Why am I going to St. Louis?

Many have asked me, “Why are you going to St. Louis?”  The simple answer: God told me to.

Let me tell you the story:

I had served at NewCommunity Church for 17 years; I’d been the lead pastor for over 7.  I love the people; I loved the assignment.  The community had been a family to me, a place of healing, a place I grew in the Lord and my calling.   The church was gaining momentum spiritually and numerically.  Vision we had seen and worked in faith towards was beginning to bud.  It was one of the most exhilarating times of ministry.  I wasn’t looking elsewhere; I wasn’t wanting something different.  I only longed to see the vision within me become a reality outside of me.

And then I had a dream (like that kind you have while you are sleeping).  I don’t often dream but one week in Spring 2014 I had three dreams and each were clearly from the Lord.  How did I know?  Because of the content and the presence of the Lord.  In one dream, I was walking through a courtyard with my wife, Michele. We walked out into a grassy area and were standing under the St. Louis arch when I heard Jesus speak to me saying, “This is is your city.”  I sensed the presence of God and the compassion of God exploded in my heart.  I began to pray for God’s unfailing love to be revealed to the city.  Then I woke up.

My first thought was, ” Lord I don’t like the cold.”  As I began to debate with God, he began to speak to me.  He spoke to me (or impressed on me) that we would bring the gospel to St. Louis, planting churches, bringing healing to neighborhoods in the city through serving people.  He even said, “This year.”   That word made my brain go tilt.

I’d love to tell you how full of faith I was; how surrendered I was.  But it would not be true.  I could not fathom what God was calling me to.  I could not comprehend moving my family or leaving my church.  I could not fathom something that was so far outside of my “plans”.  So I asked God for a confirmation.  Sounds noble?  But it was really out of fear. God can confirm his word if he deems it necessary.  But to ask God for a sign when he has already revealed himself is just stubborn unbelief.  I was bordering on phariseeism.  I told God I was willingly but I was not truly surrendered.  In fact, I tried to forget it. I tried to wait it out.  For three months I wrestled.  I could not shake it.  I’d heard God before.  I’d left everything in the past to serve the Lord (and he had blessed me).  I taught my church to do the same: hear God, do what he says.  I was torn between love for my church and obedience to Jesus; between comfortability and blessing and full surrender; between desire to follow Jesus and fear.  How could I teach and lead others and not surrender?  How could I be a man of integrity and not surrender?  How could I follow Jesus and stay in SoCal?  I told Jesus when I was 16 that I would leave all to follow him.  This was a test of that vow.

A few months later, I was listening to the Word at a conference.  One of the speakers prophesied, saying, “You are about to do something you thought you never would.” Instantly, I knew the word was for me (and others).  I began to weep and surrender to the Lord.  I heard Him tell me, “It’s time to surrender.”  And I did.  As I wept before God, I decided in my heart to leave everything and follow him.  I resolved to go to St. Louis.  All fear went away and God’s love filled my heart with faith for what he said he will do.

And so I am going to St. Louis because God told me to.  It was hard to leave my church, but God has blessed that church with a new pastor.  I have grieved deeply.  And yet, I am filled with exhilarating joy for this new assignment.  After all, though I did not know it, this is what I am created for, this is the vision that burns in my heart.  I am excited for what he will do.  Since I surrendered, I have not been afraid (well, I was tempted for a few days).  I am at rest, confident he will lead us, provide for us, and produce much fruit through us.  Following Jesus, losing all for him, is the best place to be!  Its so good to be at the center of his will, walking in the path of his commands.

What’s next?

The Lord led me to 1) transition leadership in my church before 2015 and 2) partner with the Rock Foursquare Church in Anaheim (a partnership that was birthed by God about 6 years ago).  We will serve at the Rock in Anaheim for about a year while we learn and prepare (I am realizing it just takes time to plant churches).  As the Lord leads, we will launch a Rock church in St. Louis.  Yes!  The Rock is going to St. Louis!  Our church will reach tons of people for Christ, disciple them, and empower them to fulfill their destiny.  Our church will love God, walk in His fullness, and serve their neighbors in love.  Our church will multiply leaders and plant other churches.  Our church will be a blessing to St. Louis.  We will bear much fruit to God’s glory.

You can pray for us and our kids as we walk through transition.  You can pray God brings a team around us and you can pray for the people of St. Louis.  Please declare with me over St. Louis that God’s love is unfailing.  He is pursuing that city, loving that city. He has a purpose for that city. He will restore and fulfill the destiny of that city and the people who live in it.  Thanks!

In the house

Luke 12:42-44
And the Lord said, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has.”

As in all the parables, Jesus is giving us a paradigm to understand life in his Kingdom. Because we’ve been born again into a new world, the Kingdom of God, we must have our minds renewed in order to understand God’s ways and our response.

Jesus often taught that his church is the family of God, a household, where he is Lord and master and where we are all children and servants of God.

In explaining what is expected of us, he taught that every believer, every follower of Jesus, is given an assignment and the authority to fulfil that assignment. In Mark 13:34, he says the kingdom “is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to EACH his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch.” Jesus is the master, we are his servants. EACH is given a work to do until he returns.

Every believer is a disicple and every disciple is a minister. You have a role, a part to play in God’s redemptive work on earth. You, as a christian, are called to ministry (which simply means serving others). You have a purpose. You have been anointed and empowered by the Holy Spirit. You have been given authority in Jesus’ name to represent his kingdom.

Every believer is in the house: loved and adopted by God and given an assignment to complete. Every believer is under the leadership, headship, Lordship of Jesus Christ. Every believer is of equal value and worth. Every believer is called to love others, practice hospitality, pray for others, minister in the power of the Spirit, share the gospel, care for the poor, comfort the hurting, stand for justice, grow in christ-like character. There are not two callings or levels of christians; as if some are called to holiness and some are not, or as if some are called to ministry and some are not.

And yet, he gave a distinct role to leaders in the church. He has assigned certain servants to RULE in the church, in the house of God. Did you see that in luke 12:43: Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make RULER over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season”? Jesus taught that pastors and elders are given a realm authority in the church.

First, he calls them servants who steward or manage the house. These pastors are not the head of the church, they are not the source, savior, or lord. Jesus is the Head. These pastors are servants of Christ. They are managers of HIS house. They, like all the other servants of God, have been given an assignment. They will be held accountable and they will be rewarded if they serve faithfully. They are saved by grace and are dependent on the Head, Christ, like every other believer.

Second, these leaders of the church are given authority over the other servants in the house of God. They are to rule over the house, stewarding or managing the household for their master. What is their assignment? What is their authority? To feed the other servants! They are servants of God serving the other servants. Their job is to serve; to feed. Everyone is working hard, serving the master, bringing the kingdom to earth as it is in heaven. Everyone has an assignment. But some servants need to ensure that everyone is card for, fed, safe. Some are given a distinct role to ensure everyone is focused and ready for the masters return. Just like we all need the physical nourishment to live and work, so we need the nourishment from the Word of God in order to serve the Lord and the world he loves. This is the calling and assignment of pastors and leaders in the church. A leader’s job is to feed God’s servants so they can do their job. In other words, a pastor’s ministry is to equip others to do their ministry.

Pastors are not suragot christians. They are not the only ministers. They are not the only ones with a calling. In fact, their calling is found in empowering others to fulfill their calling. Therefore, a pastor’s success is found in the successful fulfillment of the household’s (church’s) collective calling and the successful fulfillment of each servant’s individual calling. A pastor’s authority is only to empower, protect, feed, keep every servant focused on the mission, help every servant fullfil their calling and become all they were designed to be.

This is the same thing Paul taught in Ephesians 4:12-13 when he wrote, “And He Himself GAVE SOME to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, FOR the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we ALL come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ….” Notice the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers are gifts GIVEN to the church; servants of God serving the saints. In verse 12 he defines their purpose: FOR the equiping of the saints for the work of ministry. One person’s anointing or calling does not diminish another’s, but rather it is given as a grace or gift to bring forth another’s anointing or calling. It’s not just that the leaders do ministry, but do the equipping (which means to heal, mend, restore, repair, resource, empower, release, support) so the rest of the saints can do their ministry to the others in the church and in the world.

This truth about the Kingdom calls EACH of us to do our part. Jesus is calling EVERY believer to seek him, know him, love him, become like him, and partner with him in bringing redemption to this world through the power of the Gospel. And he is calling SOME to be equippers. All the servants of God need to fulfill their assignment for the sake of the world. The church is the hope of the world, salt and light, bringing the life of heaven to earth. And so, the church needs faithful and wise servants, leading them and nourishing them with the Word of God; we need pastors and leaders in the church to mend and empower EVERYONE to fulfill their calling.

Let’s be found faithful!