"Be strong and of good courage; do not fear nor be afraid… for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6
Well, friends… A bit of a different blog post today.. I have some very big news to share!
It is with great excitement I announce that I will be moving this summer to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, to join in the ministry of and help launch CityReach Johnstown, where I will be the Creative Arts Director. This decision is the result of sensing Jesus’ leading, prayer and fasting, and seeking counsel from trusted, godly mentors.
It is, of course, a bittersweet decision. Serving as the Creative Arts Pastor at Transit Assembly here in Seattle has been a supreme honor – and Seattle herself has proven to be a wonderful place to have called home for the past three years. I will be leaving an amazing team of some of my dearest friends, but I will be leaving with their prayer and excited support. Thank you, thank you, thank you to so many who have blessed me, challenged me, and loved me during my season here. I will miss every one of you.
I’ll make the move to Johnstown in early July. A good friend of mine, beloved leader, and respected role model to many,Josiah Smith will be the lead pastor of CityReach Johnstown. (He has actually guest-blogged for me before, here.) We are currently in the process of building a team, securing a location, getting the word out, networking, and all the other aspects that go into planting a successful church – which is no easy task, I can testify from experience!! As Creative Arts Director, I will continue to serve and oversee the areas of music, media, marketing, and other arts, and I will continue to maintain my credentials as a licensed Assemblies of God minister.
I know, I know… All so crazy, right?!
This is a funny, old picture that I found of Josiah and me, so you can put a name with a face. Apparently we do not tolerate whining! Haha
A few things..
Can I ask that everyone reading this please remember our new (growing) team, our new church, and our lead pastor Josiah Smith in your prayers? I’m sure many of you who serve in ministry on a regular basis can relate – we will seriously live by your prayers.
Lastly, I personally would benefit from your prayers and encouragement! Major transitions are emotionally and financially taxing. Sincerely and thankfully, I appreciate your taking the time to intercede for me.
I asked Josiah if he would be willing to share a bit about our new church and ministry, and here is a bit of his heart.
In John 1:46, Philip, one of Jesus’ soon-to-be disciples, tells his brother Nathanael that the Messiah has come and that it is this guy named Jesus from Nazareth. Nathanael’s response is pretty comical: “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” In some ways, this is how people view the small city of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Having experienced economic depression since the close of the steel industry in the 70s, Johnstown has seen an increase in crime and drugs and has become a place where many people live in hopelessness.
It was nearly two years ago that I felt God began to give me a heart for this city. I had returned from my collegiate career in Springfield, Missouri, and had intended to work overseas for a year. When that option suddenly evaporated, I was left wondering what to do next. Over the following several months, I prayed and fasted and considered a variety of opportunities that were being presented. To my confusion, I wasn’t feeling led to pursue any of them. In the back of my mind, I felt God saying it was time for me to plant a church. God had dropped this thought into my heart during college but I had no idea He would call me to act upon it so soon. Even more to my surprise was that every time I drove through Johnstown, I felt God speaking to me about the needs of the city. I thought I might plant a church in Europe or perhaps in a large, diverse city like Philadelphia - but Johnstown? Yet the more I talked to God and surrendered my will to His, the more I felt drawn to minister here in Johnstown. Through a number of conversations and happenings, God made it evident that He had intentions to do a great work in Johnstown. So I jumped.
God has given me a vision of restoration for this city that He has also planted in the hearts of many others. Two words that God has repeatedly spoken to me are “hope” and “power.” I believe God wants to reveal and impart to the people of Johnstown the hope there is in Jesus and the power that is available through the Holy Spirit.
Nothing is impossible for our God! Our vision as a church is to “reach the one far from God and help them become a passionate follower of Jesus.” As the pieces continue to come together, I am so excited about launching out into God’s mission to plant a life-giving church in Johnstown. We will be doing this through the partnership and umbrella of the Church of God and a church-planting network called CityReach Network. Over the summer we will stay busy raising funds and hosting outreaches, praying, and preparing for September 21 - the day CityReach Johnstown becomes a reality!
There is hope in Jesus!
**This post was originally published on my primary blog at joshwatts.blogspot.com, which I update weekly. Check it out!