I met Jesus while reading John 15. When I read that Jesus laid down his life for me and called me his friend, my life changed. These days, when I read the same chapter those truths still ring true, but I also pay attention to the pruning portion—the metaphor by which Jesus (the vine) prepares believers (the branches) to bear fruit. In those verses, he says that God, in his perfect timing, trims things back in a Christian’s life (or in the life of a community) to maximize fruitfulness.
In 2018 we learned that pruning is no joke. After sending out three church plants last year (and many faithful Group leaders, volunteers, and staffers with them) we felt a bit like a naked branch that had just witnessed large parts of itself being lopped off. However, we also learned that the vinedresser knows what He is doing—because immediately after pruning a new activity settles in—growing.
The funny thing about growth is that moment by moment, you’re mostly unaware it’s happening. It’s only looking backward that you are able to notice the difference between where you were and where you are now. Retrospection allows the small and insignificant moments along the way to become evidences of a divinely orchestrated process. It becomes proof that there is an intricately involved God who is faithful to keep his promises.
I’m deeply thankful we have seen such growth in attendance and finances this year. You will be able to see these figures in the pages to come. We must rejoice that God has added hundreds of people to our family, and brought us to what is easily the healthiest financial position in the history of our church! However, these evidences of growth are not the ones that are the most compelling to me. Right now there is growth everywhere in this family called “Reach.”
I’ve seen it in our young team, mostly made up of people in their first vocational ministry role. Nick Shafto, Brittney Malcolmson, and Megan Johnson are growing into powerful communicators and effective leaders, blessing many of us whenever they pick up a pen or a microphone. I’ve seen it through seasoned church leaders like Bob Stone making this community their own and pouring into younger generations. I’ve seen it in the church planters we have sent out—all four of them have already walked through great difficulty and great growth is the universal result. I’ve seen it in our Groups and DNA’s—we are diving deeper into each other’s lives, the Word, and our neighborhoods.
I’ve even seen it in our Sunday gatherings, not just in our fervency toward prayer, our passion for studying scripture, or our commitment to community—but also in our commitment to having conversations that matter. Marriage, divorce, alcohol, money, spiritual warfare, racial reconciliation, mental health — we have had meaningful discussions and taken significant steps in response to all these topics. The words have been winsome and the actions sincere.
When these moments are added together their sum total is indisputable proof of what comes after pruning if you stay connected to the vine that is Jesus. We are growing.
The fun part now is trying to guess where the next buds are going to sprout on our branch. What do you see when you let yourself dream about what God wants to do in this church? I see another church plant in the near future, and many more after that. I see our incredible community of musicians blessing us with a worship album. I see artists and business leaders alike strategizing how to take their faith into the places they work and create in. I see a community center that blesses the poor and hurting in our city, trains up leaders, and provides a safe environment to find your place in God’s family. And I see a beautiful, ever-increasing diversity of ages, races and backgrounds enjoying it all together.
As you allow yourself to wonder where this season of growth might be taking us and engage the pages that follow, remember that growth is never about growth itself. Fruit does not exist for fruit itself, but for others. So, we are going to stay connected to the Vine. We are going to keep focusing on bearing good fruit. We are going to keep giving that fruit away as it ripens. And we are going to trust the Vinedresser next time He says it's pruning time and do it all over again.
In short, we’re going to be the church and reach the city.
I’m honored to be your pastor, and to be on this journey with you, wherever it takes us next.
Perhaps the most important thing for you to know about the vision and culture of Reach is this: we don’t go to church. We are the church; a mashed-together family from all kinds of backgrounds, with all kinds of stories, that has come to an incredible agreement: Jesus saves, sustains, and satisfies broken people like us.
God didn’t reveal himself to the world as an outside observer - he lived among us. So that’s what we do. We fight the temptation to be a cold institution of spectators and strive to live as a family right in the middle of the joys and sorrows this world has to offer. Simply put, we’re all in this together.
So how would a community of people who believe they are the church live day-to-day? They would take all that “family” rhetoric and make it real as they lived out a new identity. They would serve others the way jesus served them. They would sacrifice for one another. They would invite people into their family. It would look pretty countercultural, to say the least.
God is bringing hope and healing into every nook and cranny of the world, and He is inviting us to be a part of it - the formerly hopeless becoming ambassadors of hope.
Early this year, Jake met Maria while walking out of a local grocery store. She needed help, so God placed Jake in her path to provide some food, and an unlikely friendship. Jake invited Maria to a Sunday at Reach, gave her a ride, and introduced her to strangers who would quickly become dear friends. This summer, many of us cheered wildly as Maria was baptized. Hers is one of our favorite stories of “church as family.” The moral? Anyone can meet a need, be a friend, and provide a glimpse of King Jesus... and often a glimpse is all it takes to change a life.
On a given Sunday in October, 2018 —
801 people gathered over 3 services at Lake Washington High School. // Just 10 months into weekly gatherings, 125 people turned View Ridge Elementary into a gathering place for Reach Everett. // At Centilla Cultural Center in the heart of Beacon Hill, 80 people got together to worship Jesus from across South Seattle. // In Kingsgate, 76 folks from Risen Hope serve their neighborhood with all they’ve got.
That’s 1,076 people worshipping the same Jesus.
Darin and Shayna Ault moved to Seattle years ago to train to plant a church. This year, they moved home to New Castle, Pennsylvania after serving and blessing Reach with all they had. We miss them dearly, and we’re thrilled to partner with them to plant Reach New Castle in the days to come.
Over $60,000 given to church plants this year
Reunion Church, Seattle
Risen Hope Church, Kingsgate
Grace and Mercy Church, Everett
Response Church, Alaska
Park Hill Church, San Diego
Flourish Church, Seattle
Liberty Church, Australia
The House of LA
Christ Crucified Fellowship, NYC
Karis Church, Japan
“What we’re finding in Everett is that God is already at work in our city — we’re just along for the ride.
This year has been incredible for our church family. We’ve welcomed so many new faces, helped folks find meaningful community in 6 groups, and have established several exciting connections in our city. Since launching Easter Sunday, we’re averaging 100 people in our Sunday gatherings, 58 people are serving, and we’ve dedicated 14 new children.
It feels like we’ve barely scratched the surface, and yet we’re already seeing fruit from what God has been doing. In Everett as it is in heaven!”
Typically, families of 6 go on trips to San Diego to enjoy some beach time. Tyson, Andrea, and the kids took a trip to City Heights to remodel homes, host an after-school kids club for refugees, and serve lunch to hungry homeless folks. Reach is becoming a family of missionaries.
“The work of ending slavery is so massive that it can only continue if we have key partners and allies. Reach is one of our longest standing, most faithful, most generous and deepest felt partners in the fight for justice and freedom. From constructing safe homes, supporting rescue and restoration operations and in 2018 helping us launch a community of leading businesses and churches called The Rescue Network, Reach has been with us every step of the way. We can not say ‘thank you’ often enough.”
– Del Chittim
Chief Operating Officer
“If you stand next to the Bothel family long enough, you’ll become a follower of Jesus. That’s just how it works. It’s not a formal thing, it’s just the way they live and you’ll be swept up in it. It’s bittersweet sending my church family around the globe to Spain, but I recognize that’s how God works — he brings his ambassadors for hope and healing where they’re needed most. Pray for the Bothels as God works through them on behalf of victims of sexual trafficking and exploitation.”
Thank you for your financial support of the mission of the church this year. We’re thrilled at what God has accomplished through your generosity and we’re eager to see what he is continuing to invite us into. Here‘s some essential highlights from 2018’s financial picture:
We take the stewardship of Jesus’ money very seriously. If you have any questions regarding financial policies or controls, please don’t hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
3 - 5 people of the same gender who read the Bible, pray, and point each other to Jesus.
Low commitment events to find friends, have fun, serve the city, or learn together.
A high commitment environment for strangers to become family. We eat, grow and serve together regularly.
1. Invite friends to start a DNA. Find your people at Growth Track or a Meet-up, and commit to a day and time together.
2. Use DNA resources on the Reach app. Sermon guides, topical guides, and startup materials will help guide your time.
3. Commit to showing up. You’ll give yourself and others a pathway to grow.
SOCCER MEET-UP: On Sunday nights this past summer, you'd find a few dozen folks playing soccer after the 6pm gathering. Most of them had never met each other before — some had been a part of Reach for years, and some had only been around a few weeks. God uses all kinds of activities to help people cross the chasm from strangers to friends.
This Group has been regularly serving and building relationships with teen moms and their kids in Everett through a non-profit called YoungLives. Pictured here is the Group along with the moms, their kids, boyfriends, and YoungLives leaders at their end-of-summer BBQ.
“We often joke that Groups from church are like the the "Land of Misfit Toys" in Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. People have their quirks...the things that don't work quite right...things that are broken. We can sometimes feel like throwing them away and be lured by the hope of a new shiny one.
So why do it? In the long run we find that God gives us more joy being a part of a community than without one. We get to be part of what he is doing in the lives of others.
We get to experience marriages being challenged and healed, stand by people as they hope for a new baby while experiencing miscarriages, encourage young moms who are sleep deprived and need help while learning to raise a little one, see God heal hurts from past negative church experiences, support parents with grown children as they watch their kids go through rough patches, and experience the joy of seeing people fall in love with scripture and take to heart what it says.”
“I can't even begin to describe the blessing that this DNA study has been for me and my life. The topic, leaders, worship, teachings, community, Word, timing, all of it. A true testament of God being so present in my life right now.”
Deeply moved by the needs of those struggling with abuse and mental illness, Lawrence gives hours every Monday night to point people to Jesus on a suicide prevention hotline.
“Christ’s example of enduring hardship tells me that if I leave this earth, my story of trying to follow Jesus as best as I can has the potential to help others encounter God — perhaps even more than I would have been able to myself.”
Over the course of this year, we served 501 unique children. We made lots of adjustments small and large, to better connect Kids to Jesus and have fun.
Kent and Kirsten Walter (left) joined our team as volunteer Elementary Kids Directors while Jessica Austin (right) signed on as part-time Young Childhood Director. It’s a huge task to lead and care for the many children and volunteers on this team. These faithful folks are doing an unbelieveable job. If you haven’t met them yet, you’ve got to say hi, and you should probably sneak them a gift card. They follow Jesus, love kids, and serve Reach in the most exemplary way.