The Gathering is 10 years old today

Ten years ago today, The Gathering opened our doors for the first time.

Jesus commands every believer to "...go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." (Matthew 28:19-20)

We started the church by asking a question we continue to ask today, "If the Bible is true and if we live out what it says, what would it look like in our time?"

We asked many other questions.

"What if Jesus was truly the focus?"

"What if we loved God and each other like we should?" 

"How do we apply what God says in the Bible to our personal lives in the 21st century?"

"Is it possible to be a simple church that penetrates our culture with the Gospel through faithful teaching of God's word?"

"Can God truly use us?" 

First sermon at The Gathering on March 11, 2007

Ten years ago, we were given a clean slate, a blank check to live out this reality through The Gathering. 

Although our future was uncertain, we trusted God with the call He placed on our lives. 

The Gathering literally started from scratch with 14 people, no money and very little resources. But we knew God creates out of nothing. Our sense of security was knowing that God was breathing life into our church--that He was building it.  

The Gathering has come a long way from those early years. 

From day one, it was evident that God's hand was on our church. Many have come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior, while many others have grown in relationship with Him. 

Ten years ago, The Gathering focused on simplicity, Sunday worship, mid-week small groups (Mini-Gatherings), faithful teaching of God's word, sharing the Gospel, loving God and loving others.  

Ten years later, we find ourselves still focused on the same things. 

God has blessed us. We are a growing church, experiencing Christ-centered transformation. 

From 14 people, we now have two worship services in Mililani and have recently started a second campus near the University of Hawaii known as our Citywide campus. Although Citywide is small, we believe God is in the process of building that campus into a very powerful Gospel-centered force in the area. 

Our ministries have grown and become stronger. We engage in outreaches in our community and around the island. I'm especially excited about new partnerships in ministry that will allow us to be more effective in taking the Gospel to other parts of our island and around the world. 

What will the next 10 years at The Gathering look like?

We have a sense that God is orchestrating some great things for our church. Looking back, during our first eight years, it seems as though God was laying foundation in many areas of our church--vision, purpose, theology, leadership, relationships, etc. All these were necessary building blocks for our church to have an effective future. As a result of what God did in our past, we can look forward to these things over the next 10 years. 

I have a sense that The Gathering will continue to grow. Actually, I get a sense that God will grow us in ways that we have yet to experience. This means that we must be ready with our hearts, our actions, and ministry. 

Our hearts must be ready because growth requires sacrifice. We must sacrifice our comfort for what is uncomfortable. Sacrifice calls us to love new people we do not even know. We must sacrifice the known for what we cannot yet see. We must continually walk away from the past and continue to walk into whatever future God has for us. Our hearts must be flexible and totally reliant on the Holy Spirit.  

Our actions must reflect our love for Jesus. Let us step out of our comfort zones and meet new people every Sunday. Hospitality, welcome, and a Christ-centered loving environment is reflected in how we listen to people's stories, the way we greet each other, and the way we welcome people. To take it a step further, let us show love in action by following up and becoming friends with people we may not know very well. We must wrestle with the question, "How are my actions showing others that Jesus loves them?" 

Everyone who calls The Gathering home should be involved in at least one ministry. As our church grows, these will be areas where you will be needed: Children's Ministry, Youth Ministry, Sunday Greeting Ministry, Set Up Team, Take Down Team. 

In addition, everyone who calls The Gathering home should plug into a Mini-Gathering. Mini-Gatherings help us grow in Christ as we grow with each other toward Jesus and minister to each other.

Influence the city with the Gospel
Within the next 10 years, we will grow Gospel influence in our community and the island. 

This will be done in several ways. First, we will challenge everyone at The Gathering to live out and share the Gospel. The greatest impact people will make for the Gospel is life on life and verbal witness. 

Second, we will challenge everyone to use where God has them for the Gospel. All of us are engaged in school, work, have neighbors, sports, hobbies, relationships. Why not leverage our lives for the Gospel by using your platform as a means to share the Gospel. You may consider starting a Bible Study or starting some kind of ministry that allows us the opportunity to share the Gospel and lead people to Jesus. 

Third, we will be involved with churches, ministries and agencies that allow us to promote the Gospel. At The Gathering, we have opportunities outside our church to teach English, minster to high risk youth and feed the homeless. We are praying for other ways to be involved in spreading the Gospel. There are possibilities on the horizon for Gospel influence in our schools, business, and sports. 

Fourth, we can use the internet, social media, podcasts, or other electronic means for Gospel influence. 

Plant new churches
The Gathering began with the intention to be a church that starts new churches. We are only now beginning to realize the reality of that calling. 

Last semester, we started a new campus in Honolulu called The Gathering Citywide, better known as "Citywide." This will not be our last campus. We continue to pray for God to show us where He desires for us to start more campuses. 

Potential locations in the near future are Kapolei and somewhere along the Waianae Coast. We may need to start several other campuses in the Honolulu area. 

At the moment, we have people coming to The Gathering from almost every area of the island. So the idea of having campuses around the island are not out of the picture. We are seeking God's guidance in where He would have us plant--on Oahu, on another island or anywhere around the world.  

In addition, we are partnering and networking with churches, church plants and organizations that are committed to church planting and church multiplication. 

Build leaders
Building leaders is a commitment to discipleship. Personally, I am committed to raising up leaders who have sensed God's call to lead out in spreading the Gospel. 

For those who sense God's call to pastor, plant churches, serve Jesus overseas, they will be given opportunities to grow through The Gathering. For those who do not feel called to serve Jesus in vocational ministry but sense God's leadership to leverage their position in life for the Gospel, my commitment is to walk with you as a Gospel-centered leader. I will support you in whatever I can to build you to be the best possible leader Jesus is calling you to be.

Over the next 10 years, our purpose will be to build up leaders who and send them out to share the Gospel. 

Reach the next generation
We must continue to reach the next generation. We must pour our lives into reaching the next generation, raise them up as leaders, and give them opportunities to serve and lead. 

The purpose of reaching the next generation is not to insure energy in the church, to look cool, or to grow the church. We reach and raise up the next generation because it is biblical. Titus 2 encourages older men to disciple younger men and older women to disciple younger women. 

The Gathering must continue to have a culture where the older generations sacrifice our preferences and comfort for the sake of reaching and raising up the next generation with the Gospel. 

My vision for The Gathering is that as we (yes, I am part of the older generation too) in the older generation pour into the next generation, that the younger generations will respond with love, humility, and trust. When that happens, we can do a lot for the Gospel across generational lines. 

If we fail to sacrifice for the younger generations, our church will quickly become irrelevant and ineffective in reaching people with the Gospel. 

When the older generation within any church holds on to tradition, style, and ministry philosophy without any concern for what that will do to the next generation, that church has chosen to die. This may be a long process. However, life within this kind of church will be gone long before the church doors close.

Here's my point... let us never ever become the kind of church that fails to reach the younger generations. 

Send people to the ends of the earth
Our church has sent mission teams to Belarus, India, and Japan. We will continue to build on sending mission teams to these countries as well as other countries as God provides opportunities. In the next 10 years, we will build stronger partnerships with missionaries and churches overseas. 

Overseas missions expresses the heart of our church--that we do not exist to build an empire. When we equip people at The Gathering, the ultimate hope is that their time at The Gathering would have been great training for whatever God has next. 

God will send some out from our church to serve as pastors or missionaries somewhere else. These people may end up serving in Tennessee, Texas, Turkey or Tajikistan. That would be awesome!

Others will be sent out because of their job situation, military service, or school. Our prayer is that The Gathering will equip people to be faithful to serve Jesus wherever they end up next. 

We will also have people equipped at The Gathering who feel called by God to be part of one of our new campuses. Some may also feel led by God to help Gospel-centered church plants not associated with The Gathering. Others will feel called to help with existing churches where their gifts can be maximized. If these are led by God, they are all good.

Bottom line, we want to be faithful to sending people to the ends of the earth in any way possible.

Love serving Jesus through The Gathering. Julie, Sadie and I are blessed beyond measure because of our church family and its people. 

I am very thankful for what God has done through The Gathering over the last 10 years. It has truly been a blessing to serve Jesus at our church. As good as it has been over the last 10 years, I am even more excited about our future. 

Photos through the years