Raising Up Emerging Leaders

Matthew 28:19-20   19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”      Post Resurrection we read the story of Jesus speaking to his disciples. Many doubted that he had actually risen. The gospel writer in Matthew states that the guards and the disciples doubted. Much doubt was clouding the faith of the followers and non-followers of Christ. Before the end of the book of Matthew Jesus appears before his disciples and tells them to “Go make disciples” When you are doubtful or fearful it can cause you to be paralyzed in your actions. Jesus insists that they go. As they go he says, “make disciples” which can also be interpreted as learners. Go and make disciples/learners of all nations. If the church is going to be relevant with a voice of authority in our current culture we must continue with what Jesus has commanded. We are in a time where a generation has lost its understanding of deep biblical truths. We have a generation of biblically illiterate christians when it comes to the understanding scriptures. Hence, the ability for preachers to to proclaim a gospel that is no gospel at all and the people don’t know the difference. Could there be a time in our history where the church is positioned to retake territory from the enemy by way of strong discipleship for community transformation through a partnership between the church and the school.    Let’s face it, America is one of the strongest nations in the world, yet we are one of the least educated. According to the PISA results which measures global K-12 educational rankings, the U.S. is trailing far behind (24th in Reading). We build laws around the separation between the church and the state which in terms pits great academic education against great theological foundations. Historically the church has been at the forefront of pioneering educational efforts in our country. In the early 1800 ‘sit was the hospitality of the church in Atlanta that housed the beginnings of Morehouse and Spelman College. The Reformers in the 15-16th century was all about the educational empowerment of the masses. When Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the church it was in protest of the establishment being the only ones who had access to real power, the power of reading for one’s own understanding.     “The Reformation has been an extraordinary force for global education. The Middle Ages gave birth to the first European universities that trained a select cadre of scholars. But in the Protestant Reformation, the quest for universal education was unleashed. Martin Luther, a professor at the University of Wittenberg, early on called for the magistrates to establish schools so that children could learn to read the newly translated Scriptures and benefit from the learning of the ages. Later, John Calvin, in the French context, established the Academy of Geneva that became the center of Reformed theology”.     Fast forward to the 21 Century and we have a huge gap. There is a gap in our public educational system where the dropout rate is alarming nationwide for children of color. If we are really going to engage our communities again we’ll need to ensure that we make education a priority in our urban churches. I believe that the church has the answer for the breaking of the school-to-prison pipeline. I believe the church has the answer to teacher retention, positive culture and climates on campuses, as well as raising up emerging leaders for the transformation of communities we serve. My experience as a church planter/pastor and educator has brought me to a place where God has allowed me to operate in my true vocation. 2017 will make 20 years in public education as a teacher, principal, and district administrator. 2017 also makes 16 years in ministry as a preacher, church planter, pastor and apostolic leader. These two worlds have collided not by accident by by design. God has used me in a unique way in which he has gifted me with this uncanny way of bridging these two worlds that historically has always operated in unison. Historically the church has always been invested in the education of its population. Today I call it raising up emerging leaders for the transformation for thriving communities.    What would it look like for the church to partner with schools in our neighborhoods by way of afterschool programming, tutoring, mentorship, parent advocacy and even site based instruction. I was a charter school principal for 5 years. I had the gift of being given an opportunity found and run a charter middle school in South Los Angeles. More specifically my school was a block away from the University of Southern California. At the same time I had the opportunity to plant a church in Los Angeles as well. We were able to do both because we understood that the school was our mission field not for proselytizing but for discipleship for the purpose of community transformation. In other words, our goal was not to plant a church, but to plant transformational communities.    In the early days of the charter school movement in Los Angeles the church played a vital role in its survival. As a matter of fact, I would argue that if it weren’t for the black church the charter school movement would not have lasted past 5 years of it inception. It was the black church that found itself as the midwife for the birth of an educational movement we see today. When start-up educational entrepreneurs wanted to open schools they didn’t have property. They went around neighborhoods of color and found that the church was present but during the week it sat empty. These pastors opened their doors and so began the incubation for a beginning movement that today is here to stay.    I think we are still on the verge of a next wave between educational institutions and the church. The first round was missing the church’s actual involvement in the discipleship of emerging leaders. The church collected rent and made accommodations to many operators but that was it. The laws of the land prevented pastors from being involved in any substantial way which lead to the lack of discipled emerging leaders for communities of color. As a result you had young people graduating going on to college but never returning. What would it look like if the church had an important part to play in helping to shape the minds of young people? What would it look like if there was an integrated curriculum around the theology of social justice and liberation for the purpose of community transformation. I believe that would compel those who “make i out” to return because of the deep desire and obligation to their community to be a part of transforming it.   If the urban church is going to be relevant in this 21 Century we have to be able to understand what’s happening around us. Our young people are showing up to our churches not knowing how to read Dr. Suess but also not being able to or understand the gospel of John. The mandate and mantle is not for everyone. I believe that there is a remnant remaining who understand the call that Jesus is giving in this season is to “make learners” of all nations TEACHING them to obey...

Matthew 28:19-20

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”


Post Resurrection we read the story of Jesus speaking to his disciples. Many doubted that he had actually risen. The gospel writer in Matthew states that the guards and the disciples doubted. Much doubt was clouding the faith of the followers and non-followers of Christ. Before the end of the book of Matthew Jesus appears before his disciples and tells them to “Go make disciples” When you are doubtful or fearful it can cause you to be paralyzed in your actions. Jesus insists that they go. As they go he says, “make disciples” which can also be interpreted as learners. Go and make disciples/learners of all nations. If the church is going to be relevant with a voice of authority in our current culture we must continue with what Jesus has commanded. We are in a time where a generation has lost its understanding of deep biblical truths. We have a generation of biblically illiterate christians when it comes to the understanding scriptures. Hence, the ability for preachers to to proclaim a gospel that is no gospel at all and the people don’t know the difference. Could there be a time in our history where the church is positioned to retake territory from the enemy by way of strong discipleship for community transformation through a partnership between the church and the school.

Let’s face it, America is one of the strongest nations in the world, yet we are one of the least educated. According to the PISA results which measures global K-12 educational rankings, the U.S. is trailing far behind (24th in Reading). We build laws around the separation between the church and the state which in terms pits great academic education against great theological foundations. Historically the church has been at the forefront of pioneering educational efforts in our country. In the early 1800 ‘sit was the hospitality of the church in Atlanta that housed the beginnings of Morehouse and Spelman College. The Reformers in the 15-16th century was all about the educational empowerment of the masses. When Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the church it was in protest of the establishment being the only ones who had access to real power, the power of reading for one’s own understanding.

“The Reformation has been an extraordinary force for global education. The Middle Ages gave birth to the first European universities that trained a select cadre of scholars. But in the Protestant Reformation, the quest for universal education was unleashed. Martin Luther, a professor at the University of Wittenberg, early on called for the magistrates to establish schools so that children could learn to read the newly translated Scriptures and benefit from the learning of the ages. Later, John Calvin, in the French context, established the Academy of Geneva that became the center of Reformed theology”.

Fast forward to the 21 Century and we have a huge gap. There is a gap in our public educational system where the dropout rate is alarming nationwide for children of color. If we are really going to engage our communities again we’ll need to ensure that we make education a priority in our urban churches. I believe that the church has the answer for the breaking of the school-to-prison pipeline. I believe the church has the answer to teacher retention, positive culture and climates on campuses, as well as raising up emerging leaders for the transformation of communities we serve. My experience as a church planter/pastor and educator has brought me to a place where God has allowed me to operate in my true vocation. 2017 will make 20 years in public education as a teacher, principal, and district administrator. 2017 also makes 16 years in ministry as a preacher, church planter, pastor and apostolic leader. These two worlds have collided not by accident by by design. God has used me in a unique way in which he has gifted me with this uncanny way of bridging these two worlds that historically has always operated in unison. Historically the church has always been invested in the education of its population. Today I call it raising up emerging leaders for the transformation for thriving communities.

What would it look like for the church to partner with schools in our neighborhoods by way of afterschool programming, tutoring, mentorship, parent advocacy and even site based instruction. I was a charter school principal for 5 years. I had the gift of being given an opportunity found and run a charter middle school in South Los Angeles. More specifically my school was a block away from the University of Southern California. At the same time I had the opportunity to plant a church in Los Angeles as well. We were able to do both because we understood that the school was our mission field not for proselytizing but for discipleship for the purpose of community transformation. In other words, our goal was not to plant a church, but to plant transformational communities.

In the early days of the charter school movement in Los Angeles the church played a vital role in its survival. As a matter of fact, I would argue that if it weren’t for the black church the charter school movement would not have lasted past 5 years of it inception. It was the black church that found itself as the midwife for the birth of an educational movement we see today. When start-up educational entrepreneurs wanted to open schools they didn’t have property. They went around neighborhoods of color and found that the church was present but during the week it sat empty. These pastors opened their doors and so began the incubation for a beginning movement that today is here to stay.

I think we are still on the verge of a next wave between educational institutions and the church. The first round was missing the church’s actual involvement in the discipleship of emerging leaders. The church collected rent and made accommodations to many operators but that was it. The laws of the land prevented pastors from being involved in any substantial way which lead to the lack of discipled emerging leaders for communities of color. As a result you had young people graduating going on to college but never returning. What would it look like if the church had an important part to play in helping to shape the minds of young people? What would it look like if there was an integrated curriculum around the theology of social justice and liberation for the purpose of community transformation. I believe that would compel those who “make i out” to return because of the deep desire and obligation to their community to be a part of transforming it.


If the urban church is going to be relevant in this 21 Century we have to be able to understand what’s happening around us. Our young people are showing up to our churches not knowing how to read Dr. Suess but also not being able to or understand the gospel of John. The mandate and mantle is not for everyone. I believe that there is a remnant remaining who understand the call that Jesus is giving in this season is to “make learners” of all nations TEACHING them to obey...

Fatherless Generation


This past week I have been wrestling with an issue that has haunted me my whole life: fatherlessness. Last week I attended a workshop put on by our President and CEO Efrem Smith called, "A Fatherless Generation." In that workshop the one sentence I walked away with was, "Use the pain of your story to leverage your relationship with youth."

This issue of fatherlessness reared its ugly head again this past week after looking through my Facebook feed and seeing a disturbing video. Police wrestling a homeless man to the ground in front of The Union Rescue Mission on Skid Row and shooting him five times. As a human being, a civilian, and a black man, this incident sincerely disturbed me. But it also brought Efrem’s words to mind, “Use your pain.” Hearing about this incident deepened my pain, and to understand why I want to share my story.
 
I was born and raised all around the greater Los Angeles area. I lived in a two-parent home during my early elementary school years. My father was my hero. He was an entrepreneur and started his own roofing company. It was a very successful business that he created from the ground up with only a high school education. We were a model family in the community and everyone knew who we were. However, things began to change one summer. My dad would come home later and later. He and my mom would argue a lot. I would see him drinking more often than normal.
 
When I was transitioning into third grade, my mom decided to leave my dad, and we had to go live with my grandparents. When I asked my mom why we were leaving, she said with tears in her eyes, “Your daddy started using heroin and he is very abusive to me. I want our family to be safe.” As an 8-year-old kid I couldn’t grasp the fact that I would not be living with my dad anymore.
 
Throughout my elementary school years my dad would come to visit me at my grandparents’ house, but often times it was under the influence of drugs and alcohol. I can vividly remember he and my grandfather literally fighting in the backyard because my grandfather didn’t want him to try and kidnap me at gunpoint as he had done before.
 
The last contact I had with my dad during that time was a phone call he made to me saying that he was going to send me $50 for an allowance. I can still remember going to the mailbox everyday when I got out of school and looking for a check or cash from my dad, but unfortunately it never showed up.
 
As an adult, I had settled in my heart that my dad was no longer a part of my life and I had to move on. In the Spring of 2003 my uncle, who was a sanitation worker, came over my house and told me he saw my father on Skid Row. My uncle wondered if I wanted to go see him and offered to take me. At this time in my life I had been married for nine years with three small children. I thought about it and said, “Yes, I would love to see Peter Watts, Sr.” In my heart I wanted to see him because I had so much anger toward him and wanted to let him know how much he had hurt me.
 
I drove down to Skid Row with my wife and kids, hoping to find this man. I wanted to give him a piece of my mind and show him the family he would never be able to see. As I drove down the street, I saw him wearing filthy clothes, pushing a shopping cart into the local liquor store. I pulled my car over and jumped out and stood outside of the store waiting for him to come out. After five minutes had gone by he came out of the store and we looked at each other face-to-face. When I thought I was at last ready to unload the hurt and pain that had built up over the past 29 years, a spirit of forgiveness came over me. We locked eyes. He began to cry and so did I. We embraced for what seemed like hours as he repeatedly said, “I’m sorry for what I did to you and your mom.”
 
I tried to build a new relationship with him, but unfortunately we lost touch again and I haven’t seen him since. Seeing the video of a black male on Skid Row being shot and killed by the hands of law enforcement brought back these feelings of guilt and frustration. I think what hurt me the most was the fact that at that time they didn’t have a picture or the birth name of the man, all they released was his street name, “Africa.” All I could think to myself was, What if that was my father?
 
I have processed my feelings all week as I thought about what I would share with the world. I have come to the conclusion that God has me at World Impact to, in the words of Efrem, leverage this pain. What if my father, who is part of the urban poor, the marginalized, and forgotten in the city, had been empowered by the Gospel? What if my father had been a TUMI graduate or lived in a Siafu Leadership home where he would have been mentored and trained for the work of the ministry? I always will have to live with this thorn in my flesh, but I also hear the words of Christ who says to me, “My Grace is sufficient.”

2020 Vision



On this 5th day of January begins a new journey into the unknown. For the past 5 years we have been embarking on a 2014 vision with the church not knowing for sure how it would come to pass. As I shared with my congregation on yesterday God revealed himself and came through at the last hour of the last day of the last month of 2014 to make that vision come to pass. We have a accomplished some really great things within our church over the past 5 years. We've seen many new believers come to Christ along with new baptisms. We have seen our church grow from a core team of 30 adults and kids to a congregation of over 100 adults and kids in five years. We have young people who have received full ride scholarships into prestigious universities across the nation as well as new ministries and new churches praying for new launches in 2015. God has been really good to us!

In this next season of ministry I pray that God will continue to show us favor in ministry. 2020 vision is what he has given me for the next 5 years. According to some of the definitions in the medical field "normal" vision is 2020. It simply means that you can see what a "normal" person can see at 20 feet. By looking at lots of people, eyedoctors have decided what a "normal" human being should be able to see when standing 20 feet away from an eye chart. If you have 20/20 vision, it means that when you stand 20 feet away from the chart you can see what the "normal" human being can see.  In other words, your vision is "normal" -- most people can see what you see at 20 feet. 

At first I wanted to change what God had given me about the theme 2020 vision becuase I definitely didn't want to be numbered among the "normal" people. What God impressed in my spriit was that he loves to take "normal" people and do extraordinary things with them. It is ok to be considered normal and to not think of yourself more than we ought. If we allow God to take the normal and do the extraordinary then we can only give credit to where credit is due. So, yes I'm normal and I see with 2020 vision BUT God takes my vision and does the extraodinary with it. 
God uses ordinary people like Nehemiah, Paul, The disciples, and others who know that if it had not been for the grace of God there is nothing that any of them would have been able to accomplish in their own "normal" strength. Be encouraged this year of 2015 know that God can do much with normal. 

Here is our 2020 Vision:
We exist to be a church that reflects its community with the sole purpose of creating a kingdom movement to bring Shalom of the city.

Mission Statement
We are an urban multiethnic church that embraces the whosoevers and Impact our communities.

Core Values
·       Missional and Holistic
·       Devotional
·       Beloved Community
·       Incarnational
·       Whosoevers
·       Forgiveness
·       Reproducing

By 2020 our goal is to be a sending church to EXPAND the kingdom of by planting other churches and be engaged in demonstrations of compassion and justice through Christian community development.

We will EQUIP leaders by providing training and workshops to support ministry activities and city movements. Our church will be a place where church planters and their APEST teams will incubate as interns for the purpose of learning and putting theory into practice.

We will operate in the five fold gifts of the ministry by raising up leaders to be a part of the APEST team that will help to give vision to the future of our church.

Our church body will be those who know how to          ENGAGE the city through marketplace mission in grassroots organizations, education, business, politics, and the social sectors of our city.

We EMPOWER the urban poor through education and training teaching them not only to learn how to fish but empower them to leverage their resources (financial or people) to eventually own the lake.


We will EVANGELIZE the lost through our continued outreach events such as Bugaboo, Miracle of Christmas and Performing Arts street ministries as well as strengthen disciples through our weekly small groups and classes such as Belong, TUMI, and GROW. We will also continue to develop our Affinity groups (Men, Women, Singles, Couples, Teens, and Young Adults) for the purpose of multiplying disciples within the church.