Journey Church Launch Report

Here’s the Journey Church Launch Report, compiled by my pastor Kent Murawski.

I’d definitely encourage you to check out his personal blog including his new devotional “Rest Assured” at http://kentmurawski.com

Blessings to you!

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Wow, what can I say? God has blown us away. He has begun a miraculous work in our midst. Here are some amazing things that have been happening since the launch:

  1. New people are coming to Christ for the first time and/or recommitting their lives to Christ every week!
  2. We have grown by 66% with an average attendance of 50+ people
  3. We have welcomed 9 new members to Journey Church over the last few weeks through our Next Steps Growth Journey
  4. We’ve had our best semester of small groups ever! Around 50% of our church is currently engaged in a small group
  5. We’ve had an average of 6+ new guests each week since the launch several of whom have said they want to be a part of the Journey

With all these wonderful things happening, we feel the need for increased prayer. My primary prayer has been, “Lord, just don’t let me mess it up!”

Points of Prayer
Could you please pray for us in the following ways?

  • Pray that people would continue to come to Christ for the first time and others would be restored to a vibrant relationship with Jesus.
  • Pray that our momentum would continue throughout the fall and into the next season. I am asking God that we would see 80 people coming consistently by years end.
  • Pray for increased vision and clarity as I set aside time to seek the Lord concerning 2015
  • Pray for wisdom as I look to readjust some of our leadership structure for this new season.
  • Pray for me as I decide about whether or not to go back to work in the New Year. My desire would be to continue being full-time with the church.

Thank you for your partnership in making this launch a success. The best is yet to come! We love and appreciate each of you so much!

-Kent Murawski, http://kentmurawski.com

10 Days is Changing Lives in Boston And Across the Nation!

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Coordinators and regular participants from 10 Days Boston gathered together on October 17th for a culmination dinner to share stories of how God impacted our lives.  Here are a few testimonies:

Growth in Personal Relationship with God:

“My time alone with God was one of the most personal and intimate that I’ve had.” - Anne Freeman

“Many things were brought into my awareness and things hindering my relationship with God were broken off” - Anonymous

“I had a personal transformation in my understanding of people from the Orthodox and Catholic traditions, and I now understand how important it is to form alliances and friendships based around Jesus, not on our differences.” - Sung Yun Lee

Growth in understanding God’s work in Boston:

“Despite what people think, God is alive and well here. I love how God loves on His people.” - Derek Arledge

“I always love to worship with people who are not like myself. There’s a richness and beautiful harmony present when different groups come together.” – Kaci Norman

“I was able to hear of God’s work across churches and different parts of the city. Coming together for prayer and worship was and is what Boston needs.” – Kevin Ortega 

“I feel a greater sense of unity and better understanding of cultural attributes and realities of other ethnicities and denominations.” – Nicole Singleton

“My church doesn’t do all that much with other churches; it was new for me to see so many different churches cooperating, especially because Boston is so parochial. I think this is a move of God!” – Anne Freeman

“My biggest takeaway is the splendor and breadth of the church!” – Matt Crane

A Cool Scatterplot

We took the data from the survey that we passed out with the 10 Days participants (n=15) and then correlated the number of gatherings that each person attended with a “Spiritual Growth Indicator.” To determine the “Spiritual Growth Factor,” each person answered “Strongly Disagree,” “Disagree,” “Neutral,” “Agree,” or “Strongly Agree” to these three prompts:

1. 10 Days Boston helped me to personally grow closer to God

2. 10 Days Boston impacted my view of what God is doing in the city of Boston

3. Because of 10 Days, I now have a greater sense of respect for Christians of other denominations and ethnic groups.

Each answer was coded with a specific number of points (Strongly Disagree = -2, Disagree = -1, Neutral = 0, Agree = 1, Strongly Agree = 2)  Each person was given a “Spiritual Growth Indicator” based on their answer to these questions and plotted on a chart with the number of 10 Days events that he/she attended:

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As you can see, the number of 10 Days events that people attended is correlated with spiritual growth! The people that went to more 10 Days events indicated more of an impact in their personal relationship with God and corporate understanding of how God is working throughout Boston.

The bottom line is: 10 Days is changing lives. Thanks for being a part of it!

For more details about each of the 10 Days evening gatherings, check out the

10 Days Boston Photo Gallery and Praise Report

I’d also encourage you to read Pastor Dana Baker’s word that the Lord impressed on her, “Are we willing to be interrupted?” I believe this word is the key phrase that God is speaking to us this year with 10 Days.

10 Days Testimonies Across the Nation

10 Days is part of a larger, nationwide movement of cities coming together to seek God. There were over twenty cities that participated this year! Here are some testimonies:

New Hampshire: Repentance and reconciliation between Catholics and Evangelicals; 95 leaders around Manchester coming together for a ministry leader’s breakfast!

Houlton, Maine: Many churches who previously haven’t been interested in partnership are now asking to be involved in praying and building the kingdom together!

Connecticut: This state-wide movement began with a night of worship with over 2,000 people and 100 worship leaders

Chico, California: “Going low” leads to God “lifting us up” – unity leads to Joy!

See the full 10 Days Nationwide report here:

http://www.10days.net/node/101

This is a season of fulfilled promises. God is truly up to great things, and the best is always yet to come.

I want to close with the concluding prayer recited across the nation during 10 Days:

Come, Lord Jesus.

Come, in the fullness of your kingdom!

Come, in the fullness of your victory!

Come, in the fullness of your glory!

Amen.

Life Is No Accident

Hi friends!

Here at Journey Church, we’re in the midst of a sermon series called “God’s Not Dead,” based on a book by Rice Broocks.

As Part 4 of this series, I shared a sermon last week entitled “Life Is No Accident” – explaining the scientific, philosophical, and psychological evidence pointing to the fact that everything that is living is designed intentionally and not the product of random chance.

I used to stand at the edge of the Grand Canyon and think, “The forces that created this canyon are incredible.” This is true – but is this the end of the story? Does the beauty of our world point to anything beyond itself?

Within scientific evidence, there are irreducibly complex systems such as bacterial flagellum that contain multiple pieces that are needed simultaneously to operate properly and therefore could not have developed through a step-by-step process of adding one piece at a time, as evolution proposes. Additionally, scientists are still unable to explain how the 100 trillion cells in our body are coded with 4-letter chemical DNA alphabet.

Next, some people think that science and faith are not at odds with one another; but in reality science and faith together help us understand the world. Science actually supports theistic belief in the sense that science can answer the “what” and “how” of what we see, and philosophy/religion can help us answer the “why.”

Last, we must realize the implications of the Darwinian hypothesis are that nothing produces everything, non-life produces life, randomness produces fine-tuning, and chaos produces information. But it does appear that everything that is living is designed intentionally, and not the product of random chance.

Life has meaning and purpose. You are more than just matter and the product of random chance. God has a plan and purpose for you. Each person’s ultimate need is for meaning in his/her life, and one of our greatest callings in life is to personally discover God’s purpose for our lives. Personally, I’ve discovered such joy in living not for myself but for the one who created me.

This begins by coming to God and building a personal relationship with Jesus – You are made to relate to God in a vibrant, personal, and intimate way.

Why don’t you go to God and ask Him, “God, who am I to you? What is the purpose for my life?” You might be surprised how He will answer. I’d also encourage you to dwell on Psalm 139, describing God’s handiwork in creating you.

Listen to the entire sermon here: http://jcboston.org/gods-dead-part-4/

10 Days Boston Praise Report

With Catholic, Orthodox, Evangelical, and Taize services, the denominations of host churches for this year’s 10 Days Boston evening gatherings was more diverse than ever before. There were 19 different churches present the first night in Cambridge! Additionally, the Indian gathering brought together five different Indian people groups for the first time!

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18 churches represented at the first night in Cambridge

With this diversity, though, comes the difficulty of defining the unity we share in Christ. The 10 Days theme that we chose this year was “One Heart” – When Jesus prays that we would be one as He is one, what does that mean? Who is involved in this oneness?
At one of the evening gatherings, I was sitting down for a time of fellowship, and one of the women asked me what my home church was. I told her that it was an evangelical church called Journey Church in Harvard Square. She turned to another lady at the table and asked, “Is she a Christian?” and then they spoke in five minutes in another language before determining that yes, I was.
This was an external example of the question that I believe we all are wrestling with. Is this denomination really following Jesus? Is this person really “saved?” Who is “in” and who is “out?”
But perhaps this is the wrong question for us to be asking. In engaging with brothers and sisters of different Christian streams, I believe our approach towards one another should be filled with grace and love rather than suspicion or judgement. We should seek to learn and understand, by asking “Who have you put your trust in?” and “What is your relationship with Jesus like?”
The bible describes that the unity we share in Christ as a unity not of doctrine but of Spirit (Eph. 4:3, 1 Cor 12:7, Phil 1:27). When I started to think about it, I’ve discovered that any two individuals don’t agree completely due to the nuances of theological understandings.
As Rev. JP Robins and the Northern Suburbs team grappled with the question: “What unites us and who do we unite with?” they determined that “We are one with whoever confesses ‘Jesus as Lord.’”
Yes, what makes us one is our revelation of Christ – our acknowledgement that before Him we are all desperate for His redeeming grace.
We must never lose the centrality of Jesus in our quest for unity because He is the only one who unites us.
Other testimonies
There’s truly nothing like getting to spend time with God, and one man who was able to join us for the majority of the daytime gatherings, remarked, “That was the best week of my life.”
A young couple was so inspired by the 10 Days vision after the first night in Cambridge that they traveled around the city every evening, making it to eight of the 10 Days gatherings with their young one-year-old son.
Here is a video clip from one of our morning worship sessions out in front of Harvard University. As you can see, God really released His joy over us and many students came to join in the dance!
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At the last gathering of 10 Days Boston, we stood in front of a wall of windows overlooking Boston to make declarations over the city. We also divided into groups and shared about how God was working among our various communities.
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Worshipping and praying over the city of Boston

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Night 2 – Pastors in the Northern Suburbs uniting in prayer

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Night 5 – UniteBoston friends coming together for the Taize prayer gathering at Trinity Church

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Connecting with God at the Fenway gathering on Night 7

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Night 9 – Father Dimitri explains about the history of the Orthodox Church

We praise God for the work that He has done to unite followers of Jesus during 10 Days Boston this year. We also celebrate the many other unity-minded initiatives that are bringing together the body of Christ in Greater Boston.

May God continue to bind us together to proclaim that Jesus is Lord over Boston!

Strategic Prayer for Boston

How do you pray for a city?

It can seem to be overwhelming to discern how we can be praying for Boston. Yet Boston is just made up of various congregations and Christ-followers serving as Jesus’ hands and feet in their individual communities.

At the last gathering of 10 Days Boston last Saturday, we stood in front of a wall of windows overlooking Boston to praise God and make declarations over the city.

We also divided into groups and shared about how God was working among our various communities. Here are some insights that Christians from all over the city shared:

Somerville/ Watertown/ Greater Boston Area

Praise: Unity across various Christian congregations and many new church plants
Prayer: Due to the transient nature of this part of Boston, strong church leadership and discipleship is needed to help Christianity to continue flourishing here
Dream: We dream that the gospel would have an irresistible influence in the community

Cambridge/ Allston

Praise: In the various outreaches that have been done, there is more openness and receptivity to God
Prayer: Pride and self-righteousness is a stronghold; pray that God would bring us to our knees and show people how much they need God
Dream: We dream that every resident in Cambridge would know the true extravagent love of God

Somerville

Praise: We praise God for new life in Somerville including the YWAM base and many new church plants
Prayer: Pray that the people who have been jaded and hurt by Christians would encounter God’s love
Dream: We dream with God that the Christian church in Boston would be reknown all over the world

Everett/ Revere/ East Boston/ Chelsea

Praise: This group was united in same vision to work with people who are improvised
Prayer/ Dream: Pray that all churches would gather together under one purpose

Brookline

Praise: God is saving many Hindus in Brookline!
Prayer: Pray that God would continue to work within the Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, and young adult populations.
Dream: We dream that everyone would respect the various streams of Christianity in the city and we would all come under the banner of Jesus

South End

Praise: Many churches in the South End are very active in the community (Starlight, Lion of Judah, more) and there are many new church plants!
Prayer/ Dream: In the South End, there is a large divide between the rich and the poor and tension between people of various socioeconomic backgrounds. Pray for peace and the fullness of God’s shalom.

Jamaica Plain/ Mattapan/ Back Bay

Praise: Crime rates lower than in the past
Prayer: Pray that everyone in the city would have a Christian friend
Dream: We dream that everyone would be able to do the work God created them to do and that this would strengthen and encourage the city

South Shore/ Quincy/ Plymouth/ Randolph

Praise: There is a tremendous movement of new people groups coming to this part of the city, including Brazilians, Haitians, and South Asians
Prayer: As God weaves new fabric, we pray that something new would arise from the old and that God’s movement would become visible
Dream: We dream that the people of God would learn to live with unquenchable expectation that they are part of God’s unstoppable movement. We also pray that the staff, systems and support needed for the South Shore dream is provided.

It’s when we come together that we begin to see how God is working corporately. Truly, God is up to great things in Boston!

What else is God doing in your midst? How else can we be praying for your community?

God’s Grand Masterpiece: Can you hear it?

Note: This is a devotional that I wrote for the 10 Days Devotional 2014. 10 days is an opportunity to set apart a season of seeking God together as the wider of body of Christ, in such a way that moves us beyond the walls of our own local churches, denominations, and ethnic groups.

10 Days starts this Wednesday in over twenty cities throughout the nation! Learn more about the 10 Days nationwide movement here, and 10 Days Boston here.

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Day 1: God’s Grand Masterpiece

From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Ephesians 4:16)

We all affirm Christian unity – but sometimes it’s difficult to imagine exactly what it is.

In my time of prayer the other day, Jesus showed me that the body of Christ is like God’s grand orchestra performing a symphony. In fact, our English word “symphony” comes from a Greek word meaning a “sounding together.”

In a good orchestra, as in the body of Christ, the uniqueness of each individual is celebrated. The booming low instruments coalesce with the twittering high instruments in a sort of a divine dance. Any good musician will tell you that in playing music together, the attitude of humility and honoring others above yourself is crucial. If any one group feels that they are the most important, the others get drowned out, and the melody is destroyed.

In a symphony, it is also vital that each person keeps his/her eyes on the conductor. Only the conductor sees it all and is able to direct each group to their proper place and in the right timing. If an individual were not to heed the direction of the conductor, this would have rebounding effects to every other musician, as well as the symphony as a whole.

When you listen to a symphony, distinct instrumental parts dwell within the others, becoming something far greater together than they are as individuals. The love of music that binds these musicians together is greater than any external differences that seemingly separate them. As they play together, they learn and grow as one, sounding forth a harmony that is both indescribable and wondrously beautiful.

At each of your 10 Days gatherings this year, seek to find the underlying tune, the sweet resonance of the harmony of Jesus within your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Listen for the sound of unity, of followers of Jesus coming together all around the nation and world to take part in God’s grand masterpiece. Can you hear it?

It’s Labor Day! Get out and Play

Highlights from this month:
Gearing up for 10 Days Boston! September 24 to October 4
Journey Church Free Community Car Wash
Labor Day was initiated in 1882 to create a holiday for workers. That means that Labor Day is a day for play! (hey, that rhymes!)

What are you doing on Labor Day?

This past month, I’ve incorporated a practice of asking myself every morning, “How are you doing?” and “What do you need?” and then inviting God into that conversation. It’s hard  to explain how this simple time of reflection has literally transformed my life, as I tend to be terrible at taking care of myself.

Gottfried Benn said that, “Whoever wants to understand much must play much” and I’ve begun to understand that one of my greatest needs in life is to play with friends.

This past month, I’ve swam in a waterfall waterside, completed the ice bucket challenge, and even floated in the midst of the sparkly bioluminescence in the ocean. At right, my friend Sarah and I with crazy seaweed hair during a ministry picnic.

Play gives me a fresh perspective on life and fills me with joy. In turn, I find that I’m more productive at work and overall a whole lot happier.

What about you? Are you good at taking care of yourself and tuning into what you need? I want to challenge you to incorporate this practice into your daily devotion time, so you can better take care of yourself and allow the fullness of who God made you to be to shine!

Read more about this in my sermon: Where the Spirit Dwells

UniteBoston Updates:

  • God is Uniting Boston with a Nationwide Prayer MovementWe are in the midst of a 40-day season of fasting and prayer leading up to October 4th.
  • It’s been so cool to see how God is bringing together the Christian Community in Boston - Check out 10daysboston.com to see the full line-up of geographical gatherings, ethnic groups, and denominational streams involved and watch the Youtube Video Update at right! If you don’t live near Boston, check out 10days.net for the 20+ locations throughout the nation taking part in these ten days of worship, fasting, and prayer
  • We had our first official UniteBoston Board meeting –  It is really great to have others oversee the mission of UniteBoston and the work we are doing in the city.

Journey Church Updates

  • Journey Church is preparing for our public launch on September 28! We are excited about this opportunity to welcome people home to Jesus and to the family of God. This week, our advertisements on the subway went up, and next week we will have a missions team from New York come to join us! Watch our Launch Video here
  • I organized a free car wash for the Cambridge community a few weeks ago, and we had an amazing response. We washed nineteen cars and had some amazing conversations with families in the area!

Prayer Requests and Praises!

  • Praise! I’m so thankful for how the Lord has rejuvenated me in this season and for the amazing friends He has placed in my life (yes, that’s you!)
  • Prayer! I’m beginning seminary this fall at Gordon Conwell’s Boston campus. I’m really excited about this opportunity to further my theological training and effectiveness as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. As such, my monthly expenses have increased. Let me know if the Lord is stirring you to be a part of the team of people that is sowing into all that He is doing through UniteBoston and Journey Church.  Together we can change the world!
  • Prayer! Finalizing all the logistical details for 10 Days Boston can be stressful – pray that I would find peace amidst all the moving pieces.
Ecclesiastes 3:13 says “It is a gift from God to be able to eat and drink and experience the good that comes from every kind of hard work.”

As important as it is for us to labor and work hard, it is to play. So get off your computer and go have some fun :)

Kelly