Michael B Linton

Friday, February 13, 2009

Open letter to our leadership team

I'm really leaning hard toward a Sept 13 launch. All the reasons that we talked about plus a couple more.

I'm not real comfortable with the idea, but I don't think it's God's will for Etta to work. God has made it clear over the past few years that she is to be home with the boys. Our circumstances have changed--we need more money to get out of debt, I would like to stop receiving a salary from the church, and I need more time (read: no Domino's) to spend on the church plant. However, God has not changed. He has not given ME the go-ahead for Etta to work (maybe she's gotten it???). So I'm thinking she shouldn't.

So how does that make me want to launch Sept 13?

If we have reached a number that will allow us to launch in September, then we will likely have the income that will allow me to quit Domino's, thus giving me the time I need. If Etta doesn't work, then pushing the start date to February means I have a lot of work and no time. The summer affords us the opportunity to do a lot in a little time. We won't have that luxury during next school year. We are at a place where we have to do the work.

Another realization I had is this: the reason we haven't been blessed with the time or resources to really get going in the apartment is because we weren't supposed to really get going in the apartment. I feel like that is why I have had to continue to work at Domino's. If I had had more time, we might have actually been a little more successful and we would have an apartment church, not a suburban church. Remember our renewed focus? We are where we are supposed to be, but not to do the things we thought. We were trying to rush things.

Moving and summer vacation give us the location and time to do what needs to be done to launch. Please don't read this as an easy thing. I just piled a whole lot of stress and work on us. And if you disagree, tell me. That's why we're a leadership team. But I really feel this is the direction we are headed in.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Summerlake update - 021209

My, my where to start.

This past weekend, Etta and I attended the Church Planters’ Orientation with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. Talk about a roller coaster. Friday night we wanted to quit. We once again had to go back to our call and, emotionally, start all over. We saw everything we are not at the orientation on Friday. Saturday was a little better. We realized the mistakes we have made and what we have to do. We also realized that we didn’t know what we were doing. We now have some direction and a coach assigned by the SBTC. We left, if not exactly encouraged, then hopeful. I can say that today I’m excited and pumped.

We’ve had to greatly rethink what we are doing. Our lease is up in June at the apartment and the decision has to be made about what to do with it. One of the first things we realized, and this dawned on us even before the orientation, is that we are in an apartment trying to start a subdivision church. We lost sight of our focus. Our calling is to Summerwood. By renting the apartment, our focus narrowed. We have now broadened our focus again. It includes the apartment, but is not limited to it.

Don’t get me wrong – we were called to the apartment. We believe we were absolutely in God’s will in getting it. If we see no other fruit from it, we have Kendra, an excited, dynamic member of our leadership team. This was no waste. We still have 4 months to continue outreach in the apartment community. The reality is, however, that the people living in houses are not likely to cross the gate to attend church in an apartment. However, apartment dwellers will go into the subdivisions to attend church. We had to adjust our focus.

That leads to the most major change and a BIG prayer need. We feel strongly that God is telling us to move to Summerwood. This will require a succession of minor miracles followed by a couple of major ones—no problem if it is truly God’s will. A major headache if it isn’t. I feel like He is telling us to move by June.

The second big change is a change of name for our church. Summerlake is too regional and we want something to reflect our vision and to be meaningful for a non-Christian who is looking for answers. We are working on a number of possibilities.

I am excited. I get a lump in my throat every time I think about what God has called us to do and how he has renewed our passion for it. I was unaware of how much my passion had waned. Confession time: I think a small, unknown part of me did just enough so that when the church plant failed, I could say I tried. I wouldn’t be blamed for the failure. I could it was a lack of a large financially sponsoring church. Or it was a hard area. Or it was this or that. In reality, it was me being discouraged that it didn’t go the way I wanted it so I would pout and show God. I’d blame Him.

No more. We are called. It will be hard. We will push through. Our verse for last night’s gathering was Deuteronomy 9:23. Moses told the people that God had already given the Promised Land to them; they merely had to take it. They rebelled. They lost the promise for 40 years. I don’t want to wander. God has told us to take Summerwood, so we’re going to take Summerwood. The obstacles are merely opportunities to point to the sovereignty and strength of our Father. But we will not miss out on the blessing of this promised church because we are stubborn or proud. We are on mission. Join us or get out of the way.

We have a top 6 prayer list this week. This what the leadership team is praying for and we ask you to join us on these specifics.

1. People of Summerwood: for soft hearts, receptivity, recognition of need, excitement about a new church
2. A prayer need that I can’t share publicly, but need you to lift up. God knows.
3. Saturday Pancake Brunch (Feb 14th): 125 people to come to breakfast, 25 0pportunities to share the gospel
4. Our timeline for the plant: this includes the first Sunday (Launch Service) we have a worship service (Sept 13 or Feb 14), all those steps that need to be taken to get to the first service
5. New name: reflects vision, meaningful to lost
6. Our move to Summerwood: all the many steps needed to get us there, including teaching jobs for me and Etta in the community of Summerwood

Please lift us up at every remembrance. Thank you for your love, prayers, and support.

This is getting good.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Prayer for Outreach

We are planning a pancake brunch for Saturday, February 14th for the apartment complex. We will be sending out postcards next week to alert the residents. We need two things from you.

The first is prayer that we will have numerous people come through so we can meet them, get to know them, build relationships with them, invite them to Bible study, etc. Three of us have met the last two Tuesday nights and have made it a prayer time for guidance and progress. It has also been a great time for us to strengthen our relationship with Kendra, an instrumental part of Summerlake’s leadership team and future. Pray that we hear God’s voice in our time of prayer.

The second thing we need is finances. This brunch will only cost about $50, but Summerlake’s economy is as lacking as everyone else’s. If you could give $5-10 toward this outreach, that would be a tremendous help to us. Give online at our website or mail it to us.