Archives For #WeAreTwoCities

This is a quote I’ve heard on more than one occasion from some of my favorite people, Jim and Carrie Tienken. Chances are, if you’ve lived in Fresno and attended any of the local churches for long enough, you’ve run into one or both of these fine people. We recently shot a video of them at a local coffee shop, just telling us a bit of their story. The questions were simple:

  • What do you love about our cities (Fresno and Clovis)?
  • What do you think we could improve upon in our cities?
  • Why are you a part of Two Cities Church?
  • What kinds of roles do you play at the church?
  • What’s one of your favorite wins we’ve experienced?

You know, simple stuff.

But in the middle of all of that Carrie calls herself a “Recovering Pharisee” and explains that when she first came to Two Cities, she was extremely judgmental. She is brave. She just said that on video for the whole world to see. Wow.

I think far more of us, Jesus people, Christians have more of that in us than we’d like to admit. But what I love about Jim and Carrie is that they’ve realized that’s not Jesus’ response to people, his response is gracious and so they are actively seeking ways to be more gracious and giving their judgements over to God.

I want to be like them when I grow up!

Maybe you’re asking, “What’s a Pharisee?” Well, a Pharisee was a certain class of people that lived contemporary with Jesus in Jerusalem and the surrounding communities. They were devout religious-Jews. They took the Hebrew Scriptures very seriously, literally and they held every part of those documents in high esteem. So high, in fact, that treating people with graciousness was hard to do. Consequently, they were notoriously harsh with people they felt were breaking the Law of Moses. They were judgmental.

Sometimes, we, Christians can be that way, even with the Old Covenantal Law of Moses, which, by the way, doesn’t apply to us because we are actually under the New Covenantal Law of Christ. That’s enough back story, here’s their video, enjoy.

 

Awareness is the enemy of contentment.

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About three weeks ago we took some of our students from Two Cities Church to the Fresno Grizzlies baseball game. It was “Christian Fellowship Night” and “My Job Depends in Ag Night.”

During the game I was taking a lot of video on my Go Pro Hero 6 Black. Some kids took notice and eventually came up to us and excitedly asked, “Are you guys YouTubers?”

Josiah thought it was the best thing that ever happened to him.

Here are some highlights…

“How can I help people give more of their life away?”

That’s a question that I’ve been wrestling with for the past nine months or so. As a pastor I’m always trying to figure out where the next spot is, spiritually, that I should lead our local church. And the thing I keep coming back to is that we want to love people well and part of loving people well is serving them.

But why ask THAT question at all?

Well, simply put, the measure of a life well lived is not in how much one acquires or accomplishes, it’s in how well one loves.

This past Easter, our church, Two Cities Church, partnered with Action Community Church, the City of Clovis Parks and Recreation Department and the Clovis Police Department to put on the very first church-city Easter event to serve our community. We planned for 3,000 people and ended up with over 2,000.  Enjoy this vlog I put together showing some of the set up, event and tear down process.

“Coming to Two Cities was a big change and I realized that God was always with me whether I believe it or not. That he would always be by my side and that he loved me no matter what.” – Madison McKenna, Baptism, Nov 2017

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

youre-welcome
A couple of weeks ago I woke up to a Facebook message from someone that I don’t hear from often. There’s a transcript of the conversation:

Friend: Do you need anything?
Me: What do you mean?
Friend: Money?

Let me stop your right there from reading the rest of the conversation. I mean, who wakes up to someone asking them if they need money? That doesn’t happen in real life, right? Well, it did and it happened to me. Ok, keep going…

Me: Well, we are trying to raise 50k to upgrade our elementary environments, invest in chronically hungry kids in Fresno, and hire a second staff member.

I was thinking he was talking about the church, since we’re trying to raise money for our end-of-year giving campaign and expand the work of the church. He responds…

Friend: Nice! Well, I woke up feeling like I needed to give you $300?
Me: Well, I woke up to a crying child and so that brightens the day! LoL
Friend: Haha I should be out of work by 4
Me: Ok, you can also do it through text. Just type WATC to (559) 745-7009. It will ask  you to register a card and then you can text in the amount (300) and it will deduct if rom your account.
Friend: I think it’s cash for you

At this point I was shocked. I thought, “So, you mean to tell me you feel like God is telling you to give me $300 cash, personally… for me? Not for the church?”

Have you ever had an experience like that? No? I wouldn’t expect you to.

Here’s the thing, I met up with him in the Target parking lot. I’m sure it looked like a drug deal to onlookers because we both got out of our cars and he shook my hand with a wad of cash in it and gave me a hug.

I said, “Did God tell you what I was going to do with he cash?”

“No.” He replied.

I thanked him, we chatted and he left.

Imagine the burden to do what is the right thing with this $300. In my family, we have everything budgeted out. We have specific amounts that go to specific categories. We do not frivolously buy anything. We weigh it out because we want to be good stewards of the money God entrusts to us… but for some reason, this $300 weighed extra heavy on us to do the right thing. The problem was, we didn’t know what the right thing was.

So for three days, we prayed about it and one verse kept coming to my mind:

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much…”
Luke 16:10 NIV

At the end of those three days, I reached a decision. We were going to give it to the end-of-year campaign at Two Cities Church.

Not even five minutes after I made that decision I got a text from a church planter in Rohnert Park, CA.

Friend: I just saw something on your Facebook about year-end-giving… did you receive our cashiers check? We mailed it.

I had just been thinking about how we need to be faithful with every little gift and God will entrust us with more. That’s exactly what was happening. Now I realize that they had already sent the check and we would’ve received it either way, but I believe God withheld the information until we made the decision he knew we would make.

Later that day I went to the box and do you know what was in that box? A check for Two Cities Church from Discovery Church in Rohnert Park for $1,000. That’s right one-thousand dollars.

Want to see God do miraculous things in your financial life? Don’t squeeze every penny for yourself. Be generous and willing to share. (1 Timothy 6:18) In fact, when it comes to giving, it’s the only thing God actually says to test him on.

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the  Lord  Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”
Malachi 3:10

You have an opportunity to invest in something amazing, the local church. If you do, I think God might do something miraculous in your own life. Be a part of something amazing. Be a part of funding the church so that we can expand our efforts, reach more people, and feed more hungry kids in the name of Jesus Christ.

How?

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4 Simple Ways You Can Give to Our “WeAreTwoCities” end-of-year campaign:

  • Send a check to Two Cities Church
    1865 Herndon Ave K304
    Clovis, Ca 93612
  • Send a Text
    “WATC” to 559.745-7009 and then the amount you’d like to give. Here’s a little video to show you how easy it is.
    https://vimeo.com/111665925
  • Give Online by clicking here
  • In Service
    Drop a check or cash into our offering bucket during a service

Your gifts are tax-deductible and you’ll receive a giving receipt in January.

Thank you for being a part of something amazing, the local church, which is the hope of the world.

Our Guest Services Director, at Two Cities Church, has had the highest turn-over since we began this venture and it’s good. First it was Chris Loach. Chris knew the model of ministry and what a Guest Services team should look like within that. The problem with Chris Loach is that he’s just too talented and capable of doing too many things. We quickly moved him into other roles after he got the team set up. Then we asked Chris Hansen to take over the spot. Chris Hansen had spent some time volunteering on the Guest Services team at The Village Church in Dallas, TX. He excitedly and willingly took on the role. He brought a different perspective and was able to help us create a better, more welcoming, set up in our lobby. Chris Hansen just moved back to Texas for a new job. We already miss Chris H. and his wife, Lisa. As various volunteer staff helped me brainstorm on who we could challenge to this position, one name kept surfacing… I give you Brian Weber. brian and michelle 1 brian costume

I asked Brian to share a little about himself by filling out a brief survey. Here’s what he said:
  • What’s your full name and age?

    Brian Kenneth Weber, 34 (35 on Halloween!)

  • What’s your full-time job?

    Director of Customer Solutions – Decade Software; I leave a team that develops custom solutions for automating data management within regulatory agencies.

  • Tell us a little about your family.

    Wife of almost one year, Michelle. She is the glue in our family and provides a calming effect to all of us! We have a son, Braden, 7-years-old who is in love with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and showing his sister hot to do everything. Camryn, 4.5-years-old, is in love with her dolls making her older brother THINK he is showing her how to do things. She is wise neon dyer years. Both love reading in the Bible and asking great questions bout God. Finally, Michelle and I are expecting a baby boy due in October. We couldn’t be more blessed.

  • What’s your favorite things about Two Cities Church?

    Two Cities is a church for any person, God-seeking, God-loving, God-questioning. There isn’t any judgement at Two Cities, just come hang out and we can learn from each other.

  • Why did you accept the invitation to be on our volunteer staff team?

    I accepted the invitation to be the Director of Guest Services because I believe in the direction of Two Cities and I can’t wait to contribute to its growth.

  • What are your hopes and dreams for the future of Two Cities?

    I want Two Cities to fulfill God’s plan for our church. The size, revenue, or funding is not as important as impacting people’s lives as we can provide an outlet to build a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. I can’t wait to experience the ride!

We are excited to have Brian on the volunteer staff team and can’t wait to see what he brings to the Guest Services Director position. You can watch Brian and Michelle’s #WeAreTwoCities video here. You can read about our Volunteer Staff team here.

Meet Westley and Vanessa Rakis-Garabedian. We showed their story at our last service at Two Cities Church. Westley and Vanessa are a vital part of our team at Two Cities Church. They have two beautiful little girls in Waumba Land and we are so excited that they’ve jumped on board with us at Two Cities.

Enjoy their #WeAreTwoCities story to find out why they’re so excited about Two Cities. [Can’t see the video? Click here.]

Click for more #WeAreTwoCities Videos.

Meet Dennis and Bev Wyman. We showed their story this past Sunday at Two Cities Church. Dennis and Bev are a vital part of our team at Two Cities Church. Bev volunteers in the Children’s Ministry check-in area and Dennis serves on our Guest Services team. In addition they are a part of our Monday evening Launch Group at my home.

Enjoy their #WeAreTwoCities story below. [Can’t see the video? Click here.]

Click for more #WeAreTwoCities Videos.