JOIN US. PRAY WITH US. LOVE THE CITY.
May 2018 Newsletter
Friends & family,
As we approach our 20th week worshipping as The Church at Del Aire, we have seen very clearly what we could be. God has shown us the "new thing" that amounts to a multicultural new culture of church that He has called us to be (Is. 43:18-19). We have had glimpses of just how beautiful, and appealing a multicultural church could be in a multicultural city. We’ve had conversations (literally dozens upon dozens of conversations) with people who don’t know Jesus, who regard what we are doing with respect, admiration, and curiosity. We’ve seen some of those very people begin to attend off and on, and see that picture of heaven’s worship, on earth as it is in heaven (Lk. 11:1-2). We’ve seen single mothers find their place in a home, and the desolate find welcome and acceptance. We’ve seen the beauty of salvation in the lives of our people (2 Cor. 4:4-6). We’ve got more gospel opportunity in our city, and context than we can currently staff. Indeed the harvest is plentiful and the Laborers are few (John 4:34-35). We’ve had the privilege of working with Fishers of Men West Coast to put new shoes on the feet of some of the most at risk kids in Hawthorne, and in LA County. We’ve heard the networks we are a part of (Acts 29 and Gospel Ventures)champion our cause for a multicultural church at local conferences. We’ve seen the gospel begin to alter the trajectory of lives. Often the lives it has impacted are those of the urban poor; about 1/4 of the new faces coming into church have come in through the grocery outreach we have at church twice a month. As I try to assemble who we are, and who the LORD has given us to shepherd (Acts 20:24-32), we’ve moved from being a small core team of 40 assembled people to somewhere around 60, with some additional 40 on the fringes of the church. We’ve seen the gifts of the body of Christ on display, something I believe we are just barely scratching the surface of (there is potential in people that we’ve barely just begun to see in their God given gifts and callings). The best yet is the friendships made with people, and moments shared with people. I am learning ministry on the block with pastor John L. Jefferson, and have grown through some issues of ignorance within myself. To put it simply, ‘I did not know what I did not know.’ I thank the LORD for the grace of God extended through the relationships we’ve made in these 20 weeks. Two missional communities have started; and we are working towards building out some church in public spaces for the summertime, and the fall.
Along with these evidences of Grace, there have come the graces that are disguised as trials. As Spurgeon has said, "kiss the wave that throws you against the rock of ages." Many have been the waves, and yet, our lean, and dependence upon God through the process has likewise grown. Grown in our understanding of prayerful dependence, and need for more and more of the Holy Spirit’s presence, and power in our lives (Acts 1:8). We are in fact, doing a good work, and the enemy would have us come off this wall with distraction, division, and discouragement (Neh. 6:3). This season has been one of warfare like few of us have seen before, which tells me: we are exactly where God wants us to be. As it has been said, "Set out for heaven, and you’ll get an attack from hell." At a conference recently, I had a mentor state: "If the gospel is true, there are no irreconcilable differences." Both churches have had to face the reality that we both have a "culture" that makes up how we view the world, as it is what we make of the world within our context. Recognizing these cultural differences starts with first recognizing that we each have a culture from which we view the world. All of our significant struggles have surrounded the need to be culturally flexible, and deferential. I have had to confront my own cultural idols, and inflexibility. What is needed is for one new culture to be formed; and this to be formed upon the deferential preference of others as more important than ourselves (Phil. 2:1-11). Cultural entrenchment leads to divided churches; while cultural flexibility leads to the beautiful mosaic of God’s Kingdom: a truly multicultural church that forms a "new thing" type culture (Is. 43:18-19). Both parties cannot continue to do the same things, and expect different results (the very definition of insanity). Success sometimes leads us to relax our little used muscles, and revert back to our often used habits of yesterday; while the gospel is calling us to a new normal: everybody being just a little bit uncomfortable, so that pre-Christians are comfortable (with all but the gospel of course; Rom. 3:9-25). We’ve had to lay our god of comfort at the cross in order that in our discomfort, people might receive the gospel (Matt. 16:24-25); indeed, a cross is never comfortable. We’ve had to fight looking past people to our plans, strategies, and programs. Jesus (apparently); didn’t die for plans, strategies, or plans; rather, He died for people. I’ve had to be confronted with my tendency to look past people to the "future" when there are people in need of love in my present. With repentance, we’ve sought to move past tolerance of people who are different than us, to love. Love is the bond of perfection that Jesus is challenging us to embrace, and put on (Col. 3:14). This season has been beautiful, and humbling like never before; and I thank God for the grace, and contrast of these simultaneous experiences.
As we move forward, having seen what we could be, we now move into a negotiating phase where we will pound out who we will become in the newness that God desires for us (Is. 43:18-19).
For your Joy in Jesus,
Lead Pastor, Stone Table Church
PRAY WITH US
Please be in prayer for us as we step forward in the month of June into negotiations for the future (a necessary part of the merger process). Though negotiations are necessary, I would count them to be a necessary grace, rather than a necessary evil. The grace is certainly clarity. Clarity with expectations, and the path forward are not evils, but graces. God has a good plan for the Church at Del Aire, and it’s at the table, where relationship and dialogue are present that we can hear the hearts of others, and work towards a common future.
When we began this journey, we were asked to take over for Pastor Jefferson; and now it has become clear that Pastor Jefferson is remaining at the Church at Del Aire. He is an essential part of our team, a consummate evangelist and advocate for justice and evangelism to the least, the last, and the lost. Pastor Jeff Luddington from our sending church will be assisting us in the negotiation process, along with Dr. William Thurman, Pastor Emeritus at Park Windsor Baptist Church. Please be in prayer for these men as we seek the LORD for wisdom in what God is doing in Hawthorne.
MAY: our month of prayer
This month, we have been committing our Monday nights to prayer and fellowship together. On Monday, June 4th we will hear from Hannah Salazar on her time in Manila, Philippines as a missionary, and seek to hear some of the missionary principles she discovered in her time. We’ll then commit the rest of our time to prayer. If you would like to be a part of our Monday prayer time, please reply to this email, and we’ll send you the address. Our prayer focus has been: People, places, and provision. The LORD has many people in this city (Acts 18:10-11), and this includes both people of peace, and people of the least with whom He is colliding. People of peace walking us into places of influence, and provision. He also has people of influence with whom we have found tremendous favor. In addition, there are places that the LORD wants us to go in order to have God-appointments with people. Pray that the LORD would direct our steps (Prov. 16:9). Pray additionally for provision. This doesn’t solely mean financial provision, but all of the moments we must steward, and additionally laborers. Indeed, the harvest is plentiful, and the laborers are few (Lk. 10:1-2). Pray to the Lord of the harvest for laborers who will join us. Again, there are more opportunities than we can staff, and I believe that the LORD has some laborers to come along side, be discipled, equipped, and released on mission.
Prayer Walk this Sunday!
Immediately following our service this sunday, we’ll grab a sack lunch in the fellowship hall, and prayer walk the area of Eucalyptus Park, and Hawthorne High School from approximately 12:30 p.m. - 2 p.m. If you’d like to join us, meet us this Sunday at 10:30 a.m. for service, or immediately following the service at 12:30 p.m. in the parking lot as we walk it together (Bring your walking shoes! :)
We are grateful for your ongoing prayer, and ask that you pray with us through the negotiation process through this summer.