We arrived back home today, met with the kids, and headed out to Hannaford to help with some tech aspects of the Christmas production there. In addition to that, a dear friend's battle with cancer is getting more intense - and so have our prayers for him. It seems like there hasn't been a moment to breath since we flew into Helena this afternoon.
As I sit here tonight, I can't help but look back over the last few days in Georgia at the ARC Assessment. What an amazing experience of growth and encouragement! In addition to the obvious purpose of pursuing ARC's help to partner with Encounter, we've come back with so much more.
WE'VE BEEN HUMBLED
We spent nearly two days with 11 other couples who are on a similar journey. They are each taking the biggest risk of their lives, giving their all, and seeking to follow God and His specific plan for them. Each couple is stepping out in faith to see significant growth in God's Kingdom in their specific community. One plant is a downtown, urban church. One is already holding a worship gathering in a bar. Another is seeing people of different classes and races truly know Jesus for the first time - all in a community wrought with racism.
After hearing these stories, I am humbled to know a God that can start such exciting and bold endeavors. I also know that He will continue to radically supply the strength and provision to help these faith communities grow so that Jesus will be made famous through them.
Finally, I just feel blessed to have met, struggled, and discussed our passions with each couple. All day long in different airports and at home, I have already been connecting with these new friends, encouraging them, and in return being encouraged by them.
WE'VE BEEN MENTORED
Another blessing we've come away with from the ARC Assessment is meeting the individuals of the assessment team itself. The team was comprised of pastors, planters, and ARC associates that were all there for one purpose - to see new life-giving churches come to life. We were blessed with words of wisdom, encouragement, and challenges all designed to make us more "successful" in fulfilling God's vision through Encounter.
WE'VE BEEN CHALLENGED
Finally, Andrea and I were challenged. In participating in the exercises and in our private discussions with the ARC counselors, we were able to identify some key growth areas we need to work on. We were inspired by the vision of the other couples and realize that we, too, need to be able to clearly communicate Encounter's vision. We have realized that Andrea and I make a great ministry team, and should not be ashamed of, nor shy away from that blessing. We were challenged to clearly define the "win." But most of all, we realized that what we've been saying is really actually true: relationship and growing faith are the key to pursuing God's dream.
ARC is dedicated to seeing new life-giving churches planted. Every new church plant presented at the ARC Assessment was determined to reach the unchurched and the dechurched of this generation - which tells me several truths: 1) those are the types of dynamic and relevant churches that ARC plants, and 2) that is what is missing in many of our cities and towns across America.
I thank God for challenging Andrea and I with this vision, but now we also pray for others to come along side us and become a part of what God is doing in Helena. There is much to be done, there are many needed, and there will be funds required. Please pray whether God is calling you to this vision as well...and if so tell us.