“Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.’” Matthew 22:37-38
The theme for the 2013 City of Angels Church Winter Workshop comes from a song about God’s modern day movement entitled, Great Among The Nations. Our 2013 congregational theme is one of the key lines from this great anthem – A Kingdom Of The Heart. However, before we venture into 2013, let us take a moment to gratefully recount some of the miracles and highlights of 2012.
2012 started very strongly as we set a prayer goal of 1,000 in attendance for our January Bring Your Neighbor Day. God blessed our prayers and efforts with a record attendance of 1,191! Interestingly, by the end of the year, we are now nearing 1,000 in attendance EVERY Sunday! The main reason for this surge is the incredible growth that the Lord has graciously granted us. In 2012, God added to our number 424: 272 baptisms, 50 restorations and 102 place memberships – about half of whom came to us directly from our former fellowship seeking revival!
Another tremendous highlight was in August at our Global Leadership Conference (GLC) where the Spirit sent out five mission teams – Boston, Mexico City, Orlando, Paris and San Francisco! The number of disciples sent out was 79. Amazingly, in just four months, the collective membership of these now dynamic SoldOut Movement congregations has multiplied to 185 – more than doubling the members on the mission teams! Miraculously, in the SoldOut Movement’s short six-year history, God has spread His new movement to build 39 churches in 19 nations on all six populated continents of the world!
Last year was filled with many wonderful and faith-building events: The Women’s Day entitled The Promise, The Day of MERCY, The Global Leadership Conference – CHOSEN: Spiritual Leadership in The Days Of The Judges, The Labor Day Picnic and Play Day, and the Fall Retreats just to mention a few. So encouraging as well was the establishment of the IGNITE Program! This eight-day event gathered 22 of our strongest teens from around the world for a special time of bonding through spiritual strengthening, community service and fun activities. On the last day, the IGNITE Teens creatively led all aspects of the San Diego Church Worship Service! Thanks to DJ & Kacie Comisford for pioneering and overseeing this momentous event. In the summer of 2013, the IGNITE Program will be held in Portland, Oregon!
So memorable were the appointments of our first Congregational Deacon Couples – Ryan & Iyonna Keenan (Administration), Rob & Burgandie Onekea (IT), and Damon & Vicki James (Worship Services). A fourth will be added today – Jim & Donna Fenton, as they oversee our Kids Kingdom Program for our entire congregation. Likewise, the raising-up of three Regional Shepherding Couples shows how the Spirit works through discipling in the maturing of the City of Angels Church. Appointed were Jason & Susan Bond (AMS), Dave & Jill Swan (Ventura), and Lance & Connie Underhill (South).
As we close our thoughts on 2012, the Congregational Shepherding Couples – the Bordieris, the Kirchners, and the Untalans, the Regional Leader Couples, and Elena & I want to commend the City of Angels Church for your remarkable weekly sacrifice of over $28,000 in pledges, as well as an almost unbelievable $538,000 collected from our two Missions Contributions! This sacrifice not only gave us the “seed money” for the five plantings, but serve to sustain the Lord’s work in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America!
With this year’s theme – A Kingdom Of The Heart, the City of Angels Church Leadership has set before the Lord the following prayer goals for 2013:
“The grace that is reaching more and more people [will] cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore, we [gain] heart.” (2 Corinthians 4:15-16) Prayerfully in 2013, God’s movement will spread even more rapidly! Lord willing, in April, the Spirit will send out the Las Vegas Mission Team led by Jason & Sarah Dimitry. Then, at our 2013 GLC in August, the Spirit will launch the Atlanta, Dallas and Denver Mission Teams, respectively led by Mike & Chenelle Patterson, Tyler & Shay Sears, and Jeremiah & Julie Clark. To close out the year, we are praying that the sixth Crown of Thorns Mission Team – Sydney, led by Joe & Kerry Willis – will be sent out at our Christmas Service!
“So we rebuilt the wall… for the people worked with all their heart.” (Nehemiah 4:6) During the 2012 year, the City of Angels Church sent out 55 of our most well-trained disciples to plant and to strengthen the churches around the world. Given this tremendous sacrifice, our goal to once again have daily additions remains quite challenging. It is also our prayer to have a record attendance at this year’s January Bring Your Neighbor Day! As Luke writes in Acts 12:24, “The Word of God continued to increase and spread.” Implied was that the first century movement increased numerically and spread geographically! Therefore, our prayer goal is to “work with all our heart” to plant in January a new North Region covering the San Fernando and Santa Clarita Valleys, and to plant a new sector of the Ventura Region in Santa Barbara this summer!
“Here is a trustworthy saying: if anyone sets his heart on [leadership] he desires a noble task.” (1 Timothy 3:1) Paul’s first requirement for leadership is a “noble” ambition for the task! Our prayer goal is to appoint four new Evangelists and four more Women’s Ministry Leaders this year! Also, we will continue our quest to appoint at least one Shepherding Couple in each region though this likely will take two more years. This year, Lord willing, we will also appoint our first Regional Deacon Couples.
“Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth… love one another deeply from the heart.” (1 Peter 1:22) Though God gave us many spectacular victories in 2012, the City of Angels Church was mediocre in our overall retention of our converts. Therefore, as a leadership, we are determined to strengthen our young and weak Christians through a greater emphasis on understanding God’s grace and building family. So in effect, those who are the most likely to fall from Satan’s attacks will grow to once again “love [not only]the Lord with all their heart,” but also “one another deeply from the heart” and thus not fall away. With these convictions, we will implement a pilot “Spiritual Recovery Program” in the West Region. Also, we are planning on adding d-groups to our Bible lessons at our Mid-Week Services, having every region hold regular new member orientations, and to track the Follow-up Studies just as we do with the First Principles Studies for non-Christians. Lastly, to promote “brotherhood,” Cory Blackwell – a former NBA player and our South Central Region Evangelist – has been asked to initiate the City of Angels Church Basketball League!
“I will send you the prophet elijah… He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers.” (Malachi 4:5-6) One of the “miraculous signs of the Kingdom” is families coming together! To help our children – “Kingdom Kids” – enjoy and take on their parents’ faith, Jim & Donna Fenton are “rebuilding” our Sunday School Program – “Kids Kingdom.” Many new aspects are coming; perhaps, most exciting is the new Teen Ministry Worship Service at our Congregational Worship Services! The Fentons will also direct seminars for the Regional Kids Kingdom Coordinators and update our policies to ensure an excellent experience for children of all ages in Kids Kingdom!
“So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your great people…” (1 Kings 3:9) This was young Solomon’s prayer for wisdom to lead Israel. To aide those who desire greater wisdom and knowledge as they aspire to church leadership, the International College of Christian Ministries (ICCM) will be opening its doors this year! All levels of college degrees will be offered: Bachelor, Master and Doctorate Degrees of Ministry. To this end, 25 non-paid interns will be selected in January and each of them will be given a full scholarship to the college. More details will be coming in our next bulletin, but prayerfully, our first degrees will be awarded at the 2013 GLC!
“When the Lord saw the [widow whose son died], His heart went out to her and Jesus said, ‘Don’t cry!’” (Luke 7:13) MERCY-worldwide is the benevolent arm of the SoldOut Movement! This year, the City of Angels Church will again participate in our movement’s global events of the Day of MERCY in June and the MERCY Christmas Toy Drive in December! Locally in Los Angeles, we will also “partner” with the Red Cross for our Second Annual Blood Drive in November.
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21) Our financial goals this year are to increase our pledges to $34,000 per week and to give a 20X Missions Contribution on June 30th.
“All the believers were one in heart and mind.” (Acts 4:32) Since many of the SoldOut Movement Churches are separated by thousands of miles, it is a great joy and privilege to come together annually in Los Angeles for the Global Leadership Conference. This year’s GLC will be held on August 4-6, 2013 again at the Garden Grove Hyatt Regency Hotel. With the incredible expansion of God’s movement, there has evolved a great need for similar gatherings on other continents where we have sister congregations. Hence, on February 14-17, 2013, the Santiago de Chile Church will be hosting the first Central And South America Missions Conference, and in November, the London Church will once again oversee the European Missions Conference.
For most, this time of year is one that is filled with a plethora of dreams and resolutions. The world lacks the Spirit’s power to transform, so many “new year’s resolutions” quickly fade. However, we as disciples should “stand in awe of God” as He takes into His hands our difficult and in some cases seemingly impossible dreams for our congregation and the movement, and then, makes them a reality! As disciples, we also need individual Kingdom dreams. So be praying and considering what God can do through you in His Kingdom Of The Heart! Remember always, “take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)