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Vision Sunday (Part 3): Strengthen The Church

On Sunday, I talked about the importance of "strengthening the church" for the season ahead. Allow me to explain what I mean by this...

What I find fascinating about the Apostle Peter’s life is that, while his discipleship journey started as a shaky one, he ended up becoming one of the most prominent and influential church leaders in the New Testament. He was a keystone evangelist in the early church, which we see clearly in the earlier parts of Acts. He was a writer of 2 letters in the NT, wherein he wrote to brothers and sisters in the faith to strengthen them and build them up in their knowledge and faith in Christ. And he was also a martyr for Christ, meaning, he died specifically because of his faith under the Emperor Nero.

Peter went from unpredictable to unwavering. He went from inconsistent to indestructible. Not by his will or might, but my the strength of Christ within him. And he gave his very life to build that kind of strength and resilience into the body of Christ, as did many others.

It’s time for us to grow in strength as a church, too.

Let me be specific: 
I am pastoring this church with the next generation in mind. I am pastoring this church with the next lead pastor in mind. Don’t be alarmed by that, I don’t plan to leave anytime soon. What I am saying is, I want this church to be durable and resilient in the days ahead.

The reality is, there were 2 other churches in this building before us. Their collective lifespan in this facility was 6 years before we were offered to take it on.

This building could have easily turned into the parking lot of God hadn’t opened the door for us to be in it. I don’t think that was an accident. I believe we are on a trajectory for healthy growth, I believe we’re positioned in this community for significant impact, and I believe our BEST days are ahead of us.

That being said, there are some leadership and structural issues that play into the strength and durability of our church moving forward. I'm excited to share some relevant updates with you in this department: 
First, I want to talk about some of our highest level leaders in the church, our elders.

In addition to the words in 1 Timothy and Titus that provide qualifications for elders, let me break down what we mean at Reach when we use it.

At Reach, a team of Elders carries the responsibility of overseeing the mission, vision, life, and doctrine of the church. The Elders are biblically qualified men who carry the responsibility and authority of leading the church side-by-side, while humbly following Jesus, the Chief Shepherd of the Church.

A primary way the Elder Team fulfills its role is by empowering and caring for the men and women who serve as Reach’s Staff, who lead the day-to-day ministries of the church. Reach’s Staff Team, including the current and future men and women designated as pastors, preachers, and ministry leaders — all of whom serve under the authority and care of the Elder Team to lead ministries and equip the people of Reach to do the work of the ministry.

Our church currently has 1 official elder, and you’re hearing from him now (Sean)….for brief context:

When I was sent out as a planter from Reach Kirkland 2017, I was officially ordained as an Elder of this Church to formally lead and plant it. In addition, I served on the Kirkland board for about 5 years, ending Fall of 2022. Their board supported us from a distance for those years as well.

On a local level, we have had no additional elders functioning, however that has never been the longterm design. In fact, for the least several years, there have been 2 men who have been functioning as “elder candidates” alongside me, 2 men you all have encountered at a variety of levels: Jeff Price & Russ Perron.
Over the last few years (especially since we’ve been in this building), Jeff and Russ have been key players in several ways.

You’ve encountered Jeff as a Sunday teacher a number of times. He and his wife, Ronda, have led several couples through pre-marriage coaching in preparation for their wedding day. They started our prayer ministry after we re-opened. And to be honest, Jeff has been one of the most encouraging people in the church to Kara and I personally.

Russ is known for, well, knowing basically everyone. He is constantly engaging new people, scanning the room for safety checks, and providing me insights on ways he senses God is leading us OR ways we might be getting off track from our vision. Russ is an avid student of the Bible, has walked side by side with several men in our church in their discipleship journey, and often engages those who would be easily overlooked. In addition, Russ is a key player in overseeing facility operations, not to mention he and his wife Tammy started and still currently host our “Prepare the Place” meet-up to work on building projects with any willing hands.

Jeff and Russ have proven themselves worthy of the call of elder to me and many of you time and time again, so it’s with great joy I bring them before you for introduction. While they will be volunteers and certainly will not carry the same kind of load I will in this church, we will function as a team, and they will be my accountability, making decisions and keeping our church on track at the highest of levels.

Moving forward, our hope is to add 1-2 additional elders in the coming 1-2 years, so if there is a name of someone you think we should consider, OR if you have any questions / concerns about our current candidates you'd like to articulate before we formalize their roles, please let us know via our online Connect Card.
Now, let’s also talk about staffing…one of the most felt groups of people who help carry the mission of the church forward are our staff.

Above, you’ll see four HUGE faces - those 4 people represent the current and only FT staff here at Reach.

Our most recent addition was Jon DeYonker, who we brought on from PT to FT to lead our youth/tech teams at the beginning o the year. His and Emily’s presence has made a noticeable difference in both arenas! We have around 40 youth coming to Thursday nights every week!

WIth that said, one of my favorite critiques people had in our MOSTLY encouraging all-church survey ways, “You need more staff!” I concur!

As many of you may know, for the last several months, I’ve been doing numerous interviews to bring more staff to the team, specifically and Associate Pastor as well as Administrative Assistant. We had around 14 people apply or seriously inquire between the 2 roles, which is why the process has been as long as it has.

I’m excited to announce that both roles are filled! 

First off, we're excited to have our very own Tyler Betancourt has accepted this role on the team!
You would most likely recognize Tyler as one of the vocalists on our worship team, alongside her also musically talented husband, Cris. 

In addition, Tyler has done an incredible job over the last year supporting Megan (in particular) at our Women's Retreat, and now for 2 summers, helping / administrating our VBS program. Tyler is a highly administrative yet creative person who has been a huge support to our staff. We're happy to welcome her aboard! She started a few weeks ago, and while her role will only be about 5-10 hours a week, even with that limited amount of hours, she’s already accomplish so much and doing a GREAT job. We're stoked to have you in the mix, Tyler!
In terms of an Associate Pastor, this role took us a bit longer to fill simply because the vetting process was quite thorough. I spent time interviewing about 7 individuals - both in house and from outside of Reach - over the course of about 3 months. I consider it a significant change to add a full-time staff member, give them the title "Pastor," and welcome them onto our team to have a very public and prominent voice in our church.

Believe me when I say, these interviews were robust. What's more, I had the chance to interview some FANTASTIC individuals for the role, several of which were hard to turn down! At the end of the day, the "4 C's of hiring" - character, chemistry, competency, and cultural fit - were all seriously considered, as well as the clear guidance of the Holy Spirit + counsel of our elder candidates. With these in mind, I'm excited to announce that we're hiring a new friend named Andrew Adams to join the staff at Reach!
Andrew, his wife Christy, and their son, Jude, have been rooted in Oakhurst, CA and recently stepped out of a 5 year stretch as a youth pastor. You may not have realized it, but he and his family visited on the first Sunday of Big Family! Several of you talked with him and he was very encouraged by the time. I made him an offer the following Monday before they left town, and they accepted!)

He's a sharp thinker, passionate about teaching God's word to others (in large and small settings), a believer in the Holy Spirit's power, incredibly easy to connect with, and has a huge heart for the local church.

I wish I could articulate to you how much of a relief this is to me, and how excited I am for what these folks will be bringing to the table. If we're close (or if you're staff and have felt the pinch at times), you know these are HUGE prayers that have been answered. In fact, ALL of our staffing goals we had heading into 2023 are now being checked off! (Admin help, Associate Pastor, bring Jon on FT for youth). God has been so faithful to not only provide but to lead us to great folks for key roles!
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