Praying Our Way To Launch

“You do not have because you do not ask.”

When I think about launching Restoration City Church on October 12th, one of my greatest desires is to make sure those words cannot be spoken of us. Those famous words were written to the early church by James (James 4:2) but if we aren’t careful, they could easily apply to us today.

There’s so much to do in advance of launching a church – people to invite, plans to make, teams to develop – that we could easily neglect the most important thing: prayer.  I don’t want to stand in the Synetic Theater on the 12th and think, “we have not, because we asked not.”

So, I’m asking you to pray with me every day between now and the launch of this church.  To facilitate that, we are posting a prayer topic and Scripture reference to Restoration City’s Twitter account and Facebook page every day leading to the launch.  All I’m asking is that you track along with those prayer topics and take a few minutes in your day to pray with us.

I want us to stand in the confidence of Matthew 7:7, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”  I pray these next weeks are a season of asking, seeking and knocking for us at Restoration City.

Guide For RCC’s Day of Prayer & Fasting

Our church family is scattered all over the country today.  But we’re standing united in prayer.  We’re standing united in faith and belief that our God is able to do whatever He pleases.  He’s able to secure a venue for us.  He’s able to open doors that no man can close.  We believe He’s made it clear where our church is to gather this fall and now we need Him to move and secure that venue.  As our negotiations with the venue hit a critical point, we’re setting aside today for prayer and fasting to ask God for this venue.

I pray the Spirit will call each of us to our knees, maybe even our faces, to intercede on behalf of our church “home”.  We are asking for a heavenly invasion, a supernatural move of God in this natural world, a softening of hearts and an assenting of wills so that we can set down roots as a body and dig into our ministry.

Please use the following scriptures to guide your intercession and if the Spirit leads you to another passage, by all means, follow Him there!

– Numbers 13:17-30 (just as the scouts spied out the Promised Land, so RCC by God’s guidance has spied out our “Promised Land” and now we look to Him to move so that we can “go up and take possession of the land”)

-Isaiah 45:1-8 (as we are now the Lord’s anointed, who DO acknowledge Him, we pray that He would go before us to subdue the opposition, to “open doors so that gates will not be shut….level the mountains and cut through bars of iron”)

-Isaiah 52:7-12 (praying that the Lord of Hosts, Almighty God, would lay bare His holy arm on our behalf, that as we “carry the vessels of the Lord” into DC that “the Lord will go before [us] and be [our] rear guard”)

-Psalm 16 (we rest in the assurance that the Sovereign of the universe has ordained “the times and places set for us” and thus “the boundary lines” fall in pleasant places for us- we set Him only and always before us and thus we will not be shaken)

-Psalm 46 (exalting that God IS our strength, He is within us and therefore “we will not fall; God will help [us] at break of day”- we pray that God would be known, that He would “be exalted among the nations and in the earth” and particularly in Washington, DC)

-Psalm 97 (we are glad because our God reigns, “righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne” and “He guards the lives of His faithful ones”)

-Matthew 17:20 (may we have mustard seed faith, to move mountains and claim the territory that God has given us)

God doesn’t hear us because of the length or eloquence of our prayers.  He moves in response to the faith of our prayers.  So, as you pray today, be bold!  Don’t shrink back and dishonor God with tiny prayers and feeble requests.  Grab hold of the mercy seat of God today and plead with Him to bear His mighty arm to give us this space to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Whew…What A Month!

There’s hardly been a day this month when I haven’t wanted to blog and yet I’ve done a pretty miserable job of actually getting around to it.  Not cool – there’s so much I wish I had been able to capture.  Laura and I spent a week in DC having meetings, praying over locations and getting more excited than ever about planting in DC.  The only down side to the trip was Jack getting the flu – turns out sick infants and hotel rooms are a really unfortunate combination!  After that, we went to Baltimore for Thanksgiving.  I also got to preach at the Chapel Hill Campus and spent three amazing days on a retreat with the other Summit residents.  We’ve also hosted our 2nd launch team meeting in RDU.  Add into that many meetings with potential launch team members and some great times with family and it’s been a totally packed but wonderful month.

But life is finally starting to return to manageable (or maybe I’m just learning how to handle the chaos better!) and I’m looking forward to more regular posts in the months ahead.  But for today, I wanted to give you an update on how you can be praying for us:

1.  Clear Commitments To Join The Launch Team.  Since our initial interest meeting in November, I’ve been talking with many university students, young professionals and families about making the move to DC with us in the middle of May.  Almost all are looking forward to the upcoming break (whether that’s a month off for the college types or a few days for others) as a time to get space to pray through the decision.  I’m praying the Lord uses this season to give people the space to process this decision and get clarity on where He’s leading them.

2.  DC Interest Meeting.  Interest in Restoration City is growing to the point where we are going to be hosting an Interest Meeting in DC in January.  We’ll be able to share more info at the end of this week but please be praying the Lord brings the right people alongside us for this time.

3.  Rest Over The Break.  It’s been a really busy fall and Laura and I are looking forward to shutting down from December 23rd – January 1st.  It’s going to be a great time to connect as a family and spend time with both sets of grandparents.  Please be praying we are able to rest in the midst of all the activity.

Thanks so much for all of your prayers, your love and your encouragement.  It means so much to us as we are on this journey.  Laura and I are praying you have a wonderful Christmas.

And I promise it won’t be another month until I post!

John

Tuesday Prayer Post – 10.22.13

I turn thirty-six years old this Friday.  No, I’m not saying that so you will go buy me a gift (except for you, Mom.  You need to get busy!)  I’m saying it because it’s what’s on my mind this week.  For some reason, this birthday has caused a lot of introspection for me.  Last year I hit 35 and didn’t blink.  But this year it’s different.

The good news is I’m not feeling all that old and I don’t really feel bad about turning 36.  I will admit when the treadmill asks for my age, that seems like a very big number to punch in but I’m not depressed about it.  I’m grateful.  At 36 years old, I’m married to an incredible woman.  I have this crazy little son who I love more than I ever thought possible.  I’m leading a team of people planting a church.  Honestly, I realize how blessed I am.

That thought shapes how I want to ask you to pray for us this week.  Each of those blessings causes me to wear a different hat: husband, father and pastor.  There’s some similarities between those roles but they’re definitely distinct.  Could I ask you to pray the Lord would empower me to carry each of them well?

Pray I would be the kind of husband who loves Laura like Christ loves the church (Eph. 5).  Pray I would be the kind of Dad who raises Jack in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6).  Pray I would be the kind of pastor who is a good example to the flock (1 Peter 5).

Those are the three requests that mean the most to me and the three things that are closest to my heart this week.  I would love it if you would pray for those requests.

A Lot Behind The Scenes

I’ve never built a house or had one built for our family, so I’m no construction expert.  But I do know there’s a lot of prep work before the visible part of the house gets built.  All of that stuff (getting permits, digging the foundation and whatever else they do) takes a really long time and everybody watching wonders, “when are they going to start building?”  But a contractor knows how essential those first steps are and how relatively quickly the project goes once it gets above ground.

Planting a church is a lot like that.  For months it seems like nothing is happening – at least nothing visible.  But those prep times are essential.  It’s when vision, values, mission, name, launch team strategy, fund raising strategy, etc… are all getting ironed out.  We’ve definitely been in the prep work phase since August and we still have strategic work to do that will carry us through the Spring of 2014.  But we’re nearing a turning point in the project.

We’ll be above ground soon – announcing a location, recruiting a launch team, working on fundraising and casting vision.  To be honest, I can’t wait!  That’s the point where I get to start sharing so much of what God has been doing in us these past months and years.

As that anticipation grows, so does the weight of getting this right, honoring Jesus and planting a church that is healthy, biblical and focused on loving the community.  At this point, I would simply ask you to pray for wisdom and divine direction in brining the church Jesus is calling us to lead to life.  More than anything, we want to be faithful to Him.  So, please, pray He will guide our every step.

At the end of next week, I’ll be able to share much more about what this is all going to look like.  In the mean time, keep praying for us!

Great Weekend In DC

This past weekend, Laura and I got the chance to be back in DC for a few days with old friends.  It was so good to be back and so good to connect with people we love so much.  We scheduled the trip around the wedding of two friends I have known for the last 10 years.  It was awesome to be at their wedding and great to build a weekend in DC around that time.

But now we’re back in Raleigh-Durham and pressing full speed ahead with the church plant.  While I don’t have any specific requests related to the church plant right now, there are two things in Summit world that I would love to have you praying for this week:

1.  Small Group Leader Training.  For the next four weeks, I am going to be leading a training time on Wednesday nights for potential small group leaders at the Chapel Hill campus.  I’m really looking forward to this time, to pouring into these leaders and seeing what God does through their groups. Please pray I lead the training well and the leaders are equipped to lead life changing small groups once the training is complete.

2.  ServeRDU.  Every year, Summit blocks out one weekend to mobilize the entire church in serving the community.  It’s a massive outpouring of love for our community and one that makes such a significant statement about Summit’s desire to see the gospel bring restoration to all areas of our city.  Please pray these projects bear spiritual fruit.  Yes, we want to get a lot of work done.  But we want to see lives changed by the gospel even more.  So, please pray with us to that end.

Thanks for praying into what God is doing in RDU this week.

Growing Anticipation

God continues to bring this whole church plant to life and we’re so grateful for all He is doing.  We’ve really been pressing into mission, vision, values, names and locations and have seen the Lord do so much to bring clarity in all of those areas.  We still have a way to go but the blueprint is starting to take shape and I’m loving it.

Along the way, I keep having two thoughts:

1.  I’m incredibly grateful for The Summit Church and The Summit Network.  We really love this church and are so grateful for the spiritual encouragement it has been to both of us.  We feel loved, cared for and very much at home here and that’s a massive gift to us.  I’ve learned so much about leading, pastoring and church culture and can see how so much of Summit is going to work its way into our plant.  All of that is a long way of saying the Lord is phenomenally gracious and has been so kind to us.

2.  I need to blog more.  I’m not going to make any grand promises here but I really want to be better about this.  There’s just way too much going on in us to get it all out in one or two posts per week.  So, be praying that I am disciplined in making the time to write more.  I guess that assumes you would like more posts…if not, feel free to skip that prayer request!

The other thing I would like to ask you to pray for is wisdom.  If you’re tracking with this blog, you’re probably getting the sense that we’re closing in on some major decisions and that’s true.  By the end of this month, we’re going to be able to share a lot more specifics.  All of that means I need tremendous wisdom over the next few weeks as I pray through launch teams, fundraising, locations, names and possible staffing options.  There’s a lot going on and I just need wisdom from the Lord.  So, please, be praying the Lord continues to provide the wisdom He promises.

Thanks for your willingness to pray for us.