Saturday, July 3, 2010

Wagner Family Update!

It's been a while since we've updated you on our church planting efforts! A lot has happened. Rand just put together an email update and it is directing people here for the longer, uncut version of our story up to now (scroll down to "lengthier version" if you are here from the email). Not all of you out there will have recieved that email, so we wanted everyone to know what's up. We've been on a tough but exciting journey since we moved here in February. Thank you to everyone who has been helpful and supportive in a million different ways. We appreciate all your love and encouragement!
Here is the scoop, in Rand's words:


"There is not a single church in the Desert Ridge master-planned community, and it appears highly unlikely that one will ever be established." -AZ Republic newspaper

To date there is no established church in the Desert Ridge area of north Phoenix. We are taking on the challenge and trusting God to birth a new church in this area. Why not join us in taking the risk of stepping out in faith to impact the Desert Ridge community? Just think what we could accomplish together!

Just over one month ago, God put an encouraging possibility into our journey. I received an email from a church planter (Pontus Karnsund) who had moved to Phoenix from Spain around the same time we moved to Phoenix. He had been a fully supported missionary in Spain and had heard of me through the organization which was unable to help fund our plant due to not obtaining an endowment. We connected a few times to pray and discuss what God might have for us. Over the course of a few weeks, we both came to believe that God had brought us together to plant a church in the Desert Ridge area of Phoenix- the location I had hoped to target; a master planned community of over 13,000 people with no local church.

To make a long and very exciting story short, we agreed to join forces and plant one church instead of two in the same area. In coming together, I agreed to go forward as an associate pastor of the church which would allow us to use our gifts and skills most effectively. The name for the new church is theRIDGE church. So far... we have had a few community group gatherings consisting of our two families and three other families and their kids. Already there are 19 kids among these 5 families and each of us expects many of our friends and neighbors to get involved soon. We anticipate significant growth in the next few months and have already reserved the local Pinnacle High School to meet in starting in October. Our hope is to publically launch the church in February of 2011 with a launch team of about 70 adults.

CHURCH PLANTING IS A DIFFICULT ROAD- the lengthier more detailed version

So much has transpired since we moved to Phoenix to plant a church just 5 months ago. We have actually experienced what every church planter I talked to told us...that planting a church would be 6 times harder than anticipated. One of them even said that although the church he planted had grown to over a thousand members, if he could go back and do it again, he would not because of the various burdens and struggles he had encountered along the way.

For Kaylee and I...when we first began to consider starting a new church, we had the opportunity to take a position as the senior pastor of a 10 year old church on the New Jersey atlantic coast. Though it may have been a great opportunity for our family and an upward career move for me, we decided instead to take the road less travelled and do something that involved much more risk- church planting in my home city of Phoenix, AZ.

I had researched for many years the ins and outs of planting a church and had a pretty good idea what it would take. We began to make connections with various people and churches to raise support in the forms of prayer, provision, and participation. I went to Phoenix a week before we moved in order to find a partime job, a place to live, and to meet with potential supporters. After that week was over, I had a job, a rental house, and some potential for financial support from various organizations.

Then we moved across country and for the first couple months we were in transition mode. I was working a new job that would only cover a small portion of our family budget. We also had a few months of severance from my previous job in PA. With these two income streams along with the intentions of a few families and organizations to financially support, we felt hopeful and saw the whole project as an oppotunity to trust God for our needs.

Things began to get a bit more gnarley when our third son Easton was born at the end of March. My job was turning out to be many more hours than I had hoped with much less pay than I was told when hired. I was very tired, as was Kaylee and we began to wonder if we could make it pressing forward with church planting. I had very little time to recruit people to be involved in the church. We had very little time for anything but work, sleep, and baby. In the midst of this, I had been anticipating about $2500/month from one organization which did not receive an endowment they anticipated and so we did not receive our funding. You can imagine our disappointment.

At this point, through prayer and counsel, Kaylee and I decided that I should transfer my funeral director's license from WA to AZ so that if a higher paying more stable job came up, I would be able to take it. As soon as we began the process of transferring the license, a job in a funeral home came available. The new job which I started in mid-April took a little bit of the financial burden away. However, the job requires close to 60 hours/week to make ends meet. At only 40 hours we make about half what we need and about one third what we want for our budget. The possiblity of church planting while working this many hours seemed impossible.

We didn't make any decisions to stop planting no matter how difficult it was getting. We continued to seek God's strength and pressed forward with launching a new church. I spent lots of time after the kids went to bed- planning, praying, etc. I also spent many hours talking to other dads at the park while our kids played together. I went into the neighborhood trying to make connections and to build relationships. All this activity was beginning to wear me down. But then in the midst of our stuggle, we received a renewed hope. God put an encouraging possibility into our journey...(read project progress above).



theRIDGE church has a partnership with STADIA: New Church Planting Strategies

We need supporters. I would like to encourage you to partner with our ministry financially. Currently I am overburdened with too many hours working at the funeral home for not enough money to make ends meet (see extended story). My primary passion, gifting and education is for pastoral ministry in the church- And we have committed to planting and pastoring theRIDGE church. Thus, I need to significantly cut bacat my k "tentmaking" job in order to put more time and focus into growing theRIDGE church and reaching out to the community.

Please consider your financial involvement in our missionary work to the people of Desert Ridge. We need people to partner with us for greater impact. Will you please join us in this work? Whether you are only able to do a small monthly contribution or a large one... your generosity toward us will be stewarded wisely, with accountability, and will have a wide and lasting impact.

If you have already contributed to our efforts, then please be encouraged that your resources are making a difference. If you have intended to contribute but as of yet have not committed, now is the time. And... If you have not yet committed to give, then please consider what level of financial partnership you will contribute.

Sent To:
theRIDGE church
care of Rand Wagner
PO Box 71729
Phoenix, AZ 85050.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read our update. Please pray for us and join us on this journey. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

with love in Christ,



Krisy said...

whoa. Praying for huge growth, success, and lives saved.

Anonymous said...

Good luck, keep working at it and you will get there. Also, take a break to do some fishing, helps clear the mind.
Uncle Bubba