Staff Sunday

Normandy’s vision is that we would love people and carry His presence and purposes into our homes, communities, nation, and the world. We believe it is not only possible, but that it is happening. We want to partner with God to bring people into His presence.

In order to live out our vision, we must have healthy leaders and staff. The behind-the-scenes work, preparation, organization, planning, and implementation of all the moving parts that make Sundays and ministries and pastoral care happen take a sacrificial amount of effort, energy, and focus from the people on our staff. On July 1st, Normandy will implement Staff Sunday. It will be one Sunday per year where the staff and the leadership enjoy a Sunday to rest from the sunday tasks, reflect on all that God has done, and recharge to pursue the vision.

On this day, we envision that our staff will take time to breathe, spend time with family, rest, relax, maybe be filled spiritually at another church, or otherwise be poured into so that they may continue to lead Normandy well. Having a time for staff to rest, reflect, and recharge is critical to maintaining healthy leadership.

In order to effectively lead and support the people of Normandy, the staff and leadership must be healthy and well. Supporting their health in this way will ultimately lead to stronger, better leadership.

Please feel free to contact any of the leadership should you have any questions.

 

Launch

Launch. An adventurous opportunity to faithfully follow the Lord and partner with Him to bring more of the Kingdom to Lake Highlands.

From now until Commitment Sunday (5/6) , Normandy leadership is asking that you would do three things. First, pray. Pray about your role in supporting the Launch giving campaign financially.

Second, ask. Ask the Lord what he wants you to give; in this way we exercise our faith, trust, and obedience.

Third, give. On Sunday, May 6th, bring to church your commitment card, one time pledge, and know your monthly commitment amount.

The following is a interview-like conversation between Matt and Rachel Clarke about their experience last year, during a giving push for a Lake Highlands space.

For context, he teaches high school, she is the resident church lady, and their pennies are pinched even outside giving campaigns.

Matt: “So, last year we had an experience in giving to the building campaign and this is how it went for us.” *Points to Rachel*

Rachel: “Oh, you want me to start, ok. [Normandy] was doing a building campaign last year and we (as a couple) were praying about what to give and I waited on the Lord and a phrase kept echoing back to “work for free.” The Lord wanted me to give my paycheck back to the church. So, when Matt and I sat down to talk about what we felt led to give, Matt came back with a number and I told him what the Lord had shared. We went with my number because it was higher than Matt’s.”

M: “For you, what is the heart or vision behind Launch?”

R: “For me, the vision is not really about the building. I think I shared some of this on Sunday. The building will be wonderful. And mostly the building will be wonderful because I believe it’s what the Lord is calling us into as a Body. For me, it’s about partnering with the Lord and being part of what He’s doing in the Kingdom and wants to do Lake Highlands.”

M: “Right, yeah. One of the things I remember you saying was that it's a big deal not because of the building, but because when the Lord invites you into a chance or an opportunity to partner with Him and serve the Kingdom, that’s when we see what ‘on Earth as it is in heaven’ looks like. On Sunday, you repeated the idea of partnership, of partnering with the Lord, a couple times. To me, being a partner with the Lord suggests that we faithfully put our work and His work together, believing that He will multiply it, expand it, and use it in ways that we can’t even envision outside of His presence. In doing that, we’re demonstrating that we can’t, and don’t really want, to do it on our own. Because we know with Him it will be better, deeper, and more impactful and transformative.”

R: “That’s true. What is something that you learned from last year’s giving campaign that you would want people to know this year?”

M: “I’m a lot like Jonah. Begrudgingly obedient. One of the biggest things that stood out to me from last year is that my walk with the Lord is imperfect and my heart’s willingness to give is also imperfect. And despite that, the Lord is faithful and kind. I am overwhelmed by the generosity of the Lord and how his provision contrasts with my generosity. However, He is able to use everything and that makes me want to do more and because of our experience last year, I feel like I can be more generous because of how He took care of us.”

M: “My next question to you is: as people are praying and processing and waiting on the Lord, what advice or encouragement would you give people?”

R: “I have two things. The first thing I would tell people is to trust the Lord and trust that you can hear the Lord’s voice. One is that from following the Lord in the last 10ish years, I have gone from being afraid of the jump to being afraid of missing the jump. To me, that means when I first started following Jesus, I realized He was kind and He taught me to jump in small ways - in spending time with Him, in loving others. In those areas, I began experiencing abundance and unrestrained joy. Then, I was driven to seeking more of that, more joy, more abundance; it was like an adrenaline rush. At some point, as the the cliffs the Lord led me to became bigger and crazier - cliffs like foster care, working for the church, or giving my whole paycheck back, my fear of jumping when He asked was flipped. It flipped to “I don’t want to miss the jump.” Because each time he’d shown up in the smaller things, He’d taught me the goodness of jumping and that I could trust Him when he asked for my faith.

The other thing I would say is about buying the field. It’s that parable where Jesus talks about the Kingdom of Heaven being like a treasure buried in a field. A man found it, reburied it, went back and sold everything to go buy the field. And for our family, the Lord has called us to several major things over the years, including giving my paycheck, which on our income, has actual consequences to consider like: how we will buy groceries or cutting out date nights or being careful about how much gas we put in our cars. Usually, at some point, when I am testing it in prayer or weighing it with Scripture, the phrase “this is buying the field” comes up. And the thing that stands out from the parable is not just that the man bought the field, but the crux of it is that in order to buy the field, he sold everything else. That’s what following the Lord is - selling what you have to buy the field, and I agree with you, we don’t do it perfectly. But I want to buy the field. Whatever buying the field looks like, that’s what I want to do.”

We serve a faithful God. A God who spares nothing, not even his own Son, to demonstrate his love for us and to show us in real, tangible ways what his Kingdom looks like on earth. And then, he doesn’t just show us His kingdom, He invites us in. He wants us to join Him, to participate. Once we enter, we turn and invite others into his good Kingdom. We believe that the Launch campaign and that this new building is a demonstration of our faith and trust that God will expand his Kingdom on earth and we have a part to play.

 

We hear the Lord’s compassionate, encouraging whisper: “Jump.”

 

We believe there is treasure in that field.

 

 Matt and Rachel Clarke are members of Normandy Church, parents to children and adventurers with Jesus. 

Matt and Rachel Clarke are members of Normandy Church, parents to children and adventurers with Jesus. 

Building Update

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Hey Church:

This past weekend we announced "Launch". As we grow we are launching 2 services in August and we are moving our building plan forward. Here is some of the heart behind where the elders are standing.

Jesus told a parable in Luke 14:25-33 about a builder who didn’t rightly consider the cost. Over the last few months the elders and building team have spent hours thinking, planning and considering if this land and building is the next step for our church. Until recently, the elders did not have unity and peace about moving forward. Having looked at all of the numbers and various options, we still lacked unity and peace. The issue somedays was cost or the health of our church, and other days we just did not know what God was doing.

During all of this time, the one thing kept us on this track was that we had a sense the Holy Spirit was hovering over this land. We thought of Genesis and God’s creative Spirit hovering over the deep, brimming with life and action. He was about to do something big.

And as other options were presented to us, we kept coming back and saying, “We think God is in this land, but something is keeping us from moving forward”.

We knew that unless our vision was clear and our body could see it, hear it, understand it, and believe it, we would be pushing a boulder up hill. We believe our body will not be content with simply another multi-million dollar building that does nothing for the kingdom other than house the already saved a few times a week - and neither would we!

A couple of weeks ago, it clicked. As the vision for “why we need a building” became clear - or more appropriately, “why do we need an expensive building to make disciples” - unity and peace happened in a moment. God gave us that vision.

Now, like Abraham, we are ready to move forward in faith, believing wholeheartedly that God is calling us to this land, and we are ready to invite our body in to believing and dreaming with us.

There are a few practical things about this building that are important. We feel called to Lake Highlands, and we've felt the need, especially over the last 6 months for a long term home to grow into. The location is strategic in at the center of what will become “bridge” to Lake Highlands. Especially in thinking long-term, buying makes a lot more sense.

If space was the only issue, we could (and will in the near-term) address that issue in other ways.

Ultimately, the thing that makes this building different and worth pursuing is that we believe it will be used for and by the community and not just for some Sunday services and the occasional Wednesday prayer meeting. The vision God gave us was one of an anchor or a port in Lake Highlands. It will become something of what the temple was in Israel - a center for community life. We also believe our body will help determine what needs to help meet in our community 7 days a week.

We believe that God intends to use this physical space as an anchor or port for our community. It will be a place where men, women, and children come to encounter the presence of God. That's been a theme throughout the life of this church. I've heard from numerous people who walk in our doors that it's clear that the Holy Spirit is present and working here. That's not something to take lightly. That's a phenomenal blessing, the evidence of God's grace, and a fulfillment of some of His promises.

When people come and encounter the Presence of God, we feel a deep calling to not just leave them with an encounter. We want to teach and equip them in what it means to be in His Presence and how to minister to His people. That equipping is something we are growing in each year. We believe that having a space throughout the week to meet with people, train the body, and even provide a place for other groups and organizations who share this vision to train and equip others will be a phenomenal resource for our community. It's not just about equipping our community group leaders, training volunteers, taking people through a membership class, or hosting prayer and worship nights. It *is* about those things. Doing all of those is quite difficult where we are right now. But it's *also* about hosting events for other organizations, providing a place that can be used by other churches, and inviting the body and the larger community to dream with us. We see the need for a place like that, and we believe that that's what God wants to do with the space. It's a place that's safe and available for encouragement, up-building, and disciple-making.

Ultimately, we want people to discover the purpose that God has for them. For some, that will mean vocational ministry. For others, that will mean ministering to the needs of God's people through business, our neighborhood organizations, our families, and on and on. Those purposes might be right here in Lake Highlands. Or they might be in Richardson or Uptown. Or maybe they're in another state or country. That's up to God. But the common thread here is that the building will be a place to discover your purpose, gather with other believers who share that purpose, and to be sent out–whether that means across the street or across the globe–to fulfill that purpose.

The building will be an anchor, a port, a safe harbor for the glory of God.

As the elders began to see this vision for the building, we had a real "ah ha!" moment. This specific vision for the building all comes back to the overall mission and vision of our church. We didn't seek to *create* a vision for the building based on our church's mission and vision. But we believe that, in asking God about this building, He showed us how it fits into the work that we already know He's called us to.

Our vision is to become an ever-expanding family that carries the presence and purposes of God into all the world. This building will be the home for our family.

And our mission is to encounter, equip, and go: to encounter the Presence of God, equip the body in abiding in His presence and ministering to His people, and to go out into the world in the purpose God has put on each of our lives.

That's exactly what this building is about!  God is providing a space for us to grow into the vision He's given us and a tool for accomplishing the mission.

We can (and have) come up with all sorts of specific potential uses for the building. Like...

- Training and Equipping

- Group Leader Training

- Office for staff (good-bye cloffice!)

- (Possible - Rent out to other churches, events, business for offices)

- Crown Financial

- Membership Class

- Theological Training

- Marriage and Family equipping

- Discipleship School

- Church Planting School

- Kingdom Business School

- Conferences (Wired, For the Good of the City)

- Prayer and Worship Nights

- Youth Nights

- Helping other non-profits host events (Buckner, Seek, Forerunner, etc.)

- Grocery store/clothing store for the poor

- Green space for moms to bring kids to play

- Ministry to Young Mothers (ex. MOPPS)

- Women/Men’s Bible Studies

As beneficial as it can be for us dream and strategize about the particulars of using this building, this is really where the body comes in. We believe the building will help us get people into the presence and then get them firing in their individual purpose. And we believe as our body is transformed and equipped the natural overflow is going to be fruit. Just look at our church now - this beautiful expression of prophets and priest and lovers that are genuinely concerned for social issues, the poor, the orphan the refugee. Our body is waiting to be lit on fire. The building isn’t the answer, just the next step in our progression of following our Father under His Kingdom of the Heavens.

We look forward to sharing more with you all corporately over the coming weeks.

Grace & Peace

The Elders

More of Him. Less of us.

Forerunner is a mentoring program based in the Lake Highlands area of Dallas that changes lives through investing in a relationship with a young man from a father-absent home. Forerunner does this through mentoring, equipping, and serving the families. Forerunner is an organization that Normandy believes in and supports. Below, Adam Crouch shares what Forerunner has taught him. Normandy will be serving the Forerunner Families on March 25th - register to volunteer here.

When I joined Forerunner in 2015, I thought I was well equipped to positively impact the life of a young boy.

I had experience in mentoring. I had worked with kids on a number of occasions. I believed that Jesus loves these kids. I checked all the boxes.

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But everything changed when I met Chitivias.

First, there was silence, followed by awkwardness. Then he finally opened up by trying to convince me he was born and raised in Greece (Garza quickly confirmed that he is not).

 

I wasn’t seeing progress in our relationship, and many times I felt helpless and inadequate as a mentor.

Why were things not going smoothly? What was I doing wrong?

I am an engineer. I like to fix things. Unfortunately, there was not a secret formula or technique to unlocking him (outside of video games and Wing Stop).

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Instead of imparting wisdom on my mentee, it was clear that God wanted to teach me a few things.

Here’s what I’ve learned in my time with Chitivias:
1. It is not my job to bring about change in him – or anyone. I am simply investing in his life, tossing seeds, and trusting that Jesus will bring about the transformation. This removed any pressure I felt.


2. Be patient. I’ve never used the adjective “patient” when describing myself, but God is using
Forerunner to impart this discipline within me.


3. God is faithful. He has been showing me more and more fruit in my relationship with Chitivias
lately. More joy when we are together. Better conversations when we communicate. There’s a
real and growing friendship.

I don’t know what type of man Chitivias will grow up to be one day. I don’t know if he’ll look back on our time together favorably. I honestly don’t know if he’ll be genuinely excited to see me this weekend.

But I do know that God is moving, in his life and in the lives of many of these kids. Teaching them; teaching us. And growing us all.

At the heart of this program is the family dinner. It’s an opportunity to surround these kids and their families with positivity. They get to see that there is a community surrounding them that cares for them, advocates for them, and that enjoys spending time with them.
As Zach always says, “More of Him. Less of us!” We just show up. God takes care of the rest.

Come join us as our Normandy family serves Forerunner families at the Family Dinner March 25. Register to volunteer here

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If you are interested in partnering with Forerunner, there will be an interest meeting on 4/15/18 from 2-3:30pm where you can learn about different ways in which you can serve Forerunner. 

Hearing God | Resources

Hey Everyone: 
I am very excited about walking through "Hearing God." I wanted to put some resources into your hands (or ears, rather) that will hopefully stir your faith, awaken your heart, and cause you to have an expectation to hear God's voice. 

The first three are from the Convergence Conference at Bridgeway Church, in Oklahoma. You can find a link to the podcasts here

Matt Chandler
He is a new and upcoming pastor (ha) and he preached on The Word & Wonders. You can listen to the podcast here or view the video here

Jack Deere
I have always heard about Jack Deere but never listened to or read his work (thanks to Kam Neal for sending these over). He is (in)famous for being a DTS professor who was rather surprised by the Holy Spirit. You can find his story and book here. He had two teachings that were faith stirring: 

The Privilege & the Power of Hearing God
video
podcast

The Spiritual Gift of Prophecy
video
podcast

John Wimber
Finally I wanted to leave you with one of my heroes, John Wimber. He is winsome, charming and all out hilarious (on Jason Clarke's level). Here is what Sam Storms, the pastor at Bridgeway, had to say about him. His story and testimony is down to earth and flat out encouraging. It is worth listening to: 

Resources on the Word

Hey Everyone: 
Yesterday we talked about one of our core values, the Word of God. During the sermon I said something I wasn't planning on and it convicted me. Sometimes my mouth moves faster than I intend it to. 

One day we are going to stand before Christ and give an account for our life (Romans 14:10). He is going to ask us how we stewarded our time, treasures and talents (Luke 16:1-13). For some it is going to be a wonderful time where we see the places we loved God and others from a pure heart. Other parts are going to be painful to hear - places we lacked faithfulness or acted from great selfishness (1 Corinthians 3:9-16; 2 Corinthians 5:9-11). We will see where we did and did not line up with His kingdom and His purposes. 

As believers we are to value His word. It is eternal, powerful and never fails to accomplish His purpose (Psalm 33:6: Isaiah 40:8; Isaiah 55:11). I have a profound belief that along with His presence and mankind, His word is the most valuable thing we can posses. His word creates, saves and gives us our purpose on the earth (Psalm 107:20; Micah 6:8; Matthew 22:36-40; Matthew 28:16-20; Hebrews 1:1-3). 

So back to that thing I said that I wished I didn't say because it convicted me. I said that when we stand before Christ to give an account for our life, I don't think I would like the question, "John, I see you spent copious amounts of time on Twitter. Did you not see the riches of my Word? My heart?"

Now I am not trying to guilt me or anyone with that idea. The reality is we do waste a lot of time on things that don't matter. God's word matters. His kingdom matters. His people matter. I want to give my life to those things. And where I get off track, I want a course correction that I might not forsake His word (Psalm 1:1-6; Proverbs 3:1-12). 

The Bible Project

Now there are times when the Word becomes stale and we need some fresh wind to blow on our hearts. The Psalmist says in Psalm 119:32, "I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!" I have found the guys over at The Bible Project are one of the ways the Lord has enlarged my heart for His Word. Many of my sermons have been shaped by what they've expounded. In fact, I found these two videos on the Kingdom and on Heaven & Earth said everything I was trying to teach last year during Here & Now (and in 12 minutes no less!). 

I would highly encourage each of you to give a listen to their videos on the story of the Bible:

What is the Bible? Part 1

The Story of the Bible Part 2

You can find their website here and their YouTube channel here

Faithful with the little

Now these videos are great and will add fresh color to your Bible reading. But you still gotta grind and read it. Pick it off the night stand and read it. Start in Psalms and in John. Read through it over the first quarter. The Bible Project can help with giving you a framework to read the scriptures through. The book of John can be found here and here and the Psalms are here

If you need a bit more check out what the Upper Room is doing to read the holy writ here

Another thing you can do is straight up listen to the Bible. After all that is how the people of God for centuries learned the scriptures. The YouVersion app to listen to the Bible this year. Listen to other versions, NLT, ESV, NASB, The Message, etc. You can download it here

One last exhortation. I have noticed how few people at our church bring a Bible to church. I know many are on phones to read, but I want to exhort you to bring your sword to church (sword of the Spirit, not your Samurai Sword - you will get arrested). Write in it. Underline it. Feel the pages in your hands. And bring a journal. You never know what thought you might have you want to remember. And sometimes I preach good. I mean well, sometimes I preach well. 

Don't be satisfied with junk. 

Love y'all. 

JSB

A Building DTR: From Maybe to Probably

Sup, Church?

Last Sunday Jerry gave us an update on the building. You can listen more to his announcement on the sermon podcast here: http://normandychurch.com/sermons/2017/12/3/advent-i

Here are a few quick points: 
- The land option is transitioning from a maybe to a probably.
- We need space primarily because of our growth in kids. If all the kids showed up on Sunday we would have 73 kids! 
- We have looked at 20 options in Lake Highlands (private/public schools, other churches, retail spaces, etc).
- The elders feel called to be located in Lake Highlands.
- Currently, we are in the option period on the land. Patrick Tam, Jackson Thomas, Bryan Larson, Miles (Davis - just kidding) Durham and Jerry Williams have been looking into preliminary design, finances, feasibility of the land, etc. 
- Justus and John met with Scofield to explore adding a second service to deal with immediate needs for our children 

All in all, this looks like a very real, viable option for us as a church. The elders feel peace about where we are in the process. As the plan develops, we hope to outline a soft plan for how this will work (numbers, time-frame, what to do in the mean time, etc). We covet your prayers during this time. If you have further questions, please email questions@normandychurch.com 

Pastor J

Update on Giving Sunday

Church Family: 
Breaking news! This Sunday we were planing on having a giving Sunday for the building at 9090 Skillman. We are postponing for two reasons: 

1. Our Values - one of the main things we value is unity and peace. Over the last few days we've had several questions from the body regarding the finances, the plan moving forward if we don't raise the desired amount and questions of whether this is indeed the only and best option. Overall, we've felt excitement from the church, just a measure of questions and a lack of clarity. Therefore, we are going to pause the giving Sunday. 

2. Another Option - On Wednesday night when we started the fast, I received a call about another option for us as a church. In between 9090 Skillman and this option, the elders and I are very excited to see what God does. 

SO: 
We are still going have our lunch on Sunday - which the church is providing. PLEASE REGISTER FOR LUNCH! We will use this time to answer the questions about 9090 Skillman and present the second option to you all. 

Thank you for your flexibility and grace. I am excited to be with you on Sunday. 

JSB

Fasting Prayer Points

Hey Everyone:
We are fasting this week for the building! We want every person in our church to participate in this fast. We don’t care if it is for every meal or for one meal. We want you to fast!
We want to position our hearts to hear from the Lord on this building endeavor. It is so exciting I can’t stand it! I am not sure what God is going to do, but I am excited to see the results. It is going to be great!  Here are a few things we are fasting for:

Direction - Fasting is a great way to position our hearts to hear from God (2 Chronicles 20)

Power - Jesus fasted for 40 days and came out with power and authority - have you seen our world? We need the gracious power of the Holy Spirit!


If you need some resources on fasting look here and here.


November 1st - Evening
Matthew 7:7-11 - Ask the Lord to give us all that we need to move into the building

November 2nd - Morning
James 1:5 - Ask the Lord for wisdom on how to best proceed with the building

November 2nd - Noon
Matthew 6:9 - Ask that God's kingdom becomes more and more apparent in our midst

November 2nd - Evening
Exodus 35:21; 2 Corinthians 9:7 - Ask the Lord would stir the hearts of our church and that we would giving willingly and not under compulsion  

November 3rd - Morning
1 Timothy 6:9; 1 John 2:15 - Ask the Lord that we would not give into the love of money or of the world

November 3rd - Noon
Malachi 3:10 - Ask the Lord to open up the heavens and pour out His blessing on us! 

Building FAQs

Normandy:

We’ve enjoyed getting feedback and questions regarding the prospective building. We’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions to answer in one place for your consideration. Don’t forget to review the building meeting recap to catch up on all is happening. Remember, as elders we think the Lord is using this process to challenge the way we operate. Whether or not it leads to a new building, we have opportunities to operate more effectively as a body and to be more strategic, consistent, and deliberate in what we do and how we do it.

What are you asking Normandy, as a body, to do?

Our plan is to attempt to lease and build out the space at 9090 Skillman. In order to do that, we want to know if you, our church family, are with us. We are moving forward unless there is an outcry from the church of “no”.

We want you to pray, fast, and ask the Lord what He thinks and what He wants. Additionally, we want you to ask the Lord how much money to give to the building. We care more about you hearing from the Lord and obeying what He says than giving a lot or a little.

  • November 1st - 3rd: Pray and fast

  • November 2nd: Pray at 9090 Skillman at 6:30 PM

  • November 5th: Giving Sunday & church lunch. We are going to do giving Sunday a little different. We will have a normal church service and then we will provide lunch for everyone. YOU HAVE TO SIGN UP FOR LUNCH! During the lunch we are asking you to bring your checks and pledges and we will count it and announce the number to the church. If you are not going to be there, we want you to email the number you feel like the Lord is asking you to give to finances@normandychurch.com.

  • The week of November 6th we are going to sit down with an asset manager to discuss our options.

  • On November 12th we will give the church a report on next steps.

Why are we fasting?

We want every person in our body to fast. Whether it’s one meal or the full 48 hours, whether it’s putting your phone down or refraining from a favorite treat, we want you to fast and position your heart to hear from God. We are asking for your voice and your heart as we move forward.

How much money are you looking to raise?

We hope to raise $450,000.

  • $375,000 in upfront cash for the build-out.

  • $75,000 in pledges from 2018-2019. This means if you give on average $200 a month to Normandy, we want to know how much in addition to that $200 you are able to give for two years.

$450,000 is a lot of money - what is it for? And what happened to the money we raised last time?

We want to raise the cost of the build-out for the space on 9090 Skillman. Michael Gooden and Miles Durham put together a quote that is  $30/square foot. To date, $345,000 has been raised (way to go, church!) and that money goes to cover a few things:

  • Three months savings for operations (think an emergency fund a la Crown Financial)

  • Money to cover the cost of rent for two years (we get six months of free rent - we still pay triple nets during that time).

  • We want to “prepay” rent for two years so we do not have a constant pressure to meet the monthly payment

Can we afford to pay for the rent? All in, it is around $20,000 per month. What about growing the staff and paying them well? (Thanks for asking that!)

  • Our average monthly giving in July and August was 60 households, both single and married, giving $526 a month. That is $31,560 per month.

  • With the increase in rent our monthly budget need will get to $57,000. This means we need to increase monthly giving, get new givers, or raise enough support to cover the budget need prior to moving.

  • This is why we want both the upfront cash and pledges. The purpose of both the cash in hand and the pledges is to give us two years of a runway to grow into the space without needing a ‘Giving Sunday’ every other Sunday.

  • As for growing the staff, our projections, our cash on hand, and our staffing needs led us to our ask of $450,000. In other words, we are projecting what it will cost to move into the building and grow our staff and church. We did not employ a monkey to throw a dart at a number. We employed Patrick Tam (CMA, CPA) and Jackson Thomas (BBA, MBA, FPU) to give us healthy projections that include attrition and growth. And by employed, I mean we volunteered them.

Are we actually growing? Do we need more space? Are we being faithful with what we have now? Is there a plan for staffing and growth?

Some Sundays, church attendance can be light. Some Sundays, we are adding chairs. Some Sundays, you had too much wine the night before and didn’t show up to church. From January to June, over 24 Sundays, we averaged 92 adults and 42 kiddos at church. Once we got our kids ministry in order and limitied the number of children per kids worker, we saw a dramatic decrease in attendance from our core families and guest families due to new new restrictions on numbers in each classroom. If a family can’t get their kids in, they typically didn’t come to the service.

We believe we are being faithful. We know there is a ton to grow in (communication being one area). We believe we’ve maximized the use of the space Scofield has given us. We will begin looking at adding a second service soon. Additionally, there is a plan for the staff that we’ve been working since our board meeting in July. We are getting our team in the right position, clarifying roles and expectations in order to better fulfill the mission of the church. In addition, we are planning for future roles.  

What if we don’t get the $450,000? Can we phase into the building? Can we “whitebox” the sanctuary and finish the kids space? (When I say whitebox, I am referring to the concept of having to top floor completely open without walls for the sanctuary. In this scenario we would phase in walls for offices and sanctuary.)

There is some “value engineering” we can do to cut some costs on finish out if we do not raise the desired amount. However, for the most part we cannot phase in and we cannot whitebox the top floor which consists of three offices, the sanctuary and gathering space.

  • We cannot whitebox the top floor in an effort to save money. The primary reason being we would not be able to get a certificate of occupancy (CO) unless we made massive changes to the building. Simply having a whitebox upstairs would increase our occupancy from 500-2200. The cost to get the CO for a whitebox would cost more than our original design because we would have to:

    • Add bathrooms to hold more people

    • Build out more stairs for fire safety (adding staircases to an existing building is cost prohibitive)

    • Factor in structural engineering costs to ensure 2200 people do not collapse the 2nd floor

  • The mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) alone would cost over $200,000 - just under 50% of the total cost.

  • To phase out some electrical and plumbing work would cause us to have to pay more later (we would essentially pay twice for work). We would have to get a new CO each time we made additions to the space.

What if we don’t get the money? What do we do?

Regardless of the amount of money we raise, we are going to sit down with the asset manager the week following our Giving Sunday to see if we can work out a plan that is beneficial to both parties. We are going to take our oil and flour and see what God does. In addition, we are going to begin exploring the option of two services at Scofield regardless of whether or not we get the space.

Will the building have enough space for our kids?

We currently have 75 kids coming to Normandy. We are fruitful and we multiply. Gracious. The space will allow for 85 children and we are looking to add more rooms when we talk with the asset manager.

What about a kitchen?

No. Not yet. We will have space to fellowship and eating, but we will not start with a full blown kitchen.

Have we explored all the other options? What about buying? What about other churches? What about getting more space at Scofield? What about two services? More kids workers?

Okay, settle down, one question at a time.

  • We’ve looked at buying a piece of raw land. No dice thus far.

  • We’ve looked at doing a land lease and building. Again, no luck.

  • We’ve asked other churches (which doesn’t really solve our problem).  And they said no.

  • We’ve asked schools (public and private) with the same answer.

  • We’ve talked to churches that are… slowing getting smaller -- the answer is no.

  • There is no more space at Scofield we can use (they have given us everything! So generous).

  • Going to two services will alleviate kids’ space issues and help us grow. More to come on this one.

  • Everyone is serving at our church (at least upwards of 85%). Y’all are doing well. We’ve started paying temporary workers to help serve our children. This gives us more space so that families are not turned away and brings more order for our kids volunteers.

Are we going to become a fancy church that simply gathers church people from other churches because we are new and shiny in this fancy building? What about the lost, the hurting and the poor?

Yes! Wonderful question! We want this building to become our home - a place we can train and equip people to carry the presence and purpose of God into a lost and hurting world. The way to Life is narrow - that means we have to fight the temptation to become like the world. We are doing this by seeking counsel, hearing from the Lord, walking in community, and fasting. Additionally, we think our revamped membership process (to be launched in 2018) will help further move our body into Dallas to carry the presence and purposes of God. This means people who aren’t typical ‘church people’ should, by the grace of God, start coming. Finally, we are typically not a good place for church-hoppers. They tend not to stick around.

John, how are you feeling?

I am so excited! I do not know what is going to happen, but I am so excited to see what God is going to do. Without faith it is impossible to please Him. And my faith is rising - not that we get the building, but rather that God is setting us up for something new and refreshing and hopeful.

The book of Joshua comes to mind - “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

It’s going to be great.

Hey God!

On Earth as it is in Heaven

Hey Church, 
Here is a guest post from one of our members, Tess Clarke. It was originally posted on the If:Gathering website. Enjoy! 


God had been leading me there for years, I just didn't know it. The quiet whispers, the stirring of my heart, the trips oversees, the deferred and fulfilled hopes and dreams.

It was a Wednesday night and my husband, Jason, and I heard there was a group of Americans and refugees holding a prayer meeting. After living oversees (and loving it) we were looking to connect with people from other cultures. The meeting was great and we left anticipating what would come!

We stopped at a little taco joint in the area with a couple of friends. Two bites into my carnitas I heard a man’s voice coming from behind me. “Give me your money right now.” I turned slowly, my eyes met his, then they met the gun he was pointing at my husband. The story is rather long so I will spare you the details but after some negotiating (and protection from the Holy Spirit) we left unscathed.

A few days went by and we could not stop thinking about that night, about the vulnerable space we were in and what the refugees being resettled in that community must be experiencing. We knew what God was asking us to risk; our safety, comfort and maybe even the life we had dreamed of creating. After praying together with friends and seeking the council of trusted mentors, we broke our apartment lease and signed a new one in what was one of the most crime ridden, dangerous places to live in Dallas.

I am sure you can imagine the fears and tensions we were experiencing, neither of us had lived in an area like this before, the roaches in our kitchen and the mold in the bathroom, seemed to serve as daily reminders of the prevalent darkness we had entered.

The stories we were hearing from our refugee neighbors were unimaginable. The destruction of their countries, fleeing for their lives, losing children, husbands, wives to those that sought to destroy them. My eyes were opening to their pain, and my heart was moving towards it like a freight train. As my husband says I went from “woke to wrecked.”

How could God allow these things to happen? Where was he? What did blessing and goodness look like for persecuted people living on the margins of society?  I was overwhelmed with emotions, not good ones. I just could not understand God’s plan and purpose in the lives of my new friends from around the world, people I was growing to love. I needed God to show me a glimpse of hope somewhere in these stories.

That is the amazing thing about God, we can ask him these questions, and he answers. In my anger, in my fist shaking, in my doubt He started to whisper things to me about “heaven on earth.” Wait, what? What are you talking about? Heaven on earth, this is hell. Yet, he kept saying the same thing, “on earth as it is in heaven.”

It was here, in my questioning and confusion that I started learning about the “upside down kingdom of Jesus.” As I entered into the lives of people who didn't look like me, think like me, or even believe like me I saw the sermon on the mount come to life. I saw what Jesus was driving home about his life, the life in his Kingdom and the goal of his mission: a simple yet powerful love of others - all others. All of us, and all of “them” too. So we said “yes” to joining Jesus in loving others. We took a step toward his radical love and began to pursue the flourishing and shalom of these extraordinary people.

Through all of this learning, changing, hurting, hoping, praying, breaking, my husband and I started a non-profit, Seek the Peace. At Seek our mission is simple: we cultivate relationships with refugees and journey with them. Together, with our unlikely friends, we discover what flourishing looks like in their lives and in ours. 

Jesus keeps showing me that his kingdom is about people, its about the space between me and you, between you an someone else, between us and them, between the created and creation. It is who we are and what we do in the space between us that defines whether this kingdom becomes tangible and produces flourishing for others.

This is it, this the place God had been leading me all those years ago, to his kingdom on earth.

Building Meeting Recap

Below is an overview of the materials that we covered at our Building Meeting.  The full audio is also below including vision from the Elders, commentary from the Building Team, and questions from the audience. 

We would love to hear your feedback!  Please send all questions and comments to questions@normandychurch.com.

The Tabernacle as a Template

Hey Church,

This Sunday was so much fun. I've relished the collective sense of anticipation to see God move in our family each week. Yesterday I answered Lauren William's question, "what am I supposed to do during worship?" We looked at the Tabernacle of Moses to give us a template for how to worship the Lord (Exodus 25-27; Exodus 35-40). 

tabernacle_1.jpg

So, what does this have to do with our worship? It shows us what to do on Sunday. 

Thanksgiving - The Gate - Psalm 100:4 says we "enter into His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise". It ain't easy to worship each week. Sometimes we flat out don't feel like it. One of the ways we combat this tension is through thanksgiving. Gratitude marks a believer (Colossians 2:7) and it helps us guard the atmosphere of our minds. When you are thankful, you don't have time to complain. Practically this means when we start worship, start thanking the Lord for specific things in your life. You can say it out loud, write it down or meditate on it. 

During the week thankfulness looks like keeping a journal about what you are grateful for. When I get in a rut I keep a thanksgiving journal, listing 20 things each day I am grateful for. Not only that, I bring friends and family into it. At dinner, my family will often share with one another one thing we are thankful for and why. Then we rejoice with what the other shared. Joy and gratitude go hand in hand. 

Praise - The Altar - The altar is where the priests would make atonement for sin in order to inter into the Holy Place. Jesus became our lamb, our atonement for sin (John 1:29; Hebrews 10:10; 1 John 2:2). At the altar, we praise the Lord. We give Him a sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15). Praise means to confess Jesus is Lord out loud. So, we sing! We shout. He is enthroned on the out loud praise of His people (Psalm 22:4).  When we begin to praise out loud His rule becomes apparent. Praise is usually high and lifted up, more upbeat, more joyful and it leads us to the next part of worship: 

Worship - The Holy Place - After the priests made atonement, they entered into the Holy Place. Using the tabernacle as a template, after the altar (and praise) we move into worship. Worship is much more intimate than praise. Worship means "bow down". When Moses met with God in Exodus 34:8 he bowed his head before the Lord. This is something that requires vulnerability and humility. This week whether in group, with your spouse or with your friends, you can bow the knee as an act of worship to Jesus. Having practiced gratitude and praise, worship becomes more natural. And your physical posture proceeds presence. Sometimes we don't *feel* anything because we are not giving out loud praise and humble worship to God. Therefore, we position our body in a place to receive from the Lord. 

I found this quote from Andrew Murray in Humility very helpful. 

When God created the universe, it was with the one object of making the creature partaker of His perfection and blessedness... The life God bestows is imparted not once for all, but each moment continuously, by the unceasing operation of His mighty power. Humility, the place of entire dependence on God, is, from the very nature of things, the first duty and the highest virtue of (a person). 

Worship puts our hearts in position to receive the very life of God. 

Thanksgiving, praise and worship - this is template to help us worship the Lord. Next week we will learn about what happens in the most holy place (the hot spot of God's presence). 

Pastor John 

 

Why Worship

Hey Church,
Since coming back from my sabbatical (or medical leave of absence), the past few Monday's I have been writing a blog as a follow up to the sermon. It has been rather cathartic for me offering a space to collect my thoughts about all I am learning and what I feel God is doing in our midst. 

This past Sunday I tried to hammer home the why of worship. Like in general, why do we worship? The goal of worship is to see Christ manifest (make apparent) His kingdom (His will, presence and power) on earth as it is in heaven. Sometimes that hope and belief is not enough to rule the day of our hearts. We need a why. 

In Revelation 4-5, we get part of John's kaleidoscope vision of heaven that pulls in many the most apocalyptic books of the Old Testament (Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel). And it is in these chapters we get our why. 
1. God is Holy (Revelation 4:1-8). We often think of holy as being morally pure - which it means. But it also carries a sense of otherness. God is utterly transcendent, utterly unique. For some additional help on holiness, check out this video from the Bible Project

2. God is Creator (Revelation 4:9-11). He created everything! He made you, me, atoms, subatomic particles, black holes, lions and food. We see these four living creatures (representing created, earthly creatures), naturally respond to their creator with praise and worship. 
3. God is Redeemer (Revelation 5). In Revelation 5 we have this dramatic picture of someone in heaven kinda upset at what I think is the state of affairs on earth. No one is found who is worthy to open this scroll (which represents the fulfillment of God's purposes). John hears that it is going to be the Lion of the tribe of Judah and he sees a slain lamb. Picture a white lamb walking up with its neck cut and bleeding. It is Jesus! The hero all of creation is groaning to see! 

So there is your why. So why am I writing this? I see praise and worship, what we do on Sunday's, being a huge part of how God wants to work in and through our church. These three profound truths can become an anchor for our Sundays as we expectantly look for God to manifest His domain, His freedom in our midst. 

Hey God!

JSB

Worship and the Kingdom

Hey Church: 

It was a joy to preach about worship this past Sunday. As I have been thinking and studying and preparing, something became clear - I need to teach and preach on worship. Our church family is made up of a wonderful mix of Baptists, Charismatics, Anglicans and others with all sorts of ideas on what worship should look like. 

Lauren Williams reached out to me several months ago with some great questions about worship: 
- What am I supposed to do during worship?
- How do I love the Lord with all my heart, mind, soul and strength during worship?
- Is worship for me? For God? For others?
- Is worship an outpouring or and in-pouring? 
- How do I recognize the presence of God? Is it like someone turned on the AC and I get cooler? Or is it like when I have too much coffee?
- What does "minister to the Lord" mean?

I hope to address several of these questions over the next few weeks. 

And on top of all that, what in the world does this have to do with the kingdom of the heavens?

I am glad you asked. 

The story of the Bible is about the union of heaven and earth. From Genesis to Revelation, we see heaven and earth overlap, separate and finally unified permanently in Revelation 21-22. 

The goal of worship is to see Christ manifest (make apparent) His kingdom (His will, presence and power) on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:9-13; Matthew 28:18-20). God is looking for worshipers (John 4:23), He inhabits their praises (Psalm 22:3) and wherever He is there is freedom, righteousness, joy and healing (Isaiah 9:6-7; Romans 14:17; 2 Corinthians 3:17; Revelation 21:4). 

Picture our times together - what would it look like if we all walked with belief, hope and expectation that God was going to manifest (make apparent) His kingdom when we gathered? The atmosphere of unity and praise would be contagious! There are times where we've all sensed this and times we've had to fight for it. 

So here is a reminder for us - worship is something that the people of God have done together throughout history and will do into eternity (that whole every tribe and tongue worshiping before the throne deal). We are made to worship and worship together. We bear the image of a relational God. There is a grace upon God's people when we worship together - it is easier! It clears the airways and sharpens our hearts to go about our lives. 

And we need to be reminded of this - you will worship - it is just a matter of who or what you are worshiping. Do not forsake the assembling together as is the habit of some (Hebrews 10:24-25). Instead let our worship be a cry together - "thy kingdom come, thy will be done!"

As He manifests His presence, we will be changed. 

See you next Sunday. 

JSB

The Atmosphere of Our Minds

Hey Church, 

As you all know, we are going through a sermon series about "The Kingdom of the Heavens." Over weeks of study I have found my heart stirred and my mind blown at the nature of God and of His kingdom's availability. Two Sundays back we focused on hope. This Sunday I communicated a desire that the atmosphere of our hearts and minds would reflect that of heaven. 

Before I share more on that, I wanted to share a resource with you all. The Bible Project is an organization I was introduced to recently. They have a video on Heaven & Earth that shared everything I have been trying to say this year in 6 minutes (!?) with pictures and video! 

The question is - what does this have to do with me? What does this have to do with the atmosphere of our minds or of our church? Well, since Jesus taught us to pray "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven", we play a role of setting the atmosphere in our minds, our homes, in our lives and in our church. 

As Jesus announced God's kingdom, His purposes began to become known - salvation, mercy, righteousness, justice, kindness and forgiveness. Sounds wonderful! The atmosphere we breathe in the kingdom is just that - mercy, kindness, goodness, salvation! Part of the way that we experience that here in now is by guarding the atmosphere of our minds - what we think about. The mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, but the mind set on the flesh is death (Romans 8:6-8). We have a choice - what are we going to do when faced with judgement, commendation and shameful thoughts?

Take them captive! 

Wired_17_slides5.jpg

Part of seeing the kingdom on earth starts with the atmosphere of our minds. As we spend time in the word, listen to the voice of our King, Jesus will set us free from wrong thinking and strongholds that promote death rather than life and peace. And as we become more like Him we will reflect that back into the world. 

Pastor John

Hope in the already, not yet

This weekend, we looked at hope in the Christian life. As believers, our hope isn't that we escape this world and go on to the next one. Our hope is that Jesus' prayer of "thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven" comes true. The kingdom of the heavens is about God's sovereign rule coming down on earth as it is in heaven. This is what Jesus went about announcing and this is what Revelation 21-22 describes happening in the end. 

CS Lewis details this for us in The Great Divorce. 

[Some mortals] say of some temporal suffering, "No future bliss can make up for it," not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory.

This is a wonderful hope (a feeling of expectation for something to happen). 

What about now? How do we hope in this life? If hope keeps going unmet then our hearts will become sick (Proverbs 13:12). 

Saint Paul shares how hope is given to us - through suffering, a perseverance that produces character and, finally, hope - a hope that doesn't disappoint or put to shame (Romans 5:1-5). 

This sounds great, but if my hope is in me to persevere, I am going to be disappointed. I know how fickle my heart can be. The thing that gave me hope in the middle of NICU and all the ups and downs of life is that Christ has a hold of me and He will not relax that hold. He is faithful. He called me. He will do it. He is at work to will and do His good pleasure in me. He will never fail me. No one can snatch me out of my Fathers' hands. His seed of righteousness will produce the fruit of righteousness (a heart that is whole, just and correct).  

Charles Spurgeon says this beautifully in Morning and Evening: 

Remember, therefore, it is not thy hold of Christ that saves thee—it is Christ; it is not thy joy in Christ that saves thee—it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that be the instrument—it is Christ's blood and merits; therefore, look not so much to thy hand with which thou art grasping Christ, as to Christ; look not to thy hope, but to Jesus, the source of thy hope; look not to thy faith, but to Jesus, the author and finisher of thy faith.

Additionally, my hope is that my trials, suffering and trials are not trite, trivial or meaningless. It is not simply a test to pass, or a carrot that He dangles before me until I can "arrive". Rather it is the groaning of the Spirit within me, it is Christ moving in me in the midst of suffering so that my internal heart can receive more of His heart. Christ is working through the suffering to prepare me to receive more of Him and walk in greater measure of His kingdom project here and now. He will not waste one tear or trial. Therefore, rejoice!  

To my beloved church family, you have reason to hope today! Your Christ will not leave you. He is with you in the midst of suffering and trials. He is readying your heart to move "further up and further in" to His kingdom then and there and here and now. 

There will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.

Pastor John

Son, Soil, Water

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Yesterday was a wonderful time with our friend, Peter Louis. He preached and gave some very straightforward practicals on walking in the design of God - how to become what He has made us to be. 
Romans 5:17

...much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

Peter pointed out that God has planted, through the Holy Spirit, grace and righteousness. The only thing we need to do is receive the gift and we will become what He planted. Much like a apple seed produces apple trees, the seed of grace and righteousness will make us become grace and righteousness. 

His encouragement was to partner with the design of God. Like all seeds, we need three things: 
Son
Soil
Water

Son (get it?) - in order for a seed to grow it needs time in the sun. Or in our case, time in the presence of the Son. Here are three simple ways to do that: 

1. Stillness (Psalm 46:10) - As we sit still in His presence (literally being still, no phone, resting) God will shine the light of His Son on our hearts. 

2. Worship (all of the Psalms) - Worship is a declaration that Jesus is the Lord. Typically, the places where Jesus is not yet the Lord of our hearts indicates an idol, a part of our flesh that doesn't want Jesus to rule. 

3. Word (John 5:39) - Daily time in the word. Whether reading, meditating, or listening to the word - He promises to nourish our souls and bodies with His word (Duet. 8:3; Matthew 6:11)

Alright now pause - this isn't about striving. Before we all start striving and performing a wonderful religious duty, remember the air that we breathe is grace and mercy. This is the air of the kingdom. 

Soil - Community - a seed needs to be rooted in soil, in the case of a Christian, believers are to be rooted in community. Our tendency is to put things, programs, events and goals before relationships. However, when we walk in God's design, the more attached we are to one another, the more fruit we will bear. 

1. Confession (James 5:16) - Confession is part of how we are known. It is a regular practice of believers. And as we do this, God will heal us (confess your sins and pray for one another so that you will be healed). 

2. Fellowship - (1 John 1:7) - be with one another! This is the joy part - the glad to be with you. Have fun and enjoy the grace of each other's presence. 

3. Encouragement (Hebrews 10:24-25) - Encouragement is one of our top ten needs. Encouragement calls out the gold in another. Each time we meet we can look for someone to encourage. 

Water - The Holy Spirit - You can have all the soil and all the sun you want, but no seed is going to grow without water. The same is true of the Holy Spirit. Remember this is God's design - to send the rain of the Holy Spirit to wash and refresh you. The Holy Spirit can wash over you in a few ways: 

1. Fall on you like rain (Acts 10:44-48) - Sometimes God just decides to pour His presence on His people. It can happen during the preaching of the word or perhaps during worship. This is something to be desired! 

2. Manifest through the laying on of hands (Acts 19:1-7) - Throughout the Bible gifts, callings, and blessing are passed through the laying on of hands. It is not some is magical formal, but simply our Father's heart to bless. 

3. We can drink and be filled with the Holy Spirit (John 7:37; Ephesians 5:18) - Think about it. You can drink your 8 ounces of water in your trendy Yeti, but you are going to need a refill from time to time. Ask God to give you drink of the Spirit today! 

Remember Christ desires for you to reign, to make it, to overcome and He is doing His part. He longs to cherish and nourish you (Ephesians 5:29). Be encouraged to put some of these things into practice this week!

Pastor John


Peter Louis has a passion to see the nations of the earth liberated from the bondage of sin, sickness and death through the ministry of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Church Update

Church Family:

This past Sunday I gave the church an update on a few business items going on at Normandy. Over the last few weeks we had our quarterly finance team  meeting and our annual board of advisors meeting. Here are a few updates.

Finance Team Meeting:

The elders along with our finance team (Jackson Thomas & Patrick Tam) met to discuss how we are doing financially. The good news is that we are doing very well! Our church is generous and has continued to grow in giving. Also if you are interested in serving, we would love one more person on the finance team. Here are the year to date numbers:

2017 Budget $300,000

YTD Giving June - $188,736

YTD Building Fund - $347,084

Building:

We currently in the analysis stage of our building process for the space at 9090 Skillman Street. Michael Gooden, along with several other friends are helping put together some pricing so we can make the best decision possible for our church. At our BOA meeting, we were advised to hire a church building consultant to make sure we are thinking through this space. John Kaserman is taking the lead on that portion. Not only that, but we have two gracious attorneys giving us advice on the actual lease.

The next steps for us will come once we get a final cost estimate for the build out. I (John) will be out of town during this time and John Kaserman will take the lead on the building process to coordinate between all the parties involved.

House in Order - Kids Ministry:

One of the highlights of the board of advisors meeting was discussing how we've grown in kids ministry. It has gotten so much better! Justus Murimi and Sam Harvey did a wonderful job of getting our house in order. Our kids ministry has vision and structure and the volunteers have done a great job of giving time and effort to what we are doing. We are thankful!

Part of the pain of getting our kids ministry in order means that at times we have to turn kids away because we simply don't have enough space. That part flat out stinks. However with a limited number of rooms, we are maxing out. Which begs the question...

What is Next?

I joked on Sunday that I have "vision for days". I love to dream and think about all the things that could be. However I couldn't strategize my way out of a wet paper bag. When it comes to planning how to get people plugged in to the church or how to get more space for kids, I would rather dream than plan. The good news is that many of the strategic, tactical and detail orientated people in our church are rising to the occasion.

Moving Forward:

Next we are going come up with a strategic plan to move forward. Zach Garza has graciously come up with a plan that we've begun to implement. Rather than frantically try to figure out how to put out whatever "fire" is raging at the moment, we are walking through a systematic process as elders. Here is a brief overview of what we are going to do:

1) Get unified on vision and mission (done!)

2) Prioritize what is most important for the health of the church (next)

3) Figure out the "how" of our priorities

4) Implement!

That is rather simplistic but it is all the details I could bear to write (ha). We will be communicating as we get these priorities up and running.

Thank You:

There is probably more I could say, but I think this is enough for now. And there are so many people who are helping behind the scenes, I wish I could list them all here! Thank you for you generosity, your patience, you grace and your heart.  We left the board and the finance team meeting very pleased with where we are as a church.

If you have any questions feel free to ask the elders.

Grace!

Isaac's Freedom

Hey Family:

This weekend one of our old friends, Matthew Williams, was in town. Matthew and his wife Bethany lead Exile International. Exile exists to empower children of war to become leaders for peace.
Matthew pointed us to a recent testimony from Issac and his journey to freedom. Exile is one of the mission organizations Normandy supports and Issac's testimony is a great example of why!

Issac's Freedom:

“I was told killing with a gun is nothing. It’s like you haven’t killed. For my initiation, they handed me a machete and told me to kill a man.  They said if I refused, they would kill me.”

Isaac was 14 when the Lord’s Resistance Army came to his village in Uganda.

“I told my mom to run,” he says. “I was going to lock the house and catch up, but they came too fast.”

Isaac hid inside.  When they torched his house, he ran out and was captured. Forced to become child soldiers, he and many others were given uniforms.

“My friend refused to put on the uniform,” he remembers, “They made me watch as they stabbed him to death with bayonets.”

Isaac put on the uniform.  He and two other boys were told to kill a man with machetes.

“The man cried, ‘I’m innocent.’ But the commanders screamed, ‘Kill him, kill him.’ If we didn’t, we would take his place. It was the worst moment of my life.”

He tried to run away many times, but was caught and beaten nearly to death.  During one battle, he was shot in the leg, and later forced to keep marching.

“I prayed all the time, ‘God get me out of here.  Please get me home.’”

Knowing he would be killed if he got caught again, Isaac planned another escape. He went to fetch water, but didn’t return.

“When they came after me, I hid in a banana plantation,” he says. “I heard one of them say, ‘If we catch him, we’ll cut him into pieces and take him back for meat.  We will show everyone this is what happens when you try to escape.’”

Eventually the soldiers gave up their search and left. Isaac could finally go home.

“When I arrived home people were afraid, and told their children to stay away from me. I felt so guilty. At night I dreamt of everything I was forced to do, and I woke up screaming and shouting.”

Then Isaac went to a gathering in his village held by Exile International, which is supported by CBN’s Orphan’s Promise. Through one on one therapy, singing, dancing, and drama, we’ve helped many former child soldiers and war orphans heal from terrible trauma.

“You have brought so much joy back into my life. You helped me know God.  Ilearned not to focus on the past, but to look at what is new,” he says.

We helped pay Isaac’s tuition and fees, and enrolled him in a Christian boarding school, where he’s made lots of friends.

“It makes me so happy to be here,” he says. “My school uniform is always clean and fresh, and it smells so nice.  The LRA uniform was for doing bad things, and it was always dirty.  When I put on my school uniform, my thoughts are good, and I am so proud to wear it.”

We also gave Isaac a Bible, which he reads as often as he can.

He says, “Reading my Bible brings me so much peace. I know that God is the reason I survived.  Without Him I would be dead.  He knows the plans He has for me, and I know that I am completely free and forgiven. I appreciate all your help.  You will be blessed for it.  My future is bright because of you.”

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You can donate to Exile here.