I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Greetings, Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
One month into the launch process of our new church plant in Kalamazoo, and we are not only surviving, but thriving! I am thrilled to write to you again and invite you to join in our gratitude for this season of grace.
We continue to lay the foundation for the new church in our weekly GAME Time! Sunday mornings. GAME stands for Gathering, Accountability, Motivation and Equipping. Before we can think about planting a new church we need to build a foundation on the simple concept of being disciples who make disciples. That’s what GAME Time is all about. These two-and-a-half-hour meetings fly by as we meet for breakfast, share life together, pray, and learn what it means to be sent out by Jesus into our neighborhoods, jobs and communities. It has been a challenge to “unlearn” what it means to simply be a good church person and learn what it means to participate with Christ in his kingdom mission. In this way, we are trying to “forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead.”
Celebrate: We recently had two new couples join us in this first month, so our launch team is now 54 adults and 15 children strong. We are extremely committed to this new call on our lives and have been excited to exercise our faith in this new way.
“CONNECTIONS & CONVERSATIONS”
We are holding one another accountable to making new connections and engaging in spiritual conversations. Each of us is committed to intentionally connect with people at our jobs, restaurants, grocery stores and everywhere in between by simply being kind, showing interest, or lending a hand. With each connection we make, we are learning to engage in conversation and to discern where the Holy Spirit is working. These spiritual conversations sometimes go nowhere at all, but many times they lead to deeper relationships where the Spirit is at work and the good news of Jesus is communicated. For many on our team this is the first time they have experienced the joy of sharing the gospel with someone and the thrill of seeing God at work in a person’s life! Every week we report “How we are doing” in this.
Celebrate: in the first three weeks, we have reported over 1100 connections and had more than 300 new spiritual conversations! We are praying for these small seeds of faith to grow.
“TASTE AND SEE!”
“A COMMUNITY OF PRAYER”
Last week I asked members of the Launch Team to reflect on how we are doing so far, and to fill out a “One-month checkup.” Two areas were continually cited by the group as places we need to improve: our commitment to community with each other and our commitment to prayer. It’s tempting to trust in our own cleverness and strength, but we know that we can accomplish very little apart from one another and we can accomplish nothing of significance apart from Christ. I am thankful that the men and women God has brought together for this new ministry are not simply excited about starting a church on the northwest side of Kalamazoo, but they are hungry for the life that Christ has called them to live; to “press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” May the Lord continue to remind us of our dependence on the Holy Spirit and the beauty of our lives together in the body of Christ. Celebrate: God is showing us what it means to walk in faith. And He continues to knit us together in love and purpose.
So please continue to join your prayers to our prayers. I thank God for your continued faithfulness through prayer and your generous financial gifts to our ministry. As we continue this journey, please pray…
– Against discouragement, as each of us learns to express our faith to others in the world around us;
– For a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit and a renewed passion for prayer;
– That our Team can continue to grow closer to one another in love and purpose;
– For financial provision as we seek to raise the $100,000 we need for renovations at 5475 Ravine
– That God will raise up leaders in our group, engage followers, and increase our kingdom influence.
You are in our prayers as well! We welcome your emails and letters and we treasure your friendships. May the peace of Christ be with you as we live in the reality of the resurrection!