Early this summer, my good friend and partner in crime, Pastor Jesse brought me in on a journey that God was taking him on…a stirring to expand God’s Kingdom through church planting. He and Marisa had been praying and fasting, and were confident that God was calling them to plant a church specifically designed to reach their brothers and sisters who are far from God. I know how sensitive they are to God’s prompting…it’s HIS call that led them to Overlake seven summers ago.
After prayer and discussion with our Executive Pastoral Team and our Elders, we feel led by God to affirm the stirring of God in the Butterworth's lives and to release them to pursue church planting in the Greater Seattle area. We seek to partner with Jesse and Marisa:
Through resources (books, training materials, etc.).
Through finances (of a limited nature).
Through gratitude (for the amazing ministry that Jesse and Marisa have brought to OCC these last years).
I AM excited. I do believe that God has been working on my heart towards this regard, and I honestly want to be the kind of leader that releases leaders. I also know that all throughout scripture, God brings people in, builds them up, and sends them out. I’m on board with God. This has the potential to be a HUGE Kingdom win.
But I have to be honest (as I have been with Jesse) about my personal sadness which is due almost totally to the friendship that Jesse and I share. If you’ve been around OCC for a while, you have probably sensed that Jesse and I are the best of friends. I’ve never had a ministry partner so connected as we charge the hill for God together. We craft OCC services together. I preview his songs and give feedback, he previews my messages and makes them better (although he is responsible for a FEW of the lame jokes you’ve heard through the years). We touch base several times a day. We share several meals a week. The Butterworths do Christmas at the Howerton’s house. We’re in a Life Group together. So what I’m feeling is based upon the reality of separation.
YES, I get it…Jesse’s not dying, cell phones still work, and we’ll still sushi together every once in a while. Also, you’ll continue to see Jesse around, leading us at OCC when schedules allow. But I’m still wrestling with some grief - and I just wanted to be honest about that, because I’m betting that more than a few of you who love Jesse’s talent and leadership will feel grief as well. It’s OK. Give it back to God. It’s God’s fault, anyway. It’s His call that started this whole thing. HE can handle it.
In order to make this the greatest investment in God’s Kingdom possible, the elders have asked Jesse to explore communities west of Lake Washington, or areas roughly twenty miles from Overlake’s campus in Redmond. Jesse and Marisa are in that prayer process now and they request your prayers as they seek to land in just the right location.
Jesse isn’t looking for hundreds of Overlakers who love his music to attend this new church plant. His vision is to target people far from God. He IS literally looking for a dozen rough and ready missionaries to plant with; men and women who are willing to immediately give sacrificially, serve sacrificially, and invite shamelessly. If Jesse speaks with you personally about his vision (which he has the elders’ blessing to do), count it a compliment…it means he has identified you as that kind of servant leader.
Finally, there will be some who read the news of this move and will wonder about Overlake. You know that we are poised (after an incredible summer of growth) to move into a HUGE fall season of harvest, firing on all cylinders. Some might be tempted to see Jesse’s move as a distraction at best, or as a competition to attract committed, giving church members at worst.
Don’t do it.
Don’t go there.
God is in control. God is on high. God is sovereign. God’s Spirit is prompting Jesse and giving wisdom to OCC. God’s Spirit comforts and carries. Jesus himself promises to build HIS church, and He will continue building His church called Overlake as He is choosing to expand His church. He has not given us a spirit of fear…He has given us a spirit of LOVE, and it is with that spirit that I choose to celebrate the years I’ve served with Jesse as a gift, and to bless him and release him to the fullness of God’s call on his life.
As for a timeline, Jesse will continue to lead Overlake in worship through most of the fall. We’ll have a special service of commissioning the Butterworths, and we'll celebrate November's release of the new LIVE worship recording with especial poignancy. We'll also be praying for Jesse and Marisa on this new adventure – new both for the Butterworths and for Overlake!
But "new" has never been a stretch for God. Remember, He’s the one who says this:
Behold I am doing a new thing!
We’re thankful that God loves us, that God has a unique plan He is unfolding, and we’re thankful that HE is doing a new thing in all of us!