As part of our CELEBRATE EIGHT festivities on Sunday October 22, 2017 I prayed a long, but deeply personal and hopeful prayer over you, Disciples. Thanks to the pushing of Taylor Seminary President, Dr. David Williams, I spent the next few days pouring over 1 Thessalonians 1 & 2. So with one eye on the Apostle Paul’s prayer for Thessalonica and one eye peering into the heart and soul of the wonderful people of Disciples I wrote our own imperfect version for the people who’s lives have captured my heart for over 8 years. Overnight a few requests came in to see a transcript of that prayer, below is the transcript. Of course, to see the whole talk from our Anniversary Celebration you can head over to our Sermons Page to watch or listen.
As pastors and elders of Disciples we pray for you every day. Your jobs – their challenges and changes, echo in our minds. When business was slow we prayed God would bring customers. When you decided to go back to grad school we prayed. When you changed companies we interceded on your behalf.
When your kids changed schools, or you pulled your kids out of school – we prayed.
When you took in your aging parents, or stood by the side of your dying grandparents we prayed.
You have invited us into your struggles and your triumphs and it has moved us to know that some days Christ’s presence through Disciples Church has been all that got you through and kept you going.
But remember it is not simply truths about God that changed you, but seeing God’s power in each other also made an impact – and that in-turn has changed us as pastors and elders driving us to greater desires for Christlikeness knowing you were following us following Jesus. We spur one another on and I am convinced it is making a difference here in Folsom, in every church plant we influence, and all the way to Guatemala.
I know being part of Disciples is not easy….The resources are often slim, the expectations for involvement are high and most of our Kingdom efforts will not see fully developed fruit for years to come.
So, in and through the whispers of Holy Spirit, we are and I am concerned for you at times. This double life IN the Kingdom yet FOR the World takes its toll.
But God is using you all over—I hear little slogans we coined being used by churches in our region. –It turns out they are listening on the conversations in our little church.
I receive emails and calls a few times every year from churches all over the U.S. and Canada who ask permission to steal our beliefs statement, our reach is further than you think.
You have helped establish eight other churches and I am convinced this is just the beginning our church planting impact. People have, since the beginning, dropped everything and moved out of their homes to come be part of Disciples Church and they still are to this day. God is doing something special in our midst. Like fish in salt water, we don’t taste it because it’s just the water we swim, but to others it is full of flavor!
Nancy Atchley from Powerhouse was just here a few weeks back and spoke so fondly of your hospitality. Internationally know church and record label, Jesus Culture, feels so at home with the house you have created.
I tell your story – which is in turn my family’s story – to leaders all over the world. People are listening and learning from you!
And I am confident, over time, this kind of living is stirring greater hunger for Christ’s presence on earth as it is in heaven. We know, of course, this presence is the essence of the Gospel: Present with Christ means living the full and abundant life, rescued from doing life alone, far from God, outside of community.
I pray you truly pause, consider and reflect, that you would know that what is happening here matters. It matters for us, and it matters for those we touch, even those who treat us with dishonor by dismissing us in our imperfections or perceived insignificance.
By the grace of God and that grace alone, courage rises inside us through the power of His Spirit to continue to join him in the work he has already begun and which he promises to continue all the way to completion. I pray you stand firm in your developing belief that who we are becoming and what we do together as a result of that transformation into Christlikeness matters for us and the world around us.
And you know our ongoing nudge to you is no push for power, fame or fortune. We would have quit long ago as complete failures if any of that were our end goal. We believe that God will hold us accountable to fulfill the distinct and unique call on Disciples Church.
This boldness has cost us earthly gains. Some of your family and friends just could not understand our resolve to this narrow path and left for something different. And tragically, some refused to fully engage and simply got bored or lost God’s vision and left Christian community altogether.
We are reminded daily that we cannot please everyone, so we try – with all the wisdom God has given us – to please God knowing we are approved by him. We have proven to be your true friends, vulnerable and authentic, working hard in our jobs to lead the way in sacrifice for God’s Good News of the present Kingdom of Jesus that changes everything.
We love you so much we share not just God’s Good News, but our lives as well. We have in the past and will continue to pray with you in victory and disgrace. We stand with you in your darkest days and beside you in life’s greatest celebrations. Your weddings, children’s birthdays and dedications, transitions into parenthood, retirement, marriage, and divorce. We have buried your loved ones and welcomed you at your worst.
So follow us as we follow Jesus. Arrive expectantly on Sundays to worship God, bringing the best of your first fruits next to someone you might not choose to share your life with in any other setting.
Continue to invest deeply in your Life Group for this is a place to work out your faith in Holy fear and authentic beauty. Honor those who are elder and those who lead, lift and train the young and those who are behind you in the faith.
I pray all this on behalf of the pastors and elders: Sean, Ruth, Tom, Patrick, Luke, Doug, Dan, Jason, and Jason and it is all in the name of a good, good father, in the power of Holy Spirit, to the glory of his son Jesus.