Archives For micah foster

 

THE PROBLEM WITHWhat’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?

  • Ugh, it’s just so hot! I hate it here!
  • The only way to survive is to never go outside.
  • Fresno is the armpit of California.
  • Nothing good comes from Fresno.
  • Fresno, the drunkest city in California.
  • Fresno, the meth capital of the world.
  • I can’t wait to graduate and get out of Fresno!

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).

So, back to my original question, “What’s the real problem with Fresno?” Well, it might be how you think about it.

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.

Let’s be generous and lend a hand to the things that need fixing.
Let’s be active and positive about the future of our great cities.
Let’s be educated and proud of our heritage.
Let’s be supportive and loving to the disenfranchised and marginalized.
Let’s do the things we know we need to do to make our cities even better.

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

 

 

MicahFoster.net
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.

If you’re a speaker, you’ve probably listened to yourself or watched yourself give a talk.
If you’re a singer, you’ve probably listened to a recording or watched a video of yourself sing.
If you’re a model (and we all are), then you’ve evaluated a picture of yourself.

This is a humbling and embarrassing practice.

Audio. Video. Photo.

These are all mediums that capture the essence of a moment or a few moments strung together. They seem to freeze-frame the feeling or message of that moment. The hope we all have in recording so much of our lives into these, mostly digital, formats is to somehow be able to relive them and let others in on the secret of that environment.

While there’s nothing real profound here in this little video, I wanted people to get to know me a little, in a simple way. So here are a few things about myself. This video was created mostly for people who are a part of, or investigating the possibility of becoming a part of, Two Cities Church. I hope you enjoy this somewhat embarrassing video of myself.

startup
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.

  • Your friends and family who believe in you
  • People you didn’t know previously who believe in your vision
  • Your friends and family who don’t believe in you or your vision, but feel obligated to go along with it

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.

Find out more about Two Cities Church here:
#WeAreTwoCities
TwoCitiesChurch.com

Family Photos

December 6, 2012 — Leave a comment

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.

NEXT is this Week

September 11, 2012 — Leave a comment

nextsep16

At Two Cities Church we are entering into a season of weekly events. See my previous post about the calendar.

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!

RSVP HERE!

It’s worth it.

August 22, 2012 — 7 Comments

If you follow my blog at all, you know very well that I am the Lead Pastor and Church Planter of Two Cities Church.

The other day I was in a Starbucks with a friend. We were talking about life in general and a young woman chimed in from several seats away. She said, “Your conversation is way more interesting than what we’re talking about down here.” Then she moved two seats down and joined in on our conversation. Needless to say, she’s not shy.

As we talked about life and eventually talked about the church plant, she made it very clear that she was uncomfortable with the idea that she just started talking to a pastor. She grew up in a church where you needed to know all the secret handshakes and rituals to interact with a pastor. She’s had her unfair share of interactions with insincere church people. She has no desire to be connected to anyone who is fake or playing church. But she was looking for something authentic. By the end of the conversation she asked us to keep her updated on the church plant, exchanged business cards and went our separate ways.

She wants something real. Something relevant. Something unpretentious. A place that doesn’t pretend to be perfect. And something worth bringing her family to.

That’s why we’re planting this church. I’m coming into contact with more and more people who have similar thoughts and interests. People who are disconnected with church. People who have some sort of faith background, but nobody to process biblical principles with and apply them to their lives. Are there great churches in town? Yes. But the people I’m running into are not in them and all the studies I’ve read on growing the Church, say that the fastest way to grown the Church (the Kingdom of God) is to plant churches. So, there will always be a need for more churches.

The #1 question I get is, “Where do you meet?” I respond by telling them about the process of planting a church, in the way that we’re choosing to do it. It’s not quick. We’re building our Launch Team and asking them to participate in “The 4 Things.” Because we know something from watching other church plants, you need a good foundation in order to sustain a church. So we’re not holding every week services until we know we can sustain it.

The 4 Things Are:

  • Strategic Service: Serve in the church in some way
  • Community Groups: Get involved in a small group
  • Percentage Giving: Determine a percentage you will give financially and give consistently
  • Invest & Invite: Invest in the people around you and invite them along

We feel that if we have 80 people committed to “the 4 things”, $20,000 in monthly giving and $100,000 in the bank for start-up costs that we’ll be in a great position to launch and sustain Two Cities Church. So our team is giving now, starting our first Launch Group (small group) next month, holding monthly informational and connection events and praying like crazy. There’s about 20 people committed to the 4 Things right now and that’s a great start, but that’s just the beginning.

Help us build Two Cities Church and pray about joining our team… It’s worth it.

If you’d like to know more about Two Cities Church, let’s grab a cup of coffee… or you can come to our next event in September (date pending). Comment below for more information.

It’s a Party

July 4, 2012 — Leave a comment

We’re having a little gathering at our house this Sunday night.
Sunday, July 8th, 2012 from 6:30-8:30pm.
Photo Jul 04, 11 57 05 AM

In case you didn’t get the email invitation, consider yourself invited now. We’re limiting our space to about 20 people, so please RSVP on our Facebook wall today! Here’s what we’re doing:

This Sunday, July 8th, we are hosting a viewing party to watch an online service of NorthPointOnline.tv. This is going to be streaming to our TV and will give a glimpse into what a service at Two Cities Church might be like. We are inviting friends, family and anyone who is interested in Two Cities to come over for some snacks, Q&A and to watch North Point Online together.

Children: bring your babies, please find childcare for your small children.

big announcement.

May 6, 2012 — 16 Comments

Three and half years ago Erica and I moved to Santa Rosa, Ca with our little dog Cooper. We moved for a few reasons.

A picture we took while visiting San Francisco 6 months before we moved to Santa Rosa, Ca.

I was coming out of a difficult situation and wounded.

We knew we needed to get out of town [Fresno/Clovis] to rebuild.
I knew I needed to learn from someone [Andy] who was working in the North Point model.
We knew that one day we would plant a church.
We did not know where.
We did not know how long we would be at New Vintage Church.
We said, “We’ll give it two years.”
Three and half years later we’re making the jump.
We’ve seen incredible moments of life-change.
We’ve been inspired by the stories of people like Chloe, Dennis, Heather, Donna, Jessica, Laura, and Jerry (to name a few).
But the story to put us over the edge was Lori.

We are so grateful to being a part of a place like New Vintage, where people like Lori can come from a completely Atheist background, walk in our doors, find a relationship with Jesus and be completely changed by the power of the Holy Spirit.
It’s incredible.
But when we watched her baptism video, all we could think of were the people in Fresno/Clovis that we love.
And the question sparked in our minds… “Who is reaching the people we love in our hometown?”

Isaiah 6:8
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us? ” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

I’ve heard it said that you plant a church “because you love people.”
Every time I’ve heard that, I’ve thought, “How can you love all people, unless your God?”
But now I understand that statement. It’s not just a general category of “people.”
It’s PEOPLE… as in specific NAMES.
And that’s why we’re planting Two Cities Church. [Facebook / Twitter]

So, Erica, Josiah, Baby Foster and myself are moving back to our hometown.
I realize there are probably tons of questions and I’ll be blogging about this adventure frequently.
Ask away.

P.S. Here’s a little post about when we moved to NVC and why.

 

 

*This post was posted at 4:12am in honor of Kim Descalso*

Yesterday, I led worship for our k-6th grade environment, UpStreet.
I introduced a new version of Happy and You Know it.
My expectations were that the kids would have a good time with it.
My expectations were not that the kids would have such a great time, they’d pull out their cameras and shoot video.

Here’s a snippet of the worship with the kids.
And yes, I did pull up two high school students to do the movements.

Then, later in the afternoon Chris got our students to pull me up on stage to show them the song.
It’s crazy to me that we did this song at InsideOut!
I made Erika and Kim come on stage and help me with the motions this time!
It’s even crazier that they have fun with it.
Who knew?

How have you made a fool of yourself lately for the sake of ministry?