Archives For Matt Lawson

Consume more, live longer, insulate better. How can I protect what I’ve earned? What can I do to keep what I’ve got? Can I have more and risk less? How do I guard what I’ve spent all these years building? If I stay here longer, can I live more comfortably? Why would I abandon what has become so familiar?

The trap of self preservation has a lot of hard questions to answer. It’s more difficult to escape a life soothed into self preservation than it is to live nomadically following the will of God.

The Scriptures paint a dramatically different trajectory of life than the mire and muck of complacency we so often get stuck in. One of the most pressing questions of life is not ‘how do I self preserve,’ but ‘how do I live forward?’

The forward movement of life is the essence of the Christ life.

Christianity is not about self-preservation, its about following Jesus. Jesus said I will build my church upon which the gates of Hell would not prevail. We are mobilized to attack the gates of Hell because there are people on the other side we want. Jesus did not instruct a group of men to stand and stare. He asked them if they would pursue and follow. In the purest of ways, Jesus stood on a seashore after giving three men an intense vision for their life and asked them to come and pursue Him.

Self preservation lulls the believer into stagnancy and death. In pursuit of the land of Canann, the scripture says Abraham’s father stopped instead and settled in Harran. Genesis 11:32 says, “Terah lived 205 years, and he died in Harran.” In the very next verse, God asks the 75-year old Abraham to pack up and move on towards Canaan. Abraham left Harran that day, and God established a great covenant of blessing between the nomadic Abraham and Himself.

Sometimes the nomadic pursuit of Jesus leads us to a different geographic location. Other times, it carries us into a deeper understanding of His character. Still other times, the nomadic pursuit of God simply means breaking rhythms in order to see God in the normalcy of life.

Where do you need to break the chains of self preservation and follow God?

 

#ftsoGftcoLA,

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#ftsoGftcoLA

Matt Lawson —  October 1, 2014 — Leave a comment

“for the story of God for the city of LA”

 

 

#ftsoGftcoLA,

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  1. I want to see the city as God sees the city.
  2. I want to know what God wants my city to look like.
  3. I want to ask why many times before I say how.
  4. I want to cast vision based not on my own understanding but on my ability to see it through God’s eyes.
  5. I want the courage to stand there as bullets whiz by our heads because it’s God’s vision.
  6. I want to see God fill the gap between what is and what could be.
  7. I want people to be awakened to what they must do because of what God has said.

Will you connect us to people you know in LA so that we can begin to see the city as God sees it? Connect us here.

 

#ftsoGftcoLA,

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I’ve taken over a thousand students on mission trips in the last 14-years, and I’ve seen the best and the worst of mission trip experiences. From my perspective, here are four ways mission trip experiences can be intentional and valuable.

  1. The process is more discipleship than event
    Early on in ministry, I naively prepared students solely for a week long event. We learned dramas, songs, and how to say bathroom in Spanish. A friend introduced me to a process that made disciples and not just prepared people for a trip. It’s transformed my approach to training teams.
  2. Partner with a church for multiple years
    Relationships are the glue that bind our spiritual experiences. When these relationships are exercised consistently over time, a beautiful picture of the body of Christ is woven and displayed.
  3. Partner for strategic ministry, not just ministry activity
    I’ve done the mission trip tour from one town to the next and one activity to the other. We call those places a “mission trip factory” where teams are often received out of a sense of duty because of partnership rather than out of strategic initiative. The best trips are those that strategically contribute to the lifeblood of a local church.
  4. Not a father, but a partner
    Much has been written about paternalistic missions. We’re experiencing a paradigm shift from teams thinking they arrive to teach a missionary/pastor/church how to do ministry to teams showing up to serve the needs of a church…together. My best experience with mission trips have been when our teams have realized we are not bringing Jesus to people. He was already there. We’re partnering in a place God is already working.

If you’re interested in partnering with a local church to engage in strategic ministry to the lifeblood of it’s existence, then grab a Better Together LA Mission Team Packet and let’s talk about what God is doing in Los Angeles.

 

#ftsoGftcoLA,

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I recently spent some time in Kansas City with Kevin Cawley and the Redeemer KC team. They’re an incredibly gracious and hosptiable church and they’ve got an incredible story of God’s favor and vision for a city. In one of our sessions, we discussed the church planter as a spiritual anthropologist.

These thoughts help shape my desire to lead our team to learn and to love the city of Los Angeles. I want our team to understand the city like a cartographer.

What’s it like to understand the city as a spiritual anthropologist?

  • What’s it like to see the city as a taxi driver? – will be able to see where the disfunction is in the city
  • What’s it like to see my city from the eyes of a lifelong resident…someone who’s been here forever? – will see the disfunction and want to know the solution
  • What’s it like to see the city as a tourist? – will be clueless to the problem or solution
  • Whats it like to see the city as a cartographer? – will know where the lines are drawn

A cartographer understands the topography, the fault lines, the places where the city is divided and united. He can acutely draw a picture of what the city is like.

I want to be a spiritual cartographer in the city of Los Angeles so that we see the city as God sees it. When we understand the city as God does, we’ll draw closer to a biblical vision for a city that awakens people to what they must do.

Will you pray that our team will understand the city and it’s needs even better than lifelong residents? 

We’d be honored if you joined our prayer team to seek God for these and other needs in the life of Story City Church. You can join our prayer team here. 

 

#ftsoGftcoLA,

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Mission teams are strategic to the lifeblood and the launch of Story City Church. We’re receiving teams starting spring 2015. Our vision is for teams to serve the city in order to help us be shoulder to shoulder with people to demonstrate the gospel in community.

Click Here to Get a Better Together LA Mission Team Packet

We’re hosting a Vision Trip for pastors and youth pastors October 27-28 in Los Angeles. You can read about that trip in the Mission Team Packet. We’d love for you to join us on this vision tour.

 

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Bill Agee is a great friend and mentor. He’s planted churches, developed strategic partners to plant churches, and now coaches church planters in the process. In the last five years under his leadership, we’ve planted 34 churches at First Baptist Woodstock. All but two are still surviving and thriving…a stunningly phenomenal success rate. He’s helped us develop a process to grow sustainable churches.

This past May, he received a Doctor of Ministry while writing on the subject of this blog post. Bill will eventually publish his DMin work, and you should read it. For now though, we can glean several things from his many years in planting thriving churches.

Bill believes we can predict with great success the survival capacity of a church plant when the following four elements come together.

  1. The Right Person
    Does the church planter have a call of God on his life? Does he have demonstrable leadership capacity?
  2. The Right Plan
    Is there a plan and process in place that helps a planter know what his needs are, when trouble will arise, and what he’ll need along the way? Bill has developed a piece called Count the Cost that EVERY PLANTER should go through.
  3. The Right Place
    Is the area underserved and in need of gospel churches? Are there people on the ground ready to stand behind a church planted in that area?
  4. The Right Partnership
    Are there churches willing to come together to support the plant until it reaches an agreed upon goal of sustainability?

I would encourage you to pick up a copy of Bill’s book, Church Planting: This is Not a Manual.

If you’re a pastor or staff member, we’d love the opportunity to discuss our vision for planting Story City Church under Bill’s leadership along with NAMB and other partnering churches. We’d love to share why we believe these four elements are in place as we plant a church in Los Angeles and how we can partner together.

Feel free to download the following documents and then shoot us an email or call to set up a time to talk, matt@storycitychurch.com.

Shoot me an email and let’s talk about planting in Los Angeles!

 

#ftsoGftcoLA,

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Relationships. That’s our strategy for launching Story City Church. We don’t yet fully know the culture we’ll be leading, but we do understand this…relationships win the day. You can help us win.

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Once we hit the ground full-time in January our team will spend the majority of our first year meeting people, hearing their story, and inviting them to help us shape the vision of Story City Church.

And you can help us launch in a BIG way.

  • Do you know someone in Los Angeles you’d be willing to connect us to?
  • Do you have a family member or friend that knows someone & could connect us?
  • Maybe you don’t know anyone in LA but you’ll post this link on social media and help us connect with others? http://goo.gl/lHVCH0

We’ll meet or talk by phone with whoever you recommend. It doesn’t matter if they currently attend a church or if they don’t have any spiritual beliefs. We simply want to be cultural anthropologists in order to understand the city. Maybe they can connect us to others too.

IT WILL ONLY TAKE 1 MINUTE TO CONNECT US. Go here & give us some info and we’ll do the rest!

#ftsoGftcoLA,

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Story City Church Update.

Everyday is a new piece to the puzzle

Since our plans went public March 23rd, this journey has been filled with extreme emotion and trust. The reality of our dependence hit us dramatically the day we put our dream house on the market two weeks ago as we knew we’d never live in such a house again! It was real, but we’re truly as satisfied as we could possibly imagine.

WATCHING GOD. A few highlights over the past 6 weeks…

  • We’ve received emails, phone calls, and texts of God’s supernatural activity in the lives of other people after announcing we were leaving. One guy I met with recently said he was flying back from the West Coast and God clearly impressed on his heart that he should move out west. After he found out we were headed to Los Angeles, he put his yes on the table to move and be a part of the church!
  • Someone dropped a massive check for Los Angeles  in the offering plate two weeks ago at First Baptist Woodstock! I don’t know who they are but I’m unbelievably grateful. This was totally unsolicited as we haven’t asked individuals for money. It was a monster check. Praise God!
  • Through a difficult set of circumstances and a brief visit back to Woodstock,another person we met with is considering a move back to Los Angelesand is interested in possibly being a part of Story City once we get started. We’re praying she moves to LA!!
  • Last week an FBCW member sent me a facebook message. He recently led a guy to Christ who lives in Santa Monica and said he wants to be a part of our churchEvery single day we talk with someone who knows someone in LA. We’re making a list of these names and will contact them once we get there. If you know someone in LA, please let us know!
  • I met last week with writer/director and friend, Brad Silverman. I met Brad at a movie premiere last August for his film, Grace Unplugged. Brad lives and works in Hollywood as a solid evangelical believer. I’m super stoked to have him on the ground as a friend to glean wisdom from.
  • Another FBCW member has placed his yes on the table to move out with us. He’s got an incredible story of sin and restoration after playing professional baseball for quite a few years. He’s a Dodgers fan, which I’m growing to love!
  • An FBCW senior is going to college in Santa Clarita this fall. If we land near him, he wants to be a part as well. He’s a super sharp servant and leader!

Everyday has been a faith adventure as we watch God piece together the puzzle. I’m now expecting something new and incredible to happen daily.

ASKING GOD. Would you mind praying for these specific requests?

PEOPLE

  1. Staff – Would you pray that God would clearly identify to us a worship pastor and two other staff members?
We’re currently talking with a couple potential worship pastors as well as a couple potential staff guys. Our prayer is that God would confirm to us and them (1) a clear calling to LA, (2) a passionate love for the unchurched, and (3) a right fit for our team. I have a phone conversation on Monday with a potential staff member. I’d love for him to be a part of our team. We just want what God wants!!
  1. Families – Would you pray that God would raise up 4-5 families who would move to start Story City with us?

We’d really like to see 4-5 families or more move to LA with us. Maybe that’s you! We’re praying that God would confirm this calling to them, help us know who they are, and to hear from them.

PLACE

  1. Neighborhoods/Cities – Would you pray that God would give us obvious and evident clarity on the location that we should plant our church and our family?

We’ve talked to several pastors and leaders on the ground in LA as we’re trying to discern where the church will be located. We’re praying over 3 areas right now, although that could totally change once we’re there in a few weeks to visit.

We’re doing demographic research to understand the context and culture. If it interests you, check this out to see what we’re seeing.

The three areas are: Santa Monica, San Fernando Valley (Encino to Burbank up to Santa Clarita), and Thousand Oaks/Agoura Hills.

LA VISIT

We’re flying to LA May 25-30 with Pastor Johnny and 30 pastors who will see the city and the work that needs to be done.

  1. Would you pray that these 30 pastors would see the vision and would lead their churches to give significant financial resources as well people and teams who may come out to work with us.

OTHER FYI
One FBCW staff member asked me today if this was my last day at Woodstock!! The answer is NO!! Haha. We’ll be around until at least October. We’re having baby #3 in July!

We’re hoping to have a gathering of prayer, worship, and vision casting before the end of May with our prayer team as well as those who may be interested in moving to LA. Stay tuned. We’d love for you to attend.

Finally, our house is up for sale. We’re praying for a great offer at the right time! If we sell before we move, we’ll move in with a family here in town who have graciously offered their basement to our family.

Would love for you to forward this on to a friend who may pray for Story City and the city of Los Angeles!! Thanks for your prayers! They’re moving mountains!

 

God is creating a great love for this beautiful city in our hearts. Fascinating perspective on dreams and broken dreams in the City of Angels. Thanks to my friend jcatanzaro for passing this along.  [warning: a few expletives]