Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Kingdom Victories

Everyone loves a winner.  We enter every sport season with a sense of optimism that "this will be the
year".  In grad school, one of my classmates was a former NFL player and then an assistant coach.  He would tell us of how the team is focused and ready to bring home the trophy (this was during training camp, of course!).  He laughed and said this is the feeling every year. 

Pittsburgh fans are loving Spring.  The Pirates are only about ten games into the season (you all know, we had a winning record last season and even made the playoffs - finally!).  The Penguins begin their playoff run tomorrow night.  Even as I write this, I'm wearing my penguin sweatshirt.  Life is good when there's optimistic, fan-fever in the air!

But what about things of greater meaning and more significant purpose?  Every year, churches around the world celebrate Holy Week.  Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter are HUGE events in the religious world.  


When was the last time you stopped and thought about:

"Why did Jesus had to die?"  
"Why did He have to rise again?"  
"Does this truly matter today?"  
"What does it really mean for me?"

These are questions I regularly ask myself.  Diving into Scripture and talking with friends who are serious about life, faith, and practice, we are growing in the significance of the Kingdom of God as we live our lives today.  The cross and resurrection pave the way for indescribable victories all because of Jesus.  This will be the focus of Easter at Advance Community this Sunday.  

Everyone is invited! (details)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Prentice Family Update

     In life, change happens!  Sometimes they happen often.  Sometimes they don't.  You just never know what God is up to concerning all the details.  Yet, we are called to live by faith knowing that He will do things according to His purposes and for His glory.

"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:9)

     Our family has been actively serving in the Pittsburgh region since 2000.  I have served in traditional, contemporary, established, new church planting, and semi-church planting contexts throughout this period of time.  Through it all, God has been so faithful in producing spiritual fruit in our lives and in the lives of those He brought our way.  We've seen people surrender their lives to Jesus in salvation, marriages restored, emotional wounds mended, unbelievable physical healing, and many come alive to the Gospel of Jesus.  May God be honored and receive glory for what He's done!

     Since November 2013, we have been in the process of starting a new ministry focused on the Route 8 corridor from Pittsburgh to Butler.  This ministry is a response to a calling God has placed on our lives to saturate this region with the Good News of grace and truth found only in Jesus Christ (John 1:14).  This ministry involves planting 3 churches along this corridor and 1 in the Dominican Republic over the next decade.  This is an enormous task in which we are trusting God to provide the people and funds needed to impact this generation and the generations to come.  Our girls are excited (and they really love going to church at night too!)

     It may look like there are plenty of churches, but that's not the full picture.  As I wrote several months ago, more churches statistically reach more people with the gospel.  However, the number of churches in America is rapidly shrinking.  According to the North American Mission Board, in 1900 there were 28 churches for every 10,000 Americans; however there were only 11 churches for every 10,000 Americans in 2004.  Additionally, the Spirit uses new churches on average to win more people to Jesus than established churches.  "Churches under three years of age win an average of ten people to Christ per year for every hundred church members" while "churches over fifteen years of age win an average of three people per year for every hundred church members" (Stetzer, Planting Missional Churches). 
     I am totally in favor of and participate in international mission opportunities, because people all over the world need Jesus.  However, the following stats are frightening!  According to George Hunter, "the United Stated is the largest mission field in the Western Hemisphere" and "the fifth largest mission field on earth".  Stetzer writes, "the spiritual deadness of North America appears not only in its culture but in its churches as well".  80-85% of American churches are on the downside of their life cycle.  3,500-4,000 churches close each year in America while approximately 1,500 new churches will open.  Finally, over time establishes churches focus inwardly while new churches tend to be more intentional about making a tangible difference in the community and target the unchurched with more purpose and passion.

Current Newsletter
     Would you consider partnering with us?  We are working to launch the first church plant in Gibsonia on September 21, 2014.  It is called AdvanceCommunityChurch.  We are need of people like you to help make this vision a reality.  The only requirement is that you commit to the church for the first 4-6 months after launch.  The launch team currently meets for worship and training Sunday nights from 5:00-6:15pm at St. Thomas Church in Gibsonia.  Everyone is welcome to come check it out.  

Jesus said, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to 
the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into the harvest" (Matthew 9:37-38). 

     Advance is striving to be a missional church designed to "Bless People (throughout the region), Create Inclusive Communities (where everyone is a friend), and Cultivate Communion with God (this is where truly amazing things happen!)".  If you do not live in the region but sense the importance of people hearing and responding to the Gospel, would you consider making a one-time tax-deductible donation to this new ministry or even supporting us monthly through the end of the year?  This would make a huge impact!  To do so, please check out Support Advance  

Thank you!

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Rewards are Worth It!

How many events on your calendar from 2013 are still impacting your life today?

For me, I can name a few.  One such event was the live simulcast of Secret Church.  It was an incredible night of spiritual and relational growth which remains vivid in my mind and soul.

If you're in the Pittsburgh area, my wife and I are opening our home on Good Friday evening for this year's Secret Church simulcast.  For video previews and other information, go to Secret Church (Pittsburgh)

Don't be intimidated.  You'll be among friends!

The rewards of such a night are worth it!