It was May 2014 when I joined Focus on the Family. I started with pioneering sexual wholeness. This morphed into pioneering the Whole Life approach to discipleship together with Dinah who was also at Focus. This initiative was well received. Over 30 churches have taken or is about to take the Whole Life Inventory. Of these, 6 churches invited Dinah and I to coach them in the Whole Life approach.
With Whole Life taking off, Dinah and I began waiting on our heavenly Father for longer-term direction. Our prayer: Do we go deeper with Whole Life - including sexual wholeness?
As we prayed, several things became evident. The first were two words.
Over the past 4 years at Focus we have gone wide with Whole Life as we worked with various churches and leadership teams. For our next season, we felt that we will continue with Whole Life but that we needed to go deeper. The question was: Is Focus the platform to go deeper?
Church partners could not see Whole Life fleshed out in a local church. We can probably go a bit further in a para-church. But going deep in a local church will enable us to pilot Whole Life and implement the full outworking -- going right into the cell groups and homes within a congregation. We became more convinced that we had to go deeper. There was another development.
My year of Jubilee started March 2017. Over that February-March period, I received prophetic words from three persons in random situations. The words received combined "50" (meaning 2018) with both "Pastor" and "Senior Pastor". One went like this – “You will pastor a church that will lead people in the narrow and winding path that leads to salvation.”
Signs seemed to point back to the local church in 2018. Dinah and I intensified praying towards the fact we would deep dive -- into one local church. Our sensing was to move on in March 2018, with or without jobs. However, 1st March 2018 would be the annual luncheon that Focus hosts for Lead Pastors and Senior Leaders. We both felt that that we needed to stay on until 1st March help at this gathering. Then we received another piece of guidance.
Just Wait Upon Me
As we continued to pray, we felt the Lord asking us not to apply for any positions. After all, we desired a calling and we already have jobs. At the same time, we sensed that the next assignment would involve both Dinah and I. This meant that the eventual church, where we would deep dive, would make the approach and invite both of us. We noted that the approaches since 2010 were for me rather than for both. Finally, we also sensed it needed to be a Whole Life church.
Accordingly, I turned down approaches for me only. Several churches approached both of us. And some were Whole Life churches. These senior leaders shared their hearts with us. We shared our heart for holistic lifespan discipleship. Then we committed all this to prayer and fasting, keeping close friends and our children in the loop. We finally shortlisted after rounds of discussions. The best fit was RiverLife Church. It was end-Oct 2017 when Dinah and I said yes to RiverLife, just as Dinah entered her Jubilee.
RiverLife Church has invited Dinah and I to be part of their Senior Leadership Team. The church is part of a family of Singapore churches known as the Bartley Family of Churches (BFOC). There are 4 local churches who are part of this extended spiritual family.
Dinah and I approached our bosses at Focus to share all this. We gave over 4 months’ notice. Our last day was yesterday (sob). Focus was gracious and invited us to share our Whole Life journey with the 260 church leaders present at the event yesterday. The pastors and leaders present prayed for our transition led by the Singapore Anglican Bishop Rennis Ponniah.
My jubilee will end today. Today will also be the start of Dinah and my mini-sabbatical. We will enjoy a breather before we join up with RiverLife in end-March. Another adventure awaits...