Friday, May 28, 2010

The Covenant Denomination Holds Conversation for Women Church Planters

I just returned from Denver. I went there by invitation of the ECC: Evangelical Covenant Church denomination who invited myself and other women Covenantchurch planters to attend a conversation about how to best support women church planters and how to make church planting more accessible to a greater number of women.

It was an honor to be included in this group. Seven leaders from the Covenant ranging from the head of Church Growth and Evangelism to the new head of Church Planting to the chair of Compassion, Mercy and Justice to the only woman superintendent were present. We had 12 around the table, but only five of us are actually planting Covenant churches.

The small number was the reality for our conversation.

Church planting is actually one of the best ways for a woman in ministry to be a lead pastor.

In the Covenant denomination, the decision making process for a church is through congregational leadership. This means that even if the conference superintendent and other leaders are very encouraging towards women leadership, the trickle down effect to the actual church is rather slow as people on search committees have less openness to hiring a lead pastor who is a woman. I believe this is because we are most open to what is most familiar to us. Women senior leaders are not very prevelent in evangelical churches, so the change effect is slow.

In church planting, the decision making process is different.

In order to become a church planter, you must be invited to the church planting assessment which is a three day rigorous process where just about everything you do is evaluated and then a team of people discern if church planting is the right call for you.

Pastors are either given an unconditional acceptance which means that you are seen as being able to go anywhere to plant, or a conditional acceptance which means that some parameters are put around the call: such as continuing to work on leadership skills, relational challenges or geographical areas.

Or, you receive a no, which is a closed door to church planting. These no's are actually gifts in disguise because starting a new church is hard enough, but not having the gifts and call to do it tend to make it a very negative experience.

My fellow planters and myself come from a variety of backgrounds and their churches are in varying levels of developmental stages. One woman is married with an adult daughter and has been planting for 7 year. Another woman is just beginning to plant as a co-pastor with her husband in Oregon. Another is recently married and has just started weekly services in Detroit. The other woman is single and has been planting for four years.

The most open conversation about the reality of our struggles came at the end of the two day session. Feelings became raw and open as we felt safer with one another. Frustrations in lack of leadership options surfaced, and yet across the board, we expressed honor and delight at hearing that the Holy Spirit was bringing the initiative for more women to plant to the top of a list of priorities for the new head of Church Growth and Evangelism. This explains his organization of our time together.

I met Alan Hirsch at the beginning of May. Alan is currently one of the most recognized voices for the missional church movement both in church and academic circles. He also told me that he senses that it's time to surface the women in ministry issue in the US because to quote him, "Male treatment of women in ministry is abysmal."

I left our time together very encouraged. I am always happy to be part of the bigger picture of what God is doing in specific ways with specific people at specific times. I feel strategically positioned for such a time as this in both my gender and the structure of Missio Lux being a dispersed missio community model.

I can't wait to write the next segments of God's story in me.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Kingdom of God Breaks Through in Missio Lux, Part 4

Saturday morning, the Kingdom of God broke through in Missio Lux through a gathering of Celebrate Recovery leaders. We came together intentionally to seek God and to be renewed and refreshed by him after another year of valuable recovery ministry.

Celebrate Recovery meets every Monday, no matter what. These leaders are so committed to walking alongside those in recovery that even if it is the biggest holiday of the year, someone is there for those that need a touch of Jesus that day.

Missio Lux and Pine Lake Covenant, Missio Lux' mother church, support Celebrate Recovery Kingdom Partners. This is a gift for me as it allows the Pastor of Spiritual Formation and my friend, Sharon Anderson and I to continue to partner in ministry, as we did while I was on staff at Pine Lake.

We came together and spent time breathing in Jesus. Sharon began by leading us in a Centering Prayer where we invited Jesus to come and be present with us. She then led us in a Lectio Devina of Luke 9 where Jesus told his disciples "You give them something to eat" when they were looking for how to feed 5,000 men (and who knows how many women and children).

I was really moved by the Lectio Devina. My time with Jesus in the morning before the retreat wasn't great: I was distracted and having a hard time staying awake. But, being in community with others who are passionate about Jesus too helped me to chew on the daily bread of Scripture.

We all heard a different emphasis in the Lectio Devina. I heard the two words, "Withdraw and Welcome." This takes me back to Missio Lux' desire to follow Jesus' two priorities: the Great Commandment: Love God, ourselves and one another (Relationship) and the Great Commission: Go and Make Disciples (Presence and Power of Jesus). We must withdraw to be with Jesus so that we can welcome those who need his presence and a touch of his power for healing.

After a fun break of interacting about our week, we participated in a huddle. We are benefiting so much from our structure of huddle that we are learning from 3dm:
Our focus was on the Learning Circle which helps us to observe, reflect and discuss as we change our minds and to plan, account and act as we change our behavior. The Learning Circle is a very helpful tool in teaching us to pattern our lives after Jesus.
We focused on the semi-circle called "Fruitful Living." Jesus taught us a rhythmic cycle of rest and work, abide and bear fruit. When we live out this rhythm daily, weekly, monthly and yearly, we get to live the abundant life Jesus promised us. When we have a life that is free from the exhaustion and stress that so much of our country lives under, we have a life that others see and want to know more about.
The Semi-Circle is a 3DMinistries LifeShape- Copyright Mike Breen

This is a witness that will make an impact into our world. Living counterculturally is a gift as we discover that Jesus' designed a way for us to live within the protective boundaries he made for us.

No retreat is complete until we spend time praying and speaking out God's heart for his people. Sharon and I moved through the leaders speaking, praying and proclaiming the very messages that the Lord gave us to us to share with his faithful people.

We all left revived and refreshed. I know that I am learning a way of ministering with the 3dm Lifeshapes and Huddle that very much comes from a place of faith and rest. I see how huddles open our lives and understanding in community so that we truly can learn how Jesus designed us to live--it goes beyond our heads and moves into our hearts because we do it together.

The Kingdom broke through Saturday....

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Kingdom of God Breaks Through in Missio Lux, part 3

John Kher, a Lost Boy from Sudan, with two friends at Hoops of Hope!

Friday afternoon I walked into Pine Lake Middle School's gym along with several hundred other people from the Eastside of Seattle. Most of the people were kids and teens who carried basketballs in their arms.

Why? We were going to Hoops of Hope, a fundraiser for Seeds of Hope!

Seeds of Hope is our biggest missio whose mission is to help educate orphans from Sudan so that they can go back into their villages to rebuild them from the ravages of civil war. Currently, Seeds of Hope has 35 kids in boarding school in Nakuru, Kenya. We have graduated two people; a young woman and a young man. The young man is back in Sudan teaching school, bringing about change in his area.

Hoops of Hope was a perfect way to elevate the mission of Seeds of Hope. It was a fun thing for families to participate in and a great way for kids to get exercise while they thought about helping some children halfway around the world that they had never met.

The challenge for our area in Seattle is to remember that the majority of the world doesn't live like we do. We drive by huge houses in fancy cars and see very little poverty around us. We have one of the lowest crime rates in the state. We go to top schools. Life is relatively calm for us in comparison to many other parts of the world.

So, how did Hoops of Hope work?

Every participant either formed their own page or joined a team that had a fundraiser page and sent it off to their friends and family. They got sponsors to give them donations for the number of baskets they made.

When everyone arrived, we watched a former NBA pro, Swen Nater, shoot free throws. He threw 100 free throws and made 94 of them. The kids were then challenged to go make baskets themselves so they divided up into teams and started to shoot! The two gyms were filled with kids shooting free throws over and over.

Our missio community, Arbors, had some of the youngest participants. Our friends Max and Connor and Heather shot at the small hoop and made some impressive shots!

I was a greeter. I loved greeting and taking pictures of the participants entering the building and hearing how they had come to engage Hoops of Hope. They all seemed to have different answers, so the word about Seeds of Hope seems to be out in our area!

Missio Lux is all about a dual mission in everything we do: We seek to make a difference in the missio that we have chosen, but we also seek to impact the people around us by providing opportunities for individuals, children and families to have meaningful activities that will help build character, memories, hearts of service and most of all, a heart for Jesus.

When we do the things that Jesus created us to do, our heart enlarges within us and we begin to resemble him more and more.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Kingdom of God Breaks Through in Missio Lux, part 2

Jesus loved to be invited to parties. We find him at parties through all of his three years of ministry and much of the time the parties he attended would be considered "outlandish" by the religious authorities of the day.

So, one of my questions these days is why as people that follow Jesus we find it so hard to have parties? Is it because it doesn't feel like we are working for our faith? or is it because they aren't vital for our schedule and we are so filled up to the top of "doing" that anything that isn't completely vital has to be weeded out?

I like parties. More and more I understand that two things are important to Jesus: relationships and experiencing his presence and his power.

Well, parties fits into these two categories....we invite people into our homes and we anticipate that because Jesus cares about relationships that he will bring his presence and his power into our gatherings.

Last night Bill and I hosted our third huddle dinner. We ended up sitting around three different tables. One table was sharing thanks for how they saw Jesus showing up in their lives. The second table was filled with kids that were having fun being included in the party, and the third table was playing a rousing game of Sorry with both kids and adults, while others at the table chatted and cheered the competitive play.

At my table, one woman shared how joyful she felt on the way to our party. She loves being in an atmosphere of people hungry to know Jesus better and she loves the sense of belonging she has in Missio Lux. She knows that she and her children are more than a number~they are valued and they are valuable. I was thrilled that her 7 year old daughter spent two hours typing a story about Jesus and brought it to read to me. She read the story at our dinner table too; while we all listened intently. When she grows up, she will know that her presence was valued in her community of faith--even by adults who are not her parents.

I mentioned at the beginning of our dinner that communion was available for anyone that felt led to take it with others around their table. At one point towards the end of the evening, a few of us were talking and one woman got a "knowing" about an area where she was being healed and Jesus' healing power showed up and took her another layer deeper in her healing. We experienced his presence and power in a tangible way. Our response? Let's celebrate the table with Jesus by sharing communion.

Most left at a reasonable time that one usually stays at parties, but last night, Jesus didn't seem to be done attending the party. Bill and I and three other couples ended up in our family room while we shared authentically about the challenges of being married. We all kept saying, "You struggle with that too?" Kairos moments continued to happen as our lives went deeper with each other. We ended up praying for each other as we recommitted ourselves to love our spouses more fully. Once again, Jesus invited us to his table as each couple served communion to one another.

This morning I came downstairs and saw some of the remnants of the party....and I just smiled.

The Kingdom of God Breaks Through This Weekend at Missio Lux

Story is probably the most important medium of our day.

I have some stories to tell about how God is breaking through in Missio Lux. The more that we seem to take our hands off the "control button" and the more that we just posture ourselves into a place of readiness and awareness that because we follow a relational God who created us to be in relationship with him; the more that it seems that he delights in showing up and showing us who he is.

Sometimes I just have to pinch myself to believe that I get to live in this story. I am invited to participate in it and be continually changed by it. I am experiencing relationships in deeper ways than ever before. I am more joyful and less pressured in ministry than I have been in a very long time; if ever.

And, I seem to see things in the Bible that I've never noticed before.

So, I hope that you will take time to read the stories of how God is breaking through in Missio Lux this week. My hope is that as you read, you will get glimpses of how God is breaking through in your story too.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

An Important Shift

I keep seeing things happen in Missio Lux that help me to recognize God at work. The significant part of these important shifts is that it is relatively unfacilitated. People are just so excited about what God is doing that they are the ones who are starting the conversation and praying for one another and celebrating how God is working in our lives.

It seems the less I do as the pastor/leader the more that the people of God feel free to step into being the Body of Christ and living the abundant full live he calls us to live.

This is the story of Healing Prayer Missio Community: Today one of the leaders Rosemary called and said that she wanted to throw a party during our regular community time to celebrate all the ways that God is working in our lives. So, when everyone arrived they were greeted by good food and drink, balloons and a fun table setting.

We stood around in our kitchen and spontaneously gave thanks to the Lord for all the ways he is at work within us. We gave testimony to bodies healed, relationships healed, supernatural encounters with the Lord, children growing closer to the Jesus, and on and on!

After we celebrated with our stories for over an hour, we processed how we wanted to walk out of our time of abide in the summer. Some wanted to keep meeting weekly, others wanted to take some off to spend more time in summer fun. We came to a good mid point of continuing our monthly worship services and having a time of fun in July and August.

Then, we moved into the living room where people began to share Scriptures and kairos moments. It wasn't really facilitated; it was a flow of God's people sharing what they are hearing God say and how we are being called to respond. One woman shared a song that the Lord had given her earlier that day.

It felt very much like 1st Corinthians 14:26 where Paul tells us that "one will sing, another will teach, another will give a word of revelation that God has given, another will speak in an unknown language, while another will interpret what is said." Everyone brings what they have to give to encourage, equip and strengthen their community to walk out Jesus' priorities of covenant: the Great Commandment and kingdom: the Great Commission.

We ended our time together with communion. Blessings are given to one another and Jesus is thanked again and again for his presence and power in our lives.

But, the night didn't end there. Those that didn't need to rush home lingered in the living room, the kitchen, the family room as more conversations took place of how God was working in us, encouragements shared, prayers given.

At 10:02 the alarm went off reminding us to pray for the harvest and the harvesters as Jesus tells us to in Luke 10:02. We are starting to set our alarms to remind us to pray for the harvest so we when it goes off, we pray with whomever we are with whereever we are! Those who were still here gathered and prayed as we dreamed about what can be and increasingly what we believe, what will be, what is starting to become.

I am grateful. The shift to relaxing and setting a loose structure that invites God's people to embrace relationship and to move as kingdom is becoming "attractive to all who see it."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Recognizing Jesus, part 2

Put yourself in the place of the disciples after Jesus died and was resurrected. He had appeared to them a few times, but it wasn’t like the old days when Jesus was always with them. What would you do in their period of disequilibrium?

They went fishing.

Peter said, “I am going fishing” and they all said they would come too. So, there they were, doing what was familiar to them only they weren’t catching any fish. I don’t think that God blesses us when we return to the familiar after we have learned new ways of walking as his disciples. We are meant to stay in the new place where the fish will come to the surface.

So, after I am sure what was an extremely frustrating night of fishing, the disciples looked up at dawn and saw a man standing on the beach. They didn’t recognize him, but the man spoke to them and asked if they had caught any fish. They hung their heads and said, “Nothing.” So, the mysterious visitor told them to cast their nets out the right side of the boat.

Suddenly, as they did it, the haul of fish became so large that they couldn’t get it in the boat. Peter did what every good fisherman does: not, he left his friends in the boat to struggle with the catch because suddenly he knew that it was Jesus on the beach and he ran to meet him.

So, the question I keep asking myself is, why didn’t the disciples recognize Jesus standing on the beach?
Was it as simple as it was still too dark, or was it something else?
And why did they recognize it was Jesus after they caught the haul of fish?
Was it because they had caught a large haul of fish before, or was it something else?

John lets us know that they still weren’t completely sure it was Jesus, even after they were eating breakfast with him, because he tells us: “And no one dared ask him if he really was the Lord because they were sure of it” (John 21:12).

But, why did he include that phrase if they were so sure?

I’ve been wrestling with the challenge of how our cultural upbringing and our day to day experience helps determine our paradigm of life. We perceive Jesus to be a certain way because our experience, our modeling and the teaching we receive tells us that he is that way. What we think and believe determines how we live our lives.

But, I keep wondering, where do I not see Jesus?

Where do I miss who he really is, rather than who I think he is?

I think this is a key question for everyone who follows him, especially as we find ourselves in a time of great transition for the Church.

When Jesus came to earth to live as a human, everything shifted. When he was crucified, everything shifted. When he left earth for heaven, everything shifted again. When Pentecost happened 10 days later, the shift for his followers was monumental again.

Sometimes we have a hard time keeping up with the shifts. The disciples did because right before Jesus left for heaven, they were still asking him when he was going to free Israel and restore the former kingdom. They were still looking backward in their paradigm because they hadn’t yet fully absorbed the new.

One thing I am learning is that when Jesus calls us to the new it is always so much better than the old.

The Kingdom of God that Jesus brought to earth will always be far superior to an earthly kingdom involving a human king. The New Testament Church was far superior to the Old Testament Church because it was focused on grace and forgiveness, rather than failure and sin. Pentecost was superior to Jewish nationalism because the doors were opened wide to anyone who wanted to become a Jesus follower.

The other lesson, however, is that to return to our old way of life or our old thinking patterns after we have experienced the shift is to the new is to come up with empty nets. The disciples didn’t catch any fish and neither will we.

This week is the Celebration of Pentecost. Pentecost simply means “50” and it comes 50 days after Passover. The Celebration of Pentecost in the Jewish faith included coming to Jerusalem to offer their sacrifices of the harvest. People came from all over the world and it was at that point that the Lord decided to “help us recognize Jesus.”

The disciples were given the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. They had been set apart in the upper room, waiting and praying for what Jesus had promised them, but I am sure that they didn’t know what it was or what it would look like. I am pretty certain they had no idea that they would all run into the temple courtyard speaking languages they had never learned so that everyone present could hear the story of Jesus in their own language.

Where do you need to experience recognizing Jesus in a new way?

Where has your faith gotten stale and “fishless” and you need a new vision of who Jesus is?

I encourage you to spend this week in an upper room posture, waiting expectantly for the new vision that Jesus wants to give you of himself and the new experience of our faith for “such a time as this.”

I challenge you to spend time understanding how you have developed your current recognition of Jesus and then to ask him for a glimpse of the “man on the beach that the disciples got to experience.” There was something very compelling about Jesus on the beach.

He gave specific direction for next steps. He brought miracles of provision. He provided a net that didn’t rip. He even went so far as to invite his friends to breakfast. Why? Because he loved these friends and he wanted them to know “who he really was,” not just to remain in the place of “who they thought he was.”

One way that you can step into this place of seeking to recognize Jesus on the beach is to join with other people who are praying this week for Pentecost.

Go to to make your commitment to pray on Thursday, May 20th.
(it is fine to have more than one person per hour).

Friday, May 14, 2010

Pouring our Lives into Another

Several years ago, I mentored my niece Lindsey. She now lives in Kansas City and is a trainer for Young Life volunteers. She is married to a man named Drew who is an area director for Young Life as well.

I've continued to speak into Lindsey's life when I am with her or when we connect by phone. She has a hunger and a desire to pour her life into others as she herself was poured into by myself and others.

This weekend Lindsey is graduating from seminary. She's gone through seminary even while she has gotten married and had two children. It hasn't been easy, but she has persevered and tomorrow she is reaching the finish line of her seminary studies.

Our family is going to celebrate this milestone accomplishment with her. To me it will be a huge privilege to be with her as she is part of my spiritual fruit.

The Bible tells us that if seeds fall into fertile soil it will bring forth a harvest. So often we look for the instant result and feel discouraged if we don't see it. But, I am finding as the years go by I am given the gift of seeing seeds that God used me to help plant come to a place of growth and reproduction.

This is the exciting thing about pouring our lives into another: they multiply our lives! The more that we give away what Jesus gives us, the more it comes back to us in a blessing of multiplication. I've heard the term a lot recently that the generations that come after ours will have a floor that has been our ceiling.

I am delighted to see what Lindsey will do with her life after seminary. Whatever it is, I know that it will involve Lindsey pouring her life into others, which will take the reproduction of fruit into another level of harvest.

Who are you pouring your life into? It is one of the best ways for us to experience the abundant life that Jesus invites us to life because of the joy of seeing seeds we've planted become a harvest.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Recognizing Jesus

I’ve been really taken recently with the passages of Jesus appearing after his resurrection. It seems that in many of the encounters people had a hard time recognizing him. I keep pondering the reason for that.

Is it that he looked totally different? Is it because it was so far from what they expected to see? or was it that God kept them from recognizing him?

I think that all three apply. His resurrection body was different than his human body. He was able to appear and disappear instantly. But, it wasn’t totally different because he ate several times after his resurrection and the nail prints stayed in his hands and feet.

Even though Jesus had told his disciples many times what the plan was: he was going to die and then be resurrected, I find that when something is outside of our experience, we have a hard time holding onto the thought. When his friends stood watching him die, all his promises seemed empty and meaningless. Their dream seemed to fall to the ground and die, just like his mangled body.

Luke 24 tells us that God kept the friends on the Road to Emmaus from recognizing Jesus. They walked for hours on the road talking with Jesus but it wasn’t until he sat at their table and broke the bread that their eyes opened and they realized that they had been with Jesus all along.

Where do our eyes need to be opened in our realization that Jesus has been present all along?

Is it in the disappointment of a broken relationship? Or is it in the realization of a lifelong accomplishment?

Is it in the struggle of a partnership in our work? Or is it in the meaningful friendship with our neighbor?

We are so much like the disciples. We have short memories. We tell ourselves that we are alone in our struggle, and we take credit for the milestones that we reach.

But, our thoughts are not our truth.

This is the truth. Jesus is as present today as he was the day he walked with the friends on the road to Emmaus. He is with us every time we sit at the table and break bread. He is with us in our broken dreams and in our fulfilling passions.

Sometimes we get a glimpse. The disciples got a glimpse of Jesus in all his fullness on the mountain when he transfigured before their very eyes. They wanted to build a memorial to keep the event alive.

But, our memorial needs to be when we take the glimpse and build our faith into a place where we remember that Jesus is present in every situation, every interaction, every moment of our life.

His promise to us is real, “I will never fail you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

Take that promise and put it to the test. Begin to imagine that Jesus is actually physically present with you. What would you say to him? How would you hang out with him? Where would you invite him to go with you during the day?

This will show you where you believe and where you doubt. And that is the starting point for a life of greater meaning as we live life with the One who loves us and created us.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Missio Lux goes to 3dm Learning Community

We always start the journey early: we left our homes before 4:00 a.m. on Sunday morning to make the long trek to South Carolina where 3dm is located in St. Pawley's Island, north of Charleston.

What is 3dm? It's a ministry that invests in church leaders to help us become faithful Jesus followers who pattern our lives after his life. They do this a variety of ways: first, by forming Learning Communities which come together four times over 2 years to build friendships and to learn from one another how to be the Church of Jesus to our world.
The four topics of learning over the two years are: discipleship, leadership, community, and mission.

The model for discipling leaders that 3dm advocates for is huddle. Huddle is an intentional discipling time where people who are serious about following Jesus are invited into a relationship with a leader. The leader commits themself to pour into those in their huddle and to teach them a language of discipleship through Lifeshapes. Lifeshapes is a simple process of using shapes to help us to learn and follow important discipleship concepts that Jesus taught.

Why do we need shapes to learn? We live in a visual culture. Jesus used everyday practical teaching methods in his oral cultures, we need to use visual concepts to help grasp Jesus' teaching for today.

You can learn a lot more about 3dm by visiting their website:

You may be asking why the relationship between Missio Lux and 3dm is so important. It's a great question!

Missio Lux is seeking to carve a new path in how we live out our faith in the 21st century in hopes of reaching people who do not yet know and follow Jesus, those that are burned out and tired of traditional church, and those that are suffering under the heavy burdens of life.

We need a strong foundation and we need a common language which will unite us wherever a missio community might land. Right now we have missio communities on the Eastside of Seattle and Denver and South Korea. All very different cultures, but with the common language of lifeshapes we can continue to communicate with one another!

We also need relationships with those who have similar vision of building missio communities to help us to go beyond a Sunday morning hello in both depth of friendship and breadth of mission. We need to remember that there are those that have gone before us who have seen great things happen for the kingdom of God as they have lived out missio community.

We envision an ever-expanding network of people connected in relationship, living by Jesus' priorities, so that our neighbors near and far can experience his unconditional love.

We value Missio Lux as a faith community focused on following Jesus' priorities for a lifestyle committed to knowing God, loving one another and serving the world. Where all three values intersect, God's heart beats in us bringing us to the sweet spot of life.

Our vehicle for developing an ever expanding network of people connected in relationship is the missio community which brings communities of people together for deep authentic friendship and meaningful ministry to the world.

Our vocabulary for developing Missio Lux is through huddle and lifeshapes. The Learning Circle is the core lifeshape and it helps us to observe and reflect on how God is seeking to get our attention through a kairos moment. We are then able to discuss with others how we are seeking to change our mind about our kairos moment, eventually leading us to a transformed life in the process of learning.
I can't wait to see all the ways that God will use 3dm to help Missio Lux be faithful to our call to experience and share the freedom and hope Jesus offers everyone. Stay tuned for more stories....they are fun to share.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Challenges of Communication

We have recently started a Strategic Planning Team because we have discovered that in our dispersed model of being a faith community and our structure of freeing up time, resources and money to go to missio community, our central core has been too weak to sustain growth and expansion.

In order to understand the greater challenges that go along with our structure, we are identifying all the challenges and then as they are all laid out, we are praying to discern God's creative answer for them. I believe that He has a solution that goes beyond just going out to hire people to fill in the areas where we have need. This has been done over and over in churches and I think that God wants us to recognize that we "all have something special in our hands to share and that as we share them, the Body of Christ will have everything we need to move forward in God's kingdom."

So, Laurie, a member of our Strategic Planning Team wrote this blog about one of our key areas of challenge: communication. I thought it was so insightful that I want to share it with you: