Summer Expansion

Since our launch in 2018, the focus of Awakening Church has been to engage the diverse people of the Seattle area with the love and hope of Jesus, make disciples, and plant churches. In many ways, it’s seemed like running an uphill marathon in knee-deep mud….while pushing a boulder. It’s slow, challenging, discouraging, and oftentimes lonely. In spite of the challenges, the seemingly small victories have not been overlooked and we continue to see God transform lives through genuine and authentic relationships.

The diversity of Bellevue, WA was one of the primary attractors that drew us to this area. In fact, over 50% of our population was born outside of the United States. With our ethnic diversity comes cultural and religious diversity that translates into this being one of the most unreached cities in our nation. On any given Sunday morning, less than 4% of our population will be in a church of any kind. Those numbers represent a similar percentage to what we experienced in China. But as a gospel presence in this city, we are faithfully bringing the greatest message in history to a people oftentimes unaware of their need of it.

As we have sought to build relational bridges to connect with different ethnicities in our city, the Lord has brought several people into our lives that share a similar passion for Kingdom work. Through these bridges, we begun to experience a gradual build of momentum. Most recently, God has brought a Chinese pastor named Levi to our area. As a NAMB (North American Mission Board) church planter, he has joined the Awakening Church family to take the lead on our Mandarin speaking population. I believe that under his leadership, the Mandarin speaking arm of Awakening Church will expand in unprecedented ways. He is currently working to raise financial support from individuals and churches. Please pray for his family and their needs as we launch into this next season.

In early July, I was contacted by a Slavic pastor named Ivan. Ivan has been serving in student ministry for the past 18 years in Lynnwood, WA. Over the past few years, Ivan has sensed a call to plant a Slavic NAMB church in our area. He has been meeting in his home with more than 30 people each week and was exploring other options in our city. With limited availability and affordable spaces, we were able to help meet this need for their Russian speaking group. And through that, God has unified our hearts and expanded our vision of working together for God’s glory. We are currently praying about their assimilation into the Awakening Church family. This is another large population of people in our area that is largely unreached. Please pray for Pastor Ivan and his family as we explore how to best unify for the advancement of the Kingdom of God.

One more… Earlier this year, I received a message from a young man named Ben Sparks. I’ve known Ben since he was 6 years old and have watched him grow into a man of God that has been wrestling with a call to ministry. In his message, Ben let me know that he was getting married and would be coming through Seattle on their honeymoon. He was excited to worship with Awakening Church while in town. Well, sure enough, they came. After the service, we spent a few minutes catching up, and Ben shared what God was doing in his life. He told me he had plans to begin seminary next semester and wanted to begin exploring God’s specific calling on his life. In the coming weeks, we had several conversations on the phone as I sought to encourage Ben, and pour as much into him as had been poured into me. In those conversations and prayers, Ben accepted my invitation to attend the M3 Church Planting Intensive in Las Vegas this coming September. In addition, I asked him to pray with his wife, Abby, and consider coming to Seattle to serve with us as an apprentice in ministry/church planting. After another weekend trip to Seattle, Ben and Abby feel led to join the Awakening Church family and are currently making preparations to do so. Please pray for Ben and Abby as they relocate from Utah within the next month. They will be looking for jobs, financial partners, and an apartment.

With all of these exciting and momentum-building additions come needs that we alone are incapable of meeting. But I’m a firm believer that with the call of God comes the provision, power, and promises of God. Please join us in praying for Pastor Levi, Pastor Ivan, and Ben and Abby as they join the Awakening Church family and partner with us to engage the greater Seattle area with the gospel. Your support and partnership is a great blessing. Thank you for your ongoing support. To God be the glory!


things that go together

Some things just naturally go together, like peanut butter & jelly, thunder & lightning, fish & chips, or pork & beans. Trying to imagine the one without the other would be like losing part of the identity. Making disciples & building community go together as well—in fact, they are inseparably linked. Without other believers to grow with, the process of multiplying disciples and churches is impossible.

As we live under God’s direction, our faith will be affected by how we relate to the people around us. And because we are family with other believers, we are seeking out others we can learn with. Being a Christian involves a relationship with God, yes, but it also involves a relationship with others. The goal of Christ-centered community is to develop the ultimate atmosphere by which the Church can speed toward its destination—multiplying disciples.

This past weekend we wrapped up our first month as Awakening Church in Bellevue, Washington. Building community and deeper relationships are some of the key building blocks we are using to introduce the gospel to our city.

Through our gathering, praying, serving, and studying, we are growing in strength and number each week. We are committed to this journey of faith, courage, and sacrifice that is creating a multi-ethnic and economically diverse church. In response the the prayer of Jesus for unity and our desire to pattern ourselves after the New Testament Church at Antioch (Acts 11)—we are a church or others, for all people, we are Awakening Church.

Acts 2:42–47 gives us a snapshot of community in the early church. It is a great passage, full of people spending time together…praying, talking, eating and worshipping. This passage shows a group of people wanting to be faithful to Christ and a desire to grow in their faith together.

Zach &Sarah Melvin

It’s with great joy that I get to announce that God has blessed us with new worship leaders! Zach and Sarah Melvin transitioned from Lynchburg, VA this past week. Please join us as we pray for their transition to their new home and life in Seattle. We celebrate their obedience and rejoice that God has opened the door for them to join the Awakening Church family!

2018 worldmission offering

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. Acts 1:8

Over 2.8 Billion people have little to no access to the gospel. Together, we’re changing that. This December we will have our first World Mission Offering in which 100% of our gifts support missionaries who are making disciples and multiplying churches among unreached people and places around the world. Click the link to see in detail how we will disperse our 2018 World Mission Offering. At Awakening Church, missions is the mission. We are committed to being on mission in our city and around the world to make, grow, and send disciples so that our neighborhoods and nations are transformed.

Check out this video below to see how our approach to our calling can transform our world.

Limitless from IMB on Vimeo.

For continuous updates on what is happening in the life of Awakening Church, I encourage you to follow us on social media.



Thank you for your continued support and prayers! God is at work!




Bridge building is a spiritual mandate that followers of Jesus are called to pursue. Hezekiah, in 2 Chronicles 28-30, with his great faith and radical ”all-in” obedience, and his people were preserved and experienced a great revival in his generation. At this key time, we are called to be the human bridge that connects the power of God to people that don’t yet know Him.

“The destinies of societies are shaped by great men and women who act boldly at key times.” -Thomas Carlyle

This past week my parents and brother’s family were able to spend a few days with us in Seattle. While here, I showed them around our city and opened their eyes to the realities in which we live. For lunch one day, I took them to eat at a Hong Kong style Dim-sum restaurant in Chinatown. It’s one of our favorite places to eat and was sure to be a cultural experience for them. This was as close to China as I’ve ever been able to get my brother. As he fumbled his chop sticks in the middle of this bustling authentic Chinese experience, he asked me, “How are you going to reach all these people?” It was a great question that I’ve wrestled with for the better part of 10 years. I told him that we have to build bridges into their lives. For me personally, this specific bridge is knowing their culture and language. In just a sentence or two, I can step into the Chinese world and make a new friend. We don’t always have that obvious or clear bridge, but we are called to find one and stand in the gap. Standing in awe of how God saved us from destruction. Interceding for the lost souls around us. A missionary in China once said,

“I used to think that prayer should have the first place and teaching the second. I now feel it would be truer to give prayer the first, second, and third places and teaching the fourth.”

Please pray for bridges in your own life and in the lives of missionaries around the world.

This past month, Kathy’s 44 year old brother passed away. In the thickness of shock and grief, we are still processing this great loss. In some ways, it’s as if our family table is now without one of it’s legs. The remaining legs wobble and teeter as we learn how to imagine life without him. I’m thankful that Kathy could spend a week in Georgia with her family during this time. In the strength of Jesus, she spoke at the funeral and reflected on her relationship with Danny and the joy he created around him. We ask for continued prayer for our family as we grieve his loss.

As our vision expands for The Landing Church and Awakening Church, I invested several days visiting some of The Landing Church partnering churches in Tennessee and Arkansas. Each pastor I met gave me such encouragement and support for our God-given vision and their future support. Planting churches continues to expand our hearts and deepen our faith to complete dependence of Jesus. We know that nothing on earth is more powerful than the Holy Spirit flowing through the faith of a devoted disciple of Jesus. 

The church planter/pastor assignment is a key role, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Under the surface of the water we find the most significant 90+% which certainly includes partners that prop us up, encourage, fund, serve, and pray for the work of God. Without the underlying support, planters tend to isolate and burn out. We are beyond grateful for our partners (you) that stand with us for the sake of the gospel. We pray that your care for our emotional and spiritual health will result in a long and faithful ministry.

God’s will done God’s way and in God’s time will never lack God’s favor. 

Missions teams also play a strategic part of starting a church. They break ground through prayer walking. They provide the needed hands and help for outreach events that reach greater numbers in a community. They encourage us by their helping hands and hearts. This past week a team of 17 from a partnering church in Arkansas came to serve along side of us. They came with servant hearts and helped us further develop relationships in our community by serving an elementary school, assisting with our homeless ministry, after school programs and multiple other projects. It’s amazing how doors open as we love and serve our community. Thank you CBC Jonesboro, for your surrendered hearts willing to serve tirelessly for the advancement of the gospel. We certainly welcome other partners to prayerfully consider similar short-term mission trips to help us “bridge the gap” in Seattle.

We thank God for your continual support



Spiritually Fit

There are innumerable tasks that go into planting a new church. Our schedule can be so busy that we can easily get bogged down with the workload and become emotionally and spiritually unhealthy. Lance Witt, in his book Replenish, writes:

“Godly leadership is always inside out. God always has and always will choose to smile on men and women who are healthy, holy, and humble … a pastor’s greatest leadership tool is a healthy soul.”

It takes intentionality to become and remain emotionally and spiritually fit. As we plant Awakening Church in Washington, we have an opportunity to create the DNA of emotional and spiritual health. In doing so, we are intentional about prioritizing this as…


Our task of church planting is less of a 100-yard dash and more of a long-distance marathon. Relationships, helping people discover Jesus, and developing leaders all take time to bloom. But often we feel like we have been fired out of a cannon! If we don’t have a marathon pace, it can be tempting to run at a speed that isn’t healthy or sustainable — leading to emotional and spiritual burnout.


It’s easy and natural for me to focus on the things that I do for God while neglecting the time I spend with God. However, when I fail to look after my relationship with God, it quickly begins to take an unhealthy toll on my life and soul. Occasionally we all need a reminder that our joy should come from our relationship with God…not our achievements for Him.


“The bigger the better” is the cultural trend. The goal of the New Testament church was never to have the biggest church on the block, but rather to lead gospel-centered, multiplying churches that are in right relationship with God and people. Success should not be defined by numbers or popularity…but obedience to the will of God. Anything other than that can become idolatry.

We are constantly reminded of how big this task of planting Awakening Church is. But as we focus on our relationship with Christ, He leads through us. On a weekly basis, we are consistently teaching an ESL Bible study, new believers class, and other international service opportunities in our community. We have many non-believers coming to our “New Believers” class each week that are visibly hungering and thirsting for God. What a joy to walk this journey with them as they discover Jesus. This past week our friend, Jack, came to our ESL Bible study. We have been praying for him and his family for months. For the first time, we had a great opportunity to share about Jesus as we studied the Bible and shared about the life and legacy of Billy Graham. The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” In similar fashion, many people are taking their first steps on their spiritual journey to Jesus.


Over the past month, I’ve had great opportunities to preach at several different churches. Our relationships are continuing to grow and God’s vision for Awakening Church is continuing to take shape. As we recognize our inability, we become more dependent on the One who has the ability. As co-laborers, we also rely on the prayer support of our partners, friends, and readers. Please continue praying for the work that God is doing in and through us. We greatly appreciate the support!

I am pleased to announce that we recently launched our Awakening Church website ( I encourage you to check it out and let me know what you think. I sincerely value the honest feedback.

Screen Shot 2018-03-02 at 8.48.57 PM

Developing Leaders

This is such an important session and so much is at stake.  If we aren’t training up the next season of leaders…the Church ends with us.

Great leaders always take people with them.

2 tim 2:1-2. “You therefore, my [a]son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

With these words, Paul presses home a leader’s responsibility to train others to lead.  The same is true around the world as it is in America, “The missionary of today (we are all missionaries) should be less of a performer, and more of a trainer.”  This statement highlights one of the great needs in current mission strategies….Training leaders.

Paul showed the same concern when training Timothy.  Timothy had a timid nature, but Paul didn’t hesitate to put him in positions that were beyond his abilities.  How else can someone develop competence and confidence if not by stretching them toward the impossible?


Taking people with us includes our relationships with our group members.  John Maxwell often teaches, “The leaders job is to connect with the people they lead.”  In an ideal world, that’s the way it should be.  The quality of the relationships we have with people in our groups will impact it’s success or failure.

1. Cast vision for leadership 

Leading together = ownership

“He (Moses) chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people…They served as judges for the people at all times.  The difficult cases they brought to Moses.” Exodus 18:25-26

“A one-man show can never grow larger than the load one person can carry.” It’s important for us to define roles within each LifeGroup and delegate within each group.

2. Identify apprentice 

1. Look around – Who is taking ownership? Who is going out of their way to make people feel welcomed?

2. Examine the relationship – Evaluate the relational chemistry they have with other group members.

3. Don’t be too picky…lead them up.  80% rule.  If they can do 80% as good as I can…let them.  then lead them the remaining 20%.

3. Give them incremental opportunities for leadership

A. Shadow the leader and discuss

The best process I know is to prepare you for leadership begins with “doing it myself”  (I can’t give you what I don’t possess myself.) and have you shadow… I explain what I’m doing.  I encourage you to ask questions.  I want you to see and understand everything I’m doing.

B. Give them the opportunity.

You can only learn so much from watching.  At some point you have to jump in and actually try it.  When they reach this stage, it’s the leaders job to encourage, gently correct, and redirect as needed.

Note: There is a clear difference between equipping and developing people. When you equip people, you teach them how to do a job.  When you develop people, you are helping them improve as individuals.

Developing people pays higher dividends than equipping because it helps the whole person and lifts him to a higher level.  It’s a long term process.

C. Release them into leadership

As soon as you have the fundamentals down, I step back and give you some room to develop your own style and methods.

4. Multiply

The last part of the developmental process is to help you find someone to develop and encourage you to get started.  There’s an old saying, “You never really know something until you teach it to someone else.”  The process isn’t really complete unless you pass on what you’ve received to someone else…and keep on passing.


As we dedicate ourselves to the development of people and commit to it as a long-term process, we will notice a change in our relationships and the overall culture at Castle Hills. No work is more rewarding to a missionary, than developing leaders.

When we continually develop people, there will never be a shortage of leaders prepared for a growing ministry.

“Disciples are not manufactured wholesale.  They are produced one by one, because someone has taken the pains to discipline, instruct, nurture, and train one that is younger.” -Douglas Thornton

Killer Words

“Kind words do not cost much.  Yet they accomplish much.” -Blaise Pascal

Neon words

We’ve all put our foot in our mouth at some point.  Careless, unwise, and quickly spoken words can destroy families, churches, and even communities. The tongue is a very small (2 oz) part of our bodies, but can be extremely dangerous and destructive. Our culture has 2 extremes in regards to the tongue…political correctness on one end…and no filter-ness on the other. When we choose our words wisely we find a biblical balance between the two.

A big problem with our tongues is that they are inconsistent.  One person prays before a meal and then gossips while they eat.  A parent says loving words to a child but uses harsh words with their spouse just moments later. Do you kiss your mom with that mouth?  Our tongues aren’t only inconsistent…they are deadly.

James cautions us, in James 3:1-18, to use words of wisdom and gentleness.

James 3:5-6 says,  “… the tongue is a small part of the body, it boasts great things. Consider how large a forest a small fire ignites. And the tongue is a fire.“

The truth is, we can’t control our own tongues.  We need the power and wisdom of God in our lives as we face daily relationship challenges.  Consider these principles based on what we find in James 3.

  • Examine your speech.  When it’s not right…repent.  Ask God to reveal the outcome of your words, not only what you mean or don’t mean to communicate. Use words that are understanding, pure, build peace, gentle, loving, and full of mercy.
  • House Cleaning.  Invite God to clean your heart. Ps. 51:15 “O Lord, open my lips, That my mouth may declare Your praise.”  On some level, we all need heart surgery.  The mouth speaks out of the overflow of the heart (Matt:12:24).  Ask the good doctor for an examination.
  • Switch Seats. James 3:8 says that no person can tame the tongue.  The good news is…God, through His Spirit, can!  If we switch seats and transfer control to the Holy Spirit, our words filter through Him.  The rudder drives the ship, but the captain controls the rudder.  When we switch seats…we reflect Him.

When we make the decision to speak words filled with wisdom and gentleness, God is glorified.  Three good questions to ask before speaking are…

  • Will my words show God’s grace? The words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious“ (Ecc. 10:12a).
  • Will my words bring healing? The tongue of the wise brings healing” (Prov. 12:18b).
  • Will my words give life? “Life and death are in the power of the tongue” (Prov. 18:21a).

Your words have the power to build up or to destroy.  It’s our choice.  When has your life been changed by wise and gentle words?

The Power of Spiritual Connection

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 11.36.00 AMTo be spiritually connected we have to develop some relationships with other believers where we can be real.  Where we can reveal ourselves and we don’t have to try to impress people or act like we have it all together.  We were designed to be together.  Bnd just showing up at church on Sunday doesn’t guarantee this will happen.  In fact if you only show up on Sunday, I guarantee this isn’t happening.  Here are four benefits for spiritual connection.

  1. CONNECT FOR HEALTH.  One of the deepest needs in life is to be understood.  We need some people that we can connect with.  Have you ever been talking to someone in a conversation and it dawns on you that you’re not really connecting? We have this deep need to connect with others.  We need people in our lives that get us. I came across this study from the Department of Health and they found that if you are disconnected from others…
    • You are two to three times more likely to die an early death.
    • You are four times more likely to suffer from emotional burnout.
    • You’re five times more likely to suffer clinical depression.
    • You’re ten times more likely to be hospitalized for emotional or mental disorder.
  2. CONNECT FOR GROWTH.  Col. 2:19 says “We are joined together in His body by His strong sinews and we grow as we get nourishment and strength from God.”  The Christian life is not just a matter of believing.  It’s also a matter of belonging. To grow, I’ve got to be connected.  We can’t grow in the Christian life alone.  If we are disconnected, we can’t grow.
  3. CONNECT FOR EFFECTIVENESS.  Eph. 2:10 says “God made us to do good works, which He planned in advance for us to live our lives doing.”  Good works here means ministry.  You were made for ministry.  You were made to make a difference.  If you’re not doing anything with your life that makes a difference in the life of someone else, you’re never going to feel significant.
  4. CONNECT FOR SUPPORT.  We’ve got to have support from each other.  If you’re disconnected there is no way you are going to be able to make it through the crisis that comes into every one of our lives.  As a believer, you’ll never have to walk through a dark valley alone.  As a believer, you’ll never have to walk through the loss of a loved one alone.  God will walk through it with you.  As a believer you’ll never have to walk through troubles by yourself because you’ll be connected to a group of believers who will walk through it with you.  Eccl. 4:10.  “If one person falls, the other can reach out and help.  But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble.”

Are you connected?


The All In Manifesto

Poker chips, large sum concept

Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death.

Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions.

Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention.

Keep asking questions.

Keep making mistakes.

Keep seeking God.

Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution.

Stop repeating the past and start creating the future.

Stop playing it safe and start taking risks.

Expand your horizons.

Accumulate experiences.

Enjoy the journey.

Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can.

Live like today is the first day and last day of your life.

Don’t let what’s wrong with you keep you from worshiping what’s right with God.

Burn sinful bridges.

Blaze new trails.

Don’t let fear dictate your decisions.

Take a flying leap of faith.

Quit holding out.

Quit holding back.

Push all of your chips to the middle of the table.
It’s time to ante up all of your faith.

It’s time to go all in.

It’s time to go all out.

-Mark Batterson

Communicate …. and keep on!


How can we get what we want in life if we don’t communicate what we want clearly? We all have a general idea of what we want and the direction we want to go, but few of us take the time to reflect on these ideas.  If we do take the time, we will be able to communicate in a clear and concise way that can be understood.  If we want to be leaders, we have to communicate clearly because that’s the only way anybody knows whether or not they want to follow us.


I have heard it said that amateurs are vague but professionals communicate clearly.  Through this lens I can see that I have much room for improvement.

I read an article by Donald Miller this week that sparked some thoughts as he asked questions similar to these.

1. Do I know what your group members are hoping to get out of your time together?
2. Have you communicated to my group members what you want for them (as opposed to what I want from them)?
3. Does your entire group understand the role of 4G Relationships in their personal growth?

As we understand that casting a compelling vision is a key component of good leadership, let us all be challenged to communicate … and keep on!

Is ANY Job Too Small?!

As our Creative Arts Pastor, Matt McFadden, was talking with us the other day, we discussed how critically important our volunteers are! Without you there is no way we could impact the world around us for Jesus. No matter what church you come from, it is a body of volunteers who are serving their savior.  Matt wrote this post about one of the volunteers in his ministry and we wanted to share it with you!


“It’s such an incredible thought to me that God involves people like you and me in His kingdom work. He has commissioned you and what’s amazing is that YOU ARE qualified for the job! Not because of what you’ve done but because of what HE has done for you!

The other day I began to think about a friend of mine named Eric. Eric moved to GA from Florida, He told me that he needed a change of scenery and a fresh start. When I met Eric he didn’t have a relationship with Christ but told me that he had questions and that he knew that following Christ was what he needed to do. So many conversations with different people and many weeks later he trusted Christ for his salvation!

His story got me thinking about all the ‘touch points’ that got Eric to his decision about Christ. Think about this…Eric pulled into SouthCrest Church for a ‘first time.’  Someone had to wake up early, before the sun is up early, put out traffic cones and parking signs. Another person had to wear a not-so-fashionable orange vest and carry a green flashing light sometimes in the cold and sometimes in the rain. With a smile someone else directed Eric to a parking spot. Then another person opened a church door and greeted him with a warm ‘good morning’. Another group of people served Eric at the Café, then someone else greeted him at the worship center doors and handed him a connect card. Once in the worship center, someone directed him to a seat where a lighting guy has already set the perfect lighting scene for the beginning of the service. A sound tech has the pre-service music running and two people in the production room had ‘The Weekly’ video on the screens so everyone can know what’s going on at SouthCrest that week. Service begins and our backstage directors cue the musicians to take the stage. This band consists of at least two guitar players, singers, a bass player, drummer, and keyboard player. Then, at the right moment, Pastor Jeff preaches a message. After the  message connect cards are gathered, information is entered, prayer requests prayed over, and a staff member connects.

As you can see, it takes a big team to create this environment at SouthCrest. This doesn’t even include all of our volunteers in the children’s areas that are creating an awesome place for our kids or all the LifeGroup leaders, High school and middle school leaders,  Lay counselors…so on and so on.  Each one of these volunteer positions are very important and they each play a part in creating a runway to Jesus. I believe that even the parking team plays a part in getting someone to Jesus. We are many members and one body. There is overwhelming joy when we serve Jesus with the thought that “What I’m doing is creating an environment where people feel welcome and can meet with Jesus!!” So what am I saying? I’m saying that you should get involved in serving the church!! Lets get people to Jesus!! Share a small part in the stories of changed lives by Jesus!

1 Corinthians 3:5-9 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. 9 For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.

Thank You Matt! We love and respect you! I pray that as leaders in God’s Kingdom you urge your groups and spheres of influence to serve God so that more people like Eric can meet Christ!