Monthly Archives: July 2008

When you decide to start a church, the Assemblies of God in Washington sends you to three training weekends where you hash out what you are doing and why.  As we sat there dreaming about who we wanted to be, we talked often about being a church that gives and gives and gives.

In one of our conversations we laughed so hard because somebody was helping us out and Jeff said, “We’re going to buy you a Starbucks…not just a cup, a franchise.”  And that became the mantra for who we are. 

We want to be “that” church who rebuilds somebody’s house when it’s falling down or pays off a hospital bill for someone who is in need.  We want to be ridiculously generous and break the old adage that the church just takes your money.

So, needless to say, we’re not at the place as a young church where we can rebuild a house, but that’s not stopping us from our core value.  Our small groups have repainted an apartment, taken food to the homeless, blessed a teenager whose mother died of cancer, given money, time, and resources in so many ways that we cannot begin to list them all…

I’m really proud of the giving spirit that is embraced by North Creek.  We have no problem getting volunteers to help out in church and in ministries outside of our four walls.  We are no where near the dreams that I have for the future of our church, but I know that we’ll get there. 

So, thank you to those of you who do give so much, both financially and with your other resources.  We hope that you are proud of how we distribute your giving to bless this community!

What I love most about North Creek is that we filter everything through the Bible.  If it’s in there, we better figure out why and what we’re supposed to do with it.  For example, we chose the model of baptism because it is just like the Bible baptized people.  You make a decision to follow Jesus, you go under the water.  Simple as that.

So, where did other religions come up with baptizing infants?  For example, I was just having a conversation with my Catholic friend about why they baptize infants and then have teenagers go through a confirmation.  It all sounded good.  They dedicate the babies to the Lord by baptizing them, then they train their children through confirmation as young adults so that they can make the educated decision to serve God as adults.  Sounds logical.  And for a moment I was even satisfied with her answer. 

But it just kept eating at me. 

That’s not what Jesus asked us to do. 

Through the process of North Creek, we’ve really tried to ask ourselves as a team, “What are we doing out of tradition and what are we doing because it’s Biblically mandated?”  If it’s tradition, then it’s flexible.  If it’s Biblically mandated, then we need to fight to incorporate it somewhere in our big picture.  If our traditions are contrary to the purpose of the Biblical mandates, then they need to be cast out all together. 

It’s a challenge for me personally and one that I pass on to you.  What are you doing just to do it and what did Jesus ask you to do?

Over the last two years I’ve been asked several dozen times how we got the name Coffee Church –  It’s a pretty simple story really, but one that is worth writing down for the history books! 

North Creek Church is really a compilation of things we liked about various churches all over America.  We researched, studied, travelled, and talked to as many people as we could to see what works for them.  Then we picked through all of that to decide who we wanted to be.  In the pile of tidbits we liked was a story that came out of Lee McFarland’s church in Surprise, AZ.  Someone in the media had dubbed them the “Blue Jean Church”, so they picked up the website so that people could find them based off of what they heard on the news.

We actually have a “real” website –, but even as I typed it I couldn’t remember what it was.  I had to stop and think.  And therein lies the beauty of advertising…if you can remember it, that sure helps.

So, again as our team sat around discussing things, we stumbled upon what I consider is genius.  What represents who we are?  Coffee.  Warm, relaxing, casual, and we’ll give you a boost.  Let’s see if is available…and it rolled into something much larger from there.  Themes, advertisements, t-shirts.

Initially I think we were all concerned that we weren’t being “spiritual” enough.  Here’s the irony…the people we want to remember our website probably aren’t “spiritual” at all.  So, it works to tell people who might not consider themselves fans of church that we aren’t taking ourselves too seriously.  God deserves our reverance, but our website sure doesn’t deserve any.  It’s a tool.  How do you best use the tool?  Make it a memorable deal. 

So, North Creek is a name that few remember.  However, try saying Coffee Church and many more people will say, “Yeah, I’ve heard of you.”  And isn’t that half the battle?

Waiting has got to be some kind of torture.  When you know something exciting is going to happen and the only thing standing in your way is time, there is just no words to explain the agony!

I was sitting with my youngest daughter, Kennedy, on the sidewalk watching bees land on the flowers.  I called my older daughter over and said, “Come here and look at the bumblebees.” She ran over, plopped down, looked once and replied, “I can’t wait this long, Mom.”  It had been 5 seconds!  But she’s the product of an instant generation that can communicate across the world in real time.  Waiting is not her specialty. 

When I was a kid, I can remember sitting for a long time on the dock with my dad waiting for the muskrats to come.  He would say, “If you’re real quiet and real still, you’ll see them.  They will swim right by with a mouthful of grass to take back to their dens.  Just wait.”  And I would.  Alone in the cool, Montana night, mosquitoes biting at me, I would wait.  And sure enough, I got just what I expected.  His little brown head would come swimming by just out of the water and then jerk quickly down into the creek’s edge to disappear into his home.

Starting North Creek Church has been this odd combination of intense, never ending, all consuming work, and this other odd side called “waiting”.  Waiting for people to hear about how great it is and come.  Waiting for the right people to plug into the right ministries so that everyone can flourish.  Waiting for the finances to be there to go to the next level.  Waiting…waiting…waiting.  What do you do when you’ve done everything you know how to do?  You wait.

The only reason I’m okay with the torture of it all is because of the very principle I learned back when I was a kid…if you’ll wait, you’ll get just what you expected.  Mark and I expect tens of thousands of people being changed by Jesus.  For that, I will wait.

As a staff we sit down and think through the year and what we feel our people would most learn from.  Right now we are in the middle of a really great series called The Way I See It.  It’s about some of the things in the Bible that the world doesn’t understand, such as “Jesus is the Only Way”, baptism, and the Holy Spirit. 

It’s seems that there is a trend in the culture of Christianity to pick and choose what we believe, most of the time based on our experiences rather than the Bible.  Partnered with that picking and choosing is a lack of Bible reading, which is a combination that can literally spin off into an entirely different religion. 

My prayer for the church is that as we read the Bible we would accept it all – the parts that are easy and the parts that are downright uncomfortable.   The hardest parts of the Bible to comprehend are what make God, well, God.  If we could wrap our brains around a concept such as the Holy Spirit, then we would be equal to God, not His students.

And yet, rather than embracing the vastness of the Bible, we chop it into “understandable” parts in order to find some measure of comfort in our belief system.  But faith is a key component of our belief system and comfort never comes with faith.

I’m impressed by the openness of the people at North Creek to learn.  They are humble and moldable, which are characteristics that God honors greatly.  I know that as we as a congregation dive into the text of the Bible, God is going to pour out wisdom and understanding that we have never had before.  And with wisdom, comes great things!