LifeSpring Church began worshiping together in September 2005 and is now 10 years old. We are looking for another person to join our current pastor, Bruce Logue, as we work to grow in our devotion to God, service to our community, and sharing of the Good News. Our desire is for the individual that joins us to become the lead pastor after a year of getting feet wet, connecting with our community, and becoming immersed in LifeSpring’s church life. For more information or to arrange a phone call, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mission of LifeSpring:
- To reach Millennials in Merced. High hanging fruit. Many have given up on church while at the same time having deep spiritual hungers which they attempt to but can’t fill.
- To eventually be able to expand our reach to the UC. This campus is slated to be 10k students in 2020 and eventually 25k. The UC currently has something near 65% minority students, and its graduates go everywhere.
- To have a vocation in Merced for which we are known and which draws people to us/it.
- To be able to grow to the point of splitting into other LifeSprings within Merced and then to other communities.
- High Speed Rail will expand the pull of Merced. More people will move to Merced for its cheaper property because HSR will collapse the commuting distances to the Bay Area, etc. http://www.hsr.ca.gov/
- More and more companies are finding Merced an attractive place to come due to the UC and also the $1 Billion construction project now underway. We have a Joie De Vivre hotel coming to town. Also a big upgrade to our mall. Etc. See the Steve Carrigan article below.
- Merced is in the bullseye of the state. If you drew an X on a state map, the legs going from corner to corner, Merced would be virtually in the hinge of the legs. It is 45 minutes from the Fresno Airport and within 2 hours of 4 major international airports. 80 miles from Yosemite. 120 miles from the coast.
- California needs healthy church plants. In California we have 12% of the national population. This is a great place to multiply one’s effort.
- UC-Merced is making a huge impact on Merced and offers many opportunities for the future growth of LifeSpring. A recent editorial by Chancellor Dorothy Leland explains the economic impacts of UCM. www.chancellor.ucmerced.edu. and www.ucmerced.edu/news-tag/economic The UC is making big impacts with its solar research, stem cell research, and other extraordinary work. One of its professors was featured in a National Geographic article about cave dwellers in Peru and recently in a Nova program about cave dwellers in the Himalaya Mountains. 2020 is an important year for the UC. That year will be the target for the doubling of the current campus footprint, and the doors will open for 10k students, up from its current capacity of 6k.
- Merced City Manager, Steve Carrigan, wrote a December 31 editorial outlining the accomplishments of our city in 2016 and the new development that is coming in 2017 and beyond. It’s an incredible article and can be accessed below for the whole article.
- In short, Merced is poised for awesome growth, and LifeSpring wants to be invested in the opportunities that will come as a result. The Central Valley of California is not sexy compared to San Francisco or even Sacramento, but it, and particularly Merced, is rising to the new opportunities. The Central Valley is a magnet, attracting people who want to escape the high prices, scarce and expensive property, and frenetic pace of the Bay Area.
- LSC has done all the hard work of setup, 501.c.3, finding a meeting place, becoming well known in the community, and developing a weekly rhythm.
- It does not have denominational, congregational baggage due to its young age as well as the lack of denominational experience of many LifeSpringers.
- LSC has a core of people who are committed to Merced. They are not people who, came with the pastor to establish LifeSpring.
- We expected we would use the template given to us by Stadia, but experience and context proved that the template would not work. Factors included the fact that Merced was/is, 1) among, if not the, youngest demographic in the U.S., 2) currently a very poor community, changing as the UC matures, and 3) not experiencing similar growth patterns as wealthier cities. Perhaps the biggest impact we have negotiated was the economic downturn of 2008. We do not consider these to be negative factors, but rather challenges which made LifeSpring tougher, nimbler, and more courageous.
How we’re building spiritual maturity at LifeSpring.
LifeSpring has a built-in weakness or difficulty – one leader/pastor/staffer trying to mentor a whole group in the matters of Jesus and discipleship. So, ironically, the way I have chosen to do that is through selective teaching and leadership, eg, preaching and teaching in whole group assemblies. (Since we are small right now, this is possible.) The result is that LifeSpringers realize and accept that they each have a responsibility for the well being of our community.
This strategy has occurred in three ways:
- We have given LifeSpringers “jobs” and turned them loose to succeed or fail without a negative reaction from me. So, for example, “Amanda” is our “LifeSpring five-minute break” coordinator. She arranges for the food and the volunteers for our coffee break in the middle of worship service. It runs smoothly because of what she has learned.
- Spiritual growth has occurred as LifeSpringers volunteer to give the “table talk,” the meditation before the Lord’s Supper. We watched personal spiritual awareness grow as they give these short talks over time. Everyone at LifeSpring will tell you that this is their favorite part of worship, hearing now Jesus and his death/resurrection inform their lives and give them hope. By speaking out loud about their faith they grow. My part in this was to construct a set of simple guidelines to keep the table talks on target. See below for the guidelines.
- Preaching and small group are important pieces of the strategy for spiritual growth at LifeSpring. On both of these occasions you will hear a) references to contemporary issues and how the text being considered speaks to those issues, b) intentional references to how texts were studied, what their textual context is and how that connects to its meaning, etc., and c) a measured “diet” for LifeSpringers to make sure they are getting both breadth and depth of understanding of scripture.
I have been generally pleased with the outcome of this as I observe LifeSpringers talking about the impact of passages on their lives, talking to and praying for each other about spiritual matters, and expressing desires that reflect a greater maturity.
What kind of person do we need?
- Someone who is extroverted and hospitable. One of the things we do at LifeSpring is called the Second Sunday Social. It is a regularly scheduled social event that keeps LifeSpringers interacting with each other socially in a frequent way. It works. Whoever we recruit to come here must be someone who empowers, reminds of, and models this behavior. We are also intentional about connecting to our City.
- Someone who is well-read and theologically mature.
- Someone who is creative and able to enlarge the work that we are doing in Merced.
- Someone with a long range view of growth. In the words of Eugene Peterson – A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.
- LifeSpring needs someone who can patiently teach and empower our folks to think well, commit to discipleship, and lead them to share the gospel with their friends in socially sensitive ways.
What I am/have been reading:
It has been my interest and passion to read things of contemporary interest by well-qualified theologians and writers. It is my deep conviction that a person who wants to lead and teach a community of Christians must be well read. Otherwise, he begins to taste like re-brewed coffee grounds, weak and full of after taste. Here is a short list of things I have or will be completed:
Money and Possessions by Walter Brueggemann
The Day the Revolution Began by N. T. Wright
The Sin of Certainty and The Bible Tells Me So by Peter Enns. (BTW, Enns is going to be a presenter at the Pepperdine Bible Lectures, 2017.)
A Community Called Atonement by Scot McKnight
The President’s Devotional by Joshua Bubois
The Shaping of Things to Come by Frost and Hirsch
Disarming Scripture by Derek Flood
Waiting for Gospel by Douglas John Hall
God at War by Greg Boyd (Boyd makes the important point that it is impossible for God to “allow” evil to occur while at the same time engaged all-out war against it.
How the Bible is Actually Works by Peter Enns.
Changing Our Mind by David Gushee
There are two stories that help to illustrate and explain our strategy. Both stories come from listening to conversation in Starbucks.
- The first was a conversation I had with a barista. “How was your weekend,” I asked. She said, “It was okay. However, I had to work on Sunday and I hate working on Sunday.” “Why,” I inquired. “The people who come in on Sunday are so rude.” Within a one mile radius are two large evangelical churches and the largest Catholic church in town. She was making a comment about how some “christians” treat the baristas.
- The second was a conversation with a good friend of mine. He is an atheist, a Ph.D. in psychology from our UC-Merced, and now an instructor there. “I was just accosted by a woman while I was waiting on my coffee,” he said. “She asked me if I had accepted Jesus as my personal savior. I held my tongue and didn’t smart off,” he said.
- Both conversations highlight the challenges we have in a university town to show the relevance and truth of Jesus while attempting to go under or around the prevailing notions about who Christians are and how they will treat you. It’s difficult but not impossible.
Merced is a GREAT place to be for those who love people, what to have the freedom of relating to a whole city rather than just to a single church campus, and love the opportunity of talking in respectful ways to people who do not yet know Christ but who are suspicious of churched people.