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At Two Cities Church, when we say our mission is to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ, what you’ve got to understand is that’s not an easy thing. There’s often pain involved.

It’s like learning to swim. This summer we welcomed a foster-son into our home. This little 3-year-old boy, in the month and a half he’s been with us, has learned to swim! He wore floaties a handful of times, but doesn’t want them anymore. He actually never really did want them. He would get into the water and immediately want them off. So I’d take them off and he’d shove off from the step. Well, what happened?

He sank.

Thankfully, he held his breath and I was right there with him. I can always see when his eyes go from, “I’m doing it!” and transition to “Uh oh!” And that’s when I’d bring him up and he gasped for air. But he learned quick!

My point is, before we grow, we often experience some sort of pain and we might even have a panic in our yes, but God is right there and he knows when we need to be pulled out and when to push us a little so that we can grow our capacity for holding our breath.

Whatever pain your experiencing, God is growing you in some way. He’s growing your…
  • capacity for empathy
  • trust
  • skills in managing something small, so you can handle something bigger
  • parenting patience (Am I right?)
  • and many other things

And the amazing thing is, one day what you’re struggling so hard with, if you face it again, you’ll fly through it with greater ease.

I mean, when you finally learned to swim, it was amazing… it’s like flying, through water. It’s gliding, it’s smooth and easy movement… you’re no longer frantic or flailing. You understand physics, buoyancy, and the mechanics of how to move through the water with minimal effort.

Think of it this way. God gives you more than you can currently handle, contrary to popular belief, so that you will lean on Him and he’ll grow you.

Timothy was baptized at Two Cities on Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017 by his father, Gilbert.

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Trisha was baptized at Two Cities on Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017 by her ex-sister-in-law. She shares her beautiful story and baptism in the video below.

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Baptism: Allison Schindler

October 29, 2016 — 2 Comments

Allison was baptized at Two Cities on October 16, 2016. She is a student at Clovis High School and a volunteer with our UpStreet kids.

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Two Cities Church just hit our Two Year Anniversary at the beginning of October. If you’ve been tracking with us for very long you may be asking, “Wait, it’s been like 4 1/2 years since you started talking about Two Cities Church.” You’re right. We spent just over two years building our team before holding regular services, before officially launching. So it’s been two years since we launched every week services, that’s when we were born.

I get calls and emails from would-be church-planters asking about our experience and I love talking to them. It really fills my cup when I can pour out whatever I’ve learned through this process and what I’ve learned from others. So if that’s you, don’t think, “Oh, he’s probably too busy to talk to me.” I’d love to talk with you.

Every few months I write a post about why it, church planting, is worth it. These are moments of clarity. These are events or WINS that help redefine and underscore why what we’re doing matters and I got an email last week that reminded me and our entire team why we work so hard to create a church that unchurched people would love to attend. Here’s a portion of that email:

Attending your church was an amazing experience. I’m feeling a little lost and in a weird place in my life right now. When [my friend] was struggling, she found Two Cities Church and I saw the difference that you made in her life. On Saturday night when she asked me if I wanted to go to church with her, I was hesitant. I was born and raised Catholic but I struggle with some of the stories and beliefs. I haven’t practiced my faith in a long time because I felt that Mass was always so somber and I also wasn’t sure what I truly believe in. [My friend] described your church to me and it was so different from my past experiences. She convinced me to attend. I am so glad that I did. The love, sex, and dating topic is something that I can actually relate to. Your talk really resonated with me. Two Cities is a wonderful, supportive, caring group of people. Being in the weird place that I am in life right now, I feel that a group like yours is exactly what will help. Thank you for changing my view on what church can be :).

That right there. That’s why we do what we do and that’s why church planting and creating churches that unchurched people love to attend matters.

That’s the mission. That’s a win.

If you wish you could bring your skeptical-haven’t-practiced-my-faith-in-a-long-time-friends to church with you. I got some good news, there’s a bunch of churches around the world trying to be a place, just like that. And if there’s not one in your area… start one.

See where they are here: North Point Network Churches.

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It wasn’t too long ago that I was having a conversation with someone who was upset that we were baptizing someone. When I inquired why, they said that this person was:

  • Not really a Christian
  • They were still sinning
  • They didn’t know enough about God
  • They didn’t know enough about the Bible
  • and so on…

I couldn’t help but chuckle a little, knowing this person pretty well and the fact that these things could easily be said about them as well. And I simply said this…

“Big scandal, we’re baptizing sinners!”

Needless to say, they did not like my response too much. But it’s true. At Two Cities Church we believe that every person matters and we believe there’s only one who’s ever been perfect, Jesus. We are made perfect in Him, not on our own. If we waited until every person stopped sinning, and had enough knowledge of God and the Bible for them to begin following Jesus, we’d have no church… anywhere… globally. Think about that for a second.

If you waited until you had stopped sinning, cleaned yourself up and had all the knowledge you could ever know about God, Jesus and the Bible– you’d be dead before you could follow Jesus. You can spend your whole life trying to be perfect enough for God, or you can confess your imperfectness and be made perfect through the grace of Jesus Christ.

When Simon (Peter) first came into contact with Jesus he said, “Go away from me, Lord; for I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8). Peter later confesses that Jesus is the Messiah, the son of God and Jesus says that upon that confession he will build his church (Matthew 16:13-20).

You think you’re too big of a sinner to follow Jesus? So did Peter. Don’t put it off any longer and don’t judge someone else’s effort to follow, begin with you and begin to follow because God’s grace is a huge scandal and it’s a scandal you need.

Rachel Lewis is a Student Impact volunteer at Two Cities Church. She’s a student at Buchanan High School and this is the story of how she searched for and found Two Cities online. Came with her mom and eventually decided to be baptized. Here’s her story:

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I got my family back.

January 6, 2016 — 1 Comment

Missy McGrail has an amazing story of how she got her family back. Missy started hanging around Two Cities Church just over a year ago and now she serves as one of our Guest Services captains and her kids serve in our children’s ministry environments every-other-week. They are now a vital part of our church family. It is because of stories like these that we continue to push forward the mission and vision of Two Cities Church, to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and create a church that unchurched people would love to attend.

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A few months ago I was on a call with a church-planting coach. We, Two Cities Church, were coming up on our One Year Anniversary and my coach had a few insights into what year two may look like. As always with any coach, there’s a good amount of encouragement and then a warning or a “Hey, you should probably be prepared for (fill in the blank).” I should know to expect it by now, but it always throws me a little off.

Those who have gone before us know a bit more about the process, the trends and what to expect than we do.

He said, “At the beginning of year two, you’re probably going to experience some people getting off the bus and some people moving seats. Don’t be alarmed, it just happens.” Well, when you’ve started a church with close friends… that’s alarming! He asked me a few questions that really messed with my head. He asked:

  • Who is on the bus that needs to move?
  • Who needs to get off the bus?
  • If you had to remove one person from the team, who would it be?

Talk about questions you don’t want to answer! Geez! But that’s the hard work of leadership.

Our One Year Anniversary was on October 4, 2015 and since then we’ve had a good amount of movement on our volunteer staff team. We’ve had 4 people take a step back, 1 move to a different seat and 4 new additions. All of the people who have taken a step back needed to do so for personal reasons of capacity or time. Here’s the good thing, we’re all still friends and here’s what I’ve wanted each and every one of them to know as they step back, move seats or jump on board:

“I care more about you than what you bring to the table.”

All of this has forced me not to just accept that this sort of thing happens as you head into year two, and probably continually, but I want to know why this happens. So, I’ve been working on this theory and it is a working-theory.  I don’t have a great name for it yet, so let’s just call it: The 3 Keys to Staying Missionally Engaged. I’ve recently had the opportunity to bounce these keys off of other church planters who are farther down the road than we are and their experiences have been very similar. So, I want to share these and hope it helps.
While there are tons of different reasons people need to take time off or take a step back, I’d like to offer three things that I believe every staff person or volunteer needs to stay missionally engaged in the church.
I believe people need to be experiencing at least 2 out of 3 of the following in order to stay missionally engaged:
  • Experiencing Personal Wins:
    Inviting and seeing people come and get involved; Being in a small group and watching other people grow; Being personally connected to someone who is getting baptized or recently gave their life to Christ; Serving on or Leading a team that is winning; etc.
  • Experiencing Personal Growth:
    Growing in your own personal relationship with Jesus; Developing healthy habits; Surrendering previously un-surrendered areas of your life; Becoming more Self-Aware; Working through hurts, habits and hang-ups; etc.
  • Experiencing Extraordinary Care or Community:
    Involved in a community group (small group) or strategic service team that loves each other; Feeling cared for or caring for someone when life hits the fan; Gaining support from people in times of high stress or personal tragedy; etc.

I know there are other factors at play, external factors like having a baby, changing jobs or job loss, stress at home, health issues and more. But these principles, when applied over the lives of your leaders, will help you see where they’re at and how engaged they are.

When you feel distance coming between your team and the mission, ask yourself if they’re experiencing these 3 things. If not, try to help them head it off before you’ve come to a point of crisis. I hope this helps you as you engage your key volunteers and staff.

If you’re looking for ways to keep yourself from burn-out, check this blog post and podcast from Carey Nieuwhof’s interview with Craig Groeschel.

It’s been one year since we launched Two Cities Church into every week Sunday services. We had been networking, fundraising, and praying for what seemed like forever. It took us 6 years of waiting, praying, seeking, listening, learning and dreaming, plus two years of ground work, to get to our launch day. We were filled with expectation, curiosity, and nerves on that day. I remember being a ball of nerves. I don’t get nervous, but on that day I was. We launched with a vision message that we called #WeAreTwoCities. One year later, we took a look back and celebrated what God has done. [You can listen to that here or on our iPhone app.]

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These photos were from our One Year Anniversary after party. See more Photo Booth pictures from our One Year Anniversary here.

After one year, a lot of heartache, ups and downs, changes in our team, changes in the faces that volunteer and attend and more… I continue to say, “It’s Worth it.” It being church planting that is FOR our community and the people in our community. But here’s the thing, it’s worth it because Jesus said with his actions, “You are worth it.” When he spoke to people the religious leaders avoided and he forgave people who didn’t deserve forgiveness and he taught and healed and loved… he communicated that each person, each individual is worth it all. And ultimately, when he died a gruesome and embarrassing death, he did that to pay for the sins of each “worth it” person. You and me.

When I say, “It’s worth it” — it’s worth it because of the stories depicted in the video below, and many more untold stories that have arisen within our community at Two Cities Church.

I know I’m right where God wants me and I can’t wait to see what he does in and through Two Cities Church in our second year.

It’s Worth It. Part 1
It’s Worth it. Part 2
It’s Worth it. Part 3
It’s Worth it. Part 4
It’s Worth it. Part 5