“It’s only been a year at Church of the Valley...”
It has been close to a year since God called me through the members of Church of the Valley of Santa Clara to become their 6th Lead Pastor in their 65 years of existence. It has been really hard, really sanctifying, and really great all at the same time.
Being able to see God use this church community to make disciples, to experience life change, and to make much of Jesus has been the greatest experience of my ministry thus far. My heart has grown with love for God’s people like I never expected it would. To point people to Jesus, and walk with them in their spiritual growth process, is my biggest challenge and thrill in ministry.
God has taught me a lot as the Lead Pastor, including how intensive, difficult and thrilling it is to be the man called to shepherd, teach, and equip a community to follow and grow in our Christlikeness.
July 1st, 2017, was my first official day as the new Lead Pastor of Church of the Valley in Santa Clara. With me came a small community of disciple makers who sweated, prayed and sacrificed to become a church plant community known as Compelled Together. We started in living rooms and backyards, meeting on Wednesday evenings. From this tight knit community spawned this desire to see disciples made of all generations, located in Santa Clara CA where I have lived more than half of my life.
In June of 2017, I was voted on by the existing Church of the Valley congregation to become their 6th lead pastor in their 65 years of existence. After the unanimous confirming vote, here I was, the lead pastor of an existing congregation of about 40, and another congregation that had been with me for over the past year or more. The two congregations couldn’t be more opposite, but we believed that in order for this to work, God would have to show up in supernatural ways by bringing unity around the Gospel. This would allow a true multi-generational community to thrive through discipleship which we believe leads to spiritual growth.
I have made some mistakes. I’d be happy to share them if asked in person, but the community that God has been building, pruning and transforming is unlike anything I could have ever imagined. We have grown spiritually, which has always been the mission of these two communities merging. It has happened in more ways than I can even communicate. I think we expect people to learn more as they engage in Sunday services, and possibly even do more as they commit to the mission of the Church. What we have seen are things that cannot be explained away by anything other than the Holy Spirit sanctifying and growing people to look more like King Jesus King. Many have “bought into” the vision of putting into practice God’s very words of love, service, discipleship, evangelism and dependence.
From the beginning, we wanted to make it clear that we trust God at his word. Which means we don’t question what God has to say because culture is in conflict with how God says it. This commitment has caused anger from some people, it has caused some to disagree, but it has caused even more people to engage more deeply and genuinely with God’s word like never before. How do I know that? It is through the life change and spiritual fruit we have seen in many of our community, "through the living and enduring word of God.” - 1 Peter 1:23
My history in ministry has been exciting, however, I also always felt that something was missing as I would travel and share the truth of the Gospel all over the country and beyond. Having worked in multiple churches in the past decade, it’s been sanctifying and educational to work in different communities where I’ve helped to shepherd and teach. I have worked with some of the best leaders in the Bay Area, and really anywhere. These experiences have created a true love for God’s people that I did not have earlier on in my ministry.
Who We Are
Our leadership and I know that COV is not going to be everyone’s preference as far as churches. I am so grateful that we are one of MANY churches in the Bay Area that teach God’s word faithfully, and make much of Jesus with our words and actions. We focus on making known that Jesus is as alive today as he was on the third day when he rose from the dead. We point people to not be satisfied with “just” being justified, but being willing to obey the word of God while growing to look more like Jesus.
We are committed to preach God’s word faithfully (and in context), to worshiping authentically without acting as if any of us have it all together, and to never doing “child care” but investing in our children & youth through discipleship and equipping.
We are not a one stop shop for everyone’s church preferences, in fact if growing to look more like Jesus isn’t something you care about, we will just offend you every week. But we are willing to trust God in the process of “equipping His people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:12-13
One thing I’ve noticed that is said about us by many people who visit COV (or that stick and commit to God’s vision of this community), is that they are surprised by the authenticity of many leaders in our church and that they are so real about who they are. We know that none of us have reached perfection, but we pursue the perfect one, which leads to progress. That is the church I’ve always wanted to be a part of, one that doesn’t have an unwritten expectation of perfection, but pursuit (of Jesus) and trusting that God would and does progressively sanctify us. I am honored to have Godly people in our community that I can confess my sin to, and who do the same with me. I am proud of the fact that even though we don’t like conflict, we are not afraid of it. We will engage to the best of our ability biblically to look for restoration when there is sin, but will not shrink back when restoration is not on the horizon presently.
We want to be an equipping church that God uses to take people in where they are: broken, sinful, prideful and without hope, but not let them stay there. We will attempt to teach and train people with God’s word, and to not be satisfied with people just reading the Bible, but actually doing what it says in their lives as if not to deceive themselves. (or miscalculate their faith) James 1:22
What We've Done
In the past year we have seen a lot of change, and a lot of growth not only spiritually but also in resources of people’s time, treasure and talent. In the past 12 months we have done a vision series, walked verse by verse through Ephesians, an evangelism series, and started the book of John, which we have taught verse by verse through chapter 5 (at the time of this writing). We plan to pick up in chapter 6 in the fall. COV will be doing a series called “Live by the Spirit” this summer. This series is meant to equip and teach what God’s work in our lives produces, as we follow Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit.
In 12 months, we have grown to two services, one that currently meets at 9:30am and one that meets at 11am. We have started up a new children’s ministry, youth ministry and college ministry. We have begun community groups, which meet throughout the Bay Area. Stay N’ play ministry has started to meet at COV. Stay N’ play provides a place for parents and their preschool and younger age children to make crafts, jump in bounce houses, play dress up, and enjoy stories and songs, in a circle time led by our Children’s Director.
We have held movie nights, offered service projects serving Valley Village retirement home across the street from our church campus. Members of the church also invest in Mission skilled assisted living, located on the other side of our church campus. COV members teach the Bible and sing hymns with those who are unable to make it to our church services.
We are working on launching some new ministry opportunities in the fall for women’s and men’s discipleship, care ministry and a possible future equipping center.
We have had the opportunity to send a group of our members to the Philippines on a mission trip to share Christ and equip leaders. We have also been able to help support many new missionaries connected to COV through the generosity of our communities financial support.
We’ve upgraded much of the audio and visual equipment in the worship center. Our new sound booth provides us with a lot more convenience and professionalism in tech ministry.
God has been building His team at COV. We have had the opportunity to bring a worship director, college director, tech director, children's director and youth director on to the staff to help lead and serve the greater community of Santa Clara and the surrounding cities.
Where We Are Headed
We as a leadership, have already started planning for the future to use the resources God has given and is giving COV. We have been talking about Church Planting and how our community can help plant another church community in the Bay Area, to reach another part of the city and county. We are discussing an equipping center. This center would be a resource for believers who want to grow as ministers in practical ministry such as serving, leading, evangelizing and discipling.
We are currently strategizing about how to upgrade while maintaining the beautiful church campus the Lord has provided us over 60 years ago.
I share all of this, because I am honored, excited, scared, and committed to what the Lord Jesus is doing in and through this community of faithful believers, who together, want to grow more into the likeness of Jesus. If you are in or around Santa Clara, I’d encourage you to join us on a Sunday morning at either 9:30 or 11:00 am and get to know this imperfect church family that follows a perfect Lord named Jesus.