All languages have several ways to say “Bye!” “Goodbye” seems rather final. “So long” implies a lengthy separation. “God’s speed” is rarely used anymore, but it suggests danger and the real possibility that one won’t make it back. Then there is “See you later.” But that still implies a period of separation. So what word or phrase fits my transition? I’ll get to that later…
I’m not leaving Pantano, but I am stepping off our staff. On August 1st, I would have celebrated 24 years on staff at Pantano. It has been such an honor to serve this great church for so long. I am blessed. I only hope my years of service have also been a blessing to you and others.
I’m so proud of our church. No church is perfect, but we are very healthy. I love our commitment to being kingdom-centered, not church-centered. I love how we are making a difference. I love our faithfulness to Jesus and his Word. I love our church.
So this is my final blog. I started this blog one year before becoming the Lead Pastor of Pantano 15 years ago – that was 2006 (Sixteen years of blogs!). Back then, very few folks even did a blog. I started it as a way to stay connected weekly. I’ve shared some personal struggles and insights I’ve had on scripture or from life and tried to communicate about what was happening at Pantano. One of my favorite blogs was back in 2013 when I talked about killing cockroaches in my in-law’s shower – you can read it here. As I start my sabbatical break, I’ll also take a break from my weekly blogging.
Pantano is still our home church. We love our church. Jolene and I will still be around when we are in town and we’ll be actively involved. Starting in January 2023, I’ll have a limited role in serving our staff and church while I figure out my next season of ministry and sources of income. I’m excited for what God has for me.
So what phrase do I use in this parting? How about “I’m off!” Maybe that’s the best way to describe this season of my life. I’m not retiring. But “I’m off” to a new focus in ministry. I’ll still be active in fulfilling our mission as a church – “Loving people to Jesus; launching passionate people to make a difference.” So “goodbye” just doesn’t seem appropriate.
I’d like to finish my final blog with some heartfelt thank yous. I’m so grateful for Roger Blumenthal. It’s been so amazing to serve together these last 18 years. Thank you for your wisdom, friendship, long hours of work, and for your support.
I’m grateful for an amazing staff. You are the best! I’m so proud of your maturity, wisdom, skill, and commitment to Jesus and his church.
I’m grateful for our elders. Thank you for being a great “boss” all these years and for your love, friendship, and support. Thank you for leading our church so well.
Finally, thank you, Pantano. I’ve already said it above, but I feel the need to say it again and again – I love you so much! We’ve lived life together. We’ve served together. We’ve been through the good times and hard times. We’ve made a difference… together!
So, I’m off with deep and profound gratitude.
I want to thank you all for the kind words and ways you honored Jolene and me on Sunday during Pantano’s 60th anniversary. We are so grateful to be a part of a church that has loved us so well. We are blessed!
Sunday I announced that I’ll be ending my active time on our church staff at the end of May. So what’s next for me? I’m reminded that the Bible tells us that none of us know the future – Since no one knows the future, who can tell someone else what is to come? (Ecclesiastes 8:7). Those are wise words for sure. While we can’t know the future for sure, that doesn’t mean we don’t plan and prepare for what’s next, as long as we remember that we don’t control the future. I’m trusting God to lead us into whatever our next will be.
I don’t actually see “retirement” as a biblical principle. It’s like I tell our Seniors when I meet with them – If you’re not dead, you’re not done. Well, I’m not dead, so I’m not done in ministry. I’m just entering a season where my ministry will have a different focus and pace.
Jolene and I did a life plan over a year ago. There were two key conclusions that we took away from that experience; First, in this next season, I want to slow down and create a lifestyle where there’s less stress and pressure. For 45 years, I’ve been in leadership roles with lots of pressure: Dean of Students, Missionary, and Pastor.
Second, I want to use my 45 years of experience to mentor, coach, and encourage other pastors and leaders. I really resonate with Donald Miller’s take on stories. He says every great story has a victim, a villain, a hero on a mission, and a guide. For 45 years, I’ve played the part of the “hero” – the one who tries to fix the problems and make things better for everyone. That season is coming to an end.
However, every “hero” has a guide. I’ve had great guides and mentors over the years. In this new season of life, I want to move out of the “hero on a mission” role and more into the “guide” role.
I’ll be invested in helping pastors right here in Tucson. I’ll continue to do some of the things I’ve already been doing in that area. I’ll have time to add a few other things, however, the details of all that are still being worked out. I’m also working with The Ascent Leader and will be coaching a transition cohort (pastors who are just transitioning into the Lead Pastor role). I’ll also be a guide for Trevor and our staff as needed or requested.
Jolene and I are not leaving Pantano. Pantano is our church home. You’ll see us around campus on Sundays. I’m so looking forward to relaxing and enjoying worship and absorbing the teaching while not having to lead and be concerned about the logistics.
Jolene and I will be on sabbatical until the end of the year. We’ll be traveling some and enjoying time with our granddaughters. After 45 years of ministry, I’m ready for a less busy season. When the new year begins, I’ll be able to serve our staff, and I’ll teach on occasion as requested.
Jolene and I are so excited and looking forward to our “next.” We enter this season without any fear or concerns. Our God has been faithful and has never let us down. He’s the same today as he was yesterday! I can’t wait to see how God will use us in this “next.”
In January of 1962, Pantano Christian Church had her first public meeting held in a home on 31st Street. There were 32 people present that Sunday for its beginning. Today, after 60 years, several building projects, and eight Lead Pastors, we have grown to average over 3100 people. We’ve started three thriving congregations in southern Arizona, helped start thousands of churches globally, and served countless other churches, organizations, and agencies.
We have an amazing history, and we will celebrate it this Sunday, May 15th, at our two regular services (9 am and 11 am). You won’t want to miss this Sunday in person or online. Our students will be joining us in the auditorium for this special day. Here’s what’s planned:
You won’t want to miss the medley of songs we’ll sing that range through the decades of Pantano’s existence.
We’ll be sharing a video timeline history of our church, walking us through the 60 years of what God has done in and through our church. I’ll also be sharing about the impact of Pantano over the years, and we’ll honor some of our long-time Pantano folks.
60th Anniversary Merchandise
We have 60th Anniversary merchandise available for purchase. Click here to see your many options or go to pantano.shop. We’ll also have free stickers we’ll be giving away onsite. If you’re online, you can get your free sticker here (just pay shipping).
In addition to our regular Café menu items for purchase, we’ll be giving away free Eegees!
I’ll be sharing how God is leading me into my next season of life and ministry, and Pastor Trevor will be sharing how God will lead our church into its future.
See you Sunday as we celebrate!
Elephants are amazing creatures in so many ways. But the thing they are “famous” for is how big they are! They can weigh up to 13,000 pounds and be up to 13 feet tall. They eat so much that they can deposit up to 330 pounds of dung a day (gross!).
The point is that you can’t miss an elephant. And that’s where the phrase: “There’s an elephant in the room” is derived. The phrase originated from a fable called The Inquisitive Man – a story of a man who goes to a museum and notices the smallest details of everything but fails to see the enormous elephant, the largest thing on exhibition. The modern phrase has come to mean something so big that you can’t miss it. It is evident to all, yet it’s something that no one wants to acknowledge or talk about.
Almost every family has had to face an elephant in the room at one time or another. It happens at work. Maybe it’s an addiction, a bad attitude, out-of-control spending, someone who is domineering or controlling, narcissism, or perhaps something far worse. Everyone knows this “elephant” exists, but it’s easier, for the time being, to just avoid bringing it up. It’s there, but no one talks about it.
The same thing can happen in a church. Sometimes we have questions about faith that we are afraid to address. On Sunday, we are beginning a series called Elephant in the Room. In this series, we will talk about five big things that we can’t ignore. These won’t be easy conversations. But we have some important things to talk about regarding our faith.
Here are the five questions we’ll be exploring:
April 24 – Is Jesus for religion?
May 1 – Is it okay to doubt your faith?
May 8 – Is the church relevant and necessary?
(May 15 – Pantano’s 60th anniversary celebration)
May 22 – Why does God allow suffering?
May 29 – Is the Bible out of date when it comes to sexuality?
We’ll also have an in-person Q & A on Monday, May 2nd at 7 pm in the Student Union. Glen will host Dana Yentzer, the founder and director of Ministry Resources Institute (Tucson). Dana will answer any of the difficult questions we have about faith.
What are you struggling with regarding your beliefs? What question keeps nagging you? What hurdle are you facing in going forward in faith? In this Live Q & A, Dana Yentzer will be answering questions that you have about faith, spirituality, and the Bible. You’ll have an opportunity to ask any questions you might have about your faith. This discussion will be a safe place to ask honest questions – a no-judgment zone!
I do enjoy the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. But my favorite holy day is Easter. Jesus is alive, and his resurrection power is still at work today. That’s why our Easter celebration will overflow with worship, joy, and celebration. You don’t want to miss our Easter celebration, either in person or online, at 9 am, 11 am, or 1 pm. I can’t wait to hear our new Lead Pastor, Trevor DeVage, share about the power of the resurrection.
If you’ll be out of town, join us online. Our services will be available to stream live at each service time on Facebook, YouTube, and our website.
We’ll also be celebrating baptisms in our service. What a great day to declare that you will die to yourself to be raised in baptism and begin a new way of living as you follow Jesus! If you would like to be baptized – let us know by filling out this form, and we’ll follow up with you to give you instructions.
Free Pancake Breakfast
Our Café is amazing, and they will be providing a free pancake breakfast after the 9 am and 11 am services!
Kids and Students
Our Kids Ministry is hosting an Easter egg hunt for our preschoolers at each service. And, all our children from birth to 5th grade will also celebrate that Jesus is alive! We won’t have separate services for our middle and high school students as they are encouraged to join their families in the main service.
Don’t forget that we are offering a self-guided journey through the twelve stations of the cross, ending with communion. You can participate anytime on Good Friday from 7 am to 7 pm in the Student Union.
Family Picnic – April 24
You and your family are invited to join us the Sunday after Easter for a family picnic after the 9 am and 11 am services! We’ll provide hotdogs and chips, and there will be games for the family in the outdoor areas.
Teaching Series After Easter
You’ve heard the phrase: ‘There’s an elephant in the room.’ This phrase has come to mean something so big that you can’t miss it, and it’s obvious to all, yet it’s something that no one wants to acknowledge or talk about. The Sunday after Easter, we will begin a series called Elephant in the Room. This series will explore five aspects of faith; things that are tough questions that people tend to have. These are questions about our faith that we can’t ignore. These won’t be easy conversations. But we have some important things to talk about regarding our faith. You don’t want to miss any of the messages in this series.
May you and your family experience a blessed resurrection celebration!
Our Mission – Launching
Our mission is “Loving people to Jesus, launching passionate people to make a difference.” There are two phrases within that mission, and both are connected. In all we do, we want to love people to Jesus. One of the ways we love people to Jesus is to launch people in our church to engage and serve others. We have two new options to launch you to make a difference. One is far, and one is close.
Have You Ever Wanted to Go to Africa?
We want to launch you to serve in Ghana! We’ve got a short-term mission trip coming up that will take you to some amazing people and work that our church mission partner, Heartbeat for Africa, is hosting. Here are the details…
When: July 30th – Aug 13th
Activities: Working with Youth in an Orphanage, Conducting Development Training
Overview: Heartbeat for Africa (HBA), a Tucson non-profit, in connection with local churches, is leading a 10-12 person team for two weeks to Ghana to work with partner organizations (City of Refuge Ministries and African Internship Center). Experienced HBA team leaders will conduct all team training.
To Learn More: Attend an informational meeting at Pantano Christian Church on Sunday, 10 April @ 10:15 AM or 12:15 PM in the church office Conference Room
Questions: Contact Jeff Wesley at firstname.lastname@example.org or C: 520-370-5232
We Love Our Schools
National teacher appreciation week is the first week of May. We want to launch you to help us Love Our Schools and bless teachers and school support staff. With your help, our goal is to bless the entire staff at as many schools in the Tucson area as possible! We invite you to use the $200 seed money we will provide to bless the staff at your selected K-12 schools. Additionally, we encourage you to invite another family, small group, friends, and/or a surrounding business to join you to make an even bigger blessing – both to you, them, and the school!.
Sign up today! We have schools from all across the Tucson area to adopt. WE LOVE OUR SCHOOLS Signup
I’m so proud of our church. Your generosity overwhelms me. Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than receive.” I’ve experienced the truth of those words, as generosity has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my life. Here are a few ways you have and can continue to make a difference through your generosity.
Pantano Christian Church
Thank you for your faithful support for the work and ministry of our church. Your regular and generous giving allows us to serve the people of our church, our city, and in strategic places around the world. We’re seeing thousands come to faith in Muslim areas of Africa and Hindu areas of India. Our global partners are helping villages create healthy communities while planting churches. And we’ve made it easy as you can give online!
Tucson Homeless Work Program
Thank you for the amazing Christmas Eve giving. We gave over $100,000 to the Tucson Homeless Work Program. You have made it possible to help those who want to work to get off the streets. Wow. Thank you!
You’ve given over $97,000 to help those facing war and devastation in Ukraine. The funds are going to one of our global partners who evacuated to Western Ukraine. They are funneling resources to 20 churches and organizations that are directly serving people in desperate need. You can follow me on Facebook to get regular updates. Wow! Thank you!
Journey of Generosity
If you’re already a generous person who supports your church and other non-profits, I want to invite you to a Journey of Generosity (JOG) two-day retreat. Generous Giving underwrites this free event to help you explore Jesus-like generosity without asking for anything in return. There is no cost and no surprise “ask” at all! At the retreat, you’ll see some incredible video stories, engage in personal Bible study, have focused solitude time with the Lord, and participate in authentic conversations.
My wife and I participated in this retreat, and it was a life-changer. I hope you can make this a priority! My friends Mark Harris and our elder Jim Weisert host this at the Tucson Country Club – 2950 N. Camino Principal, 85715. It starts Friday, April 1 at 2 pm and ends after dinner. Then it resumes on Saturday, April 2 at 8 am and finishes in the afternoon. Sign up and RSVP here. Email Jim at email@example.com if you have questions.
Generosity Plus an Arizona Tax Break
It’s tax season, and the State of Arizona allows you to make a donation to a school or charity. You can claim the donation on your taxes for a dollar-for-dollar tax credit. In simple terms, you get to decide how you want some of your tax money spent! You can give to any public school or students receiving a Christian education through the Institute for Better Education. Or you can give to some amazing Christian non-profits we partner with like Teen Challenge, Arizona Baptist Children’s Services, Gospel Rescue Mission, and many more.
Thank you, Pantano, for your amazing generosity!
In my season of transition from being the Lead Pastor, I’ve reminded many folks that all of us are in an interim position. It’s not to be feared but embraced. Nothing in life lasts forever, including the honor of leading our church. All our jobs and roles are temporary. Life itself is temporary. So we plan wisely for tomorrow, knowing that at the same time, we can’t control the future.
James 4:14 reminds us of an important truth – Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. That truth is rather sobering, but we shouldn’t ignore it or deny it. While we can’t control what happens in our future, we can take some steps to make reasonable plans for the benefit of our family and be good stewards that can address the causes we care about.
I can’t even guess how many funerals, memorials, and celebration of life services I’ve done over my 45 years of ministry. Many deaths were a surprise due to accidents or sudden illness. Every family grieves the loss of their loved one. But for some, the situation after the funeral was just as hard. Why? The person who departed didn’t have a plan for their children or the possessions that they left behind. Loving our family includes helping them when we might not be here.
Here at Pantano, we offer a free service to help you prepare your estate documents with our ministry partner, Financial Planning Ministry (FPM). FPM is a trusted Christian organization that will help provide a complete estate plan (living trust, will, and power of attorney) at no cost to you. This can save you thousands of dollars. You will be asked to consider leaving charitable gifts to Pantano or other ministries within your estate plan so that in your passing, you can continue the generosity you’ve expressed throughout your life.
With an estate plan from FPM, your family can avoid paying probate costs and unexpected taxes on inheritance and have all your affairs set in order. Jolene and I are grateful for the legal documents that FPM helped us create.
Our next 90-minute Financial Planning Ministry Information Meeting will be Monday, February 28th at 6:30 PM in the Pantano Student Union.
To register for this event, fill out our FPM Registration Form. Feel free to invite friends and family to register and attend with you. If you have any questions about FPM or the estate planning process, you can email Roger at firstname.lastname@example.org and he would be happy to assist you.
FPM takes the mystery out of estate planning, guiding you and your family through a straightforward process and allowing you to design a legacy plan that blesses your family while honoring God. They can also update an old trust and prepare a special needs trust for families with children who will need care throughout their lives.
Super Bowl Sunday
This Sunday, February 13th, folks will be partying all around the United States as we celebrate one of our biggest unofficial holidays – the Super Bowl. And yes, I’m pretty excited that my Bengals no longer carry the “Bungles” label. Feel free to wear your favorite team’s jersey this Sunday. You bet I’ll be wearing my orange and black Bengals shirt.
We’re also going to have a party at church as we celebrate the completion of our auditorium remodel and reopening. Aren’t the new seats great?! By the way, every other row has seat arms that can raise to give you more room. And yes, the cup holders are coming. We’ll have our regular services at 9 am and 11 am.
We’ll have lots of food and fun after each service. There’ll be regular meals for purchase and free Krispy Kreme donuts and kettle corn after the 9 am service and free hot dogs and pretzels after the 11 am service.
There will be lots for the kids to do. The rock wall will be open for climbing. We’ll have inflatable obstacle courses, slides, and yes, an inflatable axe and football throwing option along with 9 Square and a kids train.
A Service Opportunity
We can use some help to make this party special! Sign up here to serve after one of the services.
This month, our Kids Team is hosting a food drive for our city as they put compassion into action. Please bring non-perishable food items to our Kids tent in the outside courtyard.
Trevor DeVage Speaking
And to top it all off, Trevor DeVage, our new Lead Pastor, will be teaching as we continue our series Playbook. Trevor will be unpacking the Beatitude – “Blessed are the meek.”
See you this Sunday!
Below is the latest report on the church plant Pantano funded through our Christmas Eve offering in 2020. We received this report at the end of last year.
Thank you, Pantano Christian Church! Your gift to plant Iglesia Cristiana Verbo de Guabo in Ecuador is currently impacting 787 children and their families. These families now have a safe space to go where they can learn, grow, develop, and be encouraged in their faith.
The gift by Pantano allowed the church to do the following:
View the full report here.
Not only are 787 children receiving holistic care in partnership with Compassion International, but the church has also been able to reach many adults in the community. Thank you, Pantano, for your amazing generosity that is touching and changing lives!
I’m so excited to have Trevor DeVage here this week. It’s starting to feel real! Trevor is Pantano’s 9th Lead Pastor since we started back in 1962. Yes, that is right, this year we are also celebrating our 60th birthday as a church!
You don’t want to miss this Sunday – in person or online. I’ll be formally passing the baton of pastor, oversight, and leadership of our church over to Trevor. And then, Trevor will deliver his first teaching message to our church.
I had the benefit 15 years ago of having an amazing and smooth transition into becoming the Lead Pastor. Tim Coop, my predecessor, handed me the proverbial baton of leading our church. He was so gracious, supportive, and encouraging of me. I knew Tim had my back, and he set me up to succeed. I am forever grateful for him, his role in my life, and the life of our church. It’s my desire to do the very same for Trevor.
If you haven’t picked it up, I’m thrilled that Trevor is my pastor. I trust him. He has a godly character. I so admire his love for lost people. I’ve seen him loving people to Jesus in action. We share the same basic values and beliefs. He loves how we are a church that cares and invests in our community. Trevor checks off all the boxes that were important to me for whoever would succeed me. And it’s a huge plus that we are friends.
It is an absolute honor to have Trevor DeVage succeed me, and I’ll be sharing a bit more about that on Sunday.
Some of you are wondering what’s next for me. Let me provide a friendly reminder – I’m not leaving. Trevor and I see this as a season of transition from now to June. Trevor and I have been discussing my new job description and plan to have it finalized by April. Trevor and his family will move here in June.
I’ve requested a six-month work sabbatical from June to November 2022. Why? There are two main reasons. First, I will have been leading at Pantano for 24 years (in various roles) by that time. I believe I serve Trevor best by being absent from the office and meetings for a time to ensure that staff and our congregation see Trevor in his new role. I won’t be completely gone from our church. You’ll see me on Sundays, and I’ll get to engage in the things Pantano is doing as a participant. I’ll start my new job description in December 2022. As things become clearer, I’ll share more about what I’ll be doing in my next chapter.
The second reason this Sabbatical is important is that while I’m not tired and for sure I’m not done in ministry, I’ve been serving full-time as a pastor for 45 years. I think I ought to take a little break from work! My wife retires from the UofA at the end of February, and we need to have a little freedom to travel a bit, be grandparents or do a few things we just have not had time to do.
So, for now, I want all of our love, support, attention, and honor to be focused on the man God has brought to Pantano. Trevor will lead us into our next season as we continue to love people to Jesus and launch passionate people to make a difference.
I’m in my 23rd year here at Pantano, and there has never been a new year with so much change and a profound sense of a new beginning. I believe God has timed everything to help us start 2022 fresh and new.
Our remodeled auditorium is almost done. The carpet will be finished this week, and the theater seats will hopefully be installed at the end of January (due to supply chain issues; we have temporary chairs set up)! We are installing the sound, lights, cameras, and video wall this week. We’ve moved the Café back inside. Since holiday break has ended, let’s all reconnect this Sunday as we start a new year and launch a new teaching series!
New Lead Pastor
Pantano has its 9th Lead Pastor – Trevor DeVage. Trevor will be with us the next two Sundays! Trevor and I are in a season of transition from now until the end of May. I’ll continue to lead and teach as the Campus Pastor until Trevor and his family move here in June. Trevor and I will be developing my new job description this spring that will take effect this summer. We’ll officially install Trevor as our new Pastor on Sunday, January 16th, and he’ll be teaching that day.
New Teaching Series
This Sunday (January 9th), we’ll start a new teaching series called Rooted. “Rooted” is our church One Word for 2022. It’s based on Colossians 2:6-7, and I’ll be sharing what it means for us. I’ll also be asking you to prayerfully identify your One Word for the year based on the idea of “rooted.” I really like how Jeremiah uses the rooted metaphor; take a moment to reflect on these verses:
But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8
A New Beginning
Michael Goodwin has been hired as the new Lead Pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church (Alvernon/Pima). He starts on January 10th! I’m so excited to launch Michael to help Emmanuel be a life-giving church in a part of town that so needs Jesus. Our Elders will be ordaining Michael this Sunday, affirming our confidence in his call, character, and gifting. Pantano will continue to partner with Michael to help him thrive in his new role.
And Some Things Never Change
There’s lots of change and new things at Pantano these days. But, some things never change. Over the holiday break, I reflected on how amazing you are, Pantano. When I say that, I’m talking about YOU. I’m so proud of our church! You are generous! You serve our church, each other, and you serve our community in amazing ways. You faithfully give so we can to accomplish the mission God has given us. For our Christmas Eve offering, you gave $95,888 to support the Tucson Homeless Work Program. Wow! That’s incredible! Thank You! I’m so grateful to be able to serve with you all.
2022 brings a sense of a new beginning. That has never been more true than here at our church. 2022 will bring many new things. For one, we are just finishing up our auditorium remodel, bringing a long-overdue improvement. I think you’ll be very pleased with the results. 2022 also brings us our new Lead Pastor – Trevor DeVage. 2022 is also a year where, for the first time, we are adopting a “One Word” for our whole church, reflecting our focus for the year (more to come about that later). There are truly some wonderful new things happening.
So, to start the New Year, on Sunday, January 2nd, we are dedicating our attention to God through prayer. Facilities, staff, and programs are essential for a church. But to reach our city and help people follow Jesus well, that requires the work of God. We are completely dependent on the Holy Spirit to guide, equip, empower our church and do the powerful work of life change. Get your first experience in our remodeled auditorium at 9 am and 11 am (no 1 pm service) as we pray on Sunday, January 2nd.
We will just be moving back into our auditorium, and we won’t have all our sound and light equipment set up, so we’ll be doing a low-tech service. The fact is, prayer doesn’t need a lot of high-tech equipment! It will be so good to be back together in a spacious environment.
This Prayer Service will be a family service. We won’t have regular Kids or Students services that day. We’ll meet together in the auditorium for a couple of songs, communion, a short message by Michael Goodwin about prayer, and then we’ll pray together in our new digs. Then, I’ll give you instructions about how to spread out across our campus to pray as an individual, couple, or family. We’ll have various prayer stations with guides to help you know how to focus your prayers. If you are a family with small children, you can use this time to pray as a family in your own unique ways.
Folks will pray in various styles, and some will take longer than others. So, when you are done, you can depart for the day, or we invite you to hang out at our Café, which will be providing their usual great meals.
For those of you who will join us online, we have a special message prepared for you and encourage you to join us in prayer from your home or wherever you might be.
A happy and blessed New Year to you and your family!
Merry Christmas, everyone! It’s my hope that this Christmas, you’ll remember how God sent light into a dark world. His name is Jesus. This Christmas Eve, we’ll celebrate the light of the world! We’ve got an excellent Christmas Eve service planned. Here’s what to look forward to…
The service starts at 6 pm at the Tucson Convention Center arena. Doors open at 5 pm.
All the info you need to know is under the Common Questions section on our Christmas Eve page on our website.
Parking is free, but might be limited, as other activities are happening simultaneously. If possible, carpool, use public transportation, and for sure, arrive early. Check out the Christmas webpage for maps of onsite and offsite parking. Just inform any onsite parking attendant that you are there for the Christmas Eve Experience!
Come a bit early and take pictures at the photo booths. We’ll also have some fun entertainment to amaze the kids and adults alike! There will be cookies and water available in the breezeway, and our pre-show will include some fun surprises and giveaways. Don’t be late!
COVID and Security
The City of Tucson requires masks to enter the arena, and all those attending will pass through security. TCC prohibits bags that are larger than 14″ x 16″ through the security zone, and please note, there is a Clear Bag Policy. There is a clear bag exception for a guest if it’s a diaper bag or needed for medical purposes.
The theme of our service is “Light,” and it’s family-friendly, fast-moving, and will last about an hour and 15 minutes. We’ll be doing some regular favorite Christmas songs plus additional songs that connect to the overall message. In addition to an amazing video, we have a couple of other surprises that I don’t want to spoil for you! We can’t do live candles, so bring your phone for our Convention Center version of candle lighting. And yes, we will stream the service live on our website, Facebook or YouTube!
Sign Language Section
We’ll have a section for sign language interpretation on the main floor! If you would like to utilize this service, just ask one of our greeters for directions to that area.
We give our entire Christmas Eve offering away. This year, the Tucson Homeless Work Project will be the recipient of our gifts. My prayer and goal is that we together can collect and give them $100,000, which will provide funding for almost an entire year. Let’s help those who need help and hope to get back on their feet. Go to pantano.church/give and select the Christmas Eve Offering. Thank you!
See you at the TCC, and again, Merry Christmas!
With Christmas, the auditorium remodel nearing completion, and a new Lead Pastor confirmed, we’ve got quite a few new things coming. I know change is challenging for many. But these changes are leading us to an exciting great beginning for 2022 and beyond. Here’s what’s coming so you can keep track…
THIS Sunday (12/19) – Our volleyball court, used for our overflow during our auditorium renewal, will be closed to complete the remodeling. Our overflow is moved to the Student Union for this Sunday only.
6 pm Christmas Eve Service at the Tucson Convention Center. Things to remember:
Sunday, December 26 – No Sunday Services
There will be no Sunday services the day after Christmas. To give our staff and volunteers a break from this busy season and allow them to rest and spend time with their families, we’ll be closing our offices from December 27 to December 31, 2021.
Sunday, January 2 – Special Prayer Service
Sunday, January 9 – First Sunday Service in the Remodeled Auditorium
This will be our first regular service in our newly renovated auditorium. We’ll kick off the new year with our focus as a church for 2022, and our new Lead Pastor, Trevor DeVage, will be with us on campus!
Sunday, January 16 – Auditorium Remodel Celebration and Trevor DeVage Preaching
Today, we’ll formally celebrate our auditorium remodel! We’ll have Eegee’s, Krispy Kreme donuts, and the rock wall will be open for the adventure-seekers! We’ll officially pass the torch to our new Lead Pastor, and Trevor will give his first message.
I have great news! We have a new Lead Pastor. With overwhelming joy, excitement, and honor, I get to introduce to you Trevor DeVage. Trevor will be Pantano’s 9th Lead Pastor in our 60-year history. See the DeVage Family photo here.
First, let me share the process that got us here. I’ve known Trevor for about nine years. He was one of the guys I wanted us to consider as my successor, but he wasn’t available until September of this year. I made contact, and he entered our process. His profile, which our search company vetted, was given to our interview team.
The team did two interviews and unanimously recommended him to our elders. The Elders did an interview and asked the Executive Team to do an interview. The Executive Team also did extensive social media and online reviews and unanimously recommended Trevor back to the Elders. Trevor just completed an onsite visit, met with the staff, and had two meetings with the elders. This past weekend, the Elders unanimously offered Trevor the Lead Pastor role, and he accepted.
Trevor checks off every box for the person we were looking for. While no one is perfect or the “complete package,” Trevor is uniquely suited for who we are where God is leading us as a church.
It took just under a year to find my successor. We had looked at and released 15 candidates previous to Trevor, and so I affectionately call him “16.” Thank you for all your prayers and patience over this past year.
Trevor went to college at Lincoln Christian University and completed his degree in preaching with a minor in youth ministry. He followed this up with a teaching degree from Wheaton University. During the next three years, he pursued his love of music, playing as a drummer in a band. However, the Lord led him back to ministry—first youth ministry, then preaching, where he spent ten years serving at Compass Christian in Dallas, Texas. Trevor joined Christ’s Church (Mason, Ohio) as Lead Pastor in 2013.
Trevor is married to his wife, Laura, and has two daughters, Ella (senior in high school) and Natalie (freshman in high school). They enjoy the outdoors, and this means lots of basketball and walks in the park. Trevor’s other passions are golf, music, photography, the arts, and the Florida Gators. His ultimate goal in life is “that it is evident that I’ve spent time with Jesus.” You can learn more about Trevor at https://www.trevordevage.com/.
Trevor is an excellent communicator. He’s creative. He’s a pastor who loves to be with people. He’s had excellent experience in some great churches and has great mentors. He’s a man with high integrity and passion for those not connected to Jesus or a church. He shares our Pantano vision, mission, values, and “DNA.” We are set to be led into an amazing future.
Here’s a summary of the plan and timeline for transition: Trevor and his family will be here over Thanksgiving, and we’ll introduce them on Sunday, November 28th. He will start part-time on January 2nd. His daughter is a senior in high school, so they will not move until after she graduates. He’ll begin full-time on June 19th, 2022. However, he’ll be here in Tucson for eight days each month through May. Those trips will include two Sundays; the first Sunday of his time here will allow him to connect with folks and observe, and he’ll preach on the second Sunday of his visits. During his time here in 2022, he and I will begin discussing what’s next for me. Trevor desires that I continue here at our church, and we’ll discuss what that might look like. I look forward to serving my new Lead Pastor!
Please pray for the DeVage family as they begin their season of transition and change.
There’s been a lot to beat us down these last couple of years. Covid related issues, racial conflict, political polarization, and more. It’s been a tough couple of years at Pantano as well. We’ve had more than usual staff turnover (like the rest of the country!). There’s no systemic problem here, as each person’s departure was unique. But that change has been disheartening, and it has especially affected our students. Relationships are important! Then, add that during Covid I announced our search for my successor. More unsettledness. Then, add the disruption of remodeling our auditorium…lots of challenge, change, transition, and uncertainty. That’s not good for a church or any group of people. But today, I’m so encouraged. Here’s why…
Serve Our City
This Sunday (November 14) is one of the best Sundays of the year. It’s Serve Our City day. Over 1000 folks have committed to serving all over Pima County. 11 other churches are joining us, and there’s still time to sign up! Find your place to serve by going to https://pantano.church/serveourcity/. Remember that we will not have regular Sunday services as we’ll be the church out in the city.
Our auditorium remodel is coming along well. The construction crew did their final cement pour this week. It’s all looking good for us to use the new room in January. But please pray, as our biggest concern is that the chairs arrive with enough time for installation. Shipping concerns are a challenge for everyone! By the way, you can help us pay for the remodel by giving to our Building Fund – Room for More at https://pushpay.com/g/pantano. And, we’ve got some great things planned for January to start the new year better than ever!
New Lead Pastor
We have a very promising candidate who has been enthusiastically endorsed through all the interviews that are a part of our process. We’ve carefully vetted him. Keep praying, as we will likely make an offer this week. It’s not done, but we are close. I can’t wait to introduce my successor to you. I’m so excited and encouraged!!! I’ll be giving you an update and more details soon.
Christmas Eve Service
I’m also so excited about our Christmas Eve service at the Tucson Convention Center (December 24, 6 pm). I love that we’ll all get to be together for one service! We are inviting the city, and we’ve got some ways to encourage our guests to begin a journey of faith. Plan now to invite your friends, family, and your “one” to join you. You don’t want to miss this.
I can also add how exciting it’s been to see and connect with so many new folks who are visiting Pantano for the first time each week. I’m encouraged that God is bringing us through a season of challenge and change!
Clarity is critical for healthy relationships. Lack of clarity can lead to disappointment, disorientation, and disequilibrium. For a while, I’ve come to realize that we have some core beliefs that govern and shape our church community and ministry that we need to make more clear and easy to find. When folks are checking out our church, there are some things they want to know beyond our basic doctrinal beliefs (you can find them here).
The Elders and Executive Team decided it was time to clarify some core beliefs that shape our church. We believe our statement of belief is non-negotiable for unity in our church. While we believe our core beliefs are biblical, we also understand that not every Christian will agree with these beliefs exactly as stated below.
Why do we need to add these core beliefs to our statement of faith? The simple reasons are clarity and transparency. When people are looking or searching for a church, they will often look at a church’s statement of belief and core values. Adding the core beliefs makes it easier for folks searching to see if Pantano would be a good fit for them. These core beliefs are often the questions we get when folks visit Starting Point or attend our Discover class and are looking “under the hood” of our church.
Are these core beliefs new? No, these beliefs or values are not new. They already exist in various places like our core values, marriage policy, the elder’s policy regarding women in ministry, and our All In partnership. We’ve just collected them in one place so folks can find them more easily.
Core beliefs that shape who we are as a church community and define how we do ministry:
I hope this brings more clarity to the unique nature of the church we love called Pantano.
We finally have our permits, and demolition is beginning in the auditorium! Pantano folks took about 23 pews. We have moved our stage, lights, sound, and video equipment to Coop Court, and we’ll meet there starting this Sunday – August 29th.
The remodeling work will take about three months or so. As you know, it’s tough to predict and trust construction schedules as there are always variables that can’t be foreseen. But, I’m confident that we’ll have our grand reopening in January of 2022.
All the seating in Coop Court will be on the floor (no bleacher seats). There are two door entrances to Coop Court – one off the outdoor court on the northside of the property and one through the lobby. Both entrances are accessible for those with disabilities.
Many of you don’t know where Coop Court is or why it has that name. This court was named after Tim Coop, our Lead Pastor – my predecessor – a man of deep grace and faith who welcomed everyone into his life. See the map below for its location.
1 PM Service
We are adding back our 1 pm service this Sunday – August 29th. Please, if you can, consider attending the 1 pm service as it will help make more space for guests at 9 am and 11 am. We’ll have a kids ministry for ages birth to 5 years old, but no kids or student ministry at 1 pm (we’ll have our complete program for kids and students at 9 am and 11 am).
Should any service reach capacity, we have overflow seating set up in what we call the Volleyball Court (see the map). We’ve put up a giant screen that will allow for excellent viewing. You might like to use the overflow room if you prefer more physical distancing.
We Need Your Help
Since COVID, we’ve had a more difficult time getting the volunteers we need for our Kids, Students, Café, and Host Teams on Sunday. Adding the 1 pm service increases our need. PLEASE consider serving at one of our services. I would be grateful if you would consider attending one and serving in one service. Visit our website, click our “Get Involved” button, then scroll down the page to join one of our teams.
Our Café is open three times on Sundays in the outdoor court – before the 9 am service, between the 9 am and 11 am service, and between the 11 am and 1 pm service. There are always free drinks and coffee available out in the outdoor court.
We look forward to having you join us during this season to see the exciting updates unfold!
We are finally starting the auditorium remodeling project! Before I get into the details about the necessary moves to make this happen, I’ll explain the WHY behind the remodel; the carpet is 30 years old and beyond repair, the pews are breaking, and more importantly, we need to fix the dangerous slope. But, there’s a more significant reason; We want to have a facility that is welcoming to not only those who follow Jesus but to those who have yet to connect with God through Jesus. Like Jesus, our focus is always on those who are yet to step into faith. Target and other retailers remodel their facilities every seven years. Those who didn’t, like Kmart and Sears, are out of business! Churches don’t have to be fancy, but those who fail to keep their facilities up find they can’t connect with new folks.
We will be holding services during construction! Starting this week, we are configuring Coop Court (the indoor cafe prior to COVID) for our worship experience. We are putting in wires, lights, sound, and a stage. Seating will be on the flat floor. So, Coop Court will not be open for the next two weeks and until we all meet there on August 29th (when we’ll close the auditorium, as that’s when the demo starts). Until then, we’ll continue to meet in the auditorium and Volleyball Court. Beginning August 29th, we’ll offer overflow seating in our Volleyball Court with an extra-large screen to view services in that area if you arrive late or want more physical distance.
Our lobby will remain open and available during services.
Restarting Our 1 pm Service
We will also be adding our 1 PM service time again! May I encourage you to consider our 1 pm service to make more room for others, especially guests, at 9 am or 11 am? The 1 pm service time is an excellent option if you like to sleep in or if you want to take advantage of the cooler morning hours to get work done around the house.
Café, Kids, and Students
Our Café will be extending its hours and will remain open up until the 1 pm service. Students will not be holding services during the 1 pm service time, however, our Kids Ministry will be offering nursery and preschool for kids ages 0 – 5 years old.
Our online services will continue to be available for all three service times, as well as on-demand throughout the week.
You can go to our remodel webpage to see what the project will look like when it’s finished. We’ll keep this page updated with any new information. You can reserve a pew if you’d like one for your patio, to make a kitchen table nook, or however you would like to use one! Visit https://pantano.church/remodel/ for more information.
Change is never easy or fun. But this change will be worth it. Thank you in advance for your patience and cooperation!
My goal is to update our succession progress every couple of months. I’m a month behind due to vacation! Last summer, I asked the Elders to begin the process of finding my successor as Lead Pastor. We actively began looking at candidates as 2021 began. My plan is not to leave Tucson or Pantano; however, I think everyone is best served to have a younger man lead our church in the near future. Here’s where things stand as of today:
The Search Process
Here’s the process in review; Slingshot, our search company, gives the Pantano Interview Team extensive portfolios vetted based on the profile of the Lead Pastor we are looking for. Our trained Interview Team of diverse non-staff members takes an initial look at a candidate’s profile. They decide whether to offer the person one or more interviews. After one or more interviews, they may or may not recommend a candidate to the Elders for review. Then, our Elders look at the profile and hear the Interview Team’s recommendations and decide if they want to interview the candidate. If they have a favorable interview or interviews, they will ask our staff Executive Team to interview the candidate. If the Executive Team makes a positive recommendation, the candidate might be offered onsite interviews. That last step hasn’t happened yet with any of the potential candidates.
The Last Seven Months
Slingshot has sorted through many candidate profiles. Since we started, we’ve received 12 candidates from the search firm. All 12 have been dismissed after various levels of interviews.
The candidates were dismissed either because there was a lack of experience and/or formal ministry and Bible education, their teaching style, or concerns about being a good fit at Pantano. In addition, there are two main reasons why some potentially qualified candidates might not want to consider our church: 1) location (the hot, dry desert or far from extended family) and 2) concerns about following a long-tenured pastor who’s been at Pantano as long as I have (wondering if the church will support the “next guy” as you’ve supported me).
The Elders met with Slingshot to refine the kind of Lead Pastor we are looking for to get a more focused set of candidates. We want to look at racially diverse options, and we want candidates with at least seven years of experience in an executive-level leadership position in a large church.
Slingshot said they would be providing us with some new candidates in the upcoming weeks. We are also confirming that our Interview Team is willing to continue to serve. This process takes a lot of time, and the team members are spiritually and emotionally invested in this process.
Finally, be assured that I’m still leading our church. I haven’t checked out, but rather I’m invested in helping Pantano be healthy, strong, growing, and vibrant. Like the words from the song My Testimony that we sang the last two Sundays:
If I’m not dead, You’re not done
Greater things are still to come
Oh I believe
Well, Jesus isn’t dead, so I’m not done. I’m not tired. I believe God still has greater things planned for us. And I always value and appreciate your prayers as I lead our church.
Please continue to pray for Slingshot, the Interview Team, and Elders as we continue this process. And pray that God will provide the right person of character and vision to lead us forward to an even better future as a church.
I’m starting this summer by being on vacation. I got to take my granddaughters to a water park in Scottsdale, and Jolene and I got out of town for a few days just by ourselves! I’m doing some major projects around the house (painting, kitchen, etc.). I’m also doing major motor work on my ‘92 boat. If I can get my boat motor fixed, I hope to spend some time at the lake! I’ll be back at the beginning of July refreshed with lots of new energy. I’ll be taking a break with my blogs until July.
The current auditorium hasn’t been remodeled or improved in over 30 years. We are overdue for an upgrade. We are getting permits now and hope to start in July. It will likely be a three-month project that includes: 1) A stepped floor with lighting versus the horrible current slope. 2) Theater-style chairs will replace the pews – some of which are broken. 3) New carpet. 4) A unified room that connects with the current courts and much more. During renovation, we’ll convert Coop Court (the basketball court) into our temporary auditorium. More details will be coming.
The Reich Family
Josh and I have had several discussions, and we agree that Josh will thrive as a lead pastor. Josh applied for the Lead Pastor position here at Pantano and had conversations with some other churches. Josh was not selected to be an active candidate for the role at Pantano. While Josh has many strengths, including his teaching, there were other factors that were a part of that difficult decision.
Our sovereign God has provided what appears to be an excellent opportunity for the Reich family. Josh has accepted a lead pastor role at Community Covenant Church in Massachusetts. There are so many amazing and miraculous things about this opportunity. So, the Reich family is getting ready to sell their house and move to the east coast on or around Father’s Day. Josh’s last teaching will be on June 6th. Josh and Katie have done an excellent job here at Pantano, and we’ll greatly miss them. Keep them in your prayers as they make this significant transition.
Thank you for your continued prayers and support for Pantano,
Revolution Church merged with Pantano officially on Jan. 1, 2020. It was our hope (and still is) that we would plant churches and campuses together. Then COVID hit. Empire High School was closed. The timing could not have been worse!
We went fully online for a few months last year, and the roles of the Southeast Campus staff shifted. Jerry Tipton became our permanent Student Pastor. Katie Reich oversees Digital Discipleship. Josh Reich is leading the Teaching Team, creating content for the Next Steps, has led the Engage One strategy for our church, and more. They’re all crushing it. I’m so grateful we were able to keep them as a part of Pantano.
Here we are, 16 months later. Our leadership has talked, prayed, and asked God what is next for Pantano and the Southeast campus, and we have decided not to reopen the Southeast Campus. I know that is not the answer some attendees at our Southeast Campus want to hear right now, but I believe it’s the right one. Here are a few of the reasons why:
2020 didn’t go the way any of us expected. It’s been exhausting, frustrating, and deflating in various ways to all of us. But God was not surprised. And I see God’s faithfulness in so many ways.
For those who were a part of Revolution who merged with Pantano and those who moved from Pantano East to the Southeast Campus, I want to encourage you to engage or re-engage here at the East Campus. If, for whatever reason, that’s not a good move for you, please let us help you find a healthy church option where you can be connected and invested.
Our vision to plant churches and/or campuses has not changed; we just had to adjust our timing and expectations. It is still our commitment, and it is what we are doing to help create healthy, life-giving churches across our community. Please keep praying as we seek God’s leading for what’s next.
We are clearly in the rebuilding phase as we continue to move past the COVID world that limited so many for so long. Here are a few areas where we are making progress:
Our Interview Team has spent a lot of time looking at the profiles of 10 candidates and interviewing them. Four candidates are still in active status with the Elders. Keep praying for the Interview Team and Elders as they continue to look at and speak to these candidates.
We gave our Christmas Eve offering to help a church plant in El Oro, Ecuador. They are making steady construction progress. Currently, 150 adults and 100 children are attending the church! The church team reports that they feel the grace of God surrounding them and are so grateful for our partnership. They have completed the bathrooms, two classrooms, and the kitchen. The construction of the multipurpose room and two more classrooms are still in process and will be completed in 2 months.
The church holds times of fasting and prayer, and Bible studies. The church has baptized 250 people, and more than 300 people have made a profession of faith. The church sees God’s power at work in their community. Men who were drug addicts, gang members, and criminals are converting to Christ and serving the church.
It’s been over 30 years since we have addressed the lower part of our auditorium, and it’s long overdue for some repairs and upgrades. We are just finishing up the architectural drawings for some updates, then we’ll be in the process of getting permits. Possibly in July, we’ll start a 3-month project that will: 1) remove the dangerous slope and install lighted stairs, 2) replace the pews that are breaking with theater-style chairs, 3) install new carpet and a few other needed fixes. As we get closer to actual construction, we’ll give you more details. During construction, we’ll be turning the café court into our worship area that will continue to facilitate an excellent worship experience.
Thank you for your continued partnership with Pantano and all God is doing in 2021!
If you or someone you know is on the journey toward faith, I’m urging you to consider the eleven-week Alpha Course. This is a course that over 30 million people in 169 countries have taken. Our whole church staff just completed the course.
Alpha is for anyone at any level of faith or no faith at all. It provides a safe opportunity to explore life and faith in a friendly, open, and safe environment. The presentations are of high quality and engaging. Each week there’s time for questions. In fact, questions are welcomed and encouraged! That’s why the question mark is the key symbol for Alpha.
Everyone is welcome to Alpha, but it is specifically designed for people who would not yet describe themselves as following Jesus or being a church-goer.
We’ll be offering it both in-person and online starting Wednesday, April 14th. This is a special opportunity to invite your “one” and others like your “one” to join us. Sign up here – pantano.church/event/alpha-course/
We live in a world of “shoulds.” We know that we should have a daily quiet time, keep a budget, spend more time with the family, eat well and exercise and a bunch more “shoulds.” The expectations that we put on ourselves, others, and God and that others put on us can be overwhelming.
But do these expectations help us live the story that God wants us to live? In this new series that starts Sunday (April 11), we’ll become more aware of the expectations that burden us and take up residence in our minds. The “shoulds” in our heads have the power to form stories that narrate and shape our lives. But we have to ask continually, who will we allow to be the source of the stories we live? Should we listen to the “shoulds,” and if so, which ones? We are about to learn how to move from the “should” life to the good life God wills for us.
Invite your “one” to explore how practical, helpful, and freeing the Bible is about everyday life.
Free Estate Planning – Trusts, Wills, and More
We don’t know when we will die, and we’d rather avoid thinking about it. But it is so wise and loving to have an estate plan for the benefit of your family. Are you in need of having a will and a medical directive? Would you like to understand the value of family trust? Pantano Christian Church is providing this service at no cost to you. We have partnered with Financial Planning Ministry, an organization that we worked with a few years ago. I and many others here at Pantano created a trust, will, and medical directives a few years ago, and we are bringing back this service. Check out Financial Planning Ministry at https://www.fpm.org/.
We’ll have a free estate planning seminar on May 3rd, 6:30-8 PM. Register in advance for this webinar here. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
We look forward to seeing you, your friends or loved ones at these upcoming events.
Happy Easter! I love Easter! It helps that it comes every Spring that parallels the rebirth of our natural world. It reminds me every year that God is still in the business of bringing newness to our lives. He’s the author of new life! Easter brings hope. It declares that while death dominates this world, which Covid has made so obvious this year, that God ensures that we don’t have to fear death for there’s life after death.
Here’s the scripture that I’m going to be speaking about this Sunday. It’s from Ephesians 2:1-5 in the Message version:
It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ.
God took our “sin-dead” lives and made us alive in Christ! That’s Easter! That’s what we’ll be celebrating this Easter Sunday.
Join us online or in-person at 7 am, 9 am, 11 am, or 1 pm. The music will be outstanding. We’ll be celebrating baptisms. If you want to be baptized, let us know or simply come to the service of your choice and respond when I provide the invitation during my message. Our kid’s ministry has planned an amazing experience for our children. And at our East Campus, we offer a free breakfast outside – pancakes and sausage for all, and there will be a couple of Easter photo spots.
Don’t forget to reserve your spots for the Easter service. You can sign up at www.pantano.church/easter. Easter services provide a great opportunity to invite your family, friends, and even your “one.”
March is here, and in my mind, that translates to Spring has arrived. Even though we are in a drought, somehow, the weeds are starting to pop up at my house! This is a good time to give some updates, and look forward as Spring approaches here at Pantano.
Lead Pastor Search
Please remember that we are not in a hurry to find my successor. We will be prayerfully careful in our process and selection. Please pray for the Interview Team and Elders as they do the initial work, which requires lots of time and is not an easy process. Once we find my successor, there will be a period of overlap, which could take a year or so. So, you won’t see any real changes until possibly sometime in 2022.
Let me clarify again that I’m not retiring. At 65, I’m not done in ministry. I’m just looking for a change of role. I will give my successor the freedom to determine what that role might look like after I pass the baton.
The Interview Team and Elders are well along in the interview process of the first round of candidates. They started with six candidates. We have recently received five new candidates that the Slingshot Group vetted, and the Interview Team is just getting started with those candidate profiles. We are not releasing the names of any candidates at their request and for their well-being.
Engage One Series
This Sunday, we launch a new series that I personally believe is one of the most important that we’ve done in the 22 years I’ve been at Pantano. Why would I make that huge statement? Here’s why: About 85% of Pima County doesn’t go to any church. Most of our neighbors are post-Christians, meaning that they lack an understanding of who Jesus really is or what the Bible and the church are all about. Except for a few Atheists, most are not against God; they just don’t know him or have a relationship with him. They are unlikely to visit a church, and COVID has made it even more unlikely that folks will want to go to a church building.
So we have to go to them. Our mission and purpose is to love people to Jesus, launching passionate people to make a difference. In this series, we are unveiling a year-long effort to equip and prepare our church to intentionally engage those not connected to Jesus. Starting Sunday, I will introduce this idea and share with you some of the tools, resources, videos, and courses we’ve been developing over the last year.
We need to fix some things in our East Campus Auditorium. The carpet is beyond repair. Many of the pews are broken, and we can’t fasten them to the floor. The floor has a terrible and dangerous slope, and the list goes on. For years we’ve tried to push the proverbial can down the road, but we’ve come to the place where we need to make some changes. We are in the process of planning so we can’t give details yet, but once we decide and commit to a plan and have permits, I’ll let you know more about the details, timing, schedule, and cost.
Easter – April 4
I love to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus! This year, we’ll have four Easter Sunday services, both in-person and online, at 7 am, 9 am, 11 am, and 1 pm. We are using a reservation system (choose a service here) for in-person attendance to ensure that none of our services are too full and provide safe physical distancing. Sign up now!
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Our Christmas Eve offering of $73,149 was used to start a church and build a building in Ecuador to house a Compassion International project. Thank you, Pantano, for making that possible! We are expanding the reach of the gospel and bringing the hope of Jesus to children and families living in extreme poverty. Your amazing generosity allows us to partner with Compassion and a church in Ecuador to plant Christian Church Arco in El Oro Province, Ecuador.
This church plant is part of our vision to be a catalyst to help a local church create a permanent presence for their ministry. Having a safe new building to meet in gives the church room to grow and the capacity to offer Compassion’s holistic child development program.
The local Compassion International staff members work closely with our church partner in Ecuador to help the church’s leadership grow strong through wise counsel and mentoring. Our three-way partnership values and encourages local resource mobilization and local ownership from the beginning. We aim for this not only in the initial construction of the church plant infrastructure you have helped fund but also in the child development center’s ongoing program implementation.
Pantano, because of you, the church in Ecuador is now mobilized to expand and help more children be known, loved, protected, and discipled for a hopeful future. Thank you again for investing in this opportunity for a new church to positively impact a community in Jesus’ name.
I’ll keep you updated on the progress of the new church. Later this year, we’ll start sponsoring the children in the program, and when international travel allows, we’ll start making visits. Stay tuned for more!
Have you wondered what Lent is all about or how to practice it? You’re not alone! You’re invited to attend our Lent service, where we’ll guide you on how to practice Lent. Lent is a time of repentance and refocusing to experience intimacy with God at a deeper level. It is a time of 40 days that prepares us for the celebration of Easter.
Our Lent service is also a part of our This Is the Way teaching series as we look at the ways of Jesus to help us engage and connect with God. One of the “ways” we do that is through the practice of fasting; setting something aside to focus more on God. Fasting is an ancient and tested way to lessen distractions, set aside time, and be intentional to seek the presence of God. If you’re ready to deepen your faith, consider attending our Lent Service on Wednesday, February 17, at 6:30 PM at our East Campus. It will also be online.
Childcare provided for kids through 5th grade.
As we begin Lent, we’ll challenge you to fast from something you’ve been dependent on. As we fast from things we’ve relied on, we often become more aware of our need to depend on Jesus more. The things we fast from can tempt us with a false basis of support, protection, comfort, or what we wrongly consider will give us “real” life. We’ll encourage you to “fast” from something that promises to offer what only God can ultimately provide. Then, use the extra time and energy to talk to and focus on Jesus, the One who truly supplies what we need most.
Start now by asking the Holy Spirit to guide you in what you should fast. You can choose to fast from a meal or a certain kind of food or drink like sugars, caffeine, soda, etc. Some choose to fast from social media, TV, video streaming, gaming, music, or anything that you rely on daily or that’s an important part of your routine.
Our Lent service will begin with worship, and then Sean Haynes, our NextGen Pastor, will bring a message to help us prepare for our celebration of Christ’s death and resurrection on Easter. We’ll partake in Communion together, and then as we dismiss from the service, you’ll have the optional opportunity to receive ashes on your forehead or wrist (a symbol of death and repentance). The service will also be streamed online using our usual channels (Pantano.online, Facebook and YouTube).
In October, I announced that we were starting the public process of looking for my successor as Lead Pastor. You can read through the details of this process by visiting https://pantano.church/leadpastor/.
Every week people talk to me about my “retirement.” Let me be clear about something: I’m not retiring. Retirement is the wrong word. I’m transitioning. I’m not done in ministry. I still need and want to work. So the right word is transition. I’m transitioning out of being the person who has the overall responsibility of leading our staff and church.
Many have asked what my future role will be. As I write this, I don’t know for sure. My successor will decide that role. Once we hire my successor, we’ll have a season of overlap, and during that time, we’ll discover together what my next role will look like. I’m at complete peace about that, and the unknown doesn’t create anxiety for me. I’ve walked with God now for 51years. He’s never failed me, and I fully trust him.
Here’s where we stand today in the process: We’ve formed a diverse Interview Team led by two of our Elders. There are no paid staff members on this team. The Slingshot Group search company gave the Interview Team six candidates. It is a standard courtesy not to release candidates’ names until they are selected to do onsite interviews. This is for the protection of the candidates.
The team has completed the first round of interviews, and they have released three of the candidates. The more extended second interviews for the remaining three candidates will occur over the next two weeks. The team has common questions they will ask all the candidates and some unique questions for each individual. The candidates’ spouses will also be a part of the second round of interviews.
Before the first interviews, we informed Slingshot that we would accept additional potential candidates at any time up to an actual hire. It’s possible we might still get additional candidate options as we continue forward.
During this process, I have formed a Succession Prayer Team who are praying for the whole process, the Interview Team, our current candidates, potential candidates, our staff, elders, and Jolene and myself.
Please pray for the Interview Team and for God to provide the right person to lead us into our next season as a church. If you have any questions, there’s a place at the end of this webpage to send your questions to me.
I’ll send out another update on this before Easter!
What was the best gift you ever got? What was the best gift you ever gave? Is there a special gift you are hoping for this year? Is there a gift you can’t wait to give? Christmas is all about giving. It was God who gave the most significant gift ever that first Christmas – the gift of Jesus. The Magi traveled over 500 miles to give their gifts to the new king of the Jews.
The heart of Christmas today is still found in giving, but not primarily in giving or getting the perfect, cool, well thought out Christmas presents. The best gift is when we give ourselves to others. Here are some options to give and serve this Christmas:
Wrap presents for Healthcare workers at TMC – Our healthcare workers are overworked right now. We can help them out! Tucson Medical Center has asked us to help wrap the presents of the healthcare workers who don’t have time to wrap them for Christmas. You can sign up for two-hour shifts (10 am – 12 pm) or (12 pm – 2 pm), Monday through Friday, December 14th-23rd. Sign up here!
Senior Santa – Here is an opportunity to bring a little joy to a senior this Christmas. This year has been especially hard on seniors, and Senior Santa provides Christmas gifts to low-income seniors in assisted living facilities. This year our Senior Santa program has moved online, and you can purchase a gift from Amazon, and it will be shipped directly to them. Sign up here!
Serving at our Christmas Services
We have opportunities to serve families at our Christmas services by helping out in our Kids Ministry or serving in our courtyard or cafe. Sign up here!
Christmas Eve Offering
Our Christmas Eve offering will help build a church that will host a new Compassion center for children and families that are struggling. Compassion International in Ecuador thoroughly investigated and identified a target area in need of a Christ-centered church that preaches God’s Word. Your gift will help build two classrooms, bathrooms, and a water system that will serve over 300 under-resourced kids.
The cost of the facilities to start a Compassion center in Santa Rosa, Ecuador will be $75,000. You can give online and choose the Christmas Eve giving fund in the drop-down menu. Everything collected on Christmas Eve will go to help build a church to host a Compassion program. What a great way to celebrate Christmas and make a difference for hundreds of kids and families!
We are beginning the search for the next Lead Pastor at Pantano. You can find out more details about the plan and process at pantano.church/leadpastor. However, you might have some questions that we haven’t addressed, or you’d like some clarity. I’ve scheduled three question and answer sessions. Join me if you’d like to have a better idea about our plan to ensure a smooth and healthy transition to our next pastor and leader.
Or, you can email me your questions at email@example.com.
Thanks for supporting me and our church through this process. Your prayers are greatly appreciated!
During Pantano’s 58 years, we have thrived because of the quality and depth of its shared leadership. Our health and effectiveness as a church is not dependent on one person but shared by the great team of leaders we have.
I’ve been recently reminded that everyone is an interim. Every job has a season. Even our life on earth is only for a season. Many years ago, I started to prepare our Elders for a day when I would transition from my current role as Lead Pastor. That day has come.
I’m turning 65 next month, and I’m ready to begin the search process. This has been my choice, which I initiated. No one asked me to step down. The best time to make this kind of change is when the church and the Lead Pastor are healthy.
I believe with all my heart that this is what’s best for our church and me. To reach the emerging generations and keep our vision and mission alive, we need a younger leader who has fresh energy and ideas. This leader will build on the systems and success of today to move us into the future.
Let me be clear about a few things; first, Jolene and I are not intending to leave Tucson or Pantano. Second, I’m not retiring! And third, I’m not tired, burnt out, or done in ministry. Instead, God has clearly guided me and our leadership to enter this season of transition.
We have started a national search for our next Lead Pastor. We are using the Slingshot Search Group, who has helped us develop our succession plan. We have created a public church and position profile, and Slingshot has made that public and will do the initial screening and vetting of candidates. Slingshot will present qualified candidates to Pantano, and we’ll prayerfully and carefully select the best candidate. For more details of the succession process, click here.
We are looking for a younger man qualified to be an Elder. We are looking for a Christ-like character with experience and skills to lead a large multi-site church. We want someone who loves our vision, mission, and values and holds our biblical beliefs. We want someone who can build on the past but take us further! We are not looking for someone to take us in a completely different direction, while also giving him the freedom to innovate and bring creative ideas.
I’ll be hosting some meetings where I’m happy to answer any questions about our succession.
We ask that you would join us in prayer for God to bring us the right leader for Pantano’s next season. I’m excited about our future!
We are excited about regathering this Sunday, October 4th, for onsite worship at 9 am and 11 am. For those of you who are not ready to return in person, that’s totally fine. Please continue to join us online on Sundays at 9 am, 11 am, and 1 pm, or on-demand during the week.
For those of you who want to physically regather, we will continue to follow necessary safety measures to ensure we can remain open and keep everyone as healthy as possible:
Our Kid’s ministry will also begin on Sunday, October 4th at 9 am and 11 am. Check-in will be touchless! When you arrive, we’ll have folks with iPads to check you in at the Kids ministry check-in tent. Room occupancy will be limited to protect our children and staff. Should we fill up a room, we’ll ask your child to attend worship with you. We’ll be diligent in cleaning the rooms and toys and follow standard health procedures.
Our main Student worship time has moved to Wednesday nights at 6:30 pm. Starting Wednesday, October 7th, our high school and middle school students will meet in the Student Union for worship, teaching, and small groups. On Sunday, starting October 4th, we encourage our students to either worship as a family or volunteer. We’ll also provide a student Bible study at 9 am and 11 am in the Student Union. Here’s the student ministry welcome and instruction link.
I titled this blog, “Politics and Peacemaking”. Those two ideas never go hand in hand. In our current cultural environment, there is no peacemaking attached to politics. Due to various reasons (which are being documented and verified), our culture and even our church are more polarized than ever. The right is further right, and the left is further left, and the two see each other as enemies rather than citizens of the same country with differing opinions.
So why would I be so foolish to even think that politics and peacemaking can both be pursued? Because God, through his Holy Word, has directed us to be peacemakers. The Apostle Paul wrote: live at peace with everyone (Romans 12:18) and make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification (Romans 14:19). “Everyone” includes those of a different political persuasion. “Make every effort” means that division and conflict over politics is a realm to be included in our peacemaking efforts. And Jesus says that if we want to be children of God, we need to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9).
Making peace doesn’t mean we don’t have political opinions. Making peace doesn’t mean we give up our convictions. Making peace is all about how we think and respond to those we are not currently at peace with. I can disagree with you and still be at peace with you. Making peace is one of our best paths to bring our Jesus-centered faith and concerns into conversations. However, it means my disagreement will take a different tone. I’ll be willing to honestly listen and try to understand your viewpoint. I’ll refuse to judge you for having a different view. I’ll try to understand your concerns, fears, perspectives, and your story that led to your position. And no matter where we land, I’ll respect and honor you.
I know this whole area of politics, for some of us, is so incredibly challenging. I’m seeing families and friends torn apart by political conflict. So as we finish our series on Peacemakers this Sunday (September 27), we want to add a Deeper Dive on politics to the discussion. In the Deeper Dive, we will not be directing you to vote for a particular candidate or party. We won’t debate the current political issues. We’ll save that for the candidates to debate. Instead, we’ll look at how we can be peacemakers in a world where politics equals war.
Join us for another live Deeper Dive on Monday, September 28, at 7:30 pm. Note that we moved this from Tuesday to Monday because there is a presidential debate scheduled on Tuesday (which I encourage you to watch). Remember, our focus is on how to be peacemakers in a polarized political culture. Send us your questions and watch us live by clicking here to link to all our digital channels (Facebook, YouTube, Online Campus, and our app).
We just started a new series called Peacemakers. Why? Our nation (and world) needs peace. You and I need peace. Jesus calls us to be peacemakers to fulfill our true identity as his children (Matthew 5:9). But on our own, we can’t make peace. Peace first starts inside us before it can move beyond us. The source of peace is God and God alone.
God reminded me of a situation in the book of Acts. It’s found in Acts 12:1-19. King Herod has just arrested people in the new church that had formed. He put James and John, some of the first disciples, to death. Being an astute politician, he saw that made the Jews happy so he arrested Peter too. He was going to do to Peter what was done to Jesus!
Then there’s Acts 12:5 – So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. The church prayed earnestly! What happened? An angel appeared, his chains dropped off and he walked right past the guards. That would be a great ending, but there’s more.
He goes to the very place where people had gathered to pray. Can you imagine the celebration that occurred when Peter showed up? Peace came over the church. They saw God act in a mighty and powerful way. God did the impossible.
What if today we decided to do less talking, posting, complaining, and venting and focused more on praying? What if we did like the early church and prayed earnestly as we head into this toxic and partisan election season? What if we asked God to do the impossible – unite our city and nation and bring peace? What if…?
Here are some practical ways you can pray:
J17 Ministries has initiated the #PrayForTheUSA prayer movement. It is a very specific call to pray…
This call is NOT for prayer that a specific candidate or party wins or loses the election. Learn more here and join the movement!
10 Days of Prayer for Tucson
4Tucson is sponsoring a 10-Day prayer meeting for Tucson. It starts Friday, September 18th. We are praying for God’s kingdom to advance, for supernatural unity in God’s church, and for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Click here to find out more.
We encourage you to intentionally pray in the upcoming weeks. God hears us, and it changes our hearts in the process.
Pantano fall classes are open for enrollment now!
Beginning on August 29th, we are offering a variety of classes available to take digitally via Zoom. Our classes cover topics such as finances, marriage, parenting, and more! Take a look…
Marriage and Parenting
Personal Growth and Development
You can find the full list of classes with detailed descriptions and enroll by visiting www.pantano.church/classes. If you have any questions about our classes or how to enroll, please contact Liz Kim at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the last few teaching series, we’ve been adding a digital Deeper Dive live event. Deeper Dives allow us to address specific things at a deeper level and in a Q & A format. For the current series – What Would Jesus Undo, we thought that a Deeper Dive on racism was needed and would be helpful. I’m confident that Jesus came to undo racism in addition to many other things.
Join us this Tuesday night, August 25th, at 7:30 pm for our live Deeper Dive through our normal channels: Online campus, YouTube, or Facebook. I’ve invited my friend Pastor Grady Scott to join me in what will be a great discussion. Send in your questions on race – click here.
Jesus gave the church the purpose of going and making disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). What’s interesting is that the word translated “nations” is the word from which we get our English word “ethnic.” It means races, ethnicities, cultures, and nations. Jesus wants his church to take the good news to every racial group. The New Testament is also clear that the members of the church are to be equal, one, and united regardless of categories like male or female, or socio-economic standing, or race (Galatians 3:28).
Racial unity and reconciliation have been a passion of mine for the last eight or nine years. For me, it started by actually meeting with Black and Latino leaders and asking questions (sometimes hard questions) and trying to listen and understand. I had to find a way to move from a “you” and “me” stance to a “we” position. That’s why we’ve done four film nights at Pantano with other predominantly Black churches. We watched movies about race and then had discussions where we could talk, listen, and understand each other. The Deeper Dive this Tuesday is meant to be another opportunity to talk openly and honestly about race, culture, and ethnicity. Very few of us consider ourselves to be racist. But we do have blind spots. We are by nature, more favorable to our own race. We all have room to grow.
My hope and prayer is that you’ll have an open mind and heart to understand the challenges and complexities of racism. Neither Pastor Scott or I speak for our races, nor are we the experts. But, both of us have learned to listen to each other, trust each other, and come to some new understandings about race. We won’t avoid the difficult racial issues that most are talking about like Black Lives Matter, white privilege and more. We’ll answer as many questions as we can. You don’t want to miss this Deeper Dive – Tuesday, August 25th at 7:30 pm. If you can’t watch it live, you can watch it On-demand at a more convenient time.
You might be wondering when we will regather for physical services. Our staff is addressing that very question right now. I’ll share the details with you next week. There are lots of issues connected with such a decision. I want you to know the kinds of things we are considering to resume well.
I know that several other churches have opened. I’ve talked to over 50 pastors in the Tucson and Phoenix areas as well as pastors around the country. Many churches have yet to resume and several well-known churches (Northpoint Community Church) in the country have announced they won’t regather until 2021. One thing we’ve learned is that churches regathering, on average, are seeing about 25% of their normal pre-COVID19 attendance. I fully understand that most folks are not ready to regather yet.
Here are some of the issues and questions we are considering:
The list of questions is longer than this, but I won’t bore you with the details! I deeply appreciate your prayers for me, our staff, and our elders. Thank you to those who’ve sent cards of encouragement. These are hard times to live. These are hard times to lead! But we are still the church and I’m confident we will come through this season better prepared to be a better church tomorrow. I’ll update you next week with more of when we’ll regather and how.
Do you want to go deeper in your faith and walk with Jesus? There are three opportunities coming up that will give you tools to grow closer to God:
Deeper Dive – Tuesday, July 28 – 7:30pm
Our Deeper Dives follow a teaching series; our next one concludes our series, The Eye of the Storm. We already have some great questions about worry, anxiety, prayer, breaking habits, grief, and more. Join us Tuesday evening, July 28 at 7:30 pm for a live discussion with Josh Reich, Rebecca Hamlin, and myself. Send us your questions by going to https://pantano.church/deeperdive/. That’s the same location where you’ll be able to find the link to watch the Deeper Dive.
July 31 and August 1
Men all across the globe will gather via live stream in their homes to experience the Promise Keepers 2020 Global Digital Experience. Some men’s groups will be watching the event together.
Keynote speakers include Mark Batterson, Bob Goff, Miles McPherson, and many more. There will be great worship as well.
It’s a FREE event! Register here. Invite others to join you.
The Global Leadership Summit – August 6-7
The Summit looks to be as good as it’s been every year. Take a look at the amazing 2020 faculty.
Pantano will not be hosting a live event this year – the first time in 11 years! However, you can join us virtually for the GLS Online Experience. Register Today >>
Take the step to go deeper with Jesus!
I did a blog on May 27th called “Changes.” Well, more changes have been happening since then. That is the season we live in. So much has happened just in the last month. I’m back from my vacation I take during the month of June. It was more disrupted than usual (as has been the case for everyone), but I did get ten days on the lake with seven different families, including my own.
This is not new information, but it is now a reality: This Friday is our Shelly Vasey’s last day as our Kid’s Pastor. It was supposed to be on the last day of the Crazy Daze kids event, but that too had to be canceled. I’m still grieving over losing her. She’s been more than amazing with our kids and volunteers. She will be missed. We are actively looking for her replacement now.
Sunday was Nick Farr’s final day serving at Pantano. Recently both Nick and Pantano have come to a realization that we are moving in different ministry directions, so we released him. No party is “bad” or wrong in this. And to be clear, there was nothing Nick did that was immoral and there are no hidden reasons for this decision. Sometimes, terrific people and churches move apart. God will continue to use Nick to make a difference.
Nick has done an amazing job at Pantano. He came to Pantano 7 years ago to be our Youth Pastor. Then, he oversaw communications. And finally, he served as our first Online Pastor. Nick is cutting edge when it comes to digital technology and he’s helped place us in a great position to offer quality online services. His work will endure at a time when online connection is so vital. There’s so much more he’s done, including serving on our teaching team, and I’m so grateful for him and will greatly miss him. Please pray for Nick and his family. We all want the very best for them in their next chapter of service.
A couple of weeks ago we had to discontinue physical services again. That was another change. It seems this COVID-19 season will stretch out longer than any of us thought. So the Executive Team is meeting this week to identify how we’ll be the most effective church we can be in light of this new world we live in. We’ll be putting together some plans that will guide our church to continue our mission and reach the people we need to reach. This clarity will allow us to re-allocate our resources and staff to accomplish our passion to reach people not connected to God or a church while discipling those who know Jesus to become more like him. We’ll look for new and creative ways to stay connected, get the training we need, and have an active part in impacting our city. God is present in the midst of all these changes and will guide us to be an even better representation of Jesus in our world. Please pray for your leaders and staff in these changing and challenging times. Above all, we want to follow Jesus wherever he leads.
In an effort to continue to work together to stay healthy, and with much thought and prayer, we’ve made a few decisions. Before we talk about those decisions, we want to remind you of this: We are still the church! We can still be Jesus to our families. We can still be Jesus to our friends and neighbors. We can continue to find ways to love people to Jesus and make a difference, by reaching out to others. Don’t let fear take a grip on you, but rather, let fear be a reminder to draw nearer to God. Our God is still the same God He was before this pandemic appeared.
The decisions that we’ve made have been formed through love, not fear. They are painful and not what we wanted to do, but with the current circumstances, we believe the following plan is best at this time:
We are committed to continuing to provide a high-quality digital experience with our online campus. Sunday service times are 9 am, 11 am and 1 pm. Plan in advance to have bread and juice to partake in communion at home. We are still providing online options for students and children – go to our online campus page to access those – www.pantano.church/online.
One way is to download our app. You’ll be able to access our adult, student, and kid’s online content, and several other tools [download here]. Another way is to join a Group. More and more Groups are doing this virtually and finding it to be an amazing experience. You can also Find A Group online!
As we navigate through our current circumstances, we will continue to reevaluate our resources and staff to align how we can engage with our church and city. Remember, we are NOT closed. The church is not a building; the church is a movement of people who live to help others meet, know, and follow Jesus.
Would you continue to pray for our church to be unified as we manage the tension of all the needs, wants, and desires of those impacted by these decisions? Please also pray that we would use this time as an opportunity to reach our neighbors, co-workers, city, and world in new and unique ways. We thank you, our Pantano Family, for your continued support.
Glen ElliottSubscribe: https://pantano.church/blogsubscription
You won’t see me for three weeks as I’m taking my annual break. I usually use vacation time to take off the entire month of June, but with resuming services last Sunday, my break will be a week shorter this year. So, if you don’t see me, it’s not because I have COVID-19 or I’m afraid to gather; I just need a break.
For the last 13 years, I’ve put the principle of Sabbath into practice as I take off the month of June. God taught us the principle of Sabbath; in fact, he modeled it. He created the world in six days and on the seventh, he rested. I think this shouts out to us that God himself rested! His rest wasn’t because he was tired or exhausted; it was to take time, reflect, and enjoy his amazing creation. We are not God, so we get tired. But we also need to pause regularly to reflect on and enjoy the life God has given us.
Sabbath is not so much about a particular day or a particular season; it’s less about when and more about what we do with that time. It’s about resting from work to reflect and refresh. We all need to practice this. I try to put a sabbath moment into each day (some call it quiet time), each week (some call it a day off) and each year (some call it a vacation). My yearly sabbath break is how I use my vacation time.
I love what I do as a Pastor. I feel called to what I do. I pour myself into being the Pastor of our amazing church, but it takes a toll on me (it would on anyone, for that matter). Leading has been especially difficult and demanding as we’ve had to pivot, adjust, and change just about everything through this pandemic. The pandemic and now the racial tensions have increased interpersonal conflict, which drains me even more than usual.
So, I block out time so I can really unplug and have a break from the daily stress of leadership and pastoring. I need the time to refresh myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I need this time to refresh my vision for the next season of our church. If I don’t, I end up leading and pastoring out of an empty soul, and that is not good for our church, our staff, my family, or myself.
What will I do? I’ll do projects around my house. I love hard physical work (like moving two tons of rock) and using my hands (like replacing fascia boards). I’ll go to the lake with my old boat that I’ve completely rebuilt over the years. I love to take families to the water and help them enjoy one of my favorite and refreshing places. I enjoy water skiing. I treasure being away from my work world for a while!
I’ll be back teaching on July 5th, Lord willing. I really look forward to seeing you all and leading us into our new normal!
I know some of you can’t wait to worship physically this Sunday, June 7th, as we resume our services on the East Campus. I also know some of you have concerns about your health and the risk of gathering as a group. If you are at higher risk, we encourage and affirm your choice to continue to attend our online service from home or wherever you might be. If you are feeling sick or have been sick recently, please participate in our ONLINE service from home. Remember that we are following a phased plan of resuming services – check here for details.
We are asking a few things of you in order to protect you and others and mitigate any outbreak that would require us to close our campus again. Here’s what to expect this Sunday:
We’ve developed a touchless system as you enter into services; when you arrive, the doors will be propped open. Pick up your prepackaged communion as you enter and a Bible if you need one. Coffee, water bottles, and lemonade or punch will be available at the outdoor basketball court. Hand sanitizer stations are placed throughout our campus.
I am well aware of the many different perspectives on COVID-19 and how to care for ourselves and others. In this season, our focus is on caring for others, even if it means some inconveniences and setting aside personal preferences out of care for one another. We want our worship experience to be a judgment-free zone (see Romans 14).
We’ve asked our staff and Sunday volunteers to wear masks at least through June (then we’ll assess the current situation). You are not required to wear them, however, we do recommend them and please feel free to wear one if you are comfortable doing so. We will be providing masks if you forgot one or decide you want one.
PLEASE practice safe physical distancing. Refrain from handshakes, hugs, or any close physical contact. Wave, smile, or talk to each other at a safe distance! You personally might be comfortable shaking hands and hugging, but many people are not, so please help us make everyone, especially our visitors, feel comfortable and safe. Also, please consider attending our 1 PM service where there’s more room to physically distance; it’s hot outside and cool in our auditorium that time of day!
We encourage everyone to give using one of our online options (phone app or website). If you wish to give by check, please visit one of the giving boxes located in the lobby, auditorium, or courts or you can mail it to our office at 1755 S. Houghton Road.
Please be vigilant to practice physical distancing as you exit and avoid crowding at the exit doors. After exiting the building, please practice social distancing in the lobby, courtyard (where there are drinks and lots of tables), or parking lot if you visit with folks.
We look forward to connecting with you in a way that both protects the health of our congregation and allows for the freedom to participate in public worship. See you this Sunday – live or online at 9 am, 11 am or 1 pm!
When it comes to life on earth, we’ve all heard some version of the quote by Heraclitus – There is nothing permanent except change. Everything has and is changing as we find our way into the new normal. However, as people of faith, we also believe that God is permanent and he never changes (Hebrews 13:8)! He is our rock in the midst of chaos, uncertainty, and change!
We are all facing lots of changes as our economy begins to reopen. Here are some transitions that have or are happening at Pantano. Let me help us get “caught up” on some changes.
Physical On-Campus Services Resume June 7th
Services at our East Campus begin Sunday, June 7th at 9 am, 11 am, and 1 pm. Students will resume on June 21st – 9 am and 11 am. Kids will resume on July 5th. Please use our online service option if you are sick or have a higher risk of medical issues if you get sick or if you are choosing to avoid public places. We are waiting for permission from the Vail school district for our Southeast Campus to resume at Empire High School. No date has been given.
We have placed hand sanitizer dispensers all around the campus. Services will be as “touchless” as humanly possible (doors propped open, pre-packaged communion you’ll pick up, no handouts, etc.). While we are not requiring attendees to wear masks, our staff and key volunteers will wear masks through June. We are asking you to practice physical distancing for the protection of yourself and others.
We had signed a contract to repair and resurface our East Campus parking lot before the pandemic. It was way past due and several people were injured because of the cracks. It will be finished as we begin to resume on-campus services.
We have some staffing changes happening in our Kids and Student ministries. It’s with great sadness that I have to announce that Shelly Vasey is resigning as our Kids Pastor. Shelly loves our kids, church, and staff, but feels it’s time for a change for her and for Pantano. She’ll be with us through our Crazy Daze event ending on July 10th.
We’ve hired Sean Haynes to be our NextGen Pastor, who will serve on our Executive Team overseeing both Kids and Student ministries. With our middle school pastor vacancy, Sean will join Brian Lucas to provide special attention to our students as we are looking for our next Kids Pastor.
Everyone is wondering or asking “When will the church be open again?” My favorite answer is that Pantano Christian Church never closed! We’ve been the church throughout this whole pandemic.
We’ve offered outstanding online worship and teaching services to all ages. We’ve called almost every family in our church. We’ve made and delivered over 3,000 cards and 800 care packages to health care workers in our city. We’ve delivered 9 trailers full of food and supplies to the Gospel Rescue Mission and the Department of Child Safety. We’ve served over 3,000 kid’s meals from our parking lot. We’ve made and delivered over 2,000 masks. We’ve served meals and provided free child care for TMC and St. Joseph’s hospitals. We’ve had over 165 folks serve various non-profits. We have been open and we’ve been the church all along. Thank you, Pantano. Your generosity has made all this possible.
But, the question you are wondering is when will we resume physical meetings on our campuses? We have a phased plan that attempts to balance both protecting the health of our congregation and allowing for the freedom to participate in public worship. The stay-at-home order and physical isolation have created a hunger for many of us to connect with those of like faith. We will attempt to do our best to mitigate the spread of the virus while reasonably allowing for worship, teaching, and discipleship. We are trying to follow what the Bible teaches about love… “it always protects” (1 Corinthians 13:7).
Here is our phased plan to resume using our physical campuses:
Phase 1: Office Open and Groups can meet – Now
Right now, our offices are open. Small groups can physically meet in homes or at the East Campus if they feel comfortable. We also encourage small groups to meet for Sunday services together like a “watch party” or as a home worship group. We’ll continue to provide quality online services.
Phase 2: Worship will resume at our East Campus – June 7
Adult worship will resume in our East Campus auditorium on Sunday, June 7 at 9 am, 11 am, and 1 pm. To allow for physical distancing, both courts will be fully extended so people can spread out. We’ll block every other row and provide a “touchless” experience (you’ll grab your prepackaged communion on the way in, no hand-outs, doors propped open, no cafe, etc.). Engaging online is still encouraged! If you are sick or have medical issues, please continue to stay at home until you are well or feel safe to return. Children are welcome to join their parents for the adult service, however, we will not be providing busy boxes at this time.
Phase 3 & 4: Students Services Resumes – June 21 & Kids Sunday Classes – July 5
High school and middle school students will meet in the Student Union starting June 21 at 9 am and 11 am. Kids Sunday services will begin July 5.
Phase 5: The Cafe Will Open – TBD
Phase 6: Resume Services at our Southeast Campus – TBD
We are awaiting word from the Vail School District about when our Southeast Campus will be able to meet at Empire High School. Until then, anyone from the Southeast Campus is encouraged to attend the East Campus or worship online, and groups can consider doing “church at home” together.
Let’s Work Together to Stay Healthy
We are asking everyone to follow the familiar drill and CDC guidelines, including but not limited to:
For our part, we’ll do our very best to sanitize areas likely to be touched before and after every service or event and we will also be sanitizing our HVAC system. For more details and updates, be sure to check our Pantano Updates on our website at https://pantano.church/updates/
We want to love people to Jesus, so our staff and volunteers will wear masks, we’ll observe the 6-foot rule, wipe down surfaces, and go the extra mile to make sure people experience the love of God. That’s the Pantano way.
Glen ElliottSubscribe: https://pantano.church/blogsubscription
The internet is an amazing tool that allows us to do so much. We can’t even imagine life without it. Our stay-at-home life now would be miserable without the internet. More than ever, our kids and grandkids are dependent on the internet to do their schooling.
Yet, most of us are unaware of the dangers to our kids via the internet. I’m not just talking about porn or “R” rated movies that have reached pandemic levels for students of all ages (90% of all children 8-16 have watched porn). Many don’t realize that kids are being trafficked primarily through the internet. Cyberbullying is perpetrated online and via social media. Toxic relationships formed digitally often lead to severe emotional trauma, sometimes leading to suicide. Students are being tricked and tempted to engage in sexting, a criminal act that can ruin their future lives.
I’m not just trying to raise everyone’s fear quotient; there’s enough fear-mongering going on these days. There’s a real danger that comes right into our homes and phones. Internet and media filters are necessary to protect our children for sure, but we need more. We need to educate our kids to be wise and protect themselves from harm.
We have been friends and partners with a nationally recognized ministry here in Tucson called Sold No More. Our friends at Sold No More have been invited to schools all across Tucson (and the nation) to help students avoid toxic, dangerous relationships that can cause trauma and harm. They are offering their program online for free, called Power Over Predators.
Now, all lessons of the Power Over Predators online student course are now available!
Log in or register at poweroverpredators.org to view the online student course and share it with the students in your life.
What parents and teens are saying…
After hearing Lesson 3: Safe and Supportive Relationships, “Mark”, a senior in high school said, “Where has this been all my life??? Now I know how to avoid toxic relationships!”
Janet, a mother of five writes, “My 15-year-old daughter met a guy while playing a game online. He convinced her to send him nude images of herself. When she tried to block him, he started posting her pictures on other sites and was threatening to hurt her. It has been a nightmare for her. She did not want to stay trapped and had the courage to tell me. She is getting the help she needs. This program empowers kids to tell their stories. Thanks for all you do in protecting kids and helping families.”
The online student course is available for free until July 31, 2020. Take advantage of this valuable tool which is sure to bring awareness to you and your family.
Our Time to Shine
I know this may shock you, but I love the season we are in. I don’t like that people are dying. I don’t like that people are losing their jobs. In fact, the list of things I don’t like is rather long. But I love how we, the church, have the best opportunity, maybe in my lifetime, to fulfill our mission. Being the church is not about gathering in a building. Being the church is when we bring the love of Jesus to others and shine like a bright light in the darkness.
The Early Christians
Did you know that when the church first began, it was considered a dangerous cult by the Roman Empire and was severely persecuted? In the absence of our modern understanding of disease and proper sanitation, pandemics were common back then. And when the pandemics hit, it was the Christians who refused to flee the cities and stayed and served the sick, risking their own lives. That was a key turning point for the church. The Romans realized that Christians actually loved people and sacrificed to serve and gained the respect of many.
The mission God has given our church is more important than ever – loving people to Jesus, launching passionate people to make a difference. This is the time to be on mission. This is not a time for our church to hunker down in fear. This is our opportunity to rise up and serve our city in the name of Jesus. And this week, we are in full focus to do just that. Here’s how you can love people to Jesus:
If you have a need, or if you know of someone in need, we have an awesome team of volunteers that are willing to shop for folks and help with groceries & supplies. Fill out a request by going to pantano.church. On the front page, you’ll see a red section called “Loving Our City.” You can let us know if you or someone needs help or you can sign up to volunteer.
Collection and Distribution
We are also collecting items needed by the Department of Child Safety, the Gospel Rescue Mission, AZ Baptist Children’s Services and specific families in need. Go to the Loving Our City page at pantano.church/lovingourcity and you’ll find the list of items these groups need. Drop them off at the office curbside bins at the East Campus (1755 S. Houghton Rd.) Mon-Fri 9am-4pm.
Front Line Hospital Staff
Pantano Christian Church is the point of contact for TMC and St. Joseph’s hospitals. Here’s what they’ve asked the church for and what’s in the works:
There are hundreds of ways you can love people to Jesus. Folks in our church are mailing cards to those stuck at home. At last count, over 600 face masks have been made and delivered. Look for ways to serve folks in your neighborhood or network of relationships. Find a way to encourage, serve and lift up someone in this time of huge disruption. All of these things can be done in a safe way that respects physical distancing.
Now, more than ever is our opportunity to be Jesus to our city. Rise up church, and make a difference that not only affects life today but also for eternity.
Happy Easter everyone! Who would have ever guessed that we would not gather physically for Easter services in 2020? But, we are in a critical time when physical distancing is vital, so we’ll celebrate digitally this year.
I know many are disappointed that we can’t gather for worship this Easter. We love to dress up! We look forward to the energy of celebrating the resurrection. We can’t wait to sing the songs of hope. May I encourage you to be intentional about making worship this Easter just as meaningful as any Easter in the past; but it might take a little more thought and effort. Maybe you dress up this Easter, even though you won’t be leaving your home! How about preparing a special set up for communion and make it something you’ll never forget? But most importantly, prepare your heart to worship and celebrate that Jesus is alive.
I find the conversation Jesus had with a Samaritan woman in John chapter 4 so applicable to our current situation. She was focused on the “proper” physical location where worship is to happen. Jesus replied by saying it is not about where we actually meet, rather, he said: Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth. (John 4:24, 25). This Sunday, as you watch online, prepare yourself to worship in the Spirit and in truth.
I believe more than ever we need to celebrate Easter, even if it is digitally. Our team has worked hard to prepare a meaningful Easter service. You can watch at 9 am, 11 am and 1 pm online, on Facebook or YouTube. In case you didn’t know, we have an amazing service for our students on Instagram and YouTube. And, there’s something for our kids online also on Easter Sunday.
Also, in case you missed this, our student leaders are connecting with our students live on Instagram every weekday at 9 am and 8 pm.
This COVID19 pandemic has created a profound interest in spiritual things. I just read a report about the spike in Google searches about prayer over the last few weeks. It’s in times of crisis that folks are open more than ever to the Gospel. Folks need to hear the message of hope found in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Invite your friends and family to watch. You can even do a watch party on Facebook! We have created some social media Easter graphics for you to use to invite others.
More than ever we need to stay connected. I was pleasantly surprised as I listened to Governor Ducey announce the stay at home executive order. He made a very clear emphasis on maintaining social distance without losing relational connection. Even though our church offices are closed to the public, we are still operating and serving our church and our city. Here are just a few, but important reminders of how to stay connected.
We’ve been working overtime to make sure we can stay in touch as a church. We just launched our brand new mobile app. You can find it on the Apple Store by searching “pantano.church,” and find the Android app at this link – click here. It’s simple and amazing. You’ll be able to access the adult, student, and children’s online services, and several tools. You can watch past messages, and the notes for those messages are right there, too. You can give financially from the app. And my favorite part: touch the Bible icon at the bottom and you’ll have access to our Pantano Bible Reading Plan! Now, more than ever, we need to keep up our diet of feeding on God’s Word.
Don’t forget; you can text “Pantano” to 31996 to get notifications and updates from our church.
You’ll always be able to find most of what you need at pantano.church, including asking for prayer, food, or supplies.
If you need to talk to a pastor or elder, we have someone available to talk to you anytime. Just call 520-298-5395. We’d love to talk with you and pray with you.
Continue meeting as small groups. More and more groups are doing this virtually and finding it to be an amazing experience. There are plenty of free options to meet with your groups online like Zoom, Google Hangouts Meet, Facebook Messenger Video Chat and more. You can also Find A Group online!
Friends and Neighbors
I encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit to bring someone to your mind. Just try it. Then as a name or face comes to mind, pick up the phone and call them. Or call someone you haven’t talked to in a while.
9/11 changed our world forever. COVID-19 will do the same. It doesn’t take a genius to understand that when the crisis passes, we won’t go back to the way things were before. More folks will work from home. We’ll use all our digital tools in new and deeper ways. Small groups will utilize online meetings more. And we can’t even imagine how it might change shopping, food delivery versus eating out and more.
A couple of years ago I committed our church to develop a legitimate online campus with the technology and the staff needed to make that happen. That included having our first online pastor – Nick Farr. I’m so grateful we did that as we were able on day one of this crisis to provide a quality online alternative to a physical worship service. I’m so grateful for our amazing production team who are working overtime to provide great online options not just for adults, but for students and kids too.
By the way, some of you had trouble getting online through our website last Sunday; the reason was the platform we use added 12,000 churches in one week and their server had issues. They’ve purchased extra bandwidth and servers to keep that from happening again. We should be fine going forward. Every week there are three ways to watch: 1) Pantano.Online; 2) Facebook live or; 3) YouTube.
Stay Up to Date, Connected, and Get Help
We’ve set up a special web page titled COVID-19 Update to keep you up-to-date on what’s happening. With things changing so fast, we are even dating the updates! On that same page, you or someone you know can also request help like food, supplies or help shopping. You can leave prayer requests or ask for pastoral help on that page also. To get updates to your phone text “Pantano” to 31996.
Day of Prayer and Fasting
In times like these, we need the church to come together to pray and fast. Wednesday, March 25th was a day set aside by church leaders from around our city for prayer and fasting. If you missed this announcement, you can choose any day to pray and fast for our city, nation, and world. Our tech team and leaders (Did I say how proud I am of our team?) were able to help broadcast a one-hour prayer service from our auditorium. If you missed it, you can watch it at pantano.church/LightUpTheDark
Deeper Dive – Thursday at 7 pm
Thursday night at 7 pm Josh Reich, Michael Goodwin and I will be hosting a Deeper Dive into the Holy Spirit. This will finish our teaching series called Ghost. We received about 3 pages of questions and we’ll be able to answer most of them. Go to https://pantano.church/online/ to watch the Deeper Dive. I’ll also make my notes available online at Deeper Dive along with the video, so you can watch if you miss the Thursday 7 pm broadcast.
During this time, be confident in the fact that our God is in control. Ask the Holy Spirit to continue to lead Pantano as we Love People to Jesus.
Many of us are already tired of COVID-19 emails, posts, and news. The reaction to COVID-19 is as polarized as our political climate. There are those who refuse to accept that there is any reason for concern. Then there are those who are living in fear and panic. Neither is helpful.
Our response in this should be no different than our everyday life. Refuse to live in fear and panic. This too will pass. Take reasonable precautions. This is one of those many opportunities we have in life to put faith to work. Look to God and trust him to guide you through these uncertain days.
God is faithful. Someday I might write a book about all the times God has helped me through danger and uncertainty. I’ve lived through a cholera epidemic, an extended period without running water, lawlessness, 2000% inflation that made money worthless and more. He has always been with me. He cares deeply. The Holy Spirit is in me and guides me. That is true for you also.
Rely on God and don’t let the news dictate how you feel or respond. Let God guide how you feel and react – that’s real faith. Remember the Apostle Paul’s simple but profound words – Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7).
Love comes first. Love protects (1 Corinthians 13:7) and that means we do what we can do to protect ourselves and others. We put others first and fight against our own selfishness that draws us to focus on us while forgetting about caring for others. Hoarding is wrong…period. If folks are in need, be willing to help and share. That has always been the way of Jesus. We are still on mission. Our mission is to love people to Jesus. Now, with the pandemic upon our world, we have the opportunity, more than ever, to express the love of Jesus to so many who are in need or living in fear.
The Blood of Jesus
Let me address one theological issue. I’ve heard and read Christians saying that the blood of Jesus will protect them from COVID-19. That is not true. That is not a promise found in the New Testament. Paul was stricken by a health matter and he prayed repeatedly in faith to have it removed, but it wasn’t. God’s response was this – 9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). The blood of Jesus protects us from the eternal punishment from our sin and spiritual death, not from viruses, sickness or disease. God is with us to help us in and through our difficulties, but he has not promised to insulate us from them. We live in a broken and fallen world. But, we are not alone, nor are we helpless!
To put it another way, our hope is not found in stockpiling tons of toilet paper, masks, and disinfectants. Our hope is in the blood of Jesus, not to eliminate the virus today, but to one day create a new heaven and earth where “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4).
This Sunday, we will continue to meet as one church online at 9 am, 11 am and 1 pm. We’ll finish our Ghost series about the Holy Spirit with a focus on spiritual gifts. We’ll have additional resources for your kids and our students have their own online option.
We are still going to have our Deeper Dive: Holy Spirit Q & A session. We’ve moved it to Thursday, March 26th at 7pm. This will be a free online streaming event at our Online Campus, pantano.online. Josh Reich, our Southeast Campus Pastor, will be asking me the questions you have posted about the Holy Spirit and we’ll take a Deeper Dive into what the Bible says about this topic. You still have time to post your questions at – https://mypantano.church/deeperdive
Keep watching our webpage – https://mypantano.church/covid for updates on when our physical meetings will resume. Don’t forget to text “Pantano” to 31996 to get text updates.
At Pantano, we take seriously your safety and health. With the coronavirus taking center stage in the news media, we understand your concerns and we want to make sure that those with health risks are protected the best we can. First, let me remind you of how YOU can help by taking these precautions to keep yourself and others safe. Then, I’ll share how we as a church are addressing this on our campuses.
Please be mindful of the guidance from the Arizona Department of Health and the CDC:
We are monitoring the status of the virus and are in touch with a virus expert (who happens to be a part of our church!). Here are the measures we are addressing or have added at our physical campuses:
The uncertainty of this outbreak is creating anxiety in our culture. Yet, we remain certain of God’s steadfast presence and careful attention to all that is happening. Please join us in praying for those who are affected by this illness, as well as their caregivers and those who are working around the clock to minimize the impact of this virus. In Psalm 46, we are reminded that it is God who is our refuge and strength, and our ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, let us be wise, but not fear, while we continue to be the hands and feet of Jesus in a lost and broken world.
From Fishing to Phishing
Jesus invited his disciples to become fishers of men. Today, fishing has a new meaning and spelling – phishing. In our digital world, phishing is the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from a reputable person or company. The goal of the phishing email is to get you to do something that could rob you of valuable information or money.
The Current Phishing Scheme
You may have gotten a phishing email supposedly from me. Here’s how it works; the email uses a pastor’s name, picture (often from the web), church name and address. It says the pastor has a special need and is asking you to respond. If you respond, you’ll be asked to do “the pastor” a favor and give a gift card or money order to help someone in need. It sounds and looks legitimate. However, the email is fabricated (often using Gmail) using the pastor’s or church name in it, but it is not the pastor’s or church’s real email.
Protect yourself from the phishing scam. The next phishing scam that supposedly comes from me (or another Pantano leader) might look a little different from what I described. These thieves are clever and they will keep trying new angles. There will be many more new variations of content and structure to try to steal your money.
What We Will Never Do
No leader (including me!) from Pantano will ever solicit funds by asking you to send gift cards, money orders, etc. or ask you to provide any financial information through an email. Our leaders will not send you a personal email asking you for a financial “favor.” Period! If you get such an email, know for certain it is a phishing scam!
When we ask for funds, like we did this past weekend for the scholarship offering (or Christmas Eve offering, etc.), you can only give by depositing your gift in the giving boxes at our campuses or giving at the secure Pantano online site that you can access through our web page https://pantano.church/give/ or on your mobile app.
What To Do If You Get A Suspicious Email
If you ever get an email from me or any staff, elder or leader at Pantano and you just are not sure if it is real, call the church office or text the person FIRST to see if the email is legitimate. Go back to a previous email from the person and use that email address if you want to ask about whether the email is real or a scam.
Do not reply to the email until you are absolutely sure it is legitimate. If or when you know it is spam – simply “report it as spam.”
Ghosts have been a part of our book, movie and TV culture for a long time. There is the Ghost of Christmas Past in the book A Christmas Carol. Then, there was the movie Ghostbusters. There are cable shows like Ghost Hunters. I grew up watching the cartoon Casper the Friendly Ghost. Most importantly, the word “ghost” saw a dramatically increased use starting in 1611 due to the King James Version of the Bible. Using old English, the translators of that Bible version referred to the Spirit as the Holy Ghost.
When we think of the idea of a ghost we think of something with personality; after all, Casper was very outgoing and friendly. We think of something that influences us, yet is unseen. That’s why the King James translators used the term “ghost.”
There is an unseen power available to every believer. That power transforms us on the inside and empowers us to do the very things God wills of us. But this power is not an “it”, but a person who is the third person of our one God. We are talking about the Holy Spirit.
When Jesus returned to his Father, he sent us the Spirit because he knew the Spirit would be so much better for us. The Holy Spirit is our forever helper. The Holy Spirit comes alongside us to make us stronger so we can do greater things than we could on our own. The Spirit is God who came to live inside to guide, protect, convict, coach, instruct, counsel and empower us. This is a “ghost” we do not fear but depend on to love God and serve others well.
Yet, the Holy Spirit is probably the most neglected part of the Trinity – God as Father, Son, and Spirit while remaining as one. Francis Chan wrote an excellent book titled – Forgotten God- Reversing our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit. We agree with Chan on this. So Sunday, March 1st, we are starting a new four-week message series titled Ghost. We’ll be looking into who the Holy Spirit is and how he helps the believer.
But, we can’t cover all there is about the Spirit in four Sunday messages, so we are going to offer the first of many events we are calling Deeper Dive. On Sunday, March 22nd at 4 PM, we’ll offer our first Deeper Dive into the Holy Spirit. From scripture, I’ll be answering your questions about the Holy Spirit. If you have a question about the Holy Spirit you would like to have answered at the event, submit it by visiting mypantano.church/deeperdive. Join us March 22nd at 4 PM at the Pantano East Auditorium to take a deeper dive into the person and work of the Holy Spirit.
Lent begins next Wednesday (Ash Wednesday – February 26). It marks the 40 days before Easter (not counting Sundays). Lent is practiced by both Catholics and Protestants. Nine years ago we started our first Lent service at Pantano. Many were surprised we would offer this, as that had not been our tradition. While it is not specified or required in the Bible, we practice this because it is a powerful spiritual season to focus on the disciplines of fasting, prayer and Bible reading, all of which were important to Jesus and the apostles. This season helps prepare our hearts for Easter.
It was especially the fasting part that prompted me to initiate the practice of Lent at Pantano. As we begin Lent, we’ll challenge you to fast from something you’ve been dependent on. As we fast from things we’ve relied on, we often become more aware of our need to depend on Jesus more. The things we fast from can tempt us with a false basis of support, protection, comfort or what we wrongly consider will give us “real” life. We’ll encourage you to “fast” from something that promises to provide what really only God can ultimately provide. Then use the extra time and energy to talk to and focus on Jesus, the One who truly supplies what we need most.
Start now by asking the Holy Spirit to guide you in what you’ll fast from. You can choose to fast from a meal or a certain kind of food or drink like sugars, caffeine, soda, etc. (as long as it is medically safe to do so). Some choose to fast from social media, TV, video streaming, gaming, music or anything that you rely on daily or that’s an important part of your regular routine.
Join us Wednesday night – February 26th at 6:30 pm for our Lent Service. We’ll begin with worship and then Michael Goodwin, our Outreach Pastor, will bring a message to help us prepare for our celebration of Christ’s death and resurrection on Easter. We’ll partake in Communion together and then as the service ends, you’ll have the optional opportunity to receive ashes on your forehead or wrist. I look forward to Lent every year and I’ll see you there.
I got a box of assorted chocolates at Christmas time. I loved it. And yes, I’m not lost on Forrest Gump’s famous quote in the 1994 film – “My momma always said, ‘Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.’” So my blog this week will be about an assortment of things here at Pantano. You never know what you might find out!
Feed My Starving Children
Over the last 7 years, we packed just over 2.1 million nutritious meals which are shipped all over the world to provide a healthy balanced diet for children in need. We’ve fed a lot of hungry stomachs! Way to go, Pantano!
Elisa Medina – Hands of Hope
If you missed the powerful message Elisa Medina gave at Pantano, be sure to watch her online at https://pantano.church/watch/. Yes, she talked about abortion, but she did so in such a compassionate and unique way. Her personal stories are amazing. No matter what you think about abortion, her message is worth watching. Thank you, Elisa, for your heart for Jesus that’s greater than the cause to which you’ve given your life.
We start a new five-week teaching series this Sunday (January 26) at both physical campuses and online. We are calling it Invitations. Following Jesus is actually a series of invitations. Each invitation from Jesus is meant to help take us deeper in our relationship with God. Here are some of the invitations we’ll be looking at in this series: an invitation to follow; an invitation to encounter God; an invitation to experience freedom God has for us as we let go of our guilt, shame, and regret; an invitation to change the way we think; and an invitation to abide or to be ‘in Christ’. If we’ll say “yes” to each of these invitations, we’ll move closer to God, find greater meaning in life, and grow to be more like Jesus. And there’s one more invitation; this Sunday (Jan. 26th), we’ll have an opportunity for folks to say “yes” to Jesus and express their commitment in baptism.
Movement Day – Addressing Poverty in Tucson
Tucson ranks as one of the poorest metro areas in the United States. This doesn’t have to be this way. 4Tucson is hosting Movement Day where the church in Tucson will gather to address the root causes of poverty and find ways to make a lasting sustainable change in our city. Join us this Saturday (Jan. 25th) starting at 8:30 am at La Paloma Resort (3800 E. Sunrise Dr. 85718). To register go to https://www.4tucson.com/movement%20day/.
All In Partner
If you haven’t done so yet, please make a commitment to be an All In Partner. Cards are available at both campuses or you can “sign” digitally online at https://mypantano.church/allin
December Nights 2019 Recap
We had an amazing four nights celebrating Christmas and families during our December Nights. Because we don’t charge admission (the event is free), we have no way to know the exact number of people who attended, but here’s what we do know:
Thank you to our staff and the many volunteers who are essential to make this gift to our community happen every year. Thank you to all who donated the items we were able to give away. I am so grateful for our generous giving church. You are awesome!
Christmas Eve Services
Next up is our Christmas Eve services. Remember we have five identical services at 11 AM, 1 PM, 3 PM, 5 PM AND 7 PM. Given our past experience, the 11 AM and 7 PM services will likely be the least crowded. We have childcare for ages birth to 5 years old. If you are out of town, you can watch them at pantano.online.
Sunday, December 29th Services Online
You can’t imagine how hard our staff works the month before Christmas. It starts with the work and planning going into Serve Our City day. Then we are thick into decorating the East Campus, hosting December nights (4 days, 2 weekends) and putting on five amazing Christmas Eve services (with all the planning, setup, and rehearsals). The hours are long. So in the past, we’ve given our staff the week off between Christmas and New Year’s. However, it wasn’t really a full break, because there is always a Sunday in between Christmas and New Year’s! Having perfected our online campus experience, we decided this year to have our services solely online!
This year, Sunday, December 29th at 9 AM, 11 AM, AND 1 PM – we’ll provide our services online only. There will be no services on our physical campuses at Pantano East (1755 S. Houghton Rd) or Pantano Southeast (Empire High School). We’ll have worship, a message, and we’ll guide you to partake of communion wherever you are. We’ll also have a link for a children’s specific experience (they will need to watch on a separate device).
So on Sunday, December 29th at 9 AM, 11 AM or 1 PM – join us online for “Church at Home” at pantano.online. We’ll also be passing out reminder cards with this information at our Christmas Eve services.
Remember – there are no services on December 29th on our physical campuses! Online only.
My wife and I want to wish you a very Merry Christmas and may you be filled with the presence of Jesus this season. Immanuel – God IS with us!
Thanksgiving and Black Friday have passed. It’s Christmas time! Here’s a bit of what Christmas looks like here at Pantano:
Christmas Teaching Series
The Christmas series for all of our campuses is called Unexpected: The Story of Christmas. The story of Christmas found in the gospel is unexpected. God had been silent for 400 years. The people of God felt forgotten and yet, in the quiet, dark countryside, God remembered and came to them. But it wasn’t what they expected. He came in the form of a baby; not to the king or powerful leaders, but to the lowly, the poor, the young and the old. We’ll look at five people’s response to their unexpected encounter with God as the original Christmas story unfolded. In this series, we’ll see how God showed up in unexpected places and ways – then and now.
We’ve decorated Pantano East and we’re ready for December Nights. This public family event happens Friday and Saturday nights from 6-9 PM on December 6th, 7th, 13th, and 14th. The event is free!
Here’s what you’ll be able to enjoy and experience at December Nights: The Road to Bethlehem, an amazing winter wonderland (my favorite), cookie decorating, family portraits, crafts, horse-drawn hayrides and carols ($6 per person), bingo, campfires and marshmallows, hot chocolate, live music and more.
Christmas Eve Candlelight Services
This year we’ll have 5 Christmas Eve services on Tuesday, December 24th at 11 AM, 1, 3, 5, and 7 PM. Each service is an identical family-friendly one-hour service. We do have childcare for kids birth to five years old if that would be helpful to you.
Pantano Southeast will be joining us at the East Campus this year, so we added the 11 AM service to make room for all. If you can, please consider attending the 11 AM service to make room at each of our services.
For more details about the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service, check out ChristmasAtPantano.com. If you will be out of town or unable to join us, you can watch each service online at pantano.online. I hope to see you there!
Over the years, many folks have ended up being a part of our church after experiencing our December Nights or Christmas Eve services. Use these opportunities to invite folks who normally won’t step onto a church property. Who might you invite to join you this Christmas?
Pantano is a non-denominational church. We do not have, nor are we part of any larger denominational organization. But we are not without leadership, guidance, and oversight. Our church is overseen by a group of godly Elders. While you don’t often see them “up front” or on the stage, they are very invested, involved, and are serving in our church. The Bible gives clear qualifications and the roles for elders who oversee the church. These can be found in these scriptures: 1Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:6-9; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Acts 20:28.
We currently have nine Elders, including me as the Lead Pastor. You can see the Elder’s names and pictures in the “About” section of our website at https://pantano.church/about/. Our Elders serve in 3-year terms after they have first completed a one year “probationary” term.
Potential Elders are considered after we have observed their life, their family, their service in the church, and most important of all, their character. This decision of who will serve as an Elder is never made quickly and is taken with utmost prayer, investigation, and consideration. The process of observing, selecting, preparing and affirming an Elder will actually take several years before one can be fully on-boarded.
Kerwin Dewberry is our newest Elder. He was recently affirmed by our current Eldership per our Bylaws. Kerwin completed a 29-question application (the same application we use for anyone asking to be ordained to ministry). Then, having passed two interviews and after his references were checked, he was invited to participate in a one-year elder preparation process. This development process included observing Elder’s meetings, studying the role and work of an Elder, and doing a deeper dive into our church’s values, beliefs, and organization. After a year of preparation, Kerwin was affirmed by the existing Elders who have been engaged and involved in his life.
Here’s how the Elders lead our church: They don’t get stuck in the details of the daily operation of the church. Rather, they “oversee” our church to ensure it is being faithful to Jesus and the Bible and moving toward our agreed vision and mission according to our values.
Let me be more specific. I realize not everyone wants to know these details, but I think it is important for you to know how our Elder Board is leading our church. The Elders lead by giving the Lead Pastor clear written guidelines in advance so that he knows where and how he can lead the staff and church, rather than react and approve. They give him the freedom to lead within those boundaries and hold him accountable for that. The Elders are a think tank for the vision and mission of our church. For example: the Lead Pastor creates a strategic plan or budget or develops programs and the Board evaluates them in terms of our vision and mission and makes sure that everything aligns with scripture. The Board is intentional in governing itself, which means it defines and enforces what is expected of members. The Board has one employee – the Lead Pastor. They support, hire, evaluate, terminate, and protect the Lead Pastor.
Almost two-thirds of a typical Elder meeting is spent sharing about the church and our lives as Elders as well as praying for each other and the church. The heart and focus of our Elders is to ensure that I, the Lead Pastor, am doing well and leading well so that our church is healthy and fulfilling the will of Jesus. I want you to know how blessed we are to have such a healthy, godly, and caring Eldership. A healthy Eldership results in a healthy church…every time!
Like most of us, I love the Christmas season. But it’s a bit more challenging to get into the Christmas spirit when it’s sunny, dry, and 75 degrees outside for most of December! And the fact is there really isn’t much to do in Tucson that is uniquely Christmas. There’s Winterhaven! There’s going to the mall to look at decorations! But that’s about it!
That’s why I’m so grateful for our staff and volunteers who decorate our campus so we can create a bit of winter for an amazing Christmas celebration. We even have a winter wonderland with snow and snowballs. We call it December Nights. It is a gift to both our church and our community.
December Nights happens on Friday and Saturday nights from 6-9 PM on December 6, 7, 13, 14. The event is free!
Here’s what you’ll be able to enjoy and experience at December Nights…
This Sunday we’ll have invite cards available for you to take and give to others. This is one of the very best ways to invite people to join you and come to our campus. Over the years, many folks have ended up being a part of our church after experiencing a December Nights event. It’s our chance to welcome and serve folks who normally won’t step onto a church property. Who might you invite?
New Series – Engage
Sunday we started a new series called Engage. Sunday was the first day our two campuses (East and Southeast) taught the same series and message! In this series, we want to go deeper and further in our desire and ability to engage with God. The focus is on prayer, but prayer is the means to actually engage with God.
Why We Pray
There was a part of my teaching where I had asked why we pray. I suggested that the best “Why?” is simply to engage God. What if you and I prayed not to influence God but have God influence us and our circumstances? That is one of the most significant reasons to pray and experience God. That’s what “praying continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) is about – asking God to influence our thinking, our attitude, our actions and responses, our conversations and words, and our decisions all throughout our day. If you missed the message this weekend, you can watch it On Demand or on our website.
30 Day Prayer Challenge
Also, I want to encourage you to sign up for our 30-day prayer challenge. Each day we’ll send you a prayer reminder that fits the theme of the message each week. The reminder is to help us all be more aware and intentional to pray during this series to deepen, expand and increase our prayer lives. On your phone, text “Praying” to 31996 to get your daily reminder.
We ended our service Sunday with a song titled Nothing Else by Cody Carnes. I’m copying some of the words here to help us continue to reflect…
I’m caught up in Your presence
I just want to sit here at Your feet
I’m caught up in this holy moment
I never want to leave
Oh, I’m not here for blessings
Jesus, You don’t owe me anything
More than anything that You can do
I just want You
I’m sorry when I’ve just gone through the motions
I’m sorry when I just sang another song
Take me back to where we started
I open up my heart to You
I’m sorry when I’ve come with my agenda
I’m sorry when I forgot that You’re enough
Take me back to where we started
I open up my heart to You
Nothing else, nothing else
Nothing else will do
I just want You
In case you missed the announcement I made on Sunday, September 22nd, here’s the news. You can also watch the announcement video here. I’m excited to announce that Revolution Church is joining Pantano Christian Church and will become the next campus of Pantano as one church in multiple locations. In other words, Pantano is becoming multisite!
This journey has been born out of a ten-year relationship of trust between myself and Pastor Josh Reich. God has been at work to bring together two churches with a shared vision and values to have a greater kingdom impact. Having had a parallel purpose and a common mission, we believe that we will more effectively bring the love of Jesus to our city by multiplying healthy, life-giving churches and campuses. We believe Revolution and Pantano are better together.
This is such a natural and good union. Revolution’s vision has been to impact our city by planting a church within 10 minutes of anyone in the city. Two of Pantano’s key purposes is to reach people not connected to God or a church and also plant healthy life-giving churches. Over a year ago the leadership of Pantano decided to become a multisite church or one church in multiple locations. When Josh learned of this and after a season of prayer, he initiated the idea of Revolution joining Pantano. As Revolution joins Pantano, it is our hope that we can accomplish more, go further and faster and more effectively.
Revolution brings so much to this shared mission. Revolution is a mature, healthy church that has experience in doing portable/mobile church over the last eleven years. We don’t think of this as Revolution going away or being swallowed up by a big church. Revolution sees this as the next step toward greater impact and Pantano welcomes the leadership and richness Revolution brings to Pantano.
Here are a few more details. Also, check out our information page – click here.
I’m asking and challenging anyone who can or will to consider checking out the new campus. Maybe you are ready to serve! Maybe this campus is closer and makes it easier to invite your neighbors. Maybe you like a smaller venue. Or maybe God is calling you to make a move without having to leave Pantano!
Yes, I know the word “amazing” is overused, but I don’t have a better word to describe two amazing things that are part of Pantano. These two things make a huge difference in lives; in people they were designed to serve both in our city and in our church.
Serve our City
I’m so excited to announce that we are going to be doing Serve Our City again this year. Here’s how it works: on Sunday, November 17th, we’ll forego having regular services in our auditorium and do service in our city. Instead of gathering to worship, we’ll scatter to share the love of Jesus throughout our community. Put the date on your calendar and watch for more information on how you can sign up a bit later. We’ll have lots of serving opportunities for you as an individual, as a family or as a small group. There will be various kinds of service projects from which you’ll be able to choose. This day will be an amazing day for our city.
Our New Student Union
We had an incredible open house on Sunday as a couple thousand of us got to see the inside of the new Student Union for the first time. And this Sunday (8/25), our students will have their first full service in their new facility! Two Sundays ago, we had 305 students on campus, and it was standing room only in their old digs. This past Sunday, we had 381 – 76 more than the previous Sunday. I’m pretty sure our students will be inviting even more of their friends to join them. We couldn’t wait any longer to open and use this high tech, highly interactive environment that’s perfect for students.
I’ve been at Pantano 21 years, and in doing that math, that means I’ve been here for over 1,000 Sundays. I’ve had some great Sundays at Pantano, but this celebration of our students and the open house was my favorite Sunday of them all. Why? It was so fun to watch everyone as they got their first look at the inside of the Student Union. It was fantastic. Folks were smiling, grateful, and excited for the amazing experience this building will provide students. I was so jazzed to see the unified love and commitment for our students from those of us who call Pantano home. I love that we are a church that so values our children, students, and young people. Thank you, Pantano!
Thank you to all who helped make this possible! However, we still need to finish paying off the construction loan. It will take about $2.3 million to free us from this debt. I’m praying we can do this quickly so we can free up funds in our regular budget for more ministry and service to the people at our church, in our city and around the world. If you haven’t given or can give in addition to previous gifts, please prayerfully consider a generous one-time or regular donation in addition to your regular giving. To pay down the loan, we’ll need everyone sacrificing something. You can give on our mobile app, or online, with a check or cash, stock, or property. Just designate your gift to Room for More. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Let’s truly finish this project!
There’s lots of significant and important things coming to Pantano as our children go back to school and our monsoons finally arrive. Take a look…
Global Leadership Summit – August 8 & 9
This event brings insight from the best leaders from around the world to challenge us to have greater influence. I describe it like a fire hose of information, insight and inspiration. You don’t want to miss it. I’ve not missed one for the last 14 years – it’s that good! For more info and to register, click here.
I Got Questions Teaching Series – Starts August 11
We live in a world that is extremely skeptical and often hostile to faith. We often get peppered with questions about the origin of the world, the truth of the Bible and the reasonableness of faith. Those hostile to faith declare that faith is irrational, irrelevant, narrow, outdated and foolish. Their questions often raise questions for us and in us. Do we have confident answers to the questions of the skeptic? This 5-week series will help us share how believable, reasonable and compelling our faith is.
Student Union Open House – August 18
Sunday, August 18th we’ll be celebrating the opening of our new Student Union! Our students will be participating in our regular adult worship and we’ll end a bit early so everyone can tour the new building and enjoy some Eegee’s.
High School, Middle School and 4th & 5th Grade Sunday Moves
On Sunday, August 25th, our Middle School and High School students will meet in the new Student Union at 9 and 11am. Our 4th and 5th grade group will move from KidZone to where the students used to meet – now called Zone45, on September 1st. Parents of our middle and high school students can park in the west guest parking lot near the student union.
Fight Night Marriage Event – Sept 6, 6:00 – 8:30 PM
Join us for a fun event filled with humor, fresh insight, and new strategies for your marriage. Fight Night is about conflict in marriage and focuses on how to fight fair. This is for everyone – newlyweds, “oldyweds,” seriously dating, and engaged couples. Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott will share with us via video why we fight with the one we love the most and how to fight a good fight. We’ve created this to be like a relaxed “date night” that will provide great information and tools to improve your marriage. We’ll have small group material to follow up on the event.
Early bird cost: $10 per person – deadline August 12. Regular price: $15 per person.
Price includes coffee, tea and dessert. Children ages 3rd-5th grade will enjoy a “Kids Night Out” with fun activities, games, and a kid-friendly movie. Childcare is available for kids under age 3. The cost is $6 per child and dinner is included for all kids. Click here to register.
Women’s Retreat Getaway – September 13-15
The theme of the retreat is I am a Daughter of The Most High King. Women of all ages are welcome. Register here or contact Christina Fisch at 907.360.1415 if you have questions. The price of $235/Person covers the following (payment is due in full by August 17):
Pantano has so many great opportunities coming up. Please consider getting involved in one or more!
Sometimes someone will win or pay extra for a backstage tour to see the artists up close and see how things work behind the scenes. There is so much that goes on at Pantano that the average person doesn’t see. Here are a few important things that happen out of sight.
As I write, we’ve have had a record 425 baptisms in the last eleven months. We want to make sure each person understands the commitment they are making. For many of the people, we’ve had in-depth conversations before the day they are baptized. For those moved by the Spirit on the day of the invitation, we have conversations backstage before a person makes their profession of faith and is baptized; that’s why we have changed our schedule to allow more time between the invitation and the actual baptisms at the end of the service. We follow up with each person baptized to encourage them to continue the discipleship process. Also, we offer a regular class for parents and their children to learn about baptism so the parents can determine when their child is ready to make that decision.
We work hard to present a quality message each week. We want our messages to be relevant, engaging, biblical and applicable. The teacher has to do a lot of work to accomplish this, but none of our teachers do this alone. We use a teaching team to help in this process. The team reviews the message and gives feedback to the teacher three times in the two weeks before it is delivered, and one of those is after live teaching on Thursday. And the teacher also gets feedback from the team on the Tuesday after they deliver the message. That’s a lot of great feedback. We have populated the teaching team with a diverse group of folks who can give feedback from a number of perspectives. There are both staff and non-staff, male and female, younger and older, and feeling and thinking members on the teaching team. All of us on the teaching team feel like we are better teachers because of the great feedback and evaluation.
Curriculum for Children
Did you know our children’s ministry team has begun to write the curriculum we use on Sundays? By writing our own, we can personalize it to our unique community and the needs of the kids and our families.
I hate to have to add this, but it seems a group of thieves are fraudulently sending out emails in my name with an email address that seems close to my real email but is not my actual email address. So far, they have been posing as me asking for gift cards for cancer patients. If you get an email asking for something like this, and you have any doubts, check with me directly or through the office. I’ll never ask you to provide help in this manner. I’ve just discovered that two more of my pastor friends have been used this way too. Our IT department is working on this, but please use caution and be careful!
I’m grateful for all the behind-the-scenes teamwork that makes ministry at Pantano happen!
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I like to use a lot of abbreviations. One of my favorites is MAD which is short for Making A Difference. That is part of our mission – Loving people to Jesus, launching passionate people to make a difference. I believe we are saved not just from hell but saved to make a difference in this life, too.
Thanks to the generosity of our church, we helped fund an evangelism and discipleship school in Ecuador. God is doing incredible things through our partnership with Compassion and the local church Plenitud de Dios. Here’s some of what’s happening…
In this community, many families are broken and hurting. Families are in conflict, abuse is common, and alcoholism and drug abuse is evident in many young people and parents. Teaching the gospel is important, as the community typically practices idolatry. Additionally, families are in need of hygiene training to promote health and reduce the spread of disease.
Achieving Positive Outcomes
Our partnership with a church in Ecuador has created two centers to conduct a program for parents of children in the Compassion program. Over 700 people have been affected by our generosity, and many more will continue to be educated in the future.
The discipleship school has implemented 3 main programs. First, they have hosted events for the parents of children in the center, such as a couples dinner, parents retreat, and other community-centered events. Workshops have included teaching on topics like health, abortion, family, violence, God’s purpose for marriage and family, and vocational skills. Second, the staff members at the center have been monitoring and evaluating the families in their development. Finally, the center staff has been discipling, giving spiritual guidance and sharing the good news of Jesus with the parents.
The gospel has changed this community. Many parents have accepted Christ and have been baptized. Parents are taking a more active role in raising their children to know Jesus. The church community is growing and becoming more known in the area, and the church staff is committed to continuing to disciple and guide these new believers.
The Compassion project in Ecuador recently wrote us these words: “We are so grateful for your support of parents and children in Ecuador. Join us in celebrating what God has done to provide for the practical needs of this community, and most of all celebrating the ways that he has drawn them to a saving relationship with Jesus. Thank you for your partnership, and may God bless the ministry of Pantano Christian Church!”
This week, our high school team leaves for Ecuador to continue to support and engage in our partnership in Ecuador. Check out more about our Empower Ecuador project.
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This year, we are hosting our 11th Global Leadership Summit (GLS). Over the last 10 years, I’ve learned so much from the GLS and applied so much of what I learned in my own life and leadership as well as how we do things here at Pantano. I think it was 2011 when I was at one of my lowest points in leadership and there was a particular Summit talk that ended up helping me develop my life motto – “Faithfulness, not success!” The GLS is powerful, inspirational, practical and always has something that I take away and use. You don’t want to miss the 2019 Global Leadership Summit. The theme this year is “Everyone has influence.” Join over 400,000 people who want to do better with their influence at home, at work, at church, or in the community.
We host the GLS for three main reasons:
Everyone has influence! Everyone can improve how they influence! More importantly, God has commissioned us to bring his kingdom influence to our world. So, come sharpen your skills with us. Sign up now for the rock-bottom price.
Here are the details:
Date and Time: Thursday, August 8 & Friday, August 9, 8:30 AM – 4 PM (both days)
Pantano Christian Church – 1755 S Houghton Rd, Tucson, AZ
Desert Hills Lutheran Church – 2150 S Camino del Sol, Green Valley, AZ
Price: The Pantano rate is $89 until 6/25 (9:59 pm), then $119 thereafter. You’ll need a discount code to get this price. We can’t give this code out to the general public, so it will be posted before and after services or you can call the church office at 520.298.5395 and ask for the code.
The PARTNER rate through 4Tucson, or our other GLS Partners, is $109 until 6/25 (9:59 pm), then $139 thereafter.
Student/Faculty/Active Duty Military pricing is $89 (with no cutoff dates.)
Registration Link: Pantano GLS Registration Link
Check out the speaker lineup link here. See you at the Summit!
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My wife and I watched a TV series called “This Is Us” about the struggles of the Pearson family. I’ve appreciated the acting, the reality of family dysfunction, and being reminded about the joys of being family. The drama is attempting to expose or unmask the reality of family drama and be honest about that fact that “this is us.”
Sunday we are beginning a new series we are calling “This Is Pantano.” The focus isn’t on our church family drama or dysfunction (though I’m sure we could find plenty!). What we will do in this series is to expose and look at what we value as a church. Every person, every organization and every church has values. Sometimes we are not aware of them and often they are not clearly articulated, but everything we do or don’t do is driven by a value. Values drive behavior and create our life. They influence and characterize everything that happens in and through us.
This Is Pantano will help us see the six key values that give our church community its unique “flavor” and feel. For many of us, the values of our church are what we love about being a part of Pantano. So, values matter! In this series, we’ll look at the values that reflect who we are and the biblical basis for each value. This series is about who we are (not the organization), but you and I who make up Pantano. You won’t want to miss This is Pantano!
Faith in Action
The first value we’ll look at this Sunday is What matters most is loving people to Jesus. We’ll see how Jesus speaks directly to this concept. We’ll also have an opportunity to put our love and faith into action; we partner with ministries who love others to Jesus in practical ways. Sunday you can look into how you might join and support one of these groups to make a difference. They will be in the outdoor covered court. Each of these groups are serving in ways that are truly making a real difference for people who matter to God and should matter to us.
Be sure an join us this Sunday for our new series, and see how you can put your faith into action!
Hope for the Homeless
We see the many homeless that are in Tucson. If you have a heart, you ache for those who suffer from mental illnesses that cause homelessness. You also ache for the mom and her kids who suffered setbacks or abuse and can’t get on top of things, consequently finding themselves out of their home looking for a safe place to stay. Or, the many other people who couldn’t afford medical costs, ran out of money and faced eviction. But, there’s hope for those who want help.
Tucson has an answer. It’s called the Center of Opportunity! The wait is finally over. The Center of Opportunity is finished and ready to begin transforming lives! The Center of Opportunity is a converted hotel convention center that has been remodeled to provide housing and services to the homeless in Tucson. The goal of all the services is to help the homeless be able to become self-sufficient and live healthy, productive lives. It is a one-stop shop for medical, social, job, recovery services and more. It is run by the Gospel Rescue Mission and both nonprofit and governmental organizations will be serving the homeless at one location.
At our Christmas Eve services we collected a special offering for the Center of Opportunity. Because of your generous support, we were able to send them $56,698. That, along with almost 250 folks who served there on our Serve Our City day, have been able to help make this place of hope a reality.
You are invited to attend the Building Dedication Ceremony of the H.S. Lopez Family Foundation Center of Opportunity on Saturday, May 18th from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm
at 4550 S. Palo Verde Road, Tucson, AZ 85714. Tours will be available and refreshments will be served.
We take our safety seriously at Pantano. We’ve all heard about the attacks on churches, synagogues, and mosques in the US and around the world. Last Sunday, at the 11 am service, a man walked down the aisle holding a Bible and speaking to Pastor Brian (we later learned he intended to take the stage from Brian, who was teaching). Immediately our security team took him and sat him down, then escorted him out.
I want you to know that we do have security measures in place and continually add more as needed. We have installed bollards at all the gate entrances so a vehicle cannot enter the courtyard. We have monitored security video surveillance throughout the campus. We have Pima County Sheriffs on campus all day Sunday who are in contact with our security team. We have a trained and committed security team that has in-ear communication. Because backpacks have been used in attacks around the world, our security team has started searching all backpacks to protect us all. Please cooperate with their search if asked. The team is stationed all around our campus in order to provide the most coverage possible. They are also on campus for other events in addition to Sunday services. They are here to address medical and fire emergencies, protect our children, as well as look for possible threats. I’m grateful for our team for protecting and serving us! We are trying to make our church as safe a place as possible for all who come to explore and grow their faith.
Thank you to all that serve the needs of our city, whether on or off our Pantano campus. You are appreciated!
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We started a series called Upcycle on Sunday. In this series, we are learning how to allow God to take the regrets of our past and free us from them, then transform those regrets into something better. This three-week series is designed around the three key steps to freedom – 1) Recognize your regrets; 2) Release your regrets; and 3) Redeem or upcycle your regrets. We’ve provided a worksheet called Upcycle – Living Beyond Regret that is available at MyPantano.church to help you work through each of the three steps. You can add your notes then email the worksheet to yourself. You can also pick up a printed copy at Guest Services any Sunday. Be sure to share your journey and discovery with others.
Michael Goodwin is our new interim Global Outreach pastor. Michael will serve in this role at least through the end of the year. His focus will be to serve and support our volunteer global ministry champions as well as oversee our Rocky Point trip in October 5-8, 2019. In the meantime, we are looking for a person to fill this role long-term.
For many years Michael has had a passion and the calling of God to be a church planter or campus pastor. We’ve come alongside Michael and have been mentoring him to fulfill his calling. And, it looks like we need to plant another Pantano campus. We grew 26% last year and there doesn’t seem to be a slowing of such growth. To continue to reach people, we are anticipating we’ll need to make more room by adding a campus. We are praying about and looking at opening a new campus sometime in 2020. Please pray about this and pray about being a part of starting and joining a new Pantano campus! I’ll keep you updated as plans and details become clearer.
Room For More
The outside of the Student Union should be finished this week, then we start work on the interior. We are still anticipating and hoping to occupy the building by the end of July – right as school starts up again. If you are able to give a generous gift, now is a critical time. With our loan and the funds already given, we have enough to finish the building, but we need to order the technology (sound systems, lights, etc.) and furnishings right away for it all to be installed by late July. We need an additional $300,000 sooner than later to completely finish the project. You can give digitally, by check or bank transfer. We are also able to process stock, vehicles, and property. Thank you for helping us make room for more students and children here at Pantano.
1 PM Sunday Service
And thinking about room for more…with our growth and with the heat coming, our Sunday 1 PM service is a great option. If you can attend the 1 PM service, that would make room for more at our other services. The service averages about 275 people so it provides a less crowded venue and lots of parking. And with summer here, you can do your chores or outdoor activities in the morning, come and have lunch in our cafe, then worship in the cool auditorium. And, I think my message at 1 PM is the best of the three services!
We are in a great season here at Pantano, with many exciting things happening!
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God commanded a Sabbath for physical rest but also because we need to pause at least weekly to reflect back and see all that God has done. Otherwise, we just keep running ahead and forget all the big and small ways God has guided, provided, blessed, and protected. In our work and effort, we easily miss his amazing grace. Now, Jesus and his apostles made it clear that we don’t have to legalistically keep a Saturday or Sunday or any particular day as the Sabbath. But, the principle is still important to observe. And here’s why – we need to slow down, quiet our frenetic agenda, and be still so we can practice and experience gratitude. Gratitude is a vital path to experience the fullness of God’s grace.
So as I write, it’s the Monday after Easter. I put in over 40,000 steps, climbed over 30 floors, walked more than 18 miles on Saturday and Sunday and burned almost 7,000 calories in those two days! Gotta love the Fitbit! So it’s time to slow down and take some time to reflect. Here are a few of the many things I’m grateful for:
I’m grateful for the man baptized on Sunday who decided he had his last drink. And an older gentleman was baptized Sunday who came to our church deeply wounded by the ugliness of religion and found grace and a renewed relationship with God. And a man came up at the last minute to be baptized who had been fighting surrendering to Jesus for months. I’m deeply grateful for the 94 people baptized and for the life change and new beginnings for each precious soul loved by God and the people in their lives.
I’m grateful for all of you who invited people to join you at our Family Fun Fest and Easter services. I spent a good part of both days meeting the people who were your guests. That is one of the best parts of Easter for me. I love it! Thank you all for caring enough about people to invite them and to love them to Jesus.
It’s amazing that we gave away 50,000 Easter eggs filled with scripture verses, candy, and small toys. But, what blows me away are all of the folks who spent hours filling them and taping them shut! Folks also donated water, soda, candy, and all the supplies so we could make the Family Fun Fest a free event. Wow! And how great are the hundreds of people both Saturday and Sunday who volunteered and put in long hours to serve the 5000 people who came on our campus for the Family Fun Fest and the 6780 people who attended Easter services… Wow!
I’m so grateful for our staff and volunteers who put in long hours preparing, long before Saturday and Sunday. I’m grateful for our leaders who love people and will do what it takes to make every experience the best it can be and be done with excellence. On Saturday and Sunday, I was overwhelmed by the creative gifts exercised and used by so many of our artistic folks. I’m just so proud of our whole church. I love our church!
Don’t forget to join us and invite folks to hear our new teaching series that starts Sunday – Upcycle. In Upcycle, we’ll learn how to move past our past to start again with God. We’ll tap into the transforming power of God that makes beautiful things from the ruined, used, old, or worn out pieces of our lives.
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This Sunday we will celebrate that God raised Jesus from the dead. It is a big deal! The resurrection changes everything, in every way, for everyone who believes. There are two passages from the Bible that I love to reflect on at Easter time; each has a special meaning to me and I want to share them with you. The first is found in Matthew 28:5-6 (NIV) – The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.” Because Jesus is alive and because Jesus conquered death there is nothing we have to fear in the present, for he is with us, and nothing to fear at the end, for death is only a door to life that never ends. As God raised Jesus from the dead, we too share that same hope. If we really believe in a risen savior, fear no longer has to rule in our lives.
Last Sunday I read from Romans 10:9 (NIV) – If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Paul describes our salvation as based on surrendering to Jesus and making him “large and in charge” of our lives as Lord. It is also based on the deeply-held belief that Jesus is alive. God raised him from the dead. He is our living Lord who guides us in our daily lives. But that hope is based on the fact Jesus is alive!
Join us Easter Sunday as we celebrate the risen Jesus. Services are at 7 am, 9 am, 11 am, 1 pm. Children’s ministry is at all services except the 7 am. We’ll have free breakfast and lunch between services. Our team has created an amazing service to celebrate the resurrection, including baptisms. We’ll have two baptisteries on stage this year!
On Saturday, from 8 am to 2 pm, we’ll have our Family Fun Fest on campus. It’s a FREE event that features family-friendly activities and a 50,000 Easter egg hunt. There will also be a petting zoo (the largest we’ve ever had at an event), an illusionist, train ride, crafts, games, inflatables, a slip ‘n slide (if you want to get wet, come prepared!) and more! It’s not too late to sign up to help us serve either Saturday and/or Sunday.
He has risen! Indeed! And that changes everything.
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I love Easter! It isn’t the trapping of the holiday that much interests me; I’m not an Easter egg or chocolate fan. I’ve never been much amused by the Easter bunny. But I love Easter because of the reason for the special day. Jesus rose from dead and he’s alive. That’s huge. That changes everything! That is THE basis of our faith. That is the basis of ALL hope! Put in the negative, if he’s still in the grave, then we are hopeless. But, we have a hope that death can’t shake; and that’s the message of our Easter services this year.
We’ll have four Easter Sunday services at 7 am, 9 am, 11 am and 1 pm. We’ll have children’s ministry at all services except the 7 am service (it’s hard to get kids up, in their Easter best and arrive to service that early!). Our middle school and high school students will be with their families at all four adult services.
May I ask you a huge favor? Given the history I’ve followed for years, I can pretty much predict that the 9 am and 11 am services will be full. If you can, would you please consider attending the 7 am or 1 pm services? You’ll have a much easier time finding a seat and parking at those services, which also makes room for our guests at 9 am and 11 am. Thank you in advance.
We’ll be having baptisms at all four services. This year, we are upgrading that experience. We are going to have two baptisteries on stage. It will be amazing! The view and video will be so much better. If you or your friends or family have been thinking about being baptized, this will be a great day to make your promise to follow the living Jesus.
We’ll continue our tradition of a free Easter breakfast and lunch. We’ll serve pancakes and sausage for breakfast between the morning services (8 – 9 am, 10 – 11 am) and free hot dogs and chips for lunch (12 – 1 pm). The free meals and beverages will be available in the outdoor covered court area.
And, don’t miss our annual Family Fun Fest (formerly called the New Life Celebration). We are extending the hours from 8 am – 2 pm and have increased the fun things to do as well. We’ve added a water “slip and slide,” expanded the petting zoo, and more.
The Family Fun Fest and Easter Sunday service are great events to invite your family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors to attend with you. We have invitation cards available at Guest Services.
Jesus is risen…indeed! And our living Savior is THE game changer! Join us in celebrating the most important event that ever happened!
Last Sunday I talked about values. I said that if we say we value something, if we think that something matters or is important, then we’ll actually take what’s valuable (our time, money and effort) and invest in it! Our marriage should be a top value and priority. If your marriage is truly a value then you need to invest in it.
We have two marriage conferences or retreats coming up that can help an engaged couple build a great marriage, or help save a marriage, or make a good marriage better! Consider making the investment!
A Weekend To Remember Conference
Jolene, my wife, and I have been to two of these and they are so helpful and encouraging. We highly recommend this conference.
Dates: June 21- 23, 2019
Location: Loews Ventana Canyon Resort
Cost: $350 per couple or $175 per person. NOTE: Couples can save $100 if they register with the group name: PantanoChristianChurch. There are also a limited amount of complimentary conference registrations available for couples in financial need. Contact Shawn or Andrea at email@example.com for details or for any other questions.
Register online at www.familylife.com/weekend or by phone at 800.358.6329
Hotel: If you want to make the conference a retreat, there are discounted accommodations for $139 per night if booked by June 6th. Make reservations at the Loews Ventana Canyon 800.234.5117. Mention the “Weekend to Remember Conference” when making hotel reservations to receive discount room rates. The event is so much more impactful if you can stay at the resort.
“And They Shall Be Called One” Marriage Retreat 2019
This marriage retreat is hosted and led by Pastors Jamie and Pamela Benjamin of Greater Faith Church. Both Jamie and Pamela helped lead in our amazing Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday celebration this past January. These two are an amazingly gifted couple.
Dates: Thursday, July 11, 2019, 6:30 PM – Saturday, July 13, 2019, 4:00 PM
Location: Hilton El Conquistador Tucson -10000 North Oracle Road, Tucson, AZ 85704
Register online at Eventbrite – click here.
Invest a few dollars and a little bit of time in your marriage! It’s worth it!
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Every person, every organization and every church has values. Sometimes we are not aware of them and often they are not clearly articulated, but they drive how we live and shape who we are. Values are the foundational motivations for what we do. They provide our inspiration as non-negotiable guiding principles. They shape what we say “yes” or “no” to. They influence and characterize everything that happens in and through us. They give our church community its unique “flavor.” And for many of us, these values are what we love about being a part of Pantano. So, values matter!
Over the last six months, our leadership team has prayerfully and carefully looked at what we truly value in our church. After lots of healthy discussions and rewrites, below are the newly clarified values of Pantano Christian Church. I doubt that there will be many surprises at what you’ll see. And remember that these values do not replace what we believe (see our Statement of Faith) but are built on those beliefs. We’ll do a deeper dive into these values and their biblical basis in a series that we’ll launch in May. The six main values are in bold type below, followed by short descriptions in italics. What do you think?
We are unapologetic grace givers.
We are all broken, incomplete people in need of God’s grace. We meet people where they are and generously give away the grace we’ve freely received.
What matters most is loving people to Jesus.
Loving God = Loving People. Everyone has value and matters to God. We pursue those who don’t know Jesus to help them write a new life story with him.
Being “kingdom first” drives us beyond our own church community. We strive to join God wherever He is at work. Church is who we are, wherever we are.
Radical generosity reshapes our world.
As a kingdom first church, we share our resources and people selflessly.
The Bible transforms how we live and who we become.
The Bible is our primary source for transformation. We move beyond information to practical and relevant application.
Connected people are changed people.
Community is essential to connect with God and others in order to be transformed.
We pray you would consider how each of these values could be shown in your own life.
We are making some changes to our parking and café here at Pantano. I know most of us don’t like changes, especially if we can’t see the immediate benefit! I finally learned where to find things at Target and then they remodel the place and move everything around. What was wrong with the way things were? So, yes, I know and feel your pain and frustration.
“Why” Shapes the “What” and “How”
Before I tell you about the “what” and “how” of the changes, let me tell you the “why.” If there is no compelling why then why change?! Right?! The why is not for most of us already at Pantano; that can make the change a bit frustrating. The change is for those we tend not to focus on, or even see, like those with disabilities and those who are not yet a part of our church! The why behind all the changes is to help us serve our handicapped better and reach folks not connected to God or a church. These changes are part of a bigger plan to make Room for More and add a Student Union.
Research shows that people make an impression of a new place, like a church, within literally the first few minutes they enter the property. So, starting on March 31st, the first change you’ll notice is how we do parking. You can see a full explanation with maps and directions on our website at mypantano.church/parking. Basically, we are asking all regular Pantano folks to park in the back (east) parking lot. We’ll have folks help you find a place to park and we’ll also help expedite the exiting process. We want to reserve our lot to the south (which central to our campus) for those with disabilities. The lot nearest Houghton road (on the west side of our property) is for first, second or third-time guests as well as for families with middle school and high school students (that lot is and will be close to the student building). We want for folks who are new to Pantano to know they are welcome and we have space for them. This change is about and for them, not us! We’ll have signs and attendants to help our guests and everyone else find a place to park.
The other change we are making is in our Pantano Café, which also serves as a venue during our services. To make room for more, beginning March 31st we are going to pull out 5 rows of the stadium seats for all three Sunday morning services. This will reduce the tables by one row but will gain more seating overall in the café. With these stadium seats out, this also means that the location where folks order and pick up food will be too crowded, so we are relocating the food serving and ordering station under the screen (in front of the movable wall). When you order food, the order will be sent electronically to the kitchen, and when it is ready, our great volunteer team will deliver the food to your table. While you are waiting, you can still access free drinks in the same location. The café changes will actually work better for everyone.
Please give us feedback if you face any challenges with these changes. We want to make any and all adjustments before Easter. And, thanks in advance for your help through these necessary changes. Don’t forget the “why!”
David Thoresen has served as our Outreach Pastor for the last 12 years. Recently we made the very difficult decision to transition David out of that role. He has done a fantastic job of setting the strategic foundation of the Outreach Ministry and developing a terrific group of international partners. We have some of the very best global partners you could wish for – check them out here. However, we also believe we need to advance our global outreach in ways that don’t play to David’s strengths. Any change is hard. David did not want this change as he loves this ministry. This change is particularly hard because we deeply love and respect him.
When I say we respect David, that needs to be unpacked more. David has the deep respect of myself, our Elders and staff, as well as from many, many people here at Pantano, Tucson and around the world. Here’s why; David is a godly man who authentically follows Jesus well. He’s a man of prayer. He has impeccable integrity and character. He is a terrific husband and father. He has served our church and global partners well.
There’s a part that only a few know about him; David has struggled with constant headache pain. At times the pain is so great that he can’t control his reaction. Yet, I’ve never heard him complain. He does the best he can to manage it and do his job well, including international travel. We all marvel at David’s resilience. He’s learned the very rare but undeniable skill of suffering well. No one wants to suffer, but David has modeled for us how to live out the way of Jesus in and through his suffering. I’m in awe of how David handles his pain and is able to do what he does.
Here’s what David has done to set our global outreach on a terrific foundation for an even greater future. I already mentioned that he’s helped develop a terrific group of global partners. In order for that to happen, David, with his team, has developed an incredible model to determine who we partner with and support. He’s created a priority grid taking into account the things we value as a church like church planting, reaching unreached ethnic groups especially among oral peoples, working with national indigenous leaders, community development using healthy principles that are sustainable and respectful of the culture and so much more. He’s put together a system to help manage all of that.
Thank you, David, for continuing to grow and develop our global outreach ministry to a greater and better level than what you inherited some twelve years ago.
Finally, God has already blessed David and his family by providing a very good job in international finance. David will also be able to serve and lead in the very global outreach program he designed here at Pantano. We are looking now at how we want to restructure our outreach and for the next person who will serve in that ministry. Please keep the Thoresen family, our global partners and our search in your prayers. Thank you.
Things are really picking up and there is a lot of movement happening in order for us to make Room for More! While things have taken much longer than I ever anticipated, we are moving now! Our new building is called the Student Union so we can make room for our high school and middle school students. And, the new building will free up the old Student Center to become home for our 4th and 5th graders, which will make more room for our children in KidZone on Sundays. We also need room mid-week for students, large groups, classes, and events. We needed this new building yesterday!
With permits in hand, work has begun on the foundation. The building has been ordered. It should arrive around March 4th and it takes about 40 days or so to erect the sprung structure. The outside could be done before Easter! Then, we do the work on the inside and we hope to occupy it in July as our students and children return to school.
Check out what the building will look like by going online to our Room for More page. You’ll be able to see an amazing video and pictures of the new building, inside and out. You can also join as a prayer partner and give at that site as well.
The total cost at occupancy will be about $3 million. We’ve already raised a half million, so we are 17% there! It is my hope and daily prayer that we can pay off the entire cost by the time we occupy the building this summer. We can do this. We need to do this. We don’t want to add debt to our budget, even though we have projected that we are able to manage that, if necessary. Some might think it’s a miracle to raise two and a half million dollars in six months. That’s why I’m asking you to join me in prayer asking God to work in and through us to make this “miracle” a reality. We are the people God will use to make this happen. So, please consider giving a generous gift. I’m praying daily for some very large gifts combined with lots of sacrificial gifts from all of us. Pray with me, please!
You can give online or use any of our regular means of giving and identify that the gift is for Room for More. And, you can be creative in how or what you give; some folks are making items and selling them; we’ve had people already give possessions, like a car; our Seniors group is taking up a weekly offering; or you can give stock. Maybe you have an unexpected source of income that would allow you to give. Or, consider giving your tax return. Be bold and ask God to supply so you can share in putting up our building debt free.
This building is a tool that we need to continue to reach people and help them follow Jesus well. It is a kingdom asset that will be devoted to serving and helping people, especially our emerging generations; they are the church of today and will lead the church of tomorrow. The building is a vital tool that will help us make a difference right here in Tucson and for all eternity. I truly believe that, and that’s why I’m sold out to helping make the Student Union a reality. Join me! Together we can do this!
It’s one of those things I like least about my personality; once something great happens, I’ve already moved on to work on the next good thing and don’t take time to celebrate. The fact is, we all need to celebrate more and it’s a key part of gratitude which is one of the most spiritually healthy things we can do! So, let’s celebrate a few “Wows!”…
Let’s Celebrate Feed My Starving Children!
We finished another Feed My Starving Children mobile pack. We packed 287,712 meals which brings our church’s grand total to 1.7 MILLION MEALS sent to children in need!
This year we had 1,148 participants from 23 schools. Robin Blumenthal, who leads and organizes this event was invited to give 15 school presentations from November to January to tell the students about her trip to the Dominican Republic, where she got to see how these meals make a difference. In addition, we had 267 youth and leaders at the Wednesday night pack from 5 churches.
We had a total of 1,818 volunteers participate in packing this year. And, there were another 50 or so volunteers serving with the schools and behind-the-scenes! THANK YOU, Robin and Pantano! WOW!
Let’s Celebrate Unite4Africa!
Unite4Africa is one of our global partners and is led by Okongo Samson. Their ministry is currently working in six countries in Africa (Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana, Sudan, Uganda, and Togo). Here’s what happened in 2018 through this ministry:
That deserves a WOW!
Let’s Celebrate What I Can’t Name!
Due to the dangers and obstacles it might create, I can’t tell you the country and the details of what is happening. But, one of our global partners is now working with hundreds of new believers in a dangerous, conflict-ridden, predominantly Muslim country. We are praying for an outbreak of the Spirit of God and a church planting movement to emerge. WOW!
Let’s Celebrate Care Portal!
Our church helped launch and supports Care Portal. This organization helps provide families with needed supplies to help parents or family reunite, rather than send kids into foster care or group homes. In 2018, we helped bless 29 families, 59 children and accounted for nearly $25,000 of items for these wonderful people! WOW!
We have so much to celebrate. To God be the glory!
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Next Monday (January 21) is the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. It’s a time when we remember not just the past racial injustices in our country, but the continual challenges we have with racism, bigotry, and discrimination.
This Sunday, we are going to remember that for those of us who follow Jesus, the issues of racial injustice are bigger than race. These are issues central to the kingdom of God which I spoke about last weekend! The Kingdom of God is made up of people from every race, nation, language, tribe as well as from all economic levels and genders (see Revelation 5:9-10 and 7:9-10).
The Bible is so clear that we are all children of God and thus brothers and sisters by faith in Jesus… period. In Christ, we take on a new and deeper identity without having to abandon our racial heritage or tribe. I am born again or re-born first as a child of God; that is my primary identity. I am secondarily the gender, race and social status to which I was born; that shapes my secondary identity. I seek first the kingdom before all things and only secondarily I seek my moral and legal rights as a ________ (you fill in the blank).
One of the pivotal passages that emphasizes this concept is found in Galatians 3. Paul was addressing a race that thought they were the only legitimate people of faith because they were descendants of Abraham – the Jews. So in verses 7-9 he writes: 7 Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham.8 Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”9 So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. Our access to God, our standing before God and our participation in the Kingdom of God is dependent on one thing – our faith in Jesus – no matter who you are.
Then Paul comes to a glorious conclusion in verses 26-29: 26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. It is our faith in Christ that makes us one in Christ. Race, socio-economic standing or gender is not a factor on who is a part of the Kingdom of God. This was revolutionary 2000 years ago. It is revolutionary today! It is what we celebrate.
So, this Sunday, we are having Jamie Benjamin from Greater Faith Church join us to celebrate how the kingdom of God is bigger than any divisions that our culture continues to embrace and tries to challenge us to engage in. Our brothers and sisters from Greater Faith Church will also be joining us for our services and our worship team as we give glory to God together. You won’t want to miss this Sunday… I’m just telling you!
Christmas Eve Offering
Wow, Pantano, you gave $73,213 for our Christmas Eve offering. That will help make a huge difference in getting the Gospel Rescue Mission’s Center of Opportunity to become a reality this spring. In addition, over 250 folks showed up on Sunday, 12/23 to help with the remodel and upgrade. Thank you all for your generosity. That’s making a difference!
We launched our fifth year of doing One Word on Sunday. One Word is a way to replace New Year’s resolutions. You ask God for one word to focus on for the entire year. Pick a word that will challenge you toward transformation. If you missed Sunday, we’ll have One Word cards with instructions available at Guest Services. You can watch the message here. Post and share your One Word – #oneword.
Feed My Starving Children
It’s coming back to Pantano on Tuesday, Jan. 22nd – Saturday, Jan. 26th. We’ll be packing 280,000 emergency meals this year. We shifted our focus to engaging schools with 23 schools joining us this year. We are going to have two public packs (Friday night and Saturday morning); we have dropped the price to $15 per person, and you can sign up here. We are hosting over 1,000 students from 23 schools, so we need many volunteers to help – check out the FMSC table in the courtyard on Sunday.
Pantano Classes, Wednesday PM Children’s and Students Resume
Classes start this week on Wednesday – 6:30-8pm! Go to mypantano.church or click here to find out what classes to join and sign up. Check out our great Bible, parenting, marriage, financial classes and more!
Red Cross Blood Drive – Sunday, January 20th
Pantano Christian Church and the American Red Cross have partnered in a joint effort to help save lives by hosting a blood drive on Sunday, January 20th from 8 am – 1 pm. It will be located by the main west gate entrance. To schedule your appointment or for more information, please call 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit redcrossblood.org and use Sponsor Code: PCC.
Live Service Rebroadcast
In case you miss a Sunday, did you know that we rebroadcast the full Sunday service Monday through Friday each week at 6 pm? Go to http://live.pantano.church
Sunday, December 30th
Well, this is my last blog for 2018. The year is coming to a close and we are looking forward to 2019. This Sunday, December 30th, Brian and Mandy Lucas will bring an incredible message about the rhythm of looking back and looking forward. I’ve heard their message and it’s terrific – it’s practical and encouraging. With them speaking in our adult services, I’m freed up to get to speak to our students! I love having that opportunity. It’s important that I get to connect with our students every once in a while.
On January 6th we’ll start a new teaching series called Transform. God is in the business of transforming what currently exists to become something that has his imprint. He wants to transform us to become more like Jesus. But, he doesn’t stop with us. He wants to use our church to transform our city in unity with and through other churches of all kinds. In this series, we’ll look at God’s transformative work in us, through us and with others in our city. We’ve got a great series planned, with something special each week. Come each week open to God’s Spirit. If you do, you might find yourself being transformed!
Transformation happens best when we focus on one thing at a time, so we’ll start the Transform series by looking at the use of “one word.” This is the fifth year we’ve done this project. We seek God and ask him for the one word that captures the most important change or transformation he wants in our life. One word allows God to do his laser-focused transforming thing in us. You’ll get to hear a story of one person God transformed last year through their one word. I’ll guide you through discovering and then living out your one word for 2019.
Serve Our City
In my first blog for 2019 as well as during service on January 6th, I’ll update you on our Serve Our City event that happened on Sunday, December 23rd. As I write this, about 1,000 of us have signed up to Serve Our City on December 23rd. Way to go, Pantano!
I truly hope for all of us a blessed New Year as we follow Jesus.
I want to wish you a very merry Christmas. In the midst of all the activity of this season, may we all remember that God came to us to be WITH us to show us how much he is FOR us and loves us. May we find gratitude in God taking the initiative to come to us to draw us back to him.
Serve Our City – Sunday, December 23rd
Remember, there are no regular Sunday services this coming Sunday, December 23rd. Rather, we are taking our church to our city. Most of the pre-planned service activities were filled by last Sunday but check the website here as some spots have opened up. Or, look for a person or family in your neighborhood or your circle of connections that you might serve; check our “Serve Your Neighborhood” option (here) to get some ideas and register. Be prayerful (ask God) and creative! Don’t just take the Sunday off; use the time to be WITH someone and show them you and God are FOR them.
Our basic serving times will be 9:30 to 11:30 AM. Don’t forget to wear your t-shirt and post your pictures with #serveourcity and #pantanochristian. Children’s programming is available on campus (BY RESERVATION ONLY) from 9:00 AM-12:00 PM for children birth through 4 years old. Children 5 and older should plan to join their families for appropriate projects as noted in descriptions. Please RSVP for children’s programming here.
Christmas Eve Services – Monday, December 24th
Our services are at 1, 3, 5, and 7 PM. They are one-hour, family-friendly services. We’ll have songs we can sing as well as some special songs. I’ll share a short message. We’ll end with candle lighting. And, every year we add some sort of surprise! We’ll have children’s programming up to age 6 (no registration needed), if that is helpful for your family. It’s not too late to invite folks to join you. And as usual, we’ll have cookies and hot chocolate in the courtyard and photo booths in the lobby for family Christmas photos. Plus, it is the one time of the year you’ll see me in a tie!
Sunday, December 30th
I’m really excited about the message that Brian and Mandy Lucas will be sharing the Sunday between Christmas and New Year’s. They’ve developed an amazing teaching to help us look back to 2018 and look forward to 2019.
I am so proud of our church. Pantano is a generous church! Literally, a thousand of us at Pantano serve in some way at our church, in our community or globally over the course of the year. We couldn’t do what we do and make the difference we are making without you. THANK YOU!
As a church, we give away about half a million dollars every year to local and global organizations and missions. These organizations have been vetted as trustworthy and are making a difference in their communities. And, that dollar amount doesn’t include the service time we provide. THANK YOU for making that possible.
Christmas Eve Offering – The Center of Opportunity
Every year we give our Christmas Eve offering away. Sometimes we’ve given that to international projects and sometimes we’ve given it locally. Often we’ve split it between groups. This year, I’m excited to announce that our Christmas Eve offering will go to the Center of Opportunity. This is a one-stop center run by the Gospel Rescue Mission. A generous family in Tucson bought the old “Holidome” (the Holiday Inn Conference Center on Park, south of Ajo), and gave it to the Gospel Rescue Mission for $1 a year for 99 years!
Hoping to open in the Spring of 2019, the Center of Opportunity will provide about 300 emergency beds and over 30 Christian social service and government agencies will be serving our homeless population in Tucson in this one location. These agencies will help the homeless move toward self-sufficiency by providing emergency housing and meals, job training and placement, health and dental services, government and veteran assistance and so much more. And, the Gospel Rescue Mission will make sure that each person is introduced to Jesus and will disciple those who are ready to follow him.
Year-End Giving – Room for More
It is normal for folks to evaluate their giving as we come to the end of the year. If you are planning to make a year-end gift, please focus your giving toward our Room for More project. We are just getting started with construction for the Student Union to provide room for our students and children. We must make Room for More. We took out a construction loan to get started, but I’d like to pay off the entire cost by the time we occupy in the spring of 2019. That will only be possible if we all give generously and sacrificially.
How To Give
The easiest way to give is to give online. You can give your regular gifts as well as your Christmas Eve offering and Room for More giving online – https://pantano.church/give/. Or, you can use our envelopes (they have a place to mark regular giving or Room for More) or use the special green Christmas Eve offering envelope that will be in the seat backs on Christmas Eve. Another option is to have your gift sent from your checking account; call us if you have questions and need help – 520.298.5395. THANK YOU again and in advance for your amazing generosity, which allows us to make a difference in the lives of people both now and for eternity.
Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have passed so at Pantano we are officially entering our Christmas season! Here’s an overview of what we have planned for Christmas this year. This Sunday we’ll start our three-week Christmas series called Bring Christmas Home. And that just kicks things off!
December Nights are back and we’ve expanded it one night and added some new things to make it even better. The event is free (except for the hayrides and food for purchase). We are adding a new live “Road to Bethlehem” experience. And of course, you’ll be able to roast marshmallows, sing Christmas carols on a horse-drawn carriage, get your free family Christmas portrait (those are often such a pain to schedule…right?!), or join us for a snowball fight. There will be crafts, cookie decorating and a whole lot more including live entertainment.
This year we’ll have the event on Friday and Saturday nights from 5:30-8:30PM on December 7, 8 and 14, 15.
Go to mypantano.church to sign up to serve as we still need volunteers and/or some of the supplies so we can keep this a free event. And, you can sign up and pay for hayride tickets. Just click here for all things December Nights! Don’t forget to invite family and friends to join you!
Serve Our City – December 23rd
I’m so excited about how we are going to bring Christmas home to our city in a unique way this year; on Sunday, December 23rd, instead of having our usual church services on our campus, we are going to “be” the church by going out and serving our community and neighborhoods. We’ll be doing some work projects (cleaning, painting, etc.) at both the new Gospel Rescue Mission Center of Opportunity and GAP Ministries. We’ll also have a variety of other ways you, your family (and yes, kids too!) and friends or small group can serve. We’ll also have a few projects on our campus if you are unable to drive to another location. We’ll have special Serve Our City t-shirts for anyone who signs up. You can sign up at mypantano.church. We’ll be talking about this all of December and more information will be coming soon. Plan to use that Sunday morning to bring the spirit of Christmas to your community.
Christmas Eve Services – December 24th
As you’ve come to expect, we put on a terrific one-hour Christmas Eve service for the whole family with a short, clear gospel message, singing, and candle lighting. This year we’ll have 4 services at 1, 3, 5, and 7PM. We’ll have children’s programming available for children up to 6 years of age. Invite others to join you at this great event!
Christmas Eve Offering
Our annual Christmas Eve offering will go in its entirety to support the new Center of Opportunity (4550 S. Palo Verde – south of Ajo Way); it will be a full service, one-stop location for those who are homeless or in crisis. The organization has been given the old Holiday Inn conference center that has over 300 rooms and a lot of space for all the critical services necessary to help the homeless become self-sufficient. We are excited to actually serve there for our Serve Our City Sunday and provide funds to help them convert the rooms and spaces to serve the homeless in our city. You can give online or at the service.
We hope you are able to join us at one or all of our Christmas season events, as we “Bring Christmas Home” this December!
It’s time for a Room for More update. Room for More is what we are calling our new building project. The new building, called the Student Union, will go where the old modular classrooms were. They are gone. We gave one to Desert Lutheran Church and the other one to Move City Church in Sierra Vista (which we started in 2008). We hope to start moving dirt and preparing the site in the next two weeks…Lord willing!
Originally, we were going to build a 19,000 square foot building. Half was to be for our high school ministry and half was to be a two-story staff office complex. Because of our continued significant growth, we realized we needed even more room not only for students but also for our children. So, the new building will have two high-quality meeting venues with a lounge and cafe between the two venues. The venues will house our high school and middle school on Sundays and will also provide large rooms for classes, events, weddings, funerals, and groups throughout the week. This is also a need because we are currently using every room on our campus on Wednesday nights!
And, this is so important; we’ll move our 4th and 5th graders to the existing student center in Towne Hall, which will make room for more children in our KidZone building. So, the new Student Union will make lots of room for our students and our children – two groups that are very important to us. They are the emerging generation of faith.
With this revised plan, we are going to build a 13,000 square foot building called a sprung structure. This building has a strong aluminum structure with an R30-rated insulated value two-layer surface. The exterior surface will match our campus paint scheme. It is maintenance-free, meaning we’ll never have to paint it, it will last as long as a typical roof and the replacement cost will be the same as a shingle roof. It is a sturdy and cost-effective way to build.
May I encourage you to go to the website at http://roomformore.church. You can watch the full video there. You can also download the Room for More app with a 3D virtual tour. Text the word “go” to 520-447-2777 to download the app. Enter the code “pantano.” Use the app on your phone to show and tell others about what we are building here at Pantano.
The cost of the project will be around 2 million dollars. We’ve set aside and saved some money from our general giving and folks have already started giving. We need to get this built as soon as possible. We are out of room now. People come first. Making room for students and kids and their families is the main thing! So, we’ve taken out a loan to get the work started, but we want to be able to pay off the entire loan by the time we get occupancy for the Student Union. Doing so will keep us from bearing the extra burden of debt. We think we’ll have all the work done by March 2019 and we’d love to do an open house with the loan paid off. So, let’s join together as everyone participates in any way they can. Please prayerfully consider how you can help us build the Student Union debt free.
You can give online. Choose “Room for More” in the “Giving Fund” drop-down box. You can give a one-time or regular gift. You can be creative. One lady gave us her car, which we sold for $3500. One person is considering giving some gold coins. We can receive stocks as well. Please consider how you can give a generous, significant, sacrificial gift.
A church that is healthy, Bible-believing, and Christ-honoring will attract guests, and weekly we have many guests who visit. That is part of why we are growing so much. I don’t know if you have noticed or not, but on Sunday mornings, besides teaching the Word, my “job one” or focus is to look for, greet and get to know our guests. This is one of the most enjoyable things I get to do. I love to hear the stories of why people were willing to take the risk to visit a church for the first time ever, or at least in a long time. These are the folks I want to reach. Sometimes visitors are new to the area and once in a while someone has been deeply hurt by a church and is looking for a healthy place. It is so much fun to hear the stories of how folks have sensed God is leading them to our church. God still guides and directs people, often in miraculous ways. The question is… will we truly welcome our guests and be great hosts? Will we be hospitable as the Bible commands (1 Peter 4:9; Romans 12:13)?
Helping Guests Find Their Way
It takes a lot of courage to come to a large church like ours. Our size, while it has many advantages, can be intimidating. Yes, we have a level of quality and excellence that is hard to find. We have so many groups, classes, events, and programs that meet so many needs. We have an abundance of opportunities to serve and make a difference. We are a place where folks can find a place to belong and get help as they journey toward or deepen their walk with Jesus. But, how does a new person feel welcomed and stick around long enough to discover all the good we have?
20 years ago, one of the world’s greatest experts on the customer experience found that a company like a hotel had 30 seconds to make a good impression or the client would be disappointed. Today, that expert says the time has shrunk to 5 seconds… that’s crazy! Now, I haven’t found the research for a church, but the point is we have only a short time to make a good impression and usually only one chance to help someone feel welcome. Why do I care about that? Because I don’t want to, in any way, hinder a person who is finding God from being open to his Word when they come to visit. I don’t want anything to “shut them down” before the Holy Spirit can speak into their heart. I want us to do all we can do to help them find, follow and flourish as they follow Jesus. I want anyone who’s currently a part of Pantano and makes the effort to bring a guest to be proud of how their guest was treated.
New Parking Ministry
That’s why we are starting a new Parking Ministry. We have enough parking, but a visitor might not know our campus well enough to navigate finding those places. So, job one for our new parking lot servants is to help visitors find a place to park, lead them in the right direction and answer any questions they might have. We want this new service to help all people feel welcomed as well as direct them to find an open parking space.
Your Help is Needed
We always need more folks who will greet at the gates and entrances, usher folks to open seats in the auditorium and help out at our Guest Services kiosk. If you are willing to help in any of our Host Team positions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. We especially need to find a few people who will develop and lead our new Parking Ministry. If God is nudging you, please take the next step and let us know you are open to talking about this. For all who make our church such a warm and welcoming place, I can’t thank you enough. THANK YOU!
Tucson – 5th Poorest City in America
I’m sure you’ve heard this by now, but Tucson is listed as one of the poorest metropolitan areas in the United States. That’s not the kind of notoriety we want. About 25% of our city is identified as living below the poverty rate. As Christians, we can’t just stop here and say, “Wow, that’s too bad!” and do nothing.
What the Bible Says About Poverty
Some Christians are tempted to quote our Savior at this point; after all, Jesus said, “You will always have the poor among you…” (John 12:8). Christians will causally take this to mean that Jesus said poverty can’t be overcome, so don’t bother. Actually, Jesus is saying the opposite; He’s quoting Deuteronomy 15:11. Jesus would often quote a part of an Old Testament text, knowing that his hearers would not only know the whole verse but the key ideas of the section of scripture around what was quoted. There is a “therefore” after what Jesus quoted; that “therefore” is how we are to respond to the poor around us.
Here’s the full text of Deut. 15:11 – There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be open-handed toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land. Then, go back to verse 4 of the same chapter – However, there need be no poor people among you! In fact, read the whole text of Deuteronomy 15:7-11 which states that it was God’s plan that generous, God-fearing people would respond to the poor. Flat out, the Bible commands that we be generous to the poor. Do an internet search and you’ll discover an overwhelming amount of Bible verses on helping the poor and needy (the words poor or poverty occur 446 times). So, what can we do?
Cost of Poverty Experience
Christians in Tucson through 4Tucson are committed to reducing poverty in our city. David Thoresen and J. Michael Davis on our staff are working with the Poverty Reduction Task Force of 4Tucson. Click here to read more about their work. The task force is promoting a Cost of Poverty Experience (COPE) simulation here at Pantano on Saturday, November 10, from 9am to 12pm. This is an opportunity where you’ll experience what it means to live below the poverty line. This will be eye opening! You don’t want to miss this. It’s a free event and you can register here.
Faith In Action
This Sunday, September 23, is our next Faith in Action event. After each of our three services, you’ll have an opportunity to see how you can be generous with your time, skills, effort and money to reduce poverty as you put your faith into action. We’ll have a number of our ministry partners whose focus is to make a difference in the lives of those who live in poverty near and far away. You can check out the local ministries like Haven Totes, Diaper Bank, Gospel Rescue Mission, Habitat for Humanity, Care Portal, and Interfaith Community Services. And, you can make a difference for a child in poverty through our work in Ecuador with Compassion International. Go to the Café after services on Sunday to see how you can do what God commanded when he said: Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to (Deut. 15:10).
Please join us in one of the various ways we can truly make a difference in our city and the world!
Our last teaching series called Mixtape – The Soundtrack for Marriage was based on Ephesians 5:21-33. What struck me in the passage was the strong theme of oneness. As individuals, we are to be one with Jesus. Husbands and wives are to be one. And couples together are to be one in Jesus. Oneness is an amazing thing to experience. It is God’s will for us. Oneness is being united; on the same page; sharing all of life together; being with and for each other; having a common purpose and so much more. This is what we want in marriage more than anything. Yet, so few actually talk about this.
But how do you get to oneness in marriage, and maintain that? As I was studying the passage, I noticed a second key idea that answers that – love and respect! Look at what Ephesians 5:33 says: However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Husbands, love your wives as you love yourselves. Wives, respect your husbands. It was no mistake that this instruction comes at the very end of the long passage on marriage and oneness in Ephesians 5.
I devoted a whole message in the Mixtape series to love and respect. If you missed it, you can watch it here. There are so many questions about this verse like:
I tried to answer some of these in my message, but time would not allow a deep dive into these important questions and understandings. But, help is on the way!
We’ve invited a Christian man, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, who has devoted his life to helping couples learn to love and respect each other. I’ve read two of his books and watched a couple videos of his teaching on this subject. His research, insight and practical teaching are outstanding. So I want to BEG you to attend our Love and Respect Marriage Event. Why would I “beg” you? Because oneness in marriage is so important, so needed, so rewarding, so rich and such hard work! This three-hour event will provide you with actionable ways to grow your marriage. It is a great opportunity to move deeper into oneness. Here are the details:
WHEN: Friday, September 21, 6:30-9:30 pm
WHERE: The Pantano auditorium
COST: $60 per couple, $30 per single.
Maybe you know a couple who are struggling in their marriage; invite them to join you. Maybe you know a couple that want to improve the oneness of their marriage; invite them to join you… You might even buy them a ticket! I’ll be there. I hope to see you also.
We are making progress on our new high school space (we are calling it the Student Union) and office building to make Room for More. Here’s the scoop on what has happened so far: The modulars, where the new building will go, are being moved as I type. Our loan is approved. We have our general contractor. We hope to have permits by the end of August. Lord willing, we’ll be able to occupy the Student Union in November; completing the offices and remodeling the current office spaces might take longer.
We are building a 19,000 square foot building to make room for our high school students. Our state-of-the-art Student Union is a necessary tool to allow us to serve our students well. Because we are out of room for our students, our high school and middle school are currently meeting together, which is not ideal. Further, we have filled our current student center at 9 AM and 11 AM. We need to make Room for More.
By moving all our offices (currently in 3 locations) into the new building, we’ll make room for children and students in the spaces where our offices currently are on our campus. Here’s how you can find out more about Room for More:
New Website and Video
We have a new website dedicated to making Room for More here at Pantano – RoomforMore.church. Check here for updates. Soon, we’ll post the link for the app that will allow you to take a virtual tour of the new building.
On the website, you’ll find information, pictures, a helpful video giving you a tour that shows what the new building will look like inside and out, and a place to give financially. The website allows you to share the excitement with your friends and family.
We’ll be hosting 20-minute information meetings this Sunday, 8/12, and on Sunday, 8/26, after each service; after the 9 AM and 11 AM services we’ll meet in the current Student Center (Towne Hall) and after the 1 PM service we’ll meet in the auditorium. We’ll also have an information meeting on Wednesday, 8/22 when our student small groups and adult classes start up. The Wednesday, 8/22 meeting will be at 6:30 PM in the Student Center.
Talk to Glen or Roger
If you’d like to talk to Glen or Roger about the project or about giving options, please contact us through our Administrative Assistant, Liz Marko – email@example.com. Either of us are more than happy to talk or meet with you.
Folks are already giving. To date, $132,580 has been given and we’ve saved and designated $169,000 from our general giving, making our fund total $301,580. We are still working on the final costs, but it will be somewhere near 2.5 million dollars. So, we are over 10% of the way there.
Please pray and consider how you can give a generous gift so we can pay for the building and not have to carry any debt as we begin the new year. You can give in all the usual ways – online or use our new offering envelopes. Or, maybe there’s a creative way you can give… for example, one person gave us a car which we were able to sell for cash; another person is giving some gold they inherited; some might consider stocks. Together, we can make Room for More.
In the old days (I can’t believe I’m using that phrase) “fall” started on Labor Day and school started right after. Not any more. Schools start in July and August, depending on the school district. And with school starting already, it feels like fall, except we still have triple-digit heat and there are still no football games! My point? It’s August already, and we are starting things off for our version of Fall Kickoff. So get ready, as “fall” is here.
Global Leadership Summit
It’s not too late to sign up for our 10th annual Global Leadership Summit event. Really, you don’t want to miss this. I think this is my 13th year attending the GLS and I’ve learned so much and have been able to apply and use so many practical insights. For me, it has been life-changing, and in one season of my life, it was life-saving. The Summit is Thursday and Friday, August 9 & 10. Find out more and SIGN UP HERE.
Our adult classes are starting soon. Check out the amazing and practical classes like Financial Peace University (required orientation is Sunday, 8/12 at 9 & 11am and Wednesday, 8/15 at 6:30pm). Starting August 22nd, we’ll offer Bible Basics, Coping with Anger, Parenting the Love and Logic Way, Smart Stepfamily, SHAPE, Tuesday Morning Women’s classes and 2 classes for engaged couples or those considering engagement (Prepare and Enrich and Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts). Check out the classes and REGISTER HERE.
KidzGroups: Our children’s programing, called KidzGroups, starts Wednesday, August 22nd (6:30pm-8pm). The preschool theme is “Treasure Island.” Kinder-5th grade will study Philippians looking at joy. There is also a leadership training class for 4th and 5th graders called WILD Bunch (Working In Leadership Development). The focus of this class is on servant leadership, learning how to lead worship, teach puppets, going deeper into God’s Word and much more.
Students: Both middle school and high school student small groups start August 22nd – 6:30pm-8pm.
Adults: Check out all the great adult classes also offered on Wednesday nights at 6:30pm.
Love and Respect Marriage Event
We wanted to follow up our current series Mixtape – the Soundtrack for Marriage with an evening with Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, who will share his practical insights on the basics needed for a great marriage – love and respect! This is based on what the Bible teaches in Ephesians 5:33. Love and respect, what we are focusing on in our current series, are the keys to developing oneness. Don’t miss this. Grow your marriage! Find out more and REGISTER HERE.
Finally, thank you all for your very kind responses to our 20th anniversary here at Pantano. Jolene and I are very grateful for the notes (which we are still reading) and for the gift of a vacation. Wow! I have loved being a part of Pantano for these 20 years and I’ve loved sharing life with you all. THANK YOU!
As Lead Pastor, my head is in what and why we do what we do all my waking hours. So I take a lot of things for granted. It hit me that we do some things on a regular basis that you might not know about. Fact is, there is so much that happens at our church I don’t actually know everything that happening…and that’s okay too! But here some things you might not know about…
Did you know that before folks are baptized we have conversations with them about the meaning of baptism? We want to make sure each person understands the commitment they are making. Sometimes we have long conversations before the day they are baptized. Sometimes they are just prior to baptism. And we take each person’s confession of faith so they can carefully reflect on what they are committing to. We also follow up with each person being baptized. Baptism is a big deal for each person – one with deep spiritual implications, so we do our best to help each person fully grasp the meaning and purpose. And I’ll bet you didn’t know that since July 1st last year we’ve had 316 folks choose to be baptized – that’s about 17% more than last year at this time.
And did you know that we have a special baptism class for children and their parents to help both the child and the parents have a good understanding and be able to determine if and when a child is ready? The next class is Sunday August 5th at 11 AM and it takes place in Towne Hall 5 (TH5). Click here to register.
I love that we practice communion every Sunday. Did you know that we offer gluten free communion bread? It is available in the lobby in the bookshelf by the ushers door or just ask any of our greeters.
Did you know that this year we launched what we call our Next Level Leadership development process? We’ve developed a plan and the resources and training to help our staff mentor leaders who want to grow into the next level of leadership. Leadership development is one the most important things we do to be able to continue to grow and offer great spiritual opportunities for people. I hope that by next year we’ll be able to open it up to anyone who wants to mentor and/or be mentored.
Did you know that in addition to our Pantano online campusthat is live, we also make the sermon available online (usually by Tuesday – without the music for copyright reasons)? And our sermon notes with discussion questions are also available at the same web location. This is great if you forgot a scripture or illustration mentioned. Just go to “watch” at the top of Pantano.churchand to the right there are several options like the sermon notes, downloading the audio message (mp3) or downloading the video (to share with others!).
There’s lots more. I’ll bet you didn’t know that every weekend message is reviewed and the teacher gets feedback from the teaching team 4 different times and we debrief it after we’ve taught. That’s a lot of feedback and review, but so worth it. Just thought you’d like to know!