Oceanside Church Planting Update

Letter Ethnos Network Global Church Gathering 2019


To My Ethnos Network Fam:

Hi!  Roy here from Oceanside, CA (San Diego North County).  I wanted to say how sad I am that I can’t be there with you this week.  

Some Family Updates

Recently, my mother in law had life saving surgery.  She was going into septic shock and the doctors were able to find what was happening and correct it immediately.  Unfortunately, she has had some setbacks and my wife Christina and I have become her caretakers. She has been in and out of the hospital several times these last 6 weeks.  

The good news is that the doctors now think that she is improving and needs to keep resting.  My mother in law is a strong woman of faith and I’m grateful for that since she’s been through a lot.

As you could imagine, I could not–in good faith–leave my family and be out of the country.  While Christina does much of the attending to her mom, we have two young teenage boys–Christopher and David–to attend to.  My family is my first church to pastor.  

Church Planting Updates

We’ve had to put the church plant on hold for now to attend to my mother in law.  But God continues to give me a love for our beautiful city. I ask that you help pray for the following:

  • My mother in law’s health.  Her name is Victoria.
  • Our marriage and immediate family so that we might be good caretakers.
  • My ministry as a pastor in the marketplace.  I pastor 600 employees, supervise two chaplains that each serve different clients.  In total, we serve close to 1000 employees in the San Diego area (and their family members).  God is up to something in the marketplace!
  • For the City of Oceanside.  That God would plant vibrant, multi-ethnic/cultural/class churches that serve the marginalized, the poor, and underserved for the sake of Jesus.

We’re grateful to be in partnership with you and hope you have a deep time of refreshing and renewal!

Taking the Reality of the Church for Granted

As I’ve been working on church planting, one thing I’ve realized is that the concept of church has to start with God’s heart (mission) for humanity and this world.

If you’ve grown up in church, then sometimes the language of what church is about seems familiar and “known”.

But I’ve noticed that I’ve taken the reality of Church for granted.

What is the purpose of a church?
Why would someone make a decision to be a part of one?
What is God’s heart towards the Church at large and local church?
What is our role in God’s mission for our local city and the world?
What is the work of the church?

I’m not interested in planting another Sunday service in Oceanside. I’d just really like to worship with others, be reminded of who God is and how I might respond in faithfulness.

I’m interested in partnering with others to grow up to be like Christ in life, words, actions, and relationships.

And I’m interested in doing the work of Jesus via the church with others, learning from each other as we submit to the Lordship of Christ.

I don’t have the darnest clue of how to gather folks to figure this out. But I’m praying that the Holy Spirit is at work in the small seed of desire to be an incarnational presence in our city.

Strategies for Deep Work #2

[This post is part of a book review series on Deep Work, by Cal NewPort. See post 1 for a summary.]


In Newport’s chapter titled “Rule #1: Work Deeply”, he outlines strategies and principles to help us build rituals and rhythms to do deep work that stretches our personal abilities. This first rule is about reducing and removing distractions that prohibit us from doing deep work. I outlined his first strategy (see post 1) about deciding on a Depth Philosophy. Here’s a list of the strategies (I’ll only highlight a few):

  • Decide on your Depth Philosophy
  • Ritualize
  • Make Grand Gestures
  • Don’t Work Alone
  • Execute Like a Business
  • Be Lazy

Ritualize

This strategy is about adopting rituals (actions, gestures, intentions) that help to create and maintain regular patterns of deep work. Here are some of his examples:

  • Identify where you’ll work and for how long
  • Identify how you’ll work once you start to work
  • Identify how you’ll support your work

I found this principle helpful to continue focusing on my work habits and patterns of when and where and how I like to think and create. For me, I like the morning times. It’s when my brain is the sharpest to think critically. I also don’t check emails, social media, or respond to phone calls/text messages. No tech distractions. I also like sitting in my reading chair or my patio. Both are quiet and soothing places.

“Surrounding such efforts with a complicated (and perhaps, to the outside world, quite strange) ritual accepts this reality—providing your mind with the structure and commitment it needs to slip into the state of focus where you can begin to create things that matter.”

Newport, Cal. Deep Work (p. 121). Grand Central Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Execute Like a Business

For this principle, Newport is now interested in HOW to execute strategy. What and how are two different set of questions. We may know that (what) we need to do, but not know HOW to execute it. For this, Newport refers to the book, “The 4 Disciplines of Execution” and then summarizes each discipline.

  • Discipline #1: Focus on the Wildly Important
    • identify a small number of ambitious goals (or outcomes) during deep work hours…with a tangible reward attached to it.
  • Discipline #2: Act on the Lead Measures
    • measure your success by focusing on activities that will improve behaviors that will impact your long term goals
  • Discipline #3: Keep a Compelling Scoreboard
    • have a way to publicly record and track your lead measures
  • Discipline #4: Create a Cadence of Accountability
    • review your weekly work and scoreboard to celebrate and make adjustments

Here’s one my favorite quotes from the above principle:

David Brooks endorsed this approach of letting ambitious goals drive focused behavior, explaining: “If you want to win the war for attention, don’t try to say ‘no’ to the trivial distractions you find on the information smorgasbord; try to say ‘yes’ to the subject that arouses a terrifying longing, and let the terrifying longing crowd out everything else.”

Newport, Cal. Deep Work (p. 137). Grand Central Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Bringing it Home for Me

So how does this apply to me? I have a few areas that require some deep work:

  • church planting
  • corporate chaplaincy
  • music

Using the church planting area, my work is to focus on discovering what the wildy, ambitious goals are for a new church. For me, my goal isn’t to get a lot of people to a church service. It’s not even to tell people what to do. Part of my work is to discover what the wildy important goals are. They seem to be connected to justice, healthy relationships, and caring for leaders who have big ideas on how to transform our city to reflect God’s love.

God Loves Oceanside through People

God is in the business of renewal and justice. As such, I’m grateful to be part of a group of people (in tandem with people of peace and churches in Oceanside that have many decades of service) in Oceanside that are praying for revival and renewal.

We are daring (and humbly) ready to trust that God is at work in the city to renew and reconcile, and that He wants to do that through Osiders: human beings whom God has rescued, healed, and sent into this great city.

God has always had in mind to partner with humanity to rule and reign in this world. Through Jesus, he rescued and renewed us so that we might be agents of the Good News.

This Oceanside renewal project is based on God’s choosing of this city to see it prosper and bring hope. This is a movement of peopled called together in the name of Jesus to see justice, wholeness, and transformation happen among us.

God has always called and empowered His people to see His good purposes fulfilled. And God will continue to call people to be about this redemptive project.

God’s goodness will be enacted through a people called and empowered. And it is happening now! Not later. Now!

We’d love to hear your story and your heart for this great city! This is not our exclusive vision or purpose. It belongs to Christ and we’re grateful to be a part of it. Let’s collaborate and partner to see God’s good purposes accomplished in and through Oceanside.

Peace,

Roy (Pastor, Facilitator)

Community Miraculous

Celebration, Bush Street, Joaquin Vasquez, center, standing circa 1937
https://www.oceansidechamber.com/oceanside-blog/history-of-oceansides-eastside-neighborhood

For a church to be decentralized and not held up as a “pastoral church” (where the leaders “do” everything), there must be a radical discipleship that sees the necessity to live in/for/through community. There is no other way to get past Jesus telling his disciples to love one another and in so doing, others will see the love of Jesus enacted.

But this requires a regular rhythm of mutual submission, one to another. A submission of time, energy, talents, grace, compassion, and fellowship. The more we focus on intentional discipleship as a means to birth a church and see the kingdom of God enacted, the more I’m convinced that it will be a decentralized church that is not waiting for its leader to do something. It sees itself as a priesthood of all believers.

But it requires time spent with one another in prayer and fellowship. This is a hard thing in our culture, but a worthy truth to live into.

To have a gathering of a people who love Jesus and proclaim Him as Lord means that we have given our lives over to Father/Son/Spirit and to one another is service to the King. To see a church formed out of nothing requires a number of people to say YES to a vision of mutual submission of love, generosity, and hospitality.

A new church community is birthed because the Spirit of God is prompting a group of people to enact God’s mission in their sphere of life and influence. The Gospel needs to be proclaimed to a people who may not know the God of liberation, healing, and wholeness. This happens in and through a people called by God to be a witness and sent out into their neighbhorhoods, workplaces, areas of interest, and community.

The miracle of community is Jesus shaping and forming a people who are equipped and empowered by the Holy Spirit. It takes the triune God to make such a thing happen.

Church Planting #2 – Mentoring Latino Young Men

In the few months that I’ve started planting (the time I’m setting aside from this is focused on building relationships), I’ve tried to stay focused on listening to what some of the needs are in the community. One main theme I continue to hear is mentoring young male latinos (middle school, high school).

I met with an executive director, principal, program director (boys and girls club), and a few people of peace from the city. Each one shared a need to reach young male latinos.

One executive director asked me point blank: “where are the male latino leaders in Oceanside? Who is pushing back and speaking out for latinos to succeed?” I felt chills go down my spine.

I’m not sure where they are. If they’re not outspoken or visible, my hope is that we’re busy taking care of our families, going to school, and working hard.

I have been praying and asking God to help me figure out how this startup church plant can get involved, how I can serve and help be a mentor to young latinos.

I’ve been invited to participate in a leadership forum to discuss best practices and opportunities to mentor. I was not expecting this when I said yes to planting. But this part of listening to the pain and needs of a city.

Church Planting #1

My evening readings: source

Church planting is stretching me in good ways. Mostly, I feel like my commitment to Jesus is deepening.

Why am I planting?! I really love Oceanside! I think Jesus loves it way more than me! I want to see a church that mirrors this multi-ethnic and diverse area. My hope is that people who have never experienced the Gospel have this “AHA-MOMENT” where they realize there’s hope!

Lesson 1 that I’ve learned: this is going to take a while. Building relationships of trust and safety don’t happen overnight. But I’ve enjoyed this process.

Lesson 2: learn from others who have planted and are great leaders/pastors. I’m trying to reach out to all the people in my network for tips, support, and prayer.

Lesson 3: pray a lot!!! Christ is the chief cornerstone of His church. It’s the church of Christ, nothing else.

I’d love to hang with you in Oceanside! Let’s get some coffee at Banana Dang! 🙂 Please keep praying! 🙂

the Holy Spirit and the Church

So here’s a little diddy:

“It is impossible to stress too strongly that the beginning of mission is not an action of ours, but the presence of a new reality, the presence of the Spirit in power.”

– Lesslie Newbigin

Goheen, Michael W.. The Church and Its Vocation: Lesslie Newbigin’s Missionary Ecclesiology (p. 58). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

God’s mission in Oceanside is not my idea.
God’s redemptive and reconciling efforts purpose in Oceanside is not my idea.
God’s desire to heal, restore, and liberate is not my idea.

I mean, of course I long for these things.
But they didn’t originate with me.

Rather, as we yield to and trust the Holy Spirit, we are joining the Triune God in His redemptive purposes.

Planting in Oceanside is about listening to the Spirit and joining in on what Jesus has ushered in through His death/burial/resurrection/ascension/pentecost
(lots of slashes…I’m influenced by Brooklyn 99…if you don’t get it, watch the show!). 🙂

As a church, we are bearing witness to how the Spirit is giving new life. The Church is bearing witness to what where this story is headed: all of creation renewed and restored. The Spirit is at work, through the church, in enacting this new reality.

So we pray:

Father/Son/Spirit:

May we be filled by your Spirit to be a witness of this new reality: the Good News that you are healing, redeeming, and renewing creation for your purposes. May we bear witness to your love for the City of Oceanside.

Amen