something we were able to invite people to. We have people involved right now who came to preview services.

Matt: How did the community around you respond to advertisements of a new church in the area?

Jason: Again we saw mixed results. We found that the Sunday night gatherings, after inviting people to those, we realized that there was an oddness to it, like it's not really church. Even people who have never been to church have this idea of going to church on Sunday mornings. That's what we are finding. It helped us because we had a Sunday experience that we could invite people to. People came to the morning previews who would never have come to the Sunday night bible study. We didn't see a huge turn out. The largest one was about 80 adults.

At the same time we had organic marketing. Passing out packs of gum at the shopping center I am sitting at right now. We had a sticker on there that said: Life Connection Sneak preview service. We didn't have the money nor the ability to do a mass mailer at that point. We had some good return on that investment. People came and gave us some very positive feedback. We tried to communicate very intentionally that we need all kinds of church to reach all kinds of people. We are not here thinking that we are better than any other churches. There is a church right down the street from the school we meet at that is running 1500 attendance on the weekend. God is doing some pretty cool stuff there. What we say is that we are different. Not better or worse, but different. Because of that we are seeing the kinds of people connecting who appreciate that difference.

We've seen about 20 people who prior to LifeConnection never attended Church before. We have people coming who are not even believers, they come religiously. We have to remind ourselves that we have people coming on a Sunday who would not otherwise be in church.

Matt: What was the time period in which you went public?

Jason: February 10, 2008, the week after Superbowl we launch, just a few months ago, with a crowd
of 133 adults. Right now we are hovering around 60-70 adults. We are really just trying to learn. We had a ministry team meeting last night and we were asking what we needed to do to gain momentum for the summer. Knowing what I know from other experiences in church planting that the first summer is horrendous. Actually, this summer is an opportunity for ministry not just to make it through. We are trying to experiment and see what fits in our context.

Matt: What have been the most challenging aspects of starting a church?

Jason: Primarily it is having appropriate expectations. I have a tendency to dream big so to gain traction and momentum has been hard. For others that's not hard. I have a friend across town who is killing it. We looked like a glorified bible study compared to them.

Trying to refocus our sense of expectation because when you do the research you find out that those who start with the right expectations are still around in 5 years. Those who end up closing shop trace it back to not meeting expectations. Another hard thing is in comparing ourselves to others. Why are we not seeing the results that guy is seeing in that other city? Why is it that lots of churches are supporting them, we are in one of the biggest denominations in the world, and with very little support even in our own city. That reveals more of my own heart than anything else.

Matt: How do you keep yourself walking strong with God?

Jason: Spending time with God and being able to process with people. Community is more than just an ideal for us. We say that all of life and mission happens in the context of the community. Being able to have time alone to just process on my own can be helpful to revitalize.

Matt: What would be your advice, ideas or tips for me when I plant a church?

Jason: Firstly, having a deep commitment to the gospel and to gospel transformation. The thing that I hang my hope on right now is that it's the gospel that changes lives and not our programs or our slick techniques. But if we want to see deep rooted change happen in the city it is going to come about because the gospel is taking root. I think for me that is where it has to begin. If its just about really wanting a church where people don't feel condemned, or really wanting a church that is not program driven, then it's going to fail because it is not tied to a deep commitment of gospel transformation.

Secondly, it's having a deep commitment to the process of planting because its just too freaking hard to go into it thinking this could be a good idea. If we don't have an I'm going to do whatever it takes attitude it's going to be too easy to pack it in.

Thirdly, on the practical side we found that utilizing preview services was really beneficial to us. We want to become a church planting church. I have experienced so many people who have come to me and said you need to do it the way we are doing it. I don't want to get to the place where we are dictating what you should do, but with that said, the preview services were invaluable to our experience. Looking back we would have shifted it a little bit. We did them for 4 months and probably should have shortened that time frame. In October when we had our first one, the thought that we would be having meetings every week after that is a scary proposition. All the stuff that went wrong! We would of had to have worked it out for the next Sunday, but we had an entire month to work through it. Part of it for us is that we are all very green. I was never on a church staff I was never invited into leadership in the church and so the thought of leading in a church setting in a lot of ways I am inexperienced.

Matt: Jason, thank you so much for your time. Really really appreciate it.


What risky, innovative and world changing things are you doing?

One of my top 10 movies of all time is Operation Condor featuring Jackie Chan. It's a total guy movie. Lot's of hilarious martial arts fighting sequences. Recently I found the top 10 Jackie Chan stunts on YouTube (featured below) which gave me that nostalgic childhood adventure feeling -- kupow!

These stunts were MORE than incredible! They were life endangering, original and set Jackie apart in his field. They make you gasp!

It got me thinking. Am I innovating/risk taking, or just imitating because it's "safe"? Jackie Chan did not settle for safe. He pushed the boundaries. So, am I living a life for Jesus that puts him first, or just copies what others are doing? Will I only do things that feel safe?

Some challenge questions I am asking myself:
  1. What theological convictions have I simply accepted and not sought God on myself?
  2. Are there any other motives behind my leadership roles other than helping others and making God look BIG?
  3. What am I afraid of?
  4. What do I procrastinate about? Why?
  5. Do I know WHY we do church the way we do? Do I know WHY others do it their way?
  6. Do my actions line up with my life goals?
  7. What things will I NOT seek advice or help on?
  8. Do I have non-negotiables with God?
Checkout the top 10 Jackie Chan Stunts:

Friday, April 25, 2008

A big and dangerous vision: Newday 2008

If you don't know I head-up ONEBLAZE, a Christian youth event for grades 7-12.

A few years ago I attended Newday, a Newfrontiers youth event in the UK, and it was AMAZING! The UK youth are doing something so BIG and so DANGEROUS for God that you can't help but be ruined by the vision.

Thousands of teens take on cities, camp out in local parks/race courses, and through local churches serve the community. The effect of all this? Many people find hope through faith in Christ and are added to the local churches, many youth become Christians at the Newday event and a generation of teenagers are transformed to live sacrificial lives for the sake of Jesus Christ -- who gave everything for them.

The message of Jesus is still changing the world today and you CANNOT stop it -- so you may as well join it.

My hope and prayer is that the youth of ONEBLAZE will do the same dangerous things. That our events, based in local churches and for the benefit of the communities around us will see great fruit in the lives of millions! I don't just want to see communities with fresh paint or cleaner yards. But I want to see people made right with God. To have the spiritual emptiness filled by Jesus.

Here is the promo video for Newday 2008. Please watch it and imagine what ONEBLAZE will be like. What an inspiration!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

7 Processors for Church Planting Interns

I just read this article by Vince Antonucci which reviews The Multiplying Church by Bob Roberts, a book I am currently reading. Bob Roberts takes his interns through 7 processors and Vince has identified 7 land mines he sees with a lot of church plants. His mines are in italics and my responses to each are bold. I tried to be as honest as I could:
  1. Guys who are planting because they want to be the leader and do their own thing rather than feeling called. If that's you, you'll quit.
    I do want to be a leader, I think I am ok with not being THE leader, but there is a tug in me to take the lead -- this ties into an area of thinking I have in needing to be "right". I have heard from God about doing the Church Planting Internship and I have somewhat been groomed for leadership from a young age. I am aware that I have struggled with self-reliance a lot and self-promotion. God has spoken to me many times about how he opposes the proud, and gives grace to the humble. I need help from other leaders so that I fall back onto my calling and not make it about my ideas and strategy.

  2. Guys who steal someone else's values because their church is successful, "so maybe we can capture some of their mojo!"
    I am not aware of myself having this problem. I tend not to want to copy things, but reformulate them or create things I get from intuition. Plus, I feel pretty strongly about my values. For church, I value intimate and celebratory worship, clear bible teaching, baptism in the Holy Spirit & spiritual gifts, creativity, excellence, smart strategy, etc... But, I do feel like my values need to mature more and be rooted in scripture, rather than just preference (my preference is greatly molded by my Newfrontiers upbringing)

  3. Guys whose purpose is to start a "cool church" rather than win lost people to Christ and glorify God.
    I hate this mentality. It's stupid in my opinion. No cool or just "fun" church for me. I'm going for power -- I want the real deal! I want to transform society through communities of radical givers -- that's never cool or fun.

  4. Guys who have a vision but don't share it concisely, passionately, and consistently.
    I have a vision for sure and I can get pretty passionate about it. But I do need to learn more skills in being concise and consistent. Do my mentors have any thoughts here?

  5. Guys who have no strategy. They have a vision, maybe they pray, and they just hope/assume it's gonna happen.
    I have some steps in mind and I like coming up with strategy, but the key for me is to do it through a team. Right now, in the internship, I am building connections through social encounters (made another contact last night) and will aim to do some type of neighborhood event and look to launch an alpha (or something similar) out of all this. I always feel challenged about getting other people to really own the steps towards the vision. They own the vision, but not always the steps. This might be because I need to be more relaxed about the specifics of the steps or release people to do it their way and work with them. I feel this is something I do need to grow in. Sometimes I see the steps so clearly that I am inflexible with what others want to do.

  6. Guys who do it all rather than developing layers of leadership in the church.
    I am fully convinced that more can be done together than apart. I am convinced that leader multiplication is a kingdom principle. I was recently challenged by the idea of having an Apprentice Leader. The key in that title is that the apprentice has to be apprenticed by someone -- a leader! I have already taken steps to be more purposeful about developing guys.

  7. Guys who don't evaluate how they're doing. Maybe the worst thing that can happen is early success because it can lull us, if we don't do evaluation, into complacency.
    Doing a Church Planting Internship is all about evaluation. You try stuff, then you debrief and evaluate the process and your attitudes. I have a mentor and I just started meet weekly with another guy so I am in good relationships with guys who can challenge and evaluate me. Plus, I have developed a very extensive peer assessment tool that I will be mailing out to people here soon to get feedback and measure my growth. My only hope is that this evaluation continues as I plant out. It depends how far removed I will be from other leaders I am currently close to. This could be a challenge I face down the road.

Monday, April 21, 2008

What have you learned in the last 20 days?

It's been 20 days since my last post. The Church Planting Internship is continuing to be amazing simply because it's the most challenging thing we've ever done. We have about 40 active subscribers to our blog and I was wondering what our readers have learned over the the last 20 days? Please comment. Here is our journey:

Wentzville Preview Meetings
Rick Hein has successfully completed 2 church preview meetings out in Wentzville and there are 3 more to go. We have learned:
  1. This is an outside-in strategy, rather than an inside-out strategy. Rick has done a lot in the community to generate guests at these 5 monthly preview meetings before launch. The first Sunday had 55 guests, with a total of 109 people. Last Sunday had 17 guests. Rick will form a church launch team from visitors who display interest. This method allows a leader to launch a church faster and with larger numbers. It is opposite to building a small group and then launching a church from the group. There is nothing wrong with that approach but it can take a lot longer.
  2. Jubilee Wentzville is not technically a new church, but rather a new location of an existing church. This is a genius approach to church planting because it means you can launch even faster and can facilitate growth better. For example, the original church already has a website, logo, staff policies, bank account, documents, resources, books, volunteers, charitable status, book keeping, secretaries, equipment, and the list goes on. Removing these practical elements for the leader frees them up to focus on vision, teaching/preaching, networking and building a community. Working smarter not harder!
  3. Rick does a great job of making it easy for people to connect with the church. It is so important that guests are comfortable and that assimilating them is not cumbersome. Rick uses a communication card, placed on each chair with a pen, which has all kinds of options for people to select. He explains what the card is and asks people to fill it in and clearly sets the level of expectation of what will happen if people check certain boxes. One option on the card is "Get to know Jubilee". If checked, Rick invited guests into his home to personally connect with them and gauge their level of interest. This is a clear process to move guests into team players.
  4. See a video slideshow of the first preview launch at the bottom of the post.
We Moved Downstairs
Just over 2 weeks ago we moved to the downstairs apartment because, among other things, we desired easier stroller access. We have learned:
  1. Connection to our neighbors is easier than ever. We can see who's about and what's happening because we are on the street level now. Love this neighborhood!
  2. For example, I saw the mailman outside and after talking with him ended up praying for his feet to be healed of stress fractures. He really appreciated it. We met 5 more neighbors in the process of moving. I guess movement = connection and stagnation = disconnection.
  3. God used the process of moving to bring out character issues in me. I was getting frustrated with the amount of time it was taking. I got frustrated that we missed our running group that week. I was thinking that my regular behavior, connecting with people in a running group, would mean I was being a good church planter who was in consistent interaction with the community. Idiot! Behavior does not determine identity. Identity determines behavior! I set unreasonable standards for myself. Chill pill.
Traveling: St. Joseph & Atlanta
2 weekends ago I traveled to Living Hope Church in St. Joseph Missouri with John Lanferman, Euan Crane and Curt Mccutchan to observe how John helps churches. Heather drove 10 hours to Atlanta with our 4 month old Jones to see her parents -- yes my wife is crazy! We learned:
  1. We hate being apart. I especially hate it because a diet of pizza and beer is not the best for you. Thankfully I ate better on the trip than I did at home by myself.
  2. John Lanferman is good at asking questions and helping church leaders identify where they are at and how to change.
  3. Some top quotes from John are (paraphrased):
    1. "You need to establish clear measurements so that you know when you have a win. You can't play basketball without any hoops. A lot of churches don't know if they are winning or losing and it's got to be more than numerical attendance -- that's just a small aspect if it".
    2. "Nothing is sacred. You have to keep the goal in mind. Be ruthless in evaluation."
    3. "You need to spend your money on people more than buildings. Buildings are important, but with a student ministry you wont see any return from it. So invest the money you have into a longterm strategy to develop leaders from your student work."
    4. "The mission comes before the community."
  4. Heather and I always learn from her parents whenever we spend time with them. Heather commented that they were training her just in the way they live.
Ozarks & Wet Door Hangers
Last Thursday I spent a day at the Lake of the Ozarks praying with a group of church leaders. Then, I spent the next rainy day distributing door hangers in Wentzville. I learned:
  1. It is SO important to gather with other men who share the same vision and talk about what's happening at our various scenes. I got seriously stirred about our mission together.
  2. Johnny Privett, a church leader from Nashville TN, shared about the recent growth they had experienced through students. They sent a lot of Baptist kids to a Newfrontiers 20's conference and it totally changed their perspective of God.
  3. I don't enjoy walking around in the rain, but I was happy to do it because we were distributing door hangers for the church launch and I was with Grant Barns. He has more excitement and energy than a supernova!
Freelance Work
Last week I completed a small website. I learned:
  1. I still love writing website code. I know that sounds geeky but there is something very rewarding about taking a beautiful design and making it functional.
  2. I can still code complete websites using notepad. I realized I didn't have the latest version of Dreamweaver, so I hand coded it ALL in notepad. CSS layouts included.
  3. God is providing work for us as an answer to prayer. We've taken a big step of faith and God is proving to be faithful.
I met this awesome Scottish guy and invited him and his fiancé over to grill out last night. We learned:
  1. Meeting strangers and having them over is not always that hard.
  2. People have the best stories and love to tell them. I know this mainly because I like to talk about myself a lot. I'm trying to ask more questions.
  3. Everybody wants community. We hung out with these guys from 5:30-10:30pm because we WANTED to and they WANTED to. They didn't have to come around, they didn't even know us. Actually, I'd only met him 3 times. Total strangers, total fun and totally rewarding! I hope we hit a longterm friendship off with them.
Wentzville Preview Service #1 Video:

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Weekend in Chicago

This weekend we traveled to Chicago to visit Tim & Chloe Steinke who have been gathering people. Our friend Amie Fox flew in to join us. Our purpose was to observe what the Steinke's have been building, explore God's heart for the city and preach at their meeting Sunday night.

Here is a video of us in Chicago:
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Highlights of the weekend:
  1. The Steinke's rule! They are full of God.
  2. Their two precious kids ask the best questions about God. Quote from Jethro "Mommy, does God like jokes?"
  3. Both Heather and I felt sick, Heather was really sick and in bed. The Steinke's and Adam & Kez prayed for us, and we worshiped together in their front room. We were both restored to health. God is so powerful!
  4. Tim & Chloe engaged about 6 different people over the course of the weekend, while we were out and about, and invited them to Fusion. We were personally challenged by their boldness and proactivity in reaching people.
  5. We met an 80+ year old man, John, who had planted 3 churches and pastored for over 40 years. He has written a number of books. What a legend and inspiration!
  6. We drove through Chicago and checked out a few locations. What a city!
  7. We went to the botanical gardens. Not so amazing this time of year, but still worth seeing some ducks.
  8. We visited Fusion and I spoke about serving those in need based on the story of the good Samaritan. They had a number of guests. The worship was charged and Heather brought a prophetic song -- their is nothing as satisfying as entering God's presence.
  9. Both Heather and I enjoyed our time with Tim & Chloe and felt a connection with them. I was amazed at how much they had done considering Tim has a 60 hour work week and Chloe is a full time Mom looking after 2 energetic kids. Keep up the good work guys!
Heather and I will be praying about Chicago and talking with other leaders to see what God might have in mind. Please pray for Fusion. Watch this space ...