Monthly Archives: September 2013

We are in the midst of celebrating our 7th year anniversary as North Creek Church!  Over the last week, I have been sharing highlights from this incredible journey.  Here’s the next chapter in our story…

After we moved into the old nightclub, we had a fairly calm next three years.  We worked on our systems, continued to grow, and established ourselves as a church.  At about the four year mark, we noticed that God was bringing more quality leaders into our midst, but we didn’t necessarily NEED them at the time.  Because we don’t fill our staff table out of need, we just began to listen to God and ask certain people to come to our staff meetings without a job or a title.  It seemed strange at first, but a year later, it all became very clear when we had a divine opportunity to add another campus to North Creek Church.

IBattle Ground launchn January 2012 we began the process of merging with a declining church in Battle Ground to create that second campus.  We were about to become a church plant-multisite-turnaround-merger church.  If you are wondering who to ask for advice in that particular situation, let me tell you that it’s complicated.  Once again, we were setting off into a new realm of ministry with a whole lot of faith, very little experience, and as much advice as we could get.

Over the next year we would learn a lot about things like a multisite church structure, about what makes a church decline in the first place, and about how to divide a very tight team in half but maintain unity.  We would wrestle with systems, mentalities, and our own leadership limitations.  We would have one difficult conversation after another and resolve to fight for the culture we believed in.  We would watch our team stretch past their own weaknesses and we would navigate through all of their (and our) insecurities.  In the midst of that we would watch the people from the merger church acclimate to a new leadership team, a new direction, and we would watch helplessly knowing that we were intentionally creating a completely different church.  I will admit that there were the darkest days of North Creek mixed in that year for us.  We were torn at every turn with a deep love for all of our people, but a deeper love for the mission of God.  There were so many moments when we wondered what to do next.

WIMG1401hat do you do when you don’t know what to do?  Simple…do the last thing God told you and don’t waver.  So, that’s what we did.  We held to the vision that God had given us to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus by creating a church that unchurched people want to go to.  We poured ourselves into getting Battle Ground molded into the vision that God had given us for North Creek.  And then we watched as God flooded the doors with families, stories, and changed lives.  We watched as our team began to thrive and our people began to LOVE their church.  We watched as the volunteer schedule began to fill up and ministries began to have solidarity.  We watched it work.

Even as I type this, we are still writing this story.  We still have a youth ministry to launch, more volunteers to train, and a deeper leadership structure to establish.  All that being true, I am so amazed at North Creek Battle Ground.  It is a constant reminder in my life that this thing that God has asked us to do is bigger than me.  It’s bigger than Mark.  It’s bigger than the sum of all it’s people.

It is God’s holy, amazing Bride and His one and only plan to reach the world.


To Be Continued


HAPPY 7 YEARS TO NORTH CREEK!!!!  Such an adventure, such a journey, such a blessing!  I love this church!

I’ll be finishing up the story of our church over the next couple of weeks, but I wanted to take a break to do our weekend highlights.

Matt Garner seahawks2

I like to bug Matt Garner about his love for the 49ers, so I edited his image in a video to have him wearing a Seahawks shirt.  I have to admit that I’ve been laughing randomly about it all week.  We love you, Matt!

One of our founding families that moved to California three years ago happened to be in town this weekend.  It was such a gift to have the Christie family back with us for this sweet anniversary!

The deaf church joined the hearing church on Sunday to hear the story of North Creek.  It is fun to have one church together every once in a while!

Jumped into our very full kids classes today.  I LOVE seeing our kids sing, dance, talk, laugh, and have a good time in church!  I am so grateful for every kid’s workers that look into the eyes of our children every month to let them know they are loved and valued.  THANK YOU!  From the nursery workers, through Tiny Town, KidCity and up through the youth ministry, we are so blessed to have you in this church!

We toasted our celebration by giving everyone a 7-Up for our 7th!

Our sermon series coming around the corner is called Hunger.  Brace yourself as it will be a great reminder of our dependence on pursuing the heart of Jesus.

Simply Worship last Wednesday at Hazel Dell was AWESOME!  If you missed it, I have great news for you…it’s at Battle Ground this Wednesday at 7:00 pm.  Come on over and enjoy a great hour of singing, prayer, and communion.  Childcare provided for preschoolers and nursery.  Older kids are welcome to join us!

We had two different husbands in our church in the hospital this week that we have been praying for.  I am so glad to report that they are both doing much better and God has been so faithful to them!  Quite the stories of changed lives!

Thank you to each of you for all of the encouragement and hugs to celebrate our 7th year!  We love pastoring this church and look forward to many more years to come!  We love you!





We are days away from celebrating our 7th year anniversary as North Creek Church!  For the next couple of weeks, I will be sharing highlights from this incredible journey.

Around our 2nd year anniversary, we made a call that changed the course of our church.  An old night club in Hazel Dell had shut it’s doors two years earlier and the landlord was struggling to rent one of the ugliest buildings on Hwy 99.  We wanted to get a look inside.

As our team walked through that building I think we all saw the reality.  There was filth, damage, and challenges everywhere.  We were a church of about 80 people with no money, but something about this very pathetic old bar was calling our name.  It was a mess, but then again, aren’t we all?  That run-down place just needed some love, attention, and time to be used once again for a greater purpose.  It echoed the smallness of our beginnings and we wanted in.  Through a series of miracles, we not only negotiated a rent we could afford, but we fixed it up to working order with a lot of volunteer effort and all of the meager $2700 we had to spend.  We moved in November 23, 2008.

The next five years would be a constant project to make that old building the best it could be.  It’s still what I call “Funky-Chic”, but when I look around all I see is one miracle after the other.  It seemed like the renovation of that building mirrored the renovation of the hearts within it.  I will forever see the face of the dad that we prayed for who walked in one day and never left.  I see every one of the baptisms in our portable tank.  I see the tears of the people we prayed with to know Jesus.  I see the hopeful faces of the people that we handed out first Bibles to.  I see teenagers flooding out of there on a Thursday night.  I see greatness where there once was devastation.

There is a bittersweet moment for me when I remember that this old night club is not our permanent home.  It’s just a stopping point on our journey and our time there will end.  Still, it will always be a season where we feel like God said, “I need you here for now.  Not because it makes sense, but because there are some people I need to reach.  People who look a lot like this building…abandoned, forgotten, left in disrepair…I’ve called you to look past that and see their potential.  Always remember…I am the God of renovation.  

That is all we ever want to do…Go where God leads and watch Him repair what is broken.  If you are feeling like your life is a mess, come on in.  We believe there is greatness in you.


I wrote a blog a long time ago that is the story of one of the greatest moments of my life that happened in this building.  You can read it HERE.



To Be Continued



We are days away from celebrating our 7th year anniversary as North Creek Church!  For the next couple of weeks, I will be sharing highlights from this incredible journey.

The early months of a church are interesting at best when you have a small launch team. For the first 24 months, we only hit over 100 people in church twice…Opening Day and one Easter.  In 2007 we averaged 69 people every week, half of whom were children.  There were Sundays when we needed so many kid’s workers to accommodate those numbers that it left only a handful in the main service to hear the message.  There is something very humbling about starting worship with two people in the audience and three on stage.

On top of not having enough people to constitute a crowd, we were hemorrhaging money.  Not only were we growing slowly, but our year of extra support from our fundraising ended in June of 2007.  The summer of 2007 will go down in history as one of the most stressful of our lives.  I can remember the day we needed thousands of dollars to pay the bills, we prayed desperately for God’s provision, and Sundays offering was $58.  Five. Eight.  What were we going to do?

Mark and I had both spent all of our lives at large churches, so our new reality was difficult at best.  Discouragement began to set in.  Could we ever get beyond this point? We limped along for the next three months.  We sold everything we could to pay the next bill.  As other churches offered us used equipment (which happens a lot when you are a church plant!), we took it, refurbished what we could, and sold it to survive as a church.

It was at that critical moment that we decided to lead out of vision and not devastation.  As we preached the Word of God we never focused on our lack and chose purposefully not to make it a highlight in our church.  We never waved the flag of desperation, but tried to stand firm in our faith that God would take care of us if we kept the main thing the main thing.  I have to admit that we may have been standing, but our knees were knocking.

At the end of October we sat as a team and crunched the numbers.  We had two weeks left before we would close the doors if we didn’t get at least $10,000 above and beyond our regular giving.  Our average month was no where near that, so we figured we were going to close an otherwise perfectly healthy church because of finances.  We braced ourselves for impact.

The first week of November, just one week before we would be out of resources, New Life, a church in Renton, Washington, took an offering to bless North Creek. We had been junior high pastors there a decade earlier and still had lots of ties to their people.  The check came back at $11,200.  We were just given a miraculous lifeline.

We went to our congregation to let them know of New Life’s generosity and the most amazing thing happened before our eyes…Our people matched that amount over and above their regular giving.  It was as if a light bulb went off in the hearts of our congregation, “If someone else financially believes in our church, we should, too.”

We rounded the corner to our second year anniversary growing to about 80 people and no debt.

What we didn’t realize was that we were about to make a move that would double our congregation and set us on a new direction…

To Be Continued

We used to decorate our stages to match our sermon series.  Here is the first year of stages that we pulled off in our mobile church!

We are days away from celebrating our 7th year anniversary as North Creek Church!  For the next couple of weeks, I will be sharing highlights from this incredible journey.

So, let me take you back to this day in 2006…


I can remember sitting in the dark, quiet house just six days prior to our Sunday morning launch of North Creek Church.   It was about 2:00 am and I was in a rocking chair cradling my three month old baby.  I could feel her breathe heavily against me in her deep sleep and I remember looking down at her little hands in the dim light that was pouring through the window.  The creak of the chair against the hardwood floors was the only other sound in the house.

A panic shot through me…What were we doing?  The flood of fear that I could easily hold back during the day seemed to be relentless in the dark.  We were living on a faith that seemed to lack any practicality whatsoever.  Everything we had learned about what we needed to start a church in conferences, books, and mentoring was not our reality.  Were we about to fail?

We didn’t have enough people to start with…just 39 and 20 of those were little children.  The infant in my arms was included in that count.  Granted, the 39 we launched with are some of the most passionate, hard working people I’ve ever met, but the numbers were against us.

We hadn’t raised anywhere near enough money.  We had $10,000 for all the sound equipment, rent, advertising, and children’s stuff we needed and we had an additional $1600 in monthly support for one year.  Anybody who has started a church would be shocked by those numbers.  Experts would have told us to wait another year…they might have been right, but the advertisements were out, the bell had been rung, and we were going forward no matter what at this point.

I pleaded with Jesus to make this work.  A flash of people’s faces that believed in North Creek was constantly running through my mind.  I saw the Yonkos and the Grays and knew what was riding on this.  Jeremy, Jeff, and Angela had given up paying jobs to move to Vancouver for this.  The Christie family had given up their friends at their former church and their kids’ youth group….and on and on the faces scrolled.  The weight of it all came crashing down on my very frail and very tired shoulders that night.  It seemed that people had bought into a vision that made no earthly sense and the ONLY way that it was going to work was if Jesus Himself showed up….

What if he didn’t?

The breath of my daughter in the night shocked me back to reality and actually reminded me that I needed to breathe, too.  I inhaled and exhaled a few times and looked back at that child.

IMG_6138He had crafted her against all odds.  He was ultimately responsible for her well-being, and although I was given the privilege of taking care of her, so much was out of my hands.  I was just asked to lead her to the best of my ability for as many days as I was given.

Hmmm…just like this little baby church.  It was HIM crafting it all along, against all odds.  He was responsible for growing it, and our job was just to take care of it to the best of our ability.  Just love it, just feed it, just nurture it…don’t worry about how meager it looks right now.  It is His Mighty Church and it cannot be stopped.  What looks as helpless as a baby may turn into greatness if you give it time… 

To Be Continued

Just a few of our “Church Plant Kids


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