Day by day we draw nearer to launching the seed-bed of what will Lord-willing become Jesus Missionary Communities by this time next year. Our Thursday nights will begin the first week in September. They are open invite to anyone wanting to encounter Jesus. We will together as domestic missionaries and/or as Jesus seekers/followers, desire and actually encounter God and be used of God in this short life in response to Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.
Initially we will simply be meeting over meals and I will be fielding some questions so that we can begin building awareness of where each of us are coming from spiritually. We will be learning together initially how to naturally bring the Lord into day to day conversations and subject matters. I also intend to lead us in caring for one another’s physical, emotional, and relational needs as Jesus modeled for us. We will then, a few weeks in, begin watching The Basic Series together with Francis Chan. After that series we will begin worshiping, praying, taking communion, and studying God’s Word together as we begin reading the same reading plan using the Read Scripture app.
After a number of weeks together we will begin discussing needs around us that we are aware of and how we can meet the needs of those we encounter in each week as a community. We will discuss and then act together to meet these needs as best we are able from our resources. We will also be able to begin giving together to international missionaries we know as God leads us.
After a year of gently developing rhythms such as these, Lord willing we will multiply and begin Jesus Missionary Communities more officially in loose but loving sibling relationship with Kaleo Community Church here in Merced led by my good friend Raf Renteria. KCC is more of a traditional church plant and is a more recent plant. My wife and I love and know these folks in KCC and look forward to the gentle affiliation with JMC long-term. Raf’s vision for KCC will be shared in time, as I don’t want to push out into the public view what he and his bride and the body of KCC are still developing and growing in together. The same goes for JMC in the long-term, but I wanted to paint the picture here since it’s less of a traditional vision and model and it helps to have it out there for people to know of and not be surprised by long-term.
For JMC, the prayerful hope is that we would build a network of house churches here in this county and possibly in other surrounding counties banded together as a family of churches. My prayerful hope would be to keep a healthy and loving affiliation under Jesus Missionary Communities for any of the house churches that multiply out from the original seed of this first JMC church plant in 2018; however, I am not nervous about the thought of some of these becoming various other networks or becoming traditional churches here or in other towns/cities. May GOD build His church and may none of us ever in any way get in the way. He is unstoppably loving, sovereign, and capable.
It’s a deep joy to have the support and love of the folks from various churches here in Merced, particularly Kaleo Community Church, led by my friend Raf as I mentioned. My wife and I and our children will be members of KCC until this time next year, and it will be a blessing to rest and restore together in our marriage as we pray and begin the building of community and missionary work here in this town. There is perhaps nothing as lonely in some respects as being a domestic missionary family not yet surrounded by other domestic missionaries. This is why we are grateful for the KCC church family as we prepare over the course of this year.
The vision for this plant (JMC) is to closely mimic the basic HOW TO so-to-speak for church planting modeled by We Are Church. It seems unwise to try to divert much at all. WAC imitates much of what is done in house church movements in other countries which have worked for a very long time. My biggest concern therefore isn’t the how to so much as the WHO. I’m constantly asking God to reveal the laborers to me who can join me in this labor of love. I am deeply grateful for my wife, Carrie, who is my primary ally and truly my closest trusted sibling in Christ. I also am deeply grateful for some close friends who share their support anywhere from full endorsement verbally and in prayer to hesitant support and prayers that feel more concerned than faith-filled; I have to smile and commit our way into the Lord’s good hands. Another reason for staying closely to the format of We Are Church is that I’m not seeking to be a conflict or discomfort starter in any way, so I’ll let the blame for the model we adopting fall on the Chinese underground church, many of the movements in India, We Are Church, The Crowded House, and other movements much bigger than JMC. As a man said to me yesterday, the Lord has taken on more difficult challenges than those we encounter in Merced, so we are not to worry as we all continue to make disciples whether we are part of a traditional American style church or more of what I pray will materialize with Jesus Missionary Communities here in the Valley.
In the joy and sufficiency of Jesus Christ our Lord,