Thursday, August 8, 2013

From Pastor Jason: A Question and A Call to Prayer

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I was sitting in the middle of downtown Denver reading and drinking coffee. Not an unusual ceremony for me. However as I worked my way through Rick Mckinley’s great book,This Beautiful Mess something happened to me. At the time I knew I wanted to be a pastor. I knew I wanted to start a church. I just didn’t know where. But as I read Mckinley’s words, God spoke to me. At the very least I sensed a clarity of personal calling like I hadn’t before. Downtown San Jose was specifically laid on my heart and it hasn’t left. 
A few years removed, the church God has entrusted me to lead could not be more different from the one I saw that day. For that I am seriously grateful. I saw a church plant in downtown San Jose comprised of gospel groups regularly meeting within the confines of 87, 280, and 101. I also saw folks walking to and from our gatherings every Sunday. What we’ve experienced is a gathering downtown of folks from many different stripes and zip codes. Not to mention other locations that meet in Willow Glen, the Children’s Recovery Center, and the Saratoga Subacute facility. Suffice it to say … I didn’t see this coming. 
With such variation between the original picture and our current reality, all bets seem to be off. Of course this ministry mystery is relegated to missional expressions and strategies, not to the revealed clarity of God through his Word. That being said little else is guaranteed on mission beyond God’s persistent presence and his ongoing movement of renewal. Things change all the time. Dwell has become familiar with change. I used to think change happened in life. But not, in my short time on planet earth I’ve realized that life is change. 
And so I’ve been wrestling with a question … are we doing everything we can to be as effective as we can be? Or perhaps put a different way … are we doing something that is frustrating our effectiveness? What do you think? Our church is unique. (Find one just like it and I’ll buy you a frappuccino.) Okay every church is a bit unique. But that means we must continually ask this previously stated question within our particular context and time.
I think we need to ask that question now.
God has seen fit to grow Dwell widely. Our four locations speak to this generous calling. In light of this broad expression of ministry we need a must compelling overall vision and compact strategy which effectively accomplishes specific purposes. In Willow Glen. In Downtown. And at the CRC and Saratoga Subacute. From my perspective a lack of cohesion has become increasingly obvious in the downtown Sunday morning gathering. The effort and energy and strategy of our gathering is moving in a different direction than the primary purpose of this location–to share Jesus and be good news to the folks who live there. 
So to answer the question, I do think we are doing something that is frustrating our effectiveness to accomplish our purpose. We are an energetic and gifted bunch downtown, with an incredible collective heart for the good news and the glory of Jesus. But most who attend this service live and go to work outside of the downtown context. I believe this has brought a bit of internal conflict in each of us. All this being said, we are considering consolidating our Sunday morning gatherings–in Willow Glen and Downtown–to a single gathering at our Willow Glen location in order to more effectively and responsibility share Jesus in each of these areas of San Jose. Our commitment to share the gospel and be good news downtown remains. Through a more focused commitment to Kids Club, Summer Camp, and a new pioneering Gospel Group in downtown we believe we will do an even better job accomplishing our purpose than ever before. Not to mention the benefits our Willow Glen gathering will experience with an influx of our downtown Dwellers.
I am asking you all to pray. Today my family and I are headed down to New Orleans. Laura and I will have a couple days just the two of us and then we’ll join our extended family (and of course, little G) in Laurel, Mississippi to celebrate my grandmother’s 90th birthday. I want you to know that Laura and I will be in concerted prayer about this. About what’s next. About what’s best. Ultimately about what God’s will is for his church, Dwell. Please join us. 
By God’s goodness and grace we will collectively discern his leading in yet another beautifully messy change. We are one church. May San Jose continue to be on our hearts in a refreshed and focused way.
Love you all.
Pastor Jason

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