“I press on towards the goal for the prize of THE UPWARD CALL of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14 ESV
The Upward Call is the inspirational title of the 2015 City of Angels International Christian Church (CAICC) Winter Workshop! Therefore, our congregational theme for the coming year will be The Year Of Maturity. However, before we venture into 2015, let us take a moment to gratefully recount some of the incredible miracles and remarkable highlights of 2014!
Unquestionably, 2014 was our best year… yet! At our Bring Your Neighbor Day in January, we set an attendance record of 1,572! Perhaps even more amazingly we are now averaging 1,200 at every Sunday Service! These “new heights” have been attained because the Lord has graciously added to our number 507 souls: 366 baptisms, 53 restorations, and 88 place memberships – several of whom came to us directly from our former fellowship seeking revival!
Highlights of the year included: Our 2014 Winter Workshop – The House Of Prayer For All Nations, our Women’s Day – UNCONDITIONAL, the second season of the CAICC Basketball League, our Parenting Workshop, the Labor Day Picnic And Fun Day, our Fall Retreats, and our Annual Christmas Service that included the sending-out of the eighth Crown of Thorns Mission Team – Moscow, Russia! In addition, an unprecedented number of churches were planted! The seven new churches are: Gainesville, Florida; Santa Barbara, California; Sydney, Australia; Houston, Texas; Toronto, Canada; Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas; and our seventh Crown of Thorns Planting – Chennai, India!
Another extraordinary highlight was in August at our Global Leadership Conference (GLC) – ZION’S DREAMERS – where the Spirit gathered almost 2,000 on Sunday morning to witness the Second Commencement Ceremony of the International College of Christian Ministries! 57 received Bachelor’s Degrees, four Master’s Degrees were granted, and one Doctorate Degree was awarded to Dr. Tim Kernan! The other amazing highlight was the formal introduction of the SoldOut Movement World Sector Leaders! Astoundingly, in the SoldOut Movement’s short eight-year history, God has spread His new movement to build almost 60 churches in 26 nations on all six populated continents of the world!
So encouraging as well was the Third Annual IGNITE Program hosted by the Orlando Church! This nine day event gathered 24 of our strongest teens from around the world for a special time of bonding through spiritual strengthening, community service and fun activities. Special thanks to Ricky & Coleen Challinor for overseeing this momentous event! In the summer of 2015, IGNITE will be held in San Francisco, California
As we close our thoughts on 2014, the Congregational Shepherding Couples – the Bordieris and the Untalans, the Regional Leader Couples, and Elena & I want to commend the City of Angels Church for your tremendous weekly sacrifice of $31,000, as well as an almost unbelievable $800,000 collected from our two Missions Contributions! This sacrifice not only gave us the “seed money” for the seven 2014 plantings, but your incredible sacrifice is also serving to sustain the Lord’s work in Africa, Australia, Asia, Europe, North America and South America!
With this year’s theme – The Year Of Maturity, the City of Angels Church Leadership has set before the Lord the following Prayer Goals for 2015:
1. “But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Therefore, let us leave the elementary teachings of Christ and go on to maturity.” (Hebrews 5:14 – 6:1) Consequently, our first goal is to call every disciple to refocus on their personal relationship with God thus experiencing new heights of faith and deeds. For the month of January, we are encouraging every disciple to study the book of Hebrews, because one of its primary themes is the upward call to maturity.
2. “Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive…” (2 Peter 1:5-8) During the 2014 year, the City of Angels Church has been privileged to send out 121 of our most well-trained disciples to plant and to strengthen our sister churches around the world! Given this phenomenal sacrifice, our goal to once again have over daily additions will necessitate all of us “making every effort” to become more effective in our discipling to dramatically increase our present number of Bible Talk Leaders. This in turn will not just add but will multiply our disciples. Therefore, our congregational prayer goals include having a record attendance at our January 25th Bring Your Neighbor Day and ending 2015 with over “1,000 disciples for the Lord!”
Also, as of today as a result of “effective and productive” discipling, the Spirit is sending-out 32 courageous Christians from the IE Region to plant the Palm Springs Region – the 12th region of the CAICC! Sal & Patricia Velasco will spearhead this effort! As well, within the IE Region, Argo & Anu Arneson are forming the San Bernadino Sector with 11 zealous disciples led by Iggy Odighizuwa and Ashley Godwin
3. “I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number.” (Jeremiah 23:3) In 2014, so many remnant (veteran/mature) disciples joined God’s new movement! Of special note were: Slava & Yelena Kapskiy of Minsk; Hector & Adriana Gómez of Bogota: Steph Brown of Montreal; Kevin Smellie of Toronto; Donna (Smellie) Clark of Toronto; Lymwel Mejia of Manila; Lennox Tweneboa of Sydney; Nelson & Jhoanna Umlas of Saudi Arabia; Hector Becerra and Harody Mantoya of Mexico City; Jermaine & Stefanie Peacock of San Diego; Joe & Chesca Ugorji of Cinncinati; Dennis & Kathi (Bogle) Bell and Joe & Stacey Mack of Gainesville; Rico Rodriguez of Boston; Juan & Michelle Vasquez of Palm Springs; and Stacy & Lynette Ybarra; Jemal & Tamara Tucker; RD Baker; Fernando & Jackie Chavez of LA. Let us pray that even more remnant disciples join us in 2015!
4. “[God] gave some to be… evangelists and some to be [shepherds] and teachers to prepare God’s people for works of service… until we all reach unity in the faith… and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ..” (Ephesians 4:11-13) A significant proportion of the full-time person’s ministry is devoted to maturing and raising-up new Evangelists and Women’s Ministry Leaders. Therefore, we are praying that from LA and around the movement at least five Evangelists and five Women’s Ministry Leaders will be appointed in 2015. As well we are pleading with the Lord that by the end of 2016 at least one Shepherding Couple and one Deacon Couple will be raised up in each of our 12 regions.
5. “It is He whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil and struggle with all the energy that He powerfully inspires within me.” (Colossians 1:28-29 NRSV) With the sending-out of so many mature and fruitful disciples over the past few years, it is no surprise that 62% of the CAICC membership of nearly 850 disciples is composed of new Christians, restorations or place memberships from 2013 and 2014. Subsequently, we have a tremendous opportunity to bring all of them to maturity in Christ. We will continue to work on the retention of these precious new disciples through the accountability of Follow-up Studies, New Christian Orientations, D-groups at Midweek Services, Spiritual Strengthening Groups, and our CR Ministries.
6. “You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” (2 Corinthians 9:11) Many religious groups spend the majority of their finances on building facilities which in time just become empty monuments. In the City of Angels Church – in both our weekly and missions contributions – the vast majority of our finances is spent on supporting Evangelists, Women’s Ministry Leaders and raising up even more full-time leaders. The mature disciple understands that with more full-time leaders come more souls baptized into Christ, thus resulting “in thanksgiving to God.”
Therefore, our financial goals this year are to generously increase our pledges to $36,000/week and to give a 20X Missions Contribution on May 17th. Excitingly, this year’s missions contribution will allow the Spirit to plant Moscow in February, Manila in June and Stockholm in September! Of course, if unforseen needs arise as they have in some past years, there will be a small Thanksgiving Missions Contribution in November to allow us to “be generous on every occasion.”
7. “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to Heaven, but he beat his breast and said, ‘God, have MERCY on me, a sinner.’” (Luke 18:13) To be mature is to be humble. As the benevolent arm of the SoldOut Movement, the impact of MERCYworldwide now extends to all six populated continents of the world! 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! Last year, we partnered with the Red Cross for a blood drive where we gave 521 pints! Each pint of blood at retail is worth about $500. Therefore in 2014, we raised for the Red Cross over $250,000! In 2015, we are praying that every USA SoldOut Movement Church will participate in the National MERCY/ Red Cross Blood Drive on Saturday, September 19th!
8. “We live by faith, not by sight… so we make it our goal to please Him…” (2 Corinthians 5:7-9) The mature disciple is constantly striving to “live by faith and not by sight.” He is willing to leave his comfort zone to “do anything, go anywhere and give up everything” to evangelize the nations in this generation! This year to “radicalize” the ICCM students and all other disciples that are striving for maturity, we are calling each of them to attend this coming February’s Central and South American Missions Conference (CSAMC) in Santiago, the African Missions Conference (AMC) in Abidjan in June, the November European Missions Conference (EMC) in London, or the Russian Commonwealth Missions Conference (RCMC) also in the month of November.
9. “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church… forever and ever! Amen!” (Ephesians 3:20-21) Our last challenge that will help every CAICC member to mature is to have at least one personal prayer goal that is “immeasurably more than [anything] we imagine.” This may include being on a mission team, being selected for the ICCM, becoming a Bible Talk Leader, being selected as a Shepherding or Deacon Couple, or even the conversion or restoration of someone close to you.
In all cultures, the beginning of a new year brings hope and resolutions. Since the world lacks the Spirit’s power to transform, so many “new year’s resolutions” quickly fade. However, the mature disciple continues to “press on towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Let us all embrace The Year Of Maturity. And to God be all the glory!
World Missions Evangelist