Feeling Overwhelmed?

overwhelmed-graphicReal Life Here: I’m so very tired. And I’m so very tired of sick kids. (Honestly, I’m just a little tired of my kids). And yet…

And yet, at the same time I feel so incredibly grateful for the many, many blessings is my
life. We suffered through 3 years of infertility and multiple miscarriages, not knowing if we would ever have a child, let alone 3 kids! And now we have been blessed with 3 amazing kids!

12472782_10101698954324820_5749570881580611229_nYes, they are exhausting. Yes, having three kids 5 years old and under consumes ALL. YOUR. TIME. And energy! But they are still such a blessing. And I love each one so very much. Just look at those adorable faces! (Just please start sleeping through the night kids! In your own beds!)

I look around our beautiful suburban home and think how quickly it goes from clean and organized to looking like a disaster zone. And yet, I’m so incredibly grateful for this house God has provided for us. Our first “real home” in our marriage where we don’t have to share walls with someone! A beautiful home with tons of space to host small groups, leadership meetings, and newcomer lunches. I’m so thankful for this home and all the ministry we get to do in it.

And then there’s the church. Being a Church Planter means going to bed every night with things left undone on your to-do list. Starting a church is a lot like starting a new business or non-profit- there are ALWAYS more things to do! But as exhausting as church planting can be…man- I am so THRILLED that I get to do it!

This is what I was put here on this earth to do!

I feel like my whole life was a training ground that prepared me to do this. And everyday, I thank God that I get to do this.

So yes, today I am tired and overwhelmed and feel like a failure as a dad and a husband, but I know that God’s got this. When I am weak, He is strong.

If you are tired and overwhelmed and feel like you are not measuring up as a spouse or parent or at your job, I want to encourage you to know that

YOU.

ARE.

ENOUGH.

Don’t strive so hard. God’s got this. God’s got YOU! Count your blessings and maybe take a nap. Or get another cup of coffee.

Get your hopes up.

Rejoice in HOPE, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12 (ESV)

The Importance of Guest Surveys

I was working out at the gym this morning when I saw one of our Mosaic Guest Surveys downloadcome through my inbox on my phone. I always love reading the surveys we send out to second time guests. As I read this one, I found myself pumping my fist and saying “Yes!” out loud. At they gym. Fortunately, pretty much everyone was in their own world with ear buds in, so no one seemed to notice.

Here’s what I read on my phone at the gym:

  1. What influenced your decision to attend Mosaic a second time? My wife and I have never truly found a community here in Minnesota (moved here 3 years ago), and it felt like we were pushed this direction by God to have Mosaic came into our lives at a time when we needed to let go of doubt and false labels.
  2.  What was most memorable about your first or second visit to Mosaic? Many of the messages have lately been directly relevant to us lately.
  3.  Would you feel comfortable inviting your friends to attend Mosaic with you? Why or why not? Sure, I appreciate a strong community and people looking for a home may find it with Mosaic. Actions speak louder than words, and perhaps people will ask what’s uplifted me recently.
  4.  How could we improve your experience? I was actually talking with my wife about this last Saturday on the drive home and last night. I never really grew up thinking what could make things better for me, I grew up fairly poor and took heart in trying to service others through words and actions. Since moving to Minnesota however I haven’t spent much time outward. God has blessed us now and I feel like our blessings should be paid forward.

Here are 3 reasons why I think it’s a great idea to send out some sort of survey to your guests who come back a second time.

1.) Unfiltered Feedback. Sending out surveys is a good way to find out if your preaching specifically and your church in general is accomplishing the mission God has given you. It’s good to get feedback from people who regularly attend your church. But they already know you and hopefully love you! Getting survey results from guests is a great way to get unfiltered feedback. When guests are telling you that your messages are relevant to what they are going through, you know you are on the right track! If you aren’t getting that kind of feedback…well, maybe you need to change what you are preaching on.

2.) Encouragement for Your Team. When you get cool stories from your surveys, you can pass those along to encourage your team. They can be used to remind your team why they go through so much effort each Sunday to pull Sunday services off.

3.) Tool to Improve Your Team. Occasionally, guests will let us know that there is an area that needs addressing. It might be something that has become invisible to us because  we just don’t see things the same way as a first or second time guest.

If you are a church leader or even a business leader, I would encourage you to figure out how you can offer a simple, short guest survey to those that are new to your church or business. Hopefully you’ll find it’s worth it for you too!

What A Year!

What A Year!

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about all that God has done in the last 12 months.

It’s been quite a journey to get to this point! After many years of wrestling with God’s call to plant a church, Kristin and I decided to face our fears and trust God and take the scary step to plant Mosaic Church.

On December 20, 2014 we moved to Maple Grove, MN. We decided that we were going to put down roots and invest for the long haul, so instead of choosing to rent for a while and see if this thing worked out, we were blessed to be able to buy our first home. We were committed- no matter what happened with the church plant.

Two months later we held our first informational meeting for people interested in knowing more about this new church we were starting. 4 people showed up to our house. Not a very auspicious start! But I kept believing in God’s call, kept working hard to get the word out, and after dozens and dozens of one-on-one coffee meetings at Starbucks, we had our first Launch Team Meeting on May 17, 2015. I was so amazed that God brought together 64 adults and kids to worship God and to dream about what God could do through us! It was the beginning of God doing something really special in Maple Grove through Mosaic Church.

After lots of summer BBQs and worship nights and a few preview services, we had our Grand Opening on October 4, 2015. I was blown away to see 280 people come out for our Grand Opening! Let me tell you- that was a once in a lifetime experience. Seeing all these people I had never met before park their cars and head into Weaver Lake Elementary School. It is something I will never forget.

This winter, Mosaic Church has been averaging about 140 people each Sunday with 132 people involved in a small group. I can’t believe that we have almost as many people involved in a small group as we have attending our worship service on Sunday mornings! It’s not about just gathering a crowd- it’s about making disciples and building a church!

In the 20 weeks (is that all?!?) since we launched Mosaic Church, 12 people have come to know Christ as their savior and Mosaic has had the privilege to baptize 2 people and dedicate 10 children to the Lord. Man. It has been a wild ride! God is so good!

So what’s next? We are excited to kick off our Student Ministry next month. We are exploring what it would take to offer an Arts Camp to kids in our community this summer. We are making plans for our first mission trip to Kenya. And I am praying AUDACIOUS prayers knowing that God is ABLE to do AMAZING things through Mosaic Church these next 12 months!

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Mosaic Church Grand Opening

Planting a Church!

StartAs I held that simple sheet of paper in my hands, I knew that this was it. Everything was about to change! And that was both scary and exhilarating!  On the last day of 2014, I was given my official Call Letter to be a lead pastor/church planter with Converge North Central (Baptist General Conference).

We are so thankful that we are not on this journey alone! We have two awesome parent churches (Northridge Fellowship and Grace Fellowship) who will be coaching us and giving us tons of support.  They are letting us recruit between 50 and 60 people between the two churches to help us gather a core launch team. If you don’t know, that is incredibly generous of them! They have also committed $56,000 in financial support, which helps us get more than halfway to our goal of raising $100,000 for this new church start. Again, this is amazingly generous!

I’ll be spending the next four months as a “church planter in residence” at Northridge Fellowship in Rogers, MN. This will give me a great opportunity to continue learning about church planting as well as time to invest in relationships as we build our core team. I’m really excited about this opportunity as well as the gift of having our family plug into an existing church for a while. 

We are also very excited to be a part of a church planting group called Minnesota Grace. This is a group of Converge churches that are all daughter (or grand-daughter) churches of Grace Fellowship in Brooklyn Park, MN. Grace Fellowship has planted well over 20 churches in the past 25 years and is passionate about planting churches that are passionate about planting churches. As a part of this church planting group, our goal is that as Mosaic Church gets established, we would be able to partner with Grace to plant our first daughter church by 2019.

This journey has just started and we have a long and hard road ahead of us, but we are confident that God will be with us and will empower us with his Holy Spirit to use us to make an impact in the Maple Grove area for God! If you are reading this and you would like to know how to pray for us or if you are interested in joining the launch team or becoming a financial partner, I would LOVE to talk with you! Please email me or use the contact link to reach out.

Our whole desire is that we would make Jesus famous and help people in the suburbs know that its ok to not be ok. Because here’s the reality: we are ALL broken and hurting and in need of a Savior! But God is going to use us broken people to form his beautiful Mosaic. We want to plant a church that plants churches. We want to help people love God, serve others, and help make disciples who make disciples. We would love your prayers as we launch this church and as we dream big dreams. Its all about Jesus and building His Church. We are just excited to be a part of what God is doing here in the Twin Cities.  

Check out our new church’s website here: MOSAIC CHURCH

Thanks friends,

Erik

Joseph, Dreams, and Getting Out of a Pit

josephI’ve been thinking a lot about Joseph this past year or so. Not Joseph, the adopted dad of Jesus. No, I’m talking about Joseph- the arrogant, young leader who had a vision from God.

You probably know the story: Joseph shared his God-given vision with those closest to him and what happened? He ended up in a pit. That’s when his dream died. Then things went from bad to worse.  He was falsely accused and he ended up in prison. I would bet all my guitars that he started questioning God’s plan and started doubting the vision that God had given him. He was in a dark place. A hopeless place.

But you know what? God was there. God was there in the pit. God was there when he was falsely accused. God was there in the dark place of that prison. And God had a plan.

You know what I think? I think Joseph wasn’t ready yet for the vision God gave him. I think Joseph was arrogant and he needed some time for God to do a work on his heart.

 So there was the birth of a dream. Then the death of a dream. Then God did what only God can do. He re-birthed that dream in Joseph.

God had a plan for Joseph’s life. His timing was just WAY different from what Joseph probably thought was going to happen! God used Joseph in a powerful way to bring salvation to people far from God. And out of those circumstances, a people of God was formed.

So if you are like me, and you’ve had the birth of a dream and then faced the death of that dream- take heart. God is there with you. God is here with me. His timing and is ways are probably just a lot different from what we expect!

God is in the business of re-birth. Of resurrection. And even now, in that pit, in whatever hopeless situation you find yourself, God is there. He gives life and hope and purpose. We just need to trust and wait on our God. Its not easy and we will struggle and doubt- but God was and is and will continue to be faithful and true to His word. And you know what? That’s great news.

 

 

EL

Dealing With Loss

Last week, my wife and I experienced the pain and loss of our fourth miscarriage.

To be honest, I’m still coming to grips with it.  I was just starting to get excited about the idea of child #3 and then…and then my wife tells me she is spotting…and since we’ve been down this road before, I know exactly what that means.  Then the doctor confirms that the HCG levels have dropped dramatically and that dream of a third child is gone.  For now.  I still cling to hope that God will bless us with another child.  I also know that we are incredibly blessed with two amazing, beautiful, funny, strong willed children.  And if our family continues to be just the four of us, I will continue to thank God for the wonderful blessings he has given us. But man, it still hurts.  It hurts so much.

This past year we have lost so much.  Friendships, possible futures, a community that we were a part of.  Sometimes that pain of all those losses literally knocks me down and I just collapse on the floor or the couch or my bed or wherever.  I will have trouble breathing and feel like there is a huge rock in my stomach. My heart will start to race and my mind will start racing even faster.  Often this happens at night- which probably explains why sometimes I lie in bed for hours before falling asleep.

So what do we do when we experience such terrible suffering? Do we give up? Give in to bitterness? Some do.

But Paul tells us in Philippians 4:7 that “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” and in Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”  That word “guard” is the idea of a fortress or citadel.  God wants to be our castle of hope and guard us against the arrows of the enemy dripping with the poison of worry and anxiety.   And then God wants to fill us with his Holy Spirit so that we can overflow with hope.  Not a natural hope that we conjure up; instead, a supernatural hope that can only come from God.

And so I run to my heavenly Father.  I let him be my fortress and strong tower.  Daily, I ask for the Holy Spirit to fill me up with his HOPE and PEACE.

ShalomBut its not easy.  In fact, its so tough that my wife has HOPE (tikvah) tattooed her wrist and I have PEACE (shalom) tattooed on my wrist!  Its so that every time we look down, we are reminded to find our HOPE and PEACE in God alone.  To look beyond our circumstances and our losses and know that our Father loves us and grieves with us.  And we make it through another day.  And God continues to give us HOPE and PEACE and to heal our hearts.  And someday, he WILL wipe away every tear and there will be no more pain or loss or suffering.  You can bank on that.

 

EL