Ministry Update – July 2014

We are continually grateful for the provision and prayer that God is blessing our family and ministry with through our faithful supporters/partners in ministry. This season of our lives is proving to be very fruitful and we are learning and growing more than we could ever have imagined. All of the credit for that goes to the Holy Spirit at work within and around us. We pray continuously for you and your families as well that the power of the Spirit would remain at work in and around you. Thank you again for your continued partnership in ministry. If you have any friends or family that might be interested in joining us as ministry partners (prayer and/or financial) and/or would like to receive our ministry updates, please send their info my way. Here are some updates on what the Lord is doing through our ministry…

We are continuing to serve at Providence Church and are loving the mission, vision and people of the church. We are forming deeper relationships with other families and we are becoming more integrated into the leadership and vision of Providence Church. There is much going on in many different areas of ministry, but here are 3 key areas that I would like to update you on and that you can be praying for…

1. Church Plant update

The vision for the church plant is coming along well. We have been praying, reading, and talking with our leaders about what God’s vision is for this church. We believe we have landed on a name for the church body and a generalized vision (it needs some refining, but it’s a start :). The name is “We Are Church.” The website will be wearechurchnc.com (Note: much of the terminology we will be using is from Francis Chan’s books, videos, etc.). We will continue to keep you updated on the refined vision as it comes. We are excited about the vision that God is bringing and we ask for your continued prayers!

2. Youth Mentoring Program

It is awesome how sometimes God leads us into things that we would have never guessed he would lead us into. This is one of those things. Over the past few months, I have had the opportunity to begin mentoring/discipleship relationships with a couple of young men. We have notice a HUGE need in the Denver, NC area for strong Christian men to mentor young, troubled teen boys. I have a great friend and partner in ministry who is a PA at a family practice in Denver. Through his work he has noticed that there is a large amount of young boys in the area without father figures, from broken homes, on all kinds of psych meds, etc. The harvest is plentiful. So, we are taking steps forward to create a third party mentoring program that is masked as simply a community mentoring program, but has real intentions of restoring the lives of these young men and their families through the power of the gospel.

3. Providence Pastoral Update

I had the privilege of preaching my first sermon on June 22nd. The sermon was titled, “A Disciple’s Life” and was based on Luke 14. It is up on the church podcast if you would like to take a listen, grace appreciated J (providencenc.org, click on sermons, click the itunes icon, scroll down to “A Disciple’s Life”). I had an absolute blast teaching. It must not have been too bad (HaHa!) because they have asked me to preach again on Sunday August 3rd. Come join us that Sunday if you are able. My family and I would LOVE to see you! Furthermore, we are continuing to lead and shepherd at Providence. I am co-leading Life Groups now and will be preparing and leading an 8-week initiative in the fall called “The Tangible Kingdom,” based on Hugh Halter’s book. This will be a missional church series where we will study the missional identity of God’s church. Please pray for this series and for the power of the Spirit to work in all of our hearts and to lead us into aligning our lives more with his mission instead of aligning His mission with our lives.

Lastly, I want to leave you with a prayer of encouragement from the book of Ephesians. This is my prayer for all of us…

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” – Eph. 3: 14-21

Sincerely in Christ,
Josh Wood (Leah, Emma, Ezra, Ashley, and baby girl #4 coming in early October)
Missionary Church Planter

Church Planting Residency – Update 1

Greetings Friends:

I want to begin by saying “Thank You.” Thank you to those who have been partnering with us in the work that God is doing through our ministry. Thank you for your financial and prayer support. This is the first of many updates about our church-planting, gospel advancement endeavor. We plan to keep you updated about the ongoing work of the Lord.

Where do I begin? This first couple months of our adventure has proven to be all that we thought it would be and more. Let me break it down into categories:

FAMILY

We knew that there would be an adjustment period for our family while making the transition. Getting to know new people, a new area, and a different “flow of life.” We are really enjoying the journey so far and “the girls” are doing great with the change. Our family has had its ups and downs over the past month and we can definitely tell that there are spiritual battles waging in our midst. However, we know that God has called us out to begin this new work and we will be faithful to Him in that.

I love the encouragement from Peter in 1 Peter 5. Peter encourages the elders of the exiles of the dispersion to:

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” –1 Peter 5:8

MINISTRY

We have really enjoyed plugging in and serving at Providence Church so far. We are meeting new people, plugging into leadership, and getting our feet wet in some different areas of ministry.

I have also been continuing my studies. I am now a couple months into a new learning program called Porterbrook Learning (http://porterbrooknetwork.org/porterbrook-learning). Porterbrook is a theological training program equipping Christians for ministry in the local church and church planting. It connects the heart and mission to the Bible story. So far we have gone through two incredibly rich books (Gospel Change and The Bible in Missional Perspective). I am loving it so much. Most recently I had the privilege of leading our class discussion on the latter book. I don’t know about you, but for me when I teach is when I tend to learn the most.

God is also beginning His new work in regards to the church plant. We already have a few other families that are on board with us. These are solid men and solid families that God has blessed us with. We are so grateful and excited to begin this journey together.

We have began meeting together weekly. Please pray with us that the Spirit would continue to lead us and would continue to bring more core people to us.

Thank you for your continued partnership in the gospel. We love you and pray blessings over you and your loved ones! May the Lord continue to use us all for His glory and the expansion of His Kingdom. To Him be all glory, honor and praise forever, Amen.

Sincerely in Christ,

Josh Wood (Leah, Emma, Ezra, and Ashley)
Missionary Church Planter

Our New Endeavor

You’ve probably heard it said before, “Healthy things grow and reproduce.” Well, Leah and I are passionate about seeing the gospel planted, grown, and reproduced in the lives of, not only our beautiful daughters, but in the hearts and lives of our neighbors and those in our community. Because of this passion, we have some very important, exciting and major news to share with you. Dear friends and family, we have been called by God to step out in faith and pursue a new ministry endeavor. We believe that God is calling us to be church-planting missionaries.

Beginning February 1, 2014, We have an awesome opportunity to be involved in some specialized church planting, pastoral training with Providence Church in Denver, NC. Providence is a wonderful, Jesus loving, gospel centered, multiplication model, church-planting church. We are excited to be partnering with them in this new endeavor. They have graciously budgeted a small monthly stipend toward our Church-Planting Residency. However, that leaves us with a substantial financial gap that we are trusting the Lord to provide through support raising. So, that’s where you come into the picture. We want to share the opportunity with you to be blessed by giving to the Kingdom of God and the advancement of His gospel through this missional, church-planting opportunity. We need your help. Will you please consider, pray about, partnering with us monthly; $200 a month, 100, 50, 25, however the Lord leads you. Or perhaps you would like to give an end of the year, one-time gift. All our support will be tax-deductible and filtered through Providence Church. All of the details are listed below.

So, for the next 18 months or so, along with weekly pastoral responsibilities at Providence, we will train, learn, and grow in the areas of missional church-planting. We will develop a working understanding of missiology, ecclesiology, and theology in regards to a new church plant. Research, define, and develop a comprehensive launch plan for the church plant. Actively disciple, raise up and equip leaders to be a part of our core team and much more.

Most importantly though, prayer and the gospel will be the fuel for all that we do.

So, would you please consider and pray about investing in the Kingdom of God through our ministry. Consider supporting us financially. Again the details are below and please feel free to contact me for any further questions you might have. Would you also pray with us and for us? We desperately crave your prayers. We believe God has great things in store and we are so excited about these next steps.

To find out how to give, please visit my website. Thank You!!!

Teach Your Children/Share Your Faith

As I sat in “the brown chair” (the premier spot for evening story time at the Wood house) the other night reading bible stories to my children, I had an interesting revelation come to me; teaching my children about the things of God is not all that different from sharing my faith with my unbelieving friends. You see? A couple days prior, I had gotten into a great conversation with my neighbor (let’s call him John) about his journey growing up Catholic, his quest for how God fits into his life now as an adult, and the typical financial decisions we all have to make for our households (like how much to save for retirement, how many times per week should we eat out, etc.). We had an awesome conversation about all of that and I had the privilege of encouraging him to look to Jesus and shared some biblical principles with him on the topics at hand.

Then, flash forward to me on “the brown chair” with my girls. I was blown away by the similarities in the two conversations. Not to say that my buddy John has the smarts of my 7 year old, but he is on a similar level in regards to knowledge and understanding of the things of God. The bible tells us that “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18). Furthermore, in chapter 2 of 1 Corinthians, the apostle Paul explains that the wisdom of God is revealed to believers through the Spirit. “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit,” Paul writes (1 Cor. 2:14).

I find in my conversations with my girls that I need to use simple language and not assume that they know the terms we use (“Christianese”), concepts we have grown to accept, etc. For example, even simple terms we use like fellowship, devotional/quite time, born again, “seeking The Lord,” and so on. I constantly find myself using terms and phrases like these around my kids and they look at me like I’m from outer space. Emma, my 7 year old, is now at the point where she just asks, “Daddy, what does that mean?” It’s so awesome because it even makes me learn how to define things at the term or concept’s most simplest form. It is eye opening to realize that to your children and to the unbelieving world, we must start with the basics. I cannot and do not expect my 2 1/2 year old, Ezra Kay, to know how to add 5 + 7 without first teaching her how to count from 1 to 20. In the same way, my friend John must understand the story of God and his desperate need for a Savior, at least on a basic level, before he can understand what it means to be “born again.”

We are living in a post-Christian culture. We cannot assume that people know these things and simply choose not to believe. Sometime that is the case, yes. However, I am convinced that many folks have simply never thought about some of these things and/or have never been taught. So, Dads, Moms teach your children the things of God and as you do so, think about how you can discuss the same concepts with your unbelieving friends. The world needs Jesus, but we cannot assume that they know “the story.” We need to teach them in the same way we teach our children. And in many cases, it begins with the basics.

Where is God leading me?

I ask myself this question about 20 times per day, haha. As many of you know I have decided to step out in faith and follow the Lord in a new direction. I am going to be transitioning out of the Worship Pastor role at Life Fellowship. Many have asked questions such as “What led to this decision? What are you going to do? What is your plan? etc.” So, I thought one of the best ways to answer these questions and more is to write a blog about it and express my heart to those of you who are interested. Thank you all for caring, praying, reading, and being interested in what God is doing in the life of my ministry and, more importantly, His kingdom work. With that said, I will attempt share my heart and where I feel the Lord leading me.

What led to your decision to step down as Worship Pastor of Life Fellowship?

A number of months ago I began to feel an unsettling feeling in my heart. Not as if something was wrong, but as if perhaps God had something else, something more for me in vocational ministry beyond worship ministry. I love Life Fellowship. I love Pastor Bobby, the staff, leadership, and the church. So, when I first started having these feelings I didn’t pay much attention to them because I was content, safe and happy. However, the feelings didn’t subside. In fact, over the following months they began to grow stronger. I began to evaluate myself, my giftings/passions, and where I feel like God is directing my path over the next 10-20 years and beyond. I quickly began to realize through counsel, prayer, and assessments that God has wired me more broadly. What I mean is, God has created me as a “jack of all trades, master of none.” I used to think this was a bad thing. “Why can’t I just be super good at one thing?” I would ask myself and God. However, the more I learn about how God has wired me, the more I realize and embrace that He created me this way on purpose and for a purpose. So, with these revelations about myself, along with the rapid growth of Life Fellowship and the increased specialization of the Worship Pastor role, God made it clear that this season of ministry was coming to a close. I, along with Pastor Bobby, believe that I could lead the Worship ministry at a very high level, through much growth, etc. However, I don’t feel that I will be fully satisfied in this role long term. I feel as though the more this role becomes a silo role (meaning only responsible for and doing one thing), the more I will feel unfulfilled in my ministry and influence.

I believe strongly that God has called me and created me to be a pastor. I have learned so much in my time at Life Fellowship and will cherish forever the wisdom, leadership experience, and pastoral experience I received there. God is stirring in me a passion for people and the biblical role of pastoring/shepherding the local church. I have strong passions for evangelism, discipleship, and family ministries (in particular seeing fathers discipling their wives/children). I do love music, but I also love many other things. I do believe that God wires some to be experts in Worship Ministries and to dig deep in that area and live in that silo. However, God created me with desires and abilities to serve in many different capacities within the local church.

What are your next steps?

I have no clue, haha. No, seriously I am most definitely stepping out in faith and following the Lord’s call. However, I do feel confident that He has led me to the decision of closing this chapter and stepping out into the “unknown.” Beyond that I am completely and utterly dependent upon Him to lead me to the next chapter. I do know that He is calling me and leading me into a season of learning, growth, and exploring other facets and roles of local church ministry.

I am currently looking for a local church pastoral position that would allow me to serve in some other areas of pastoral ministry. I would love to have the opportunity to gain more experience in the areas of teaching, counseling, shepherding, governing the body, etc. So, I could see myself serving in a smaller church as an Associate Pastor, Small Groups Pastor, Discipleship Pastor, Family Pastor, etc. I am also open to stepping out of ministry for a season, getting a “real” job (haha) and plugging into a local church where I would have the opportunity to explore some of these other pastoral giftings. However, God has given me such a passion for His church and His mission, I find it hard to imagine myself out of full-time vocational ministry, even for a season.

I know that God will lead me on the right path and that He has a plan greater than any I could create. So, my next steps are to pursue any and every open door and allow Him to lead me. I covet your prayers, support, and any connections you might have with churches that might be looking for a Pastor with my gifts and passions.

How has God used this season of your life to better define who you are in Him?

Lastly, as I said previously, over the past number of months through lots of prayer, thinking, wise counsel and hard work I have been able to better define and articulate how God has wired me. I believe God has given me 5 major roles to play in life: 1. Disciple/Disciple Maker, 2. Husband, 3. Father, 4. Leader/Pastor, and 5. Artist. The first 3 roles are obviously more personal and the last 2 are the “professional,” more public ones. As I said before, I do love music and I love leading worship. I would love to continue to lead worship on the side as well. However, I also feel that music is a form of artistic expression in my life. God has blessed me with artistic gifts such as music, graphic design, and videography. In my wiring, I am seeing myself as more of an artist as of late. I love songwriting and performing and want to do more of that. So, I would like for music to move more into the artist realm (on the side) and have less of a presence in the vocational realm. This has then allowed me to see that vocationally, God has created me as a leader/pastor. In this next season of my vocational life, I want to devote myself to furthering my experience and growth in the leader/pastor role.

I am so excited about the next chapter that God is leading my family and I into. My wife, Leah, and I would like to publicly thank all of you for your undying love and prayers. We could not be more at peace with God’s hand and leading in our lives. To Him be all glory, honor, and power forever.

Israel – Day 8

Hey all,

Well. We have come to the last blog post for our trip to Israel. We arrived home yesterday and are currently trying to work off the jet lag. We had an amazing time in Israel. It actually seems very insufficient to say that because it is truly an unexplainable, unforgettable type of trip. There are simply not words to describe it. As one of our ladies described it, “The Bible was black and white and 2D before. Now it is in 3D and in color.” I couldn’t have said it any better. What a wonderful experience. Thanks to all who took part in our adventure via watching these videos. I hope and pray you were blessed by watching them and learning along with me. Thanks for watching.

Israel – Day 7

Hello everyone,

The team and I made it safely back to Charlotte today. We had such an amazing time in Israel. We are so thankful for your thoughts and prayers while we were away. This has truly been a life changing trip for myself and the others. Here is the video for Day 7 of our trip. This was a great, jam-packed day. I will be posting Day 8 soon. I hope you enjoy Day 7. Thanks again for watching. I hope and pray the Lord blesses you through these videos.

Israel – Day 5

Shalom from Israel,

I have been so blessed by the encouragement I am receiving from these videos. We are having such an amazing time here in the Holy Land. Thanks for watching. May the Lord bless you through seeing and experiencing these sights with us. Here is Day 5 video. Enjoy…

Israel – Day 4

Hey friends,

We are having such a blast here in Israel. We actually just arrived into Jerusalem today (Day 5) and had another wonderful day of amazing tours and insights. We actually had the unique opportunity to experience the beginning of Shabbat at the Western Wall (aka. the “Wailing Wall”).

I am a day behind on posting Day 4’s video because the wifi was $25 per night at the hotel we were staying in last night at the Dead Sea. So, needless to say, I was not going to pay that, haha. Here is our Day 4 video. You will definitely want to watch until the end because we had a great, silly time of team bonding at the Dead Sea. Again, I so wish you all were here, but am so glad you are going through this journey with us through the eyes of your computer 🙂 Much love from Jerusalem…