#FiatFriday is just for fun…
#FiatFriday is just for fun…
In this episode, Josiah and I explore Woodward Park in Fresno, Ca. It cost us $5 to drive in, but you can always park across the street and walk, run or bike into the park itself. Subscribe to our channel and see more Go.Do videos!
Your local public park can be a great source of adventure. Most people take their kids and sit on a bench while their kids play. They (we… I’m guilty too) use the time to catch up on email or Facebook. But what if we helped their imagination bloom? What if we became part of their games? What if we participated with them? We’re making these YouTube videos to encourage people to play together and Go Do Something. Life is actually pretty amazing and my kids are growing up fast, so I’m trying to be more proactive in enjoying each day with them. Sometimes it’s little and simple and sometimes it’ll be bigger, but it’s something.
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.
What’s the real problem with Fresno?
I grew up here and I grew up hearing your words. In many ways, your words have shaped what the people who grow up here, think about here. Do any of these statements sound familiar?
And maybe you graduated and left. But like many of us, maybe you found yourself being pulled back by a gravity you did not understand. And maybe you acted on that gravity or maybe you stay away. Either way…
We need to change our verbage for the next generation. If we continue to talk about how hot it is, how miserable, how awful Fresno is, the best and the brightest will pick up on our scorn and they will leave and they will take their talent and their insight and their drive with them. They will build and contribute to the economy, the industry, the art, the humanity, and the aid of some other people in some other place.
I lived in Malibu for five years and Sonoma County for almost four years and surprisingly, I met a lot of people from the Fresno and the Central Valley area. At the church I worked at in Santa Rosa, we joked about how so many good people come from the Fresno area. We routinely said, “All good things come through Fresno.”
Now, since I’ve moved back and lived here for four years, I’m in love with our cities, with Fresno and with Clovis. There’s so much to love. From a great education, to a police chief that talks to the people and pleads with them to make wise choices, to a mayor who desperately believes in the revitalization of our downtown area, to local restaurants trying to make a genuine impact, not just a dollar. And the list goes on…
I’m not saying we’re perfect, far from it, but we have a strong community and we’ve got people working hard to make a real impact on our problems. People like Feed Our Future Fresno and the Pinedale Impact Center (more on this later).
If you’re going to continue to contribute to the defamation of Fresno, you should probably go find some place to live that you’ll be proud of. I mean it, we don’t have the water or the jobs to support you, so go find someplace that does. Life is too short to live in a place you despise. What’s holding you back? Sell everything, uproot and go. I don’t want my kids to grow up hearing about how awful you think their hometown is. I want them to love it and be motivated to contribute to it. We don’t need to be defeatists, we need to be optimistic and hopeful.
So if you plan on being here, let’s make here the best here it can be.
My family and I moved back here to contribute and partake. That’s what being a good citizen is about. You add value to your environment and you engage in the richness of its culture.
But here’s my hunch; a high percentage of you who will move away in the coming months and years, you’ll find yourself in a similar situation, a similar mindset as you have here. You may like the summer temperature in your new location or even the air quality. Those things might be significantly better for you, but in a year or two you’ll find yourself complaining again. The complaints may not be the same, but they will linger. Because your attitude about your city is more about your attitude than your city. Changing your perspective, changes your life and you don’t have to move cities to do that. You may have to move away from relationships or situations, but you may not have to leave your city.
Feel free to disagree, but I love these two cities and I think you should too.
Related Content: 8 Things I learned about Fresno from @HiddenCash
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:
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.
Have you ever started something?
I mean from the ground up, started something.
Like a company, club, organization, team, or creative endeavor.
In every start up story there seems to be several different reactions to the initial idea.
For instance, when someone writes a song, they eventually present that creative work to someone else. When that person hears it, the feedback begins. In that moment the creator is extremely vulnerable. Sometimes the work is no good, has a glimpse of brilliance, or is just ok. But people react to that creative work through their own lens, their own preference, and their own taste. It’s subjective.
At the beginning of my senior year of high school I went to see my guidance counselor. A guidance counselor is the person who helps you plan out the right classes so you have the best chances of accomplishing your dreams. This man gave me feedback I didn’t like.
He asked, “So, what are your plans? Where are you applying for college?”
I said, “I’m applying to Pepperdine University.”
With a chuckle he said, “Ok, but really, where are you applying?”
I said, “Pepperdine.”
Without hesitation he said, “That’s great. But you won’t get in. I mean, your family has to build a stadium at a place like that in order to get in with your GPA. So, you need backups. I recommend Fresno City.”
“You’ll see.” I thought to myself.
We’ve all been there. Shared a dream, a work, an idea and it was immediately met with criticism.
As I was reading my bible this morning in John 11, I noticed one of the many times Jesus encountered such a moment. Jesus’ friend Lazarus was very sick. Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha, came to see Jesus and asked him to come heal him. Jesus waited to go. A few days later, in fact. Jesus took his time and he was going to have to travel to a hostile area. Meaning, the people in those parts had already tried to stone him, kill him, before. So his disciples, the guys who were right there with him, all the time were a little distressed at the thought of going back into this hostile region. Jesus tells his guys that Lazarus is dead and they’re about to head back to see him.
Thomas says something here that I think we can all relate to:
Then Thomas said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” John 11:16
My reaction to that would probably be, “I’m sorry… whaaaaaaa? Thomas, dude, you are killing me with your dedicated defeatist attitude.”
I think in every start up endeavor, or creative process you’ve got at least three camps of people who help you or follow your crazy dream.
I don’t know about you, but I see these different groups around me all the time. As we ventured out to start this church plant I could plainly see all three groups of people. After one of our more successful events someone who has become part of our team, who shall remain nameless, walked in and said, “You don’t need me. Look at this.” Now there’s a couple ways to read this. Let me help you interpret this.
“You don’t need me [anymore because I’ve been in this to help you out until it either thrived or died, but I never really believed in it]. Look at this [but I think you’re going to be okay here without me].”
I find it interesting that in the story about Lazarus Jesus, knowing full well, where Thomas’ heart and belief was didn’t let that derail anything. He didn’t ask him to stop following, he kept inviting him to come along. Isn’t that crazy? Thomas doubted along the way, yet Jesus kept him around, defeatist attitude and all. Why? Because Jesus had a vision that was further into the future than Thomas could ever see. Jesus knew something about his mission, that Thomas would never fully grasp. Jesus remained focused despite the crazy amounts of criticism because he had a vision and he stayed the course.
So, my questions for you are: Do you have a vision for your ___________? Do you see what could and should be 2, 3, 5, 10, 30 years down the road? If so, don’t let the critics stop you or derail you. If so, you have a responsibility to see it through.
I have a vision of what could and should be and it’s huge. It’s bigger than I care to reveal at this time. So I press on with Thomas and everyone else who opts into the vision of creating a church that unchurched people would love to attend, all for the purpose of accomplishing our mission, which is to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.
Oh yeah, in case you were wondering. Pepperdine is the only school I applied to. I spent a summer in Heidelberg, Germany with Pepperdine. After four years I added an extra year to stay close to Erica and added a minor for the fun of it. I had three years on a full-ride and it was the experience of a lifetime. I’m a Driver. I don’t quit.
And if you have a vision, you shouldn’t quit either.
A couple of weeks ago we took some family pictures. It was a quick and great experience. The Photo Credit goes to Katie Nisbett Photography. Josiah is 3 and Brynn is 6-months in these pictures. Enjoy.
This week we are holding a vision gathering. It’s a great place to come hear the vision of the church without any commitment. If you’re curious, if you’d like to know more about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, this is the perfect environment for you to come hang out with us.
Here’s how I worded it on our Facebook Event:
NEXT is an environment where people who are a part of our launch team as well as people who are interested in hearing more about the vision, mission and strategy of Two Cities Church gather. Our next NEXT will be Sunday, Sep 16 @ 6pm. (2080 E. Tollhouse, Clovis, Ca)
If you came to our last NEXT event, we invite you back and ask you to invite some friends!