Category Archives: Atlanta Church Plant Update

Keeping Up With The Manginellis

First of all, I hope you had a great Thanksgiving.  My parents came down from Idaho to visit so we had a really special time.  The highlight of the weekend was definitely me falling down the stairs.  My body was bruised.  My ego was crushed.  🙂  Long story short, it was slippery, I was holding Rohan and it hurt like heck.  Serious heck.  Since I was holding him I had no arms to stop myself.  Little one made it without a mark…but Dad wasn’t so lucky.  Ha.  It’s good to be 31 and feel like you’re 80.  But I’m bald, so I’m already a bit used to it.

Last week I updated everyone with my One Year Blog, but I wanted to write and actually just catch you up on how we are doing, and what God is doing and where we need your prayers and love.
First, let me catch you up on what everyone really cares about…our boys.  Jacob is doing really well.  He is in a 5 day preschool and loves every minute of it.  He actually cries on Saturdays when there is no school to go to.  He is making friends and growing up.  He has already played two rounds of soccer and is getting set for some tee-ball in the spring.  His imagination is wild and contagious.  The best part about him right now is his heart.  He loves Jesus and he loves people.  So many of our conversations are about this growing desire in his heart to help people.  We are so proud of him.
Rohan is a bulldog.  He is also doing really well, though we are in a “fun” parenting season with him.  He has found head-butting to be his favorite activity when feeling sad, angry, happy or playful.  So that is fun. :/ Let’s just say Jake also has a few bruises.  But Rohan is such a joy.  Growing up so much.  He’s starting to say his first words and loves being outside more than anything in the world.  All he wants to do is go outside and play in the yard.
The church?  It’s actually happening.  7 months ago there were 8 people in my living room.  Now, there are around 40 adults with us every Sunday night.  Probably about 50-55 people would consider The Square their home, but people missing is just the nature of church.  It’s incredible to watch.  Honestly…I’m so humbled by what God has done.  He has been faithful to what he said he was going to do.  He is building a house for prodigals and creating a beautiful church out of the dust (and spiderwebs in the garage).  We have so much left to accomplish, but God is so clearly with us it’s remarkable.
We are also in the process of moving out of our garage and taking over a building in the heart of our neighborhood.  Details are still being figured out, but we are really excited about what God is doing.  The property needs a great deal of repair, but we believe God is doing to lead us into the resources we need to get this building up and running.  We will have more details on this soon, and we will share them with you once we do.
Emily and me?  I think the only thing we can say is that we are so overwhelmed by the faithfulness of Jesus that it has overcome all difficulties.  Everyday we are experiencing the evidence of God leading us, providing for us and showing up the way he promised.  It has changed us.  And we are doing really really well.  Poor at times.  Stretched at times.  Lonely at times.  And in all of those moments, God is faithful.
Here are a few things that we would love for you to pray alongside with us…
*  We are hosting a large Christmas celebration and outreach on December 22nd. It’s our first attempt at reaching out to our community.  Please pray for God’s favor and that our neighbors would come and hear the message of Jesus.
*  My car is on its last legs.  I took it into the shop and they looked at me and said, “Your transmission is about to die.  Could take 6 days.  Could take 6 months.  But when it goes, it will cost more than your car is worth.”  So…soon enough we are going to have to figure that out.  Please pray for God’s provision to this need.
*  Keep our team in your prayers.  Mitch, Marina, Seth, Megan, Maureen and Annie have all sacrificed so much.  They are my heroes.
*  God would lead us in our transition out of our house and into a building.  We need his leadership, wisdom and resources to make this happen well.
Love you all.  Thank you for being in our life and standing by us.  If I can say one thing to all of you, it would simply be this…say yes to Jesus.  Please.  Whatever he wants to do with your life, it’s better than what you want to do with your life.  He will never fail you.
Phil & Em

Open Carefully: Response Required. (Thoughts on Matthew 1:18-2:12)


Last night we celebrated Christmas on Cinco De Mayo.  Sort of.

As we go verse by verse in Matthew as a brand new community of people, we found ourselves in the story of Jesus’ birth.  Add a few Christmas songs, Christina’s Christmas cookies and a white elephant gift exchange (which did include a massive box of tampons and E. Smith’s actual licence plate) and it made me wish it were snowing.  But more than anything there was this heartbeat growing inside of me as I looked out at these 20 people sitting in my garage that realized one day these people are going to be like my family.  Those who were once strangers were going to become some of the most meaningful people in my life.

Those who were far away were going to be drawn near.

And that’s really the thing that felt like Christmas, because if there is anything worth celebrating as we look at this origin story of the King, it’s that He who seemed far away came near to bring close those who were actually far away.  God became man to wrap his arms around me and draw me in.  The God who seemed so far away, so quiet for so long, is here.  As I let Matthew tell me about the birth of his true King it became so apparent that he wanted me to know one thing.  The King has come.  He’s here.  The waiting is over.  He finally came.

It’s hard to capture the magnitude of what this meant to Matthew.  Part of it is connected to his genealogy.  You see every one of those men were waiting.  Abraham was waiting.  David was waiting.  They were all waiting.  42 generations are listed, and we know historically that there were more than that…and they were all waiting.  But the waiting is over, because King Jesus is here.  The true King is here.

The true King.  It’s like you can see Matthew pause because he’s wondering how to explain a very complicated story.  “But when Jesus was born, Israel had another king named Herod.  He wasn’t the true king and everybody knew it, but he had a lot of power with Rome so it wasn’t a boat that many wanted to rock.  Except for John, but I’ll get to him in a minute.”   And instantaneously we see that Jesus the King was born into a power struggle.  A spiritual and physical power struggle which is setting up the question that isn’t going to be answered quickly, “What is going to happen when the Kingdom of Herod confronts the Kingdom of Jesus?”

And it’s here that I began to see what mattered to Matthew about this moment.  Lot’s of things happened when Jesus was born and if you want to gooshy stuff you really should be talking with Luke.  It’s like Matthew steps back and says “If you saw it from a distance you’d realize that when Jesus was born it became the most catalytic event in the history of the world.  It set off this chain reaction with Jesus at the epicenter.”

Jesus is the epicenter.

Matthew makes one thing very clear – when Jesus showed up it demanded a reaction.  It demanded a response.  He told me about Joseph and the choices that were in front of him.  Was he going to trust God and marry this pregnant teenager to the shame of his name and family or was he going to divorce her and maintain his reputation among his peers?  Jesus’ arrival demanded a reaction.  Then Matthew told me about these powerful men from the East who studied the stars and saw something so wild they traveled at the cost of their own lives to find this King.  Where they going to count the cost and find this child or was it simply too much work?  Jesus’ arrival demanded a reaction.  Then Matthew tells me a little bit more about King Herod and his discovery that “a new King” was coming.  Just like Joseph and these foreign astrologists he had a choice to make.  Was he going to believe that God was on the move to the loss of his own status or was he going to tighten his grip on the power he craved?  Herod, like the others, had a moment where reaction was required.  And sadly, Herod’s reaction was with the sword.

It’s like when Matthew was telling me about the events around Jesus’ arrival I knew what he was trying to tell me.  I, like all of these men, was now confronted with the very same choice.  In fact we all are.  The arrival of King Jesus invites me into a response.  Whose path will I follow?  Will I side with Joseph and the mysterious travelers or will I side with Herod and protect the Kingdom I built with my own hands?  Will I gently bend to my knees and worship this King?

Worship.  It’s an interesting thing.  Chords and songs, chants and liturgy and occasionally the oh so awesome light show.  It’s this word that no matter how much we tell people we understand it ultimately means the 20-30 minutes of singing before some epic female pastor tell us about Jesus.  You may have a boring dude as well, but same difference.  You know, it’s the time we drink coffee and go quiet on the verses we don’t know by heart.  It’s where we send those last texts before we sit down and everyone will notice.  It’s where we stand in God’s presence and judge people for what they are wearing and lean over and say stuff like this to your spouse, “This song?  Really?  I hate this song.” (I actually did that about 5 weeks ago).  But you know what I mean…worship.

I’m using slight hyperbole, but sadly I’m closer to the truth than any of us want to admit.  I wonder one day what it will feel like to stand before Jesus knowing we perverted something so important.  My prayer for you and for me is that we won’t have that day.  That something inside of us would wake up and see that it’s not too late for us.  We get to let Matthew invite us into a life of true worship.

True worship is a life that allows Jesus to be the epicenter.

I want that life.  I crave that life.  I want to give my life so that others can have that life.  And you want to know what…something about the singing changes when this is your life.  The songs become expressions from the deepest places of your heart.  The moments become the cry for King Jesus to take his rightful place at the epicenter of your life.  The words become the language of love to the one who loved us first.  It becomes the time that you never want to miss…because there’s something about music when you mean it that becomes the most powerful language we have.  And we start to give that language to Jesus.

So who is this Jesus?  This catalyst who created waves throughout human history.  This one that we may dare shape our lives around.  Matthew does something very interesting.  He tells us that Jesus actually has two names.  And his names tell us something very important.  His first name is Jesus, which is actually Joshua, which is actually Yeshua.  It means the one who will lead you into the promised land.  But this isn’t his only name, he was given another name.  Immanuel.  Simply translated Immanuel means “God with us.”  And even though Matthew is just at the beginning of his story he looks at us and says, “Jesus is the one who has come near to take you to the promised land.  This is what he wants to do.  Jesus isn’t a static king.  He’s here and he has a plan.”

Jesus came to be with me and take me to the promised land.

N.T. Wright talks about how Matthew is the left eye that saw the birth of Jesus and Luke was the right eye.  When you put them together, you see the full story.  Apparently John was what happens when you dream in your sleep after eating Taco Bell.  And there is something amazing when you put these two viewpoints together.  You see Joseph and Mary, shepherds and angels, Kings and travelers, and even some barn animals.  They all find themselves surrounding a baby in a feeding trough.  An impoverished King of a teenage mom in a lonely town.  But around him was something spectacular.  Creation leaned in, angels surrounded and the most broken of society came close.

There is another moment in the biblical narrative like this moment.  Except it’s at the very end.  Revelation 4.  John has just shared his heart with all of the churches and starts the vision at the end…with heaven.  Standing at the throne of God is a lamb that has been slain, a picture of Jesus.  Surrounding this Jesus are these four wild creatures with eyes up and down their bodies.  They have different elements of animals and creation woven together into a single freakish being.  I remember being little and being scared to go to heaven because these things were there.  Thankfully, John was just being weird.  🙂  These animals are symbol of creation.  It was creation that surrounded this lamb.  And around these creatures was God’s people.  They were all there.  And around them the angels.  They were all together.

A little over 2000 years ago a baby names Jesus was surrounded by creation, people and angels and they worshipped.  Jesus came to lead us back to where it all started.  That one day all of creation and humanity and the angels will surround this King and worship.  Why?  Because he made all things new.  Something wild and provacative is at place between these two scenes.  Jesus the King, the baby in a feeding trough, the lamb was slain is taking me to a promised land.  That promised land is the renewal and transformation of me to become the me he always intended.  A me free of death and decay, and of sin and hatred, where I take my rightful place next to the one who created me as His son.

One day we will be right back where it all started, but the difference will be that King Jesus will have rescued us.  He came to the broken to make all things new.  

To lower the high places and exalt the valleys.

To make the rough places plain.

To set the crooked places straight.

To reveal the glory of God.

May you today celebrate Christmas, and don’t worry you don’t need any licence plates or tampons.  But you do need one thing…to know that you were loved first.  That there is a King named Jesus who stands at the epicenter of history.  He’s inviting you to let him stand at the epicenter of you, because when he gets there he’s going to have a plan.  He’s going to make all things new.  May you become a worshipper who let’s God Immanuel take you to the promised land.

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You really want to know this guy. (Thoughts on Matthew 1:1-17)

Tonight we began a journey as a brand new community on the northwest side of Atlanta.  We moved into our garage (picture here) and opened up the Good News of Matthew and began our journey to discover Jesus by going verse by verse through his book.  When we decided this was going to be our initial step into church planting I was so excited.  What could be better than looking at the life of Jesus together and asking the hard questions about who Jesus really is and what it means to follow him?  I was stoked.

Then I read the beginning of Matthew.  Crap.

My first sermon…the one that is going to start everything off…the one that is going to set the momentum for who we are…the one that is going to show everyone how crazy talented I am so they never want to leave…the one that is going to make everyone cry so hard they want to get saved all over again…is a genealogy.  It’s Matthew helping us know that a lot of people got it on and had kids who got it on and had kids who got it on and had kids etc.  Throw in a few begats and some awesome names (Thank you Amminadab) and that’s what I call a party.

But…you can’t really go verse by verse through a book and just skip 17 of them.  Especially week 1.  So I spent some time with Matthew and his first thoughts.  And you want to know what?  He won me over.  The first few times I sat down with this passage all I could think about was “this is going to suck,” but then I just took a step back and asked Matthew to talk with me.  I asked Matthew to tell me his story and to tell me why it mattered that I knew this part of the story.

And it was like Matthew leaned in and whispered, “I want to tell you about a King named Jesus.  I promise, you really want to know this guy.”

From this point on, instead of seeing a list, I saw Matthew sitting at a table next to me with coffee in hand about to tell me an incredible story about a King named Jesus.  But before he could get into the story, I needed to know some things about this Messiah.  Some things that if I listened were really going to matter.  So as I swirled my coffee I decided to let a list of begats tell me a story.

I imagined Matthew leaning back in his chair and saying, “You’re never going to understand Jesus if you don’t understand Abraham and David.  Jesus’ story starts a long ago with promises that were made to his fathers.  Jesus is the heir to all of those promises.  He is the son of David and the son of Abraham.  God spoke a lot of things to these men, and all of it was about to be fulfilled in Jesus.  When I say that Jesus is the son of Abraham and David I want you to know what I mean.  You can actually find the genetic trail that links their bloodlines if you want to, but more importantly he is the one who fulfills all of the promises given to these men.”

Jesus is the fulfillment of all of God’s promises.

When God promised Abraham he would bless him so he could be a blessing to the world…it was all about Jesus.  When God pulled Abraham out of his tent and asked him to look up…it was all about Jesus.  When God told Abraham to count the stars and dream of his descendants…it was all about Jesus.  When God made a covenant with Abraham where he would count all of the cost…it was all about Jesus  God’s wild love has always been after the whole world and he communicated that to Abraham.  Then Jesus came and fulfilled it.

When God saw a shepherd boy and made him king…it was all about Jesus.  When God promised David a kingdom that would never end…it was all about Jesus.  When God said one of David’s sons would reign forever…it was all about Jesus.  God was speaking to the world through David that one day a good and perfect king would reign forever.  He would not be like all of the others kings that wielded their power and conquered through violence, he would be the king every heart has longed for.  Then Jesus came and fulfilled it.

Jesus, Son of David, Son of Abraham is the true King.  He is the King of Israel and the King of the world.  He is the fulfillment of every promise…and the king you’ve been waiting for.  As Bill Johnson says, “Everybody wants a king like Jesus.  If we’ll represent him well, they will want us too.”

As I considered this King Jesus I realized that Matthew was telling me that Jesus wasn’t simply the fulfillment of God’s promises, he was the fulfillment of all of my promises too.  Do I believe this?  Could this really be true?  And Matthew looked back at me and said, “But there’s more…Jesus came from some pretty screwed up people.”

I thought about my own family when I let Matthew tell me this.  I have my French Canadian fur trapping family from my Momma and my loud, boisterous, easily-angered Italian family from my Dad.  I love my family…but we are pretty screwed up.  You look to the left and see a lot of addiction, you look to the right and you see a lot of abuse.  You look all around and you see secrets and shame.  Then I thought about myself, and I have my rightful place in this Manginelli/Maupin ball of screw-ups.  I don’t tell a lot of people that; those parts of my story and my family’s story contains a lot of shame.  But Matthew tells me this about Jesus right up front.  He doesn’t hide the mess he come from, he claims it boldly.

Jesus is the son of really broken people.  They all have a place in His Kingdom.

Prostitutes, thieves, bastards, whores, murders, adulterers, liars, drunks.  This is who Jesus came from.  He wears it like a badge of honor.  Most kings would tell you something else, the kings around the time of Jesus certainly did.  Julius Caesar had the Goddess Venus in his lineage.  So right here in the middle of this list Matthew is telling me something very important…

I have a place with this King.

We all have a place with this King.  In every other kingdom, I’m a peasant.  I’m too poor and from too weak a history (my last name literally means little left-hander) to have a place with any other king.  I’m not good-looking enough.  I’m not talented enough.  I’m not elite enough.  But I have a place with Jesus.  I don’t have to pretend to be something I’m not, because I fit in his lineage.

I imagine Matthew telling me the stories of these broken lives and the moments of redemption weaved within them.  When we get to the end, we finally get to Jesus.  He tells me, “And Jesus was the seventh seven.”  At first I’m confused, but intrigued.  He begins to show me that all of these names are broken into sections…three section of fourteen.  A list of seven, then a list of seven, then a list of seven, then another list of seven, a list of seven, a final list of seven, and then Jesus.  Matthew tells me that he had to play around with Jesus’ genealogy a little bit to make this happen, but it was more important to tell me this part of Jesus’ story than to give me a few more names.  I asked him back, “What does it mean that Jesus is the seventh seven?”

Jesus is the fulfillment of everything we’ve been longing for.

From Abraham to Mary, every name of this list has been waiting.  Their lives have been lived in the expectation that something was coming.  Something that was going to make sense of this life and give meaning to everything they have done.  They were waiting for God to come back, for Yahweh to rule in Zion again.  They were waiting and hoping and dreaming and it was all about Jesus.  He was everything they were waiting for.

I stared at this list for a while.  Jesus is the fulfillment of everything I’m longing for, and I began to think about my longings.  I thought about my family, my boys and my little one to come.  I thought about my dreams and the desires I have in this life.  I thought about security and finances, about possessions and wishing I had hair.  I thought about friendships and people.  I thought about everything I’ve been longing for and it was like Matthew was reading my mind, “Jesus is the only one that can fulfill those desires.”  He’s it.

He’s the one I’ve been waiting for.

At this point I realized that I officially really like Matthew.  If we were actually having this faux coffee date this would be about the point where I’d say, “We should hang out more.”  Matthew has one more thing to tell me though.  All of these people, they’ve all been waiting, but they have been waiting in different seasons.  This story has markers, very important markers.

I imagine Matthew saying, “The first set of names, they are from Abraham to David.  This was the season when God’s promises were alive.  They were moving and God’s people were in the middle of experiencing the beauty of what it meant to be part of God’s movement.  The second set of names, from David to the exile, were part of a very different season.  This was the season when God’s people threw away everything God had given them and tore apart their lives.  While they had everything they needed, they traded it in to be their own kings.  The last set of names, from the exile to Mary, were in the quiet season.  It was here that God’s people wanted to hear God, but he was silent.  They wanted to be with him again, but they didn’t know where to find him.  This Jesus, he’s king of every season.  Jesus was the real king when everything was working.  Jesus was the real king when everything was failing.  And Jesus was the real king when silence was deafening.”

Jesus reigns if we are in seasons of beauty, seasons of loss, or seasons of silence.

As I sit back in my chair, I realize that through it all Matthew is trying to tell me one central thing.  Jesus is credible.  He’s faithful.  It doesn’t matter what lens you look through, Jesus is trustworthy.  No matter what is going on in my life, no matter the strength of my faith or my doubt, Jesus is someone worth hearing out.  He’s credible to handle my sin.  He’s credible to understand my life.  He’s credible to hear my heartache.  He’s credible to know my needs.  He’s credible to carry my life.  He’s credible to know my story.  He’s credible to know my needs.  He’s credible to fulfill on his word.  He’s credible.

He’s a good King.  A really really good King.

May you today be reminded that Jesus isn’t like other kings.  He has a lineage that you belong in and is inviting you to become family.  May you see that whatever season of life you find yourself in, Jesus can carry the weight.  He’s sufficient.  And may you let Matthew and his brothers remind you that there is a King named Jesus and you are really going to want to know Him.  And the best part is…you can.

Developing Rhythm.

It’s been too long since my last blog.  I’ve started about four different blogs since the one I last published, but at some point I hit that turn and I can’t seem to bring it to completion.  I’ve thought a lot about this and have asked a lot of questions internally.  Mainly, “Why do you suck so much at keeping a blog?”  And the best part of asking that question is that I actually came to an answer.  The truth is that I approach writing blogs like I approach life…

I have a really hard time not being perfect.

I don’t stop blogs because I can’t finish projects, which at times is a truth in my life.  I don’t stop blogs because I can’t think of things to say (we all know that’s not true).  I stop blogs because at some point right in the middle it isn’t poignant enough, deep enough, poetic enough or some other selfish reason that just makes me turn my head and say…”Eeehhhhhh.”  I get this idea in my head that every stroke of my keyboard needs to be leading to a transcendent moment…and when they don’t I tell my own words that they aren’t valuable.  And that has made me realize not only how much I do this with my writing, but how much I do this with my life.

How many aspects of the mundane have I criticized?

How many moments of the faithful roll of life have I viewed as unimportant?

One thing I’ve learned about my life is that I love catalytic experiences.  I love creating moments.  I’m the kind of guy that if I have some money to spend, I want to spend it on an experience.  Who wants to replace a cracked windshield when we could drive to Savannah for a night?  Who wants to buy a shirt when we could try dinner somewhere we have never gone before?  Who wants to buy furniture when we could go to Harry Potter world?  Pay for a hair cut?  Ppppfffff…I’ve got clippers for you honey.  You’re beginning to see why Emily Manginelli is truly the saint that she is.  I’ve somehow bought into the idea that if I can’t take a snapshot of a moment, it isn’t that great of a moment.  And I’m beginning to realize what a lie that is.

Translate that to right now.  To planting a church in Atlanta.

When people ask me how things are going I always say the same thing, “Good I think.”  What I’m really saying behind those three words is, “We aren’t a thousand people yet, so I’m pretty sure we are failing entirely.”  That might be a bit of hyperbole, but it’s true to some extent.  Almost four months into life in Atlanta I’m beginning to realize that my perspective is completely dominated by the lack of highlight moments.  I wanted church planting to be like the Miami Heat…and it’s a lot more like the San Antonio spurs.  For those who know that means you really know what I mean.  We haven’t had a night where tons of people are giving their life to Jesus.  We haven’t had moments where everyone in the room is bawling their eyes out because my preaching is just that good.  We haven’t remedied Atlanta’s poverty problems and have the photo-op that is going to keep everyone giving.

But you know what we have had?

A good transition.  I like Atlanta and my boys and girl are happy.

A closeness with Emily’s family that we have never had before.  Everyday God is moving in our family life.

We’re developing relationships with amazing people.  Some Christian.  Some not.  We are becoming close with neighbors, single moms, coffee-shop workers, doctors, college students and the amazing random friendships that God is brining our way.

We’re learning how to live every moment for the gospel.  I don’t go to a grocery store, coffee shop, soccer game or meeting without asking Jesus to move.  I’ve never lived life so intentionally.

We’re gathering faithful people to worship Jesus and listen to the word on Sunday nights.  Right now it’s a whole lot of family and some really epic people…but God is stirring things.  Jesus is glorified and in the middle of so many questions of “How in the world do we do this?”,  God is just doing this.

And you want to know what is in the middle of all of the mundane?  A rhythm.  A Jesus rhythm that is helping me realize that he really doesn’t live in the highlights…he lives right in the real.  I’m sure there are going to be those occasional epic moments that me and Jesus get to do some high-fiving, but right now I’m completely OK just hanging with Jesus in the real.  Because it’s in the real that I’ve got to grow with Andy, Christina, Eliza, Braden, Zach, Shawn, Whitney, Daniel, David, Lauren, Chris, Jennie, Ethan, Shelley, John, Emily, Brandon, Tyler, Mel, Holly, and so many more.  God has started to give me people to love.

And for me…that’s all the highlight reel I need.

May you today stop measuring life by your own definitions of perfection.  May you stop ignoring what is right in front of you because it isn’t as epic as you wish it was.  May you finally realize that grass will only be greener in heaven…and oh yeah, I actually already have that now as well.  Stop living life like a half done blog…because I’m pretty sure what really matters is in the middle of whatever you just gave up on.

A little bit goes a long way.

There is a video helping introduce this blog.  If you haven’t seen it, you can catch it here:

Emily and I arrived in Atlanta about 2 weeks ago and have spent the last few weeks settling in and getting our family settled in our new land.  Before we left Seattle one of our main goals was raising funds to help move our family and team to Atlanta and launch the process of planting a church.  We were blown away by the generosity of our friends and church family who were so kind to give.  Several times during the process of fundraising people looked at the large need and said to me, “Let us know when you have some specific needs, we will want to give to those.”

I heard it enough that I realized Christmas would be a great place to let you know of some small (and larger) specific needs for our family and team as we plant this church.  So here is a list of some specific needs we have that you may want to help us with.  Thank you for your overwhelming generosity and know that you are loved and missed.  Merry Christmas and may your home be blessed.

1.  The Gift of Bibles, Discipleship and Care Resources | One of the main things that I have found as a pastor that God often leads me into an intersection moments in people’s lives.  Whether they are at a personal crossroads, in the midst of suffering, or at a point of questioning about faith they are often at a point where they are looking for a next step.  One need we have as a church plant is to build up our resources of Bibles, new believer materials, discipleship books and resources for people in need.  A gift you could give is giving towards this or buying some specific books that we often give away or use in discipleship as God brings us people.  (Feel free to email me at if you want to purchase some specific books)

2.  The Gift of Transportation | As many of you know, Emily and I aren’t the only ones moving to Atlanta.  Seth, Megan, Maureen, Annie, Mitch, Marina and Sierra are also diving in with us.  Several of our team members are selling everything to follow Jesus and help us plant this church.  I know they are working and saving as much as they can, but finances are still going to be very tough.  Several of them will need to purchase cars upon arriving in Atlanta and you would be surprised how much a little bit could help them in this.  Consider praying about giving towards helping them afford a car in Atlanta.

3.  The Gift of a Coffee Date with Jesus (and a Team Member) | As we plant this church…there’s going to be a lot of one on one’s in coffee shops.  And believe me…I’m not complaining.  One thing that I learned from the last 6 years in Seattle is the ability to just sit down and buy someone coffee is a huge road to being authentic and sharing the gospel with them.  Truthfully, I’ve ministered more in coffee shops then I ever have in a church building.  A great gift could be as simple as some Starbucks Gift Cards for our team to have the freedom to reach out to people in Atlanta and see Jesus move.

4.  The Gift of the Silver Screen | If you know MC4 then you know that videos have been a huge part of the way we communicate in ministry.  From just being idiots to sharing the depths of God’s love, videos are a medium that will be very central in planting our church.  We need to purchase the materials to get this all started.  Cameras, software, etc.  Consider helping us get this launched and maybe I can make you your own MC4 news. 🙂

5.  The Gift of Caring for Our Kids | One of the greatest benefits of working at MC4 was being able to have Jake in our World Class Preschool. (And if you think I’m just being nice I’m not.  Our Preschool is remarkable and if you have little ones you should get them involved)  With the move, Preschool is a new expense that we are trying to make happen and believe is important for Jake and soon enough Rohan.  We have found that Preschool is a bit more expensive down South and are considering finding a local preschool or doing a home school collaboration to serve our kids and also reach out to families in our area.  Either way…we need resources to make this happen.  Maybe the gift you can give this year is loving on our kiddos.

Thank you so much for your love and support.  There may be something that is on your heart to give that we didn’t write about and know that we would be honored to by any form or act of generosity towards our mission.  Any gifts you want to give can be made out to Mill Creek Foursquare Church.  You can give online at (under the resources tab is online giving and you can select the Atlanta Church Plant and write a specific memo for what you are giving towards) or send something directly to the church.

God bless and have an amazing Christmas.