Posts Tagged ‘church’

Monday

Posted: September 26, 2017 in Moments of God, Seattle Church Plant
Tags: , , ,

CaptureMonday – I love Mondays. It gives us a great opportunity to walk into the lives of people around us and bring blessing and encouragement to the beginning of their week. Mondays around the offices of Epic Life Church are a bit busy and full of conversation and…let’s just say, “other things.”

This past Monday went something like this. It’s good to reflect on these Mondays.

    1. I got to drink coffee at Victrola Coffee with a great friend of mine, Jared Burwell, who is a pastor of a new church in SkyWay and is reaching the neighborhood in really awe-inspiring ways. He is a great leader and disciple-maker and friend.  New Story
    2. Then I had to run back north and swing into the Wendals Licencing center on 130th to get a new license plate for my new 1984 Honda Prelude. Nice little car with only 50k miles on it. d1b5409086c27a37a1c8c2391e81f797--honda-prelude-It should last another 200k. While there I got to encourage the lady behind the desk who was clearly downcast in her soul.
    3. I stopped through RiteAid to get some vitamin C – a cold is going around my home. For some reason decided to pull out $40 cash from my debit card when I paid for the V-C.
    4. After receiving my new plates with a “What the…” price tag, I received a text from a friend who asked what was happening at the church building. because he was turned away from entering the parking lot by a dozen armed police officers.  ?
    5. Driving down the street the mile back to the office wondering what happened in the Giving Room, I turned up Stone Ave. and saw the aforementioned text in 3D. Yes indeed, there were several officers walking down the street with heavy gear and weapons. But the action was over and upon talking with an officer I learned a man from the streets pulled a very real looking pellet gun, but didn’t threaten anyone with it, and was sent on his way.
    6. I did get to then spend a half hour with officer Jeff Dotson who told me that earlier that month Hector
      Hector

      Hector

      had prayed over him while he was on duty on Aurora Ave. N. He also said he really likes what Epic Life is doing on Aurora Ave. and what we bring to the city that the city just doesn’t get. “They throw money at the problems hoping to fix them, you find problems fix them.”

    7. There is a prayer meeting happening this morning, praying for the neighborhood.
    8. The Giving Room was in full swing with dozens of guests taking advantage of
      Grace

      Grace

      receiving bags of groceries to help their meal planning throughout the week. Grace is busy, leading her team, praying for people, sorting shelves, carrying boxes of food, organizing, and smiling.

    9. Also in the Giving Room are several Brothers and Sisters sharing, helping, caring, disciplining and reading the Word with our friends who spend hours sitting in a community, which they long for, as most live in solitude. Many in a government housing project for the mentally, physically and addicted ill. They smile here.
    10. After the giving room shuts down for the day, a prayer meeting starts back up, clean-up occurs, and then a Bible Study. The people who are caring for our less fortunate neighbors, actually care for them so much they pray for them by name.
    11. Laura has been here most of the morning – counseling. She is a professional and points people to Jesus while counseling through life.
    12. The Preschool has been running throughout this morning – ten kids, several from the Epic Life family and several from the neighborhood. Katy does
      Katy

      Katy

      such a great job teaching, encouraging, caring and loving these kids. It’s a beautiful multi-cultural class. The parents will come in and drop off the kids and come back to get them, sometimes hanging around the office drinking coffee.

    13. One man came in asking for work. Not to be paid, but so he will be able to stop drinking. He wants structure. I showed him some gardening and clean up things he could do. We made a clipboard for him and time schedule. He smiles.
    14. A man, who attended the service on Sunday came back today- looking for some money to help him get back to Colorado. He just had throat surgery and can barely speak. I had just gotten $40 from my debit card at the RiteAid, he needed it.
    15. One man found himself on the yellow couch in the office. Drunk. Ashamed. Hector, Alyssa
      Alyssa

      Alyssa

      and I prayed over him. Encouraged him to allow the grace of the King to wash over him.

    16. Justin
      Justin

      Justin

      spent the afternoon working on the stage upstairs. Tearing an old drum cage apart, making more room, listening to music, preparing for Sunday.

    17. Aaron showed up later, after teaching all day and commuting for more of it, to sand, sweep and paint the stage, because he saw it
      Aaron

      Aaron

      needed to be done and he knew how to do it. He’s our soundman, electric guitar player, and elder.

    18. This morning two neighbors emailed us to let us know an extension cord was plugged into an outlet on our building and strung three houses down the alley. They are the same outlets the men and women of the street gather around to charge their phones, smoke, sleep, shootup, and commit other nefarious acts. We will be taking these outlets out.
    19. I opened the front doors only to run into a man sleeping on the steps next to a little girl’s bicycle. He got up, staggered, mumbled, clearly high on substance. He asked for food, he got some, he stumbled away.
    20. Tonight a dozen or so ladies from the neighborhood will show up for an hour to Zumba.
    21. Some kids and their parents will play in the playground after school lets out, maybe after dinner.
    22. There will be a couple of little girls digging in the sand volleyball court.
    23. Later tonight, someone will sleep in one or more of our doorways, smoke some cigarettes, weed, or vapor, someone else will shoot heroin into his or her veins, a young woman will be left on the cold concrete.

This Monday will end and another will come – have we shared the miraculous love of the miraculous King. Our hands, our feet, our voice, our eyes, all convey love. Share it.

Oh…and there was no race or political bent in this post, yet it was full of many different people from many different family groups, no fingers were pointed, only love given.

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This is in response to a previous post, https://keithcarpenter.wordpress.com/2010/09/02/i-owe-it-to-catalyst/, about the Catalyst One Day event I went to. If you haven’t read that post you may want to do that first along with the comments attached to it.
I want to come at this topic again and suggest a solution that may be helpful. I did hear from Catalyst via Twitter, which was kind and may show some interest in knowing and understanding the gap that is often represented between sharing the wisdom of mega-church and the wisdom of small church leaders.
Thank you Catalyst for asking this question on Twitter, @CatalystLeader “Thanks Keith, I agree! 🙂 but I have no power to fix this. Solution ideas?”
As I have plunged into this church planting journey and am coming up on our one year anniversary as Epic Life Church here in North Seattle, I am starting to see and understand things in a new light. One thing I have come to understand is that wisdom must be sought after from many different perspectives. The “how to” of ministry hasn’t been perfected by one church, denomination, pastor, leader, or group. I can’t just listen to the wisdom of All White Mega-Church America to understand how to minister on Aurora Avenue to a multi-ethnic, social, economic, and age demographic. I can learn a lot from them but their model, strategy and leadership style isn’t going to work here.
What I need is to learn from someone who has been in my shoes. Someone who is living what I am experiencing. Of course all churches/ministries are different and require more personal touches and less corporate structure but the guys who are walking in a similar journey would better speak into “success” here.
Catalyst is suppose to be big and exciting and something that encourages and pushes us forward with great teaching on leadership and church growth and seeing the multitudes come to Christ.  I am not against these things. They are great and Acts talks about mega churches all the time. But…
What if the big conferences like Catalyst invited pastors of small churches, those who have served faithfully for years in small communities or rough neighborhoods, who can share the wisdom God has taught them about perseverance and hope and faith, etc. (Of course these would have to be selected well, some small church pastors haven’t seen growth for years because they suck as pastors and are lazy and unfaithful). What if these leaders stood along side the mega-church leaders and held just as much respect, or even better what if the mega-church pastor visibly gave them respect? Wow, how powerful would it be if Andy, Craig, Mark, Bill, Rick, (put in your house hold named pastor), would stand up and edify a church planter who is carving out a ministry on the streets of a city where the mega-church suburbanites only dare to send a youth mission team once a year for a “cross-cultural” experience. That would be something to sit up and take notes on!
(Just so everyone knows, I respect these men I mentioned above. They are doing great things for the Kingdom and to advance the Gospel in the way God has called them. Please don’t miss quote me.)
Again I think it is very dangerous to our church culture to only hear from the Mega-Church pastors. It begins to set a “success” standard that frankly isn’t necessarily success.  Sadly a conference on “How to do Small Church Successfully” wouldn’t be attended, or woefully so. But in conjunction with a Catalyst-ish conference with big worship and thousands in attendance, that could be so sweet and my brothers on the streets who are pastors and beating the streets with feet down would be stoked that someone is noticing them and the importance of their work, and the success of their ministry.
And, it would encourage them to continue and continue well. Their churches would send them to conferences like this because they would come back with things they can actually use.  Sorry, but not all principles for mega-churches work for small churches, many do, but many don’t.
Oh, don’t miss this last point.   There is so much, more than they may think, that my pastor colleagues Andy, Craig, Mark, Bill, Rick, etc. can learn from the church planter or small church pastor.

I owe the Catalyst people a short explanation of a negative tweet I post a few days ago. My post, “Loved #catoneday grt teaching. Only I think big church pastors are out of touch with church planters and small churches.”

Like I said the One Day conference was extremely good and I gleaned much from the speakers, Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel, and I will be applying so much to my ministry and passing it on to the leaders of Epic Life Church. It is great stuff.

The later part of my post was a bit more negative but I couldn’t help, half way through the afternoon, thinking to myself that these two, along with Mark Driscoll and Judah Smith, seemed really out of touch with the small church pastor and church planting pastors.  It seems odd because each of them started the churches they are now involved in, save Judah, and they all are in the process of starting more campuses, which really do not reflect the structure, resources and environment of the small church or church plant.

As I listened to these great men of God and equally great pastors and leaders tell all 1500 of us, sitting with willing ears and attentive souls, their schedule throughout the week I was a bit taken back. None of them said a word about interacting with the lost, or people who are currently located outside the walls of their respective Church Bodies.

Andy hinted about a relationship that he was building with a painter, but it was a very small portion of the entire day. These men shared their weekly schedules with us, divulging when their staff meetings were and when they prepared for the weekend talks and when they took time for themselves and their families, when they vacationed and Sabbathed, but not one word was mentioned, as far as I can remember, hinting towards their own personal involvement in the lives of the Christless world.

Again, I have a lot of respect for these men, as I am sure 99% of the others squished into the “for skinny people only” theater seating of the City Church’s auditorium. But, that means we, most of us who were in attendance, who lead much smaller churches or, like me, am in the first year of the new church Epic Life, we are listening and respecting and then trying hard to replicate the actions of those we look up to. Which means we would spend no time, none, on the streets ministering to the homeless, marginalize, widows and fatherless. And in essence not fulfilling the Gospel Call.

Hmmm. I am sure this is not what they wanted to get across. When I tweeted that statement at the end of the One Day event a friend of mine in Wisconsin dialogued briefly with me the virtues of big church and the need for pastors who are focused on the Flock, because of the size, they can’t be expected to be “on the ground,” and that both are needed.

To a point I agree and if it was presented in that fashion then maybe I wouldn’t be making it such a big deal. But it wasn’t presented like that. I actually began to feel bad for sitting on Aurora Ave. waiting for my pizza to cook from “Good Guys Pizza” while I prayed for the strippers sitting outside the “Dancing Bares” taking their smoke break two doors North and not being home at 5:30 but instead going from there back to a planning meeting as we pursue more ways to reach the, literally, Lost.

These men kept telling us that we need to be home by 5:30 every night, take vacations, Sabbaths, spend two days working on the weekend talks, delegate, keep things edgy and creative, blog continually, making killer videos, writing books and travel around speaking at conferences.  When I am sure at one time they too sat in my shoes and I would think the shoes of hundreds of those in attendance.

The shoes that haven’t been paid in a year, that can’t afford to record the message in a studio and then go on vacation, that has to work a job and preach, that are on the streets lifting the Lost off the streets, that are actively building relationships in their city with the secular world, that has no staff, that is actively creating a garden space in an empty lot, that frequents businesses to get a chance to share Christ, that is truly going into the world and making disciples, that have served for years and have never gotten a day off, that has no retirement fund or insurance or dental plan or college savings or any savings but gives their meager income away to anyone who comes to the “door.”

Those people are who these pastors were speaking to. Men and women who are giving more than can be written about to see one person come to Christ. There is a passage in the Word that calls us to be willing to leave our families behind for Christ’s sake. Luke 14:26. And although we might not take this literally it still has to be considered, when it is only in this country that as pastors we are taught take care of ourselves and our family first.  Pastors in countries like China actually are giving up their lives and are in hiding yet still preach, pastors in continents like Africa spend countless hours walking from village to village to preach the Word and pastors in countries in the Middle East are getting beheaded along with their family for preaching the Gospel.

But here we are in the Western church glazing over passages that tell us to give all.

Please remember the beginning of this post. I still highly respect each of these men and I have never put down “big” church, because I know they have done great things in this world to advance the Gospel to the multitudes. Far greater things than the small church could and let’s face it, often it is the smaller church that is unwilling to change, that reeks havoc on the perception of Christianity.

But…gentlemen…you are leading Catalyst! Such a great influencer of young minds and young leaders. You now have the opportunity to teach sacrifice and not make us feel that we are doing our family a disservice serving God and following after the vision he has called us to. You all have been in our shoes and those same “big” churches are big because someone sacrificed something and God blessed it and that someone was probably you. But if we allow the next generation to believe that they have to act and exist like a big church when they begin there will be no one lasting long enough to become big.

I confess, I am nothing. Just a church planter with a church that is less than a year old and just now breaking a meager 100 in attendance. What do I know. Maybe I have much to learn and discover. I just pray that when God chooses to expand our walls and we have thousands attending the Epic Life Church movement, that I will be able to remember who I was when I was no one.

Oh…I still like Catalyst and I plan on trying very hard to raise the money so I can attend the Catalyst West conference with my leadership team this coming spring. A team who I am blessed beyond belief to minister with and would benefit greatly from Catalyst, and actually has benefited from the Catalyst Groupzine just a few years ago.

This past Sunday we, the leadership of Epic Life Church, had a meeting that should be told in the annals of time in the history of Epic Life. I got the opportunity to sit around the room with young men and women, mostly in their 20s, and discuss passionately the future of Epic Life Church, the church God is establishing here on Aurora Ave. in North Seattle.

I have been in many “church” meeting in my life and am continually amazed at the level of maturity in the leadership at Epic Life. We are seriously in the trenches right now because of our lack of financial bounty. We have to make some serious choices to decrease spending, none of which seem good, especially since we don’t spend.  Without going into the nitty-gritty of the choices we have to make I want to describe what’s happening.

God is taking a group of common men and women stretching and pull them, beating them up, applying pressure and strain on them in ways most would run from. But none of these leaders are running away. Because of the strength of the team we are being built up in ways many people may never allow to happen in their lives. We are in the trenches right now and its scary. But that is exactly where God wants us. He is doing his work in us, recreating each of us and setting a firm foundation for the months and years to come.  The outcome will be bright and beautiful and quite miraculously amazing.

Thank you God for counting us worthy to be stressed in this way, to be forced to depend on you, and to be strengthened.  This is the stuff from which heroes are born, from which great leaders are created and from where humble confidence becomes natural.

Thank you Father for counting us worthy.

Three years ago God tugged on my heart to leave a very secure and exciting college pastorate and move to Seattle to start a church. This past Sunday, after three years of listening to and following after God, Epic Life Church was officially opened.

And it was awesome!

We began the morning pulling the trailer to the theater and starting to set up a half hour late at 7:30am, but things started coming together and we broke at 9 am to pray and asked God to give us peace and let us enjoy the morning, no matter what happens.

Ten sandwich boards and an eight foot banner set out on the streets and outside the theater and then with the lights down on the house, lights up on the stage and a great atmosphere creating screen behind, D-Vic and the band cranked up the amps and worship ensued with 110 people in the main auditorium and twenty some kids in the children’s theater. The worship music ended with a hiphop hymn and Nathan rapping to bring it home. It was sweet.

I spoke on John 1:1, The Word/Logos with painted black boxes with white letters painted on them, “LOGOS” and explained the Epic Life vision and what God is doing in North Seattle and on Aurora.

We ended out with David’s own song, Your Words.  Then it was off to talk to people and encourage them and answer questions.  It was excellent!

By 12:30 pm we had the trailer packed back up and exited the theater clean and ready for the next movie.

Later that night we met to celebrate at our home with ample celebratory ice cream and toppings.

Thank you God for letting us be in the midst of your Story here in North Seattle.

Thanksgiving day November 27th, 2008 our first Thanksgiving in our new home in North Seattle.

I have been ruined.

Today was amazing.

This is the first Thanksgiving in Seattle, our new home, where were we have been called to start a church. What will this church “look” like? Today, I believe, portrayed the “look” of Epic Life Church. It started slightly cloudy with the sun peeking through here and there as we headed to the football field to catch a rousing game with other families from the neighborhood in the 7th annual “mud-bowl” which was all but a “mud-bowl” as we played on the new junior-high turf. We met several dads and their kids for an hour playing ball and then hit the Starbucks for mint hot chocolate. The dads I met were surgeons, high powered business consultants and the like, living in sweet spots with mountain and sound views here in North Seattle. It was a great group to connect with and with the hope of seeing again because their kids go to the same school as ours.

Thanksgiving meal was prepared and served by 5:30 pm to all of our team, except Casey Ties, who is in Minnesota now, and to Hsui Yin, from Taiwan, and Jaimie and Richardo, brothers from Mexico, 18 and nine respectfully. We had a great time, eating, playing and sharing the things we are thankful for.

It was wonderful listening to Hsui Yin share about how she feels God has brought her to our group to experience the joy. She is moving back to Taiwan tomorrow. We prayed for her and were able to send her off with many hugs. I believe she still has many questions about God and her position with Him. We have been able to share much with her over the weeks and now pray that she will continue to seek for answers and that God provide other Christ followers to continue to water the seed and be ready for the harvest.

Jaimie and Richardo had a great time. Richardo is a football teammate of Kaden’s and Jaimie is his older brother, whom I have been having conversations with throughout the fall football season. They came to church one night with their mother, who didn’t understand much because her English isn’t the best. I was able to talk with him about Christ and gave him a Bible, to start in John and asked him to make time to discuss it with me.

Later in the evening I took the boys home…to a 10 x 50 trailer house in an extremely run down trailer park, just off Aurora and 125th. My heart was ripped from my chest and crushed as I talked with Narcissa, their mother, who just lost her job and is trying to support her two sons, with the hope of keeping them off the streets. I realized that just a few minutes ago they left a five bedroom two story home filled with lively games and people and piles of food to return to their humble lives. Kaden came with me and was awesome as he recalled aloud our own living in a mobile home in Winona and how much he “loved living there.” Admittedly, those are great memories. Narcissa has lived a hard life, moving from Mexico in 1988 and living here for the past seventeen years.

I drove home with many thanksgivings on my lips as Kaden and I talked about what we had seen this day. The vast difference in lifestyles and how God is moving in our lives. I got a vision of what our church looks like from the three different people groups we met today…a fellowship of believers from every walk of life who are living in such a way that Acts 2:42 is being lived out in real authentic ways.

We must give thanks for the things we take for granted; like beds, chairs, tables, living rooms, kitchens, warmth, light, ideas, friends, partners, spouses, and the list should go on and on.

Tonight I will sleep slightly ruined. Ruined in such a way that will open my eyes to the people surrounding me, the people I pass on the streets, the ethnically diverse, the old and young, the rich and poor, etc. I must consider others better than I and take on the very attitude of Christ Jesus, that of humility. Philippians 2:1-11.

Lord please ruin me everyday so that my eyes will see the lives around me as you see them.

First Sunday

Posted: August 11, 2008 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

I apologize for the lack of connection with my fingers to the keys on my computer plunking out the epic story that is unfolding here in Seattle. Several of you have been asking for more conversation from my end as God directs and leads this grand play that is unfolding within every hour that passes.

Yesterday the 10th of August, 2008 was our first service as a church body. It was amazingly fantastic! God has given us a home with a family room that can hold 40-50 tightly packed worshiping bodies, which makes such a splendid place to begin the work God has given us. This, our first Sunday morning corporate worship time, included the fifteen of us in a circle. D-Vic lead into worshiping through music and I got the wonderful opportunity to share a message that I feel God picked just for us at just this time.

I have been studying Colossians 3, a letter from Paul to the church in Colosse penned in A.D. 60, because my mentor Al Jarvenin pointed me in that direction. Out of this chapter leaps a few sentences we commonly refer to as verses 12-17, in which Paul calls us to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness and love.

It is a beautiful word on actively and intentionally putting on these virtues. Virtues a team who is called to plant a church must actively and intentionally persevere to a commitment of action towards. (I will write specifically on each of these virtues briefly in following blogs).  Anyway, God was evidently present and working in our hearts and lives and can be praised for speaking through me.

We spent the rest of the day together eating and playing, took Samantha to work at 2pm and picked her up at 10pm, as we finished up a four hour gut laughing game of signs at 11:30.  We also received our first guests into our home, the Colleys, whom we stayed with in Gig Harbor over the past few weeks. Refer to earlier blogs.

Now I am sitting in The Allegro coffee shop in the U-District getting some much needed work caught up.

Please pray for Ken and Diane our neighbors across the street and for Cathy and her what seems to be blended family again across the street. Also the house right next to us just became empty and is for sale. Pray that God brings a family with whom we can minister to and with. Or pray that God will give us the house so we can turn it into a safe home for young women who find themselves on the streets of Seattle. Pray also for Patricia and Patrick, a couple of houses behind us. He was raised Catholic, she was raised Jewish, they are currently practicing Budists.

Thank you so much for your prayers and support, I can’t tell you how important you are to us. And I can’t wait to tell you how, because of your prayers, lives have been changed.

I will pen more later, we have some Epic dreams, and God is the God of the Epic proportions.