I am so stoked to be writing this update to you today! I hope it finds you well, and I want to say a huge thank you, right up front, for your support, prayers and even taking the time to read through this email.
Before I jump into some highlights and stories about what Jesus is doing in Ventura, I want to share a few verse I shared with our launch team last week:
I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel... Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice... (Philippians 1:12, 15-18 ESV)
Paul is writing from Prison, and is busy evangelizing everyone he sees! There are those preaching the gospel, but slandering him and not doing it the way he would want, but his chief concern is that Christ is proclaimed!
We may not be in jail, or even at the end of slanderous or reputation-busting words, but there may be people out there who preach the gospel in a way we disagree with, and to that Paul's encouragement to us is to rejoice that Christ is being proclaimed! I love the attention off one's self-preservation or self-interest, and the attention to Jesus and his name being made great!
These are important words for us as we are on this journey, where it can easily be made about us, about our method, or philosophy of ministry, and Paul's command is to rejoice in the diversity of how Jesus leads his church! We trust Jesus to build his church and empower his servants. As Hebrews 12:2 tells us, Jesus writes the story and is with us on the journey.
First Launch Team Meeting
Our first launch team meeting kicked off in an epic way! A local church, Reality Ventura, hosted us and fed us dinner. They also joined us for worship and prayer and we sought Jesus for this city.
Matt Larson (Lead Pastor, Anthem Church) and Kevin Bailey (Campus Pastor, Anthem Camarillo) shared some of the Anthem story and we dug into what it means to be on a launch team. This was a night of great encouragement and excitement as we laid out the next steps for this new team.
The Alcorns moved to Ventura!
Just a couple of weeks ago, we moved to Ventura and are incredibly excited to be doing life and ministry where we feel called to be. There is an incredible story behind how God opened up this place for us, but in short, many have been praying specifically over this house, and it's been amazing to see God answer prayer like this! We're living just outside downtown Ventura, and have found ourselves walking just about everywhere!
It's already been a great tool for ministry, being able to host people and provide me (Bert) with a great home base to work. Calvin's even got his own room! We love being able to do ministry from our home, and are excited for the things God will do in this place!
Our Community Groups Launch 'The Story Formed Way'
The Story Formed Way is a starting point of discipleship. It is a 10 week journey through the Story of God with times of dialogue, interaction and reflection that serve as a foundation for new disciples and gives more mature disciples an easy, reproducible method for introducing groups of people (or an individual) to the claims of Christ and what it means to be a disciple.
It's already been a fruitful new journey for us. It's been great getting to see new disciples of Jesus understand the big story of God, and older disciples to understand the depth of God in a greater way and feel empowered to bring other along in the journey.
WHAT'S COMING UP
Weekly Prayer For Ventura - Every Wednesday 6:30-7:30AM
We gather regularly to pray for Ventura, other churches, believers, and the lost. We also gather to pray for Anthem Ventura, its team, mission and formation.
Hear The Vision This Month
Bert and Sherry will be sharing about Anthem Ventura at Anthem's campuses this month, and if you're in the area, we'd love you to join us! This is a great time to hear some updates, stories and dialogue with them about their journey.
Launch Team Meeting - May 28 6:30PM
We are currently building a launch team to help start a new church in Ventura. If you are interested in joining our launch team or learning more, you are invited to our next launch team meeting. Head over to anthemventura.org for details or shoot Bert a note at email@example.com.
HOW YOU CAN PARTNER WITH US
There are a variety of ways you can support both us and Anthem in this new gospel adventure.
1. Pray for us
We have seen Jesus work in crazy ways over the last month - in part because of your prayers! Please continue to pray for us, our new forming team and the mission Jesus has us on. Also be praying for other churches and believers in the city.
2. Join Our Launch Team
We are currently building a launch team to help us launch Anthem Ventura, if you live in Ventura county and would like to learn a little more, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have a goal to raise $25,000 by the end of this summer. If you would like to contribute toward the starting of this new church, click here to give online.
If you’d rather give via check, you can make the check payable to ‘Anthem Church’ and in the memo line be sure to put ‘Ventura.'
Mailing address: 390 Arcturus St. Thousand Oaks, CA 91360.
Please contact email@example.com if you have any questions about donating to Anthem Ventura.
4. Share our journey
As you see things pop up online, or stories you hear that are compelling, we ask that you help us spread the word. We've already gotten to meet some people via pure word of mouth, and it's such a treat to see how God uses people to orchestrate those meetings.
Thank you so much for praying for us, supporting us and sharing our story with others! This means more to us than you know!
In Christ, Bert, Sherry & Calvin