loren Eric Swanson: Externally Focused in Northern California

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Externally Focused in Northern California

On Monday I drove up to Sacramento to meet with Jim Holst and Sandy Davis at Bayside Community Church in Roseville (www.baysideonline.com). Bayside is really doing a great job outside the walls of the church. They were given a hotel and they have spent $1.2m on renovation. This hotel will house homeless single moms. Three hundred folks from Bayside (30 small groups) have taken responsibility to work on this project. Bayside did an extreme makeover for another under-resourced church, refurbished parks and playgrounds. The principal of one of the local schools has asked them to plant a church in their school to have a greater influence from the folks at Bayside. I like the depth and scope of their externally focused ministries.
Helping Hands for the Homeless
Serna Village Transitional Housing
Senior Citizen Outreach
Special Needs Ministry
Bayside Deaf Ministry
Men’s Prison Ministry
Women’s Prison Ministry
Union Gospel Mission
Military Outreach Ministry
The Depot—food, clothing, furniture warehouse

They are very intentional about under-promising and over-delivering
Bayside has also adopted the ambitious goal of raising $12.5 m dollars—half to be spent outside the walls of Bayside. As an early adopter of Saddleback’s PEACE plan they have committed themselves to planting 15-20 new churches in the next 3-5 years, train 100,000 Chinese pastors, and 30 or other incredibly aggressive goals.
They are very interested in being a part of the next Leadership Community for Externally Focused Churches that will begin the end of February.

From Roseville I drove down to Danville to meet with Scott Farmer at Community Presbyterian Church. Scott was very gracious, since I was an hour late (my Outlook adjusted the time one hour later since I was in a different time zone…very weird). To my delight Scott had a couple others with him—Roberta Hestenes—former President of Eastern University, author, teacher, leader and someone whose writing I am very familiar with. She was pretty excited to hear what was happening with externally focused churches. An elder—retired business exec, Lee, also joined us. Lee represents a new type of retired person who doesn’t want to golf, sail, and play golf (at least all of the time), who wants to make his / her time count for eternity.

On Tuesday morning Liz and I drove down to Manteca to be with a bunch of pastors that pastor of Crossroads Grace, Mike Moore, had put together. Mike read Externally Focused Church last year while on vacation and he was very gracious in his enthusiasm and response. He had all of his staff read the book and then bought a case of books and gave them to the other pastors in Manteca. Mike has been very committed to working with other churches to love and serve the community.

From Manteca we drove to Santa Cruz to meet with Bud Lamb and Michelle Whiting from Santa Cruz Bible Church. SCB has long been externally focused in their community. They just finished a “Sharefest” serving the Santa Cruz are with acts of love and practical service.

Yesterday I drove back to Roseville to meet with a few leaders with Adventure Christian Church (www.adventurechristian.org). Adventure Christian was started in 1993 by Rick and Amy Stedman. The church was born out of a desire to be a blessing to the community. After meeting with city leaders he discovered the biggest problem was drugs. To help with the need and to meet people Rick wrote a small pamphlet called, “How to Drug Proof Your Kids.” When they launched they had 250 people. Today nearly 5000 people call Adventure Christian their home. Pastor Rick writes,

Every week, I ask the staff, "Tell me one person who has come to know the Lord this week, one person you met with, one parent you talked to." I don't care about the big numbers at all. What I have learned is that if you love people one at a time they add up after awhile. So our whole church is organized for that. But, I also personally make a real effort at it.

Adventure Christian has too many externally focused ministries to elaborate here. I’m looking forward to getting to know them better.


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