ozark christian college

The importance of a discipleship legacy

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"We are proud of you. You have set off on a wonderful adventure. Who knows what God will do in transforming your lives?" - Wayne and Rolly Bigalow

Fina found a letter from Wayne and Rolly Bigalow, spiritual giants and ministry mentors in our lives, dated August 31st, 2001.

This letter was written to encouraging our family before we left for our wonderful adventure moving from California to Missouri to attend Ozark Christian College and to do ministry.

And it's very fitting for us on our new wonderful adventure here in Oregon.

the beginning...

Wayne is the reason why I am in ministry today! He was the Senior Minister of Sonrise Christian Church in Windsor, CA, and I served as the youth minister at Sonrise.

Wayne was the person who encouraged us to take a step of faith and follow God's call on our lives. So with my wife and three kids we packed up everything we owned and moved to Missouri to finish my Bible college education.

I am forever grateful for Wayne and Rolly (She went to be with Jesus years ago) for the impact they had on us, a young ministry family... And Wayne still has an impact on me and my ministry today—he called me last night to see how we are doing in our new ministry.

the importance of a discipleship legacy...

Wayne and Rolly believed in us and taught us to trusted God and to rely on His grace to get is through our new adventure. We also learned from them the importance of discipleship—leading others into becoming more like Jesus. To invest in others and have others invest in your life is one of the keys to lasting relationship with Jesus, one that is healthy, vibrant, and reproducing.

We have been so fortunate to have so many people mentor us and allow us the freedom to fail and succeed in ministry. As a result of others investing in us, we have been able to do the same. I think many times we have been the ones being blessed by us investing in others, and not so much the other way around.

It is important to carry-on legacy of discipleship. It is not only beneficial for the person your are investing in, but it is also beneficial for you—if you don't then your faith can become self-centered and eventually it shrivels up and dies.

Who are you creating a discipleship legacy with?

Joe

The importance of a discipleship legacy

20140212-193353.jpg

"We are proud of you. You have set off on a wonderful adventure. Who knows what God will do in transforming your lives?" - Wayne and Rolly Bigalow

Fina found a letter from Wayne and Rolly Bigalow, spiritual giants and ministry mentors in our lives, dated August 31st, 2001.

This letter was written to encouraging our family before we left for our wonderful adventure moving from California to Missouri to attend Ozark Christian College and to do ministry.

And it's very fitting for us on our new wonderful adventure here in Oregon.

the beginning...

Wayne is the reason why I am in ministry today! He was the Senior Minister of Sonrise Christian Church in Windsor, CA, and I served as the youth minister at Sonrise.

Wayne was the person who encouraged us to take a step of faith and follow God's call on our lives. So with my wife and three kids we packed up everything we owned and moved to Missouri to finish my Bible college education.

I am forever grateful for Wayne and Rolly (She went to be with Jesus years ago) for the impact they had on us, a young ministry family... And Wayne still has an impact on me and my ministry today—he called me last night to see how we are doing in our new ministry.

the importance of a discipleship legacy...

Wayne and Rolly believed in us and taught us to trusted God and to rely on His grace to get is through our new adventure. We also learned from them the importance of discipleship—leading others into becoming more like Jesus. To invest in others and have others invest in your life is one of the keys to lasting relationship with Jesus, one that is healthy, vibrant, and reproducing.

We have been so fortunate to have so many people mentor us and allow us the freedom to fail and succeed in ministry. As a result of others investing in us, we have been able to do the same. I think many times we have been the ones being blessed by us investing in others, and not so much the other way around.

It is important to carry-on legacy of discipleship. It is not only beneficial for the person your are investing in, but it is also beneficial for you—if you don't then your faith can become self-centered and eventually it shrivels up and dies.

Who are you creating a discipleship legacy with?

Joe

We are moving to Oregon: Something Worth Risking Your Career For.

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"Ask God to burden you with something worth risking your career for." - Andy Stanley

This is something I've asked a time or two throughout the years. I'm not trying to beat my own drum or make myself seem more spiritual than I am—those of you who know me really well, know this is definitely not the case. The fact is however, I have asked God for this a few times throughout the years.

I want to cut to the chase. I explain the full story in the rest of this blog post. It is unusual for me to write such long blog post, but I wanted to give you— my readers as much of the full story as possible. BUT for those of you who just want to know the current status of what is going on in the Puentes family, I will tell you up front...

This past year I have asked God that question, "God give me a burden worth risking my career for..." No, not necessarily in those words, but nevertheless with the same heart, meaning and intention—and He answered.

We are moving to Oregon! I have accepted a position as the new lead pastor of Ascent Christian Church in Prineville, OR. The Ascent is a four year old church plant, planted by the OCEF. There are some good things happening at The Ascent, and I am very grateful for the people, who have from the beginning, made Ascent Christian Church the best church for the city of Prineville.

Ascentcc header image 2We are super excited for this new opportunity to serve God in a new and different way! While this is a great opportunity with many positives, there will be some challenges. In many ways, The Ascent is still a church in it's infancy.

Since it is still a "new church," the church meets in a high school auditorium, there is still many ministry opportunities that need to happen, directional leadership and organization clarity need to take place, and the people need discipling and pastoring.

I will be the only paid pastor on staff, and since the church is not yet financially self-sustaining, Fina and I will have to raise a portion of our salary—which is a challenge for us because we're newbies at this... But we will trust God and follow His lead.

Our desire for The Ascent is to reach the city of Prineville, OR for the gospel of Jesus Christ! To allow the Holy Spirit to use the church to bring hope to hopeless, healing to the hurting, belonging to the marginalized, and grace to all. As a church we want to be disciples of Jesus who reflect our passion and mission to "becoming more like Jesus... together."

Our dream is that Ascent Christian Church will be a reproducible church and plant churches both locally and globally for the advancement of the gospel and the exponential movement of the kingdom of God.

Ascent 2 logo 2We would be honored to have you to partner with us by investing in us and in what God is doing through Ascent Christian Church for the city of Prineville, Oregon. We'd humbly appreciate your prayer and financial support. You can follow along with us on this journey, know how to pray for us, and hear about all that God is doing, by receiving email or snail mail updates.

Click here "Contact Page" and then click on the mail icon to send me an email. Once you send me an email, I'll add you to an email or snail mailing list—your choice, which will be sent out in January and then monthly after that. You can always call me too if you have my phone number...

ALSO... You can partner with us financially. Yep. I got to pay the bills and feed the kids, and that takes money—unfortunately... Our commitment to the church is to raise support for two years (That's $1800 a month for two years—a total of $43,200...). Any way you can help us financially would be great!

You can send financial contributions to: Ascent Christian Church P O Box 2117 Prineville, OR 97754 Make checks payable to Ascent Christian Church... Please indicate on the check "Puentes Missions" so we can apply it to the correct account. (Your contribution is a tax deductible donation).

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The church website is still being developed. However, online giving is available: http://www.ascentcc.com/giving/  (Be sure to check the box - I would like to designate this donation to a specific fund AND select: “Help Pastor Joe Puentes & Family”).

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December 15th will be my last day on staff at LifeBridge Christian Church, and we will be moving to Oregon in January 2014. We will make a quick stop-off in California for Christmas (It's been 13 years since we last spent Christmas with our family. Yep, December of 2000 was the last time...) We hope you do decide to partner with us on this journey. I'm sure you will get a glimpse of what is happening in either this blog, Facebook, or on Twitter...

If you want to read more about the journey that led up to this decision, please continue reading this blog post.

The rest of the story...

The first time I asked the question "God give me a burden worth risking my career for..." it resulted in major life-change for my family and me. We left all that we had known, family, friends, church, great career, and a beautiful area of the country we grew up in (Sonoma County, CA). We, my wife and three small kids, moved to the middle of the good ol' U.S.A and stopped in Joplin, MO. We did this so we could faithfully follow God's nudging and attend Ozark Christian College and pursue a calling into full time vocational ministry.

I was twenty-eight years old, my kids were 8, 6, and 4 years of age at the time, and I left a really good job and career. This wasn't something that was leading us to bigger and better things necessarily—it was a call to trust in God fully and trust Him alone; we either stepped out in faith or not do it.

Missouri...

We took root in Oronogo, MO (Just outside of Joplin, MO), and felt like we were going to live there for the rest of our lives. We loved our church, our friends, and the community we called home. My wife worked at Ozark Christian College and I served on the staff at Christ's Church of Oronogo; both great ministries for the advancement of the gospel and the kingdom of God. WE LOVED it!

ccoWebHeader 2The second time I sort of asked God the question, "Ask God to burden you with something worth risking your career for" big changes again happened to the Puentes family. I need to clarify by what I mean "sort of." What I mean when I said "sort of," I was feeling a nudge from God to think beyond our comfort-zone and beyond ourselves. I was feeling a nudge to faithfully seek Him out and His leading.

I was feeling there was something beyond what we were doing, something new, and something different. NOT something better or something bigger, but something that would lead us to grow closer to Him and grow our faith more—it would cause us to trust God fully and Him alone—we either stepped out in faith or not do it.

Colorado...

What happened next was we found ourselves moving to gorgeous Colorado and to the scenic views of the majestic Rocky Mountains. We took a ministry position at a great church! LifeBridge Christian Church is a church that truly lives up to being the best church FOR the city and not the best church IN the city. LifeBridge is a dynamic church, both locally and globally. The best part about the church is the people and it's externally focused DNA! The people truly are the ones who make this church a special place to be.

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I've never been a part of a church where her people mobilize in unprecedented ways in both dollars and physical man-hours; nothing exemplifies this more than when the recent floods that struck all up and down the state of Colorado. I say all this because I am thankful for coming to LifeBridge and for the blessing I have received. This is the place and time in my life I have matured the most.

I have learned so much about leadership, ministry, the local and global church, neighboring and missional living, being gospel-centered—and thinking bigger about church and ministry in general. I can never thank the leadership of the LifeBridge enough for letting me come and be a part of this church!

I was 34 when we left Missouri and moved to Colorado. My kids were 15, 12, 10 years of age at the time we moved to Colorado. We have made so many friends and memories during this season of life. Just like our friends in Missouri, we also consider our friends in Colorado more than friends—they are family!

Wrestling with God...

Within the past couple of years, I have been wrestling with God. I kept feeling that God was moving in my heart to do something different. I wasn't sure what it was. I thought maybe it was to leave full time ministry, live in the mountains, move to another country, become a farmer, but the one thing I knew for sure was I was suppose to not do youth ministry full time anymore.

This was huge for me to discover. I have been a youth pastor for over seventeen years and saw myself as a lifer! So I approached my senior pastor about a year ago and told him I was that it was time for me to not do youth ministry anymore—long story short, I resigned my position as youth pastor at LifeBridge and he graciously offered me a neighborhood pastor position at the church.

Well another long story short—we've had an amazing past year serving as a neighborhood pastor at LifeBridge. We have been so blessed to be a part of the story that God is writing through this great church! BUT as you have already read, we are moving on—not to something bigger or better, but to something new and different. Something that will challenge and stretch us. It will move us to a deeper faith and trust in Jesus—and Him alone.

In the end...

Photo Credit: Mullermarc, Unsplash

So me at 40 years old, and my kids being 20, 17, and 15 years of age, we are moving to Prineville, OR. We're on another adventure! We are anticipating God to do all that He has promised and more.

In the end. What I realize is that Fina and I have been writing a bigger story for our kids and ourselves. We are putting into tangible and actionable steps, a story of what it means to surrender to Jesus and faithfully follow Him wherever He leads and no matter the cost.

To be honest, we aren't some Super-Christians who have it all together. We don't always read the Bible, we don't always begin with prayer, I don't always understand the big churchy words or complex church things, we aren't always joyful, and we don't always have peace—especially when we are trying to faithfully follow Jesus.

We have a willing heart and simply obey and ask Jesus "What's my next step?" We are just trying to be obedient to our Father in heaven—we love Him because He first loved us.

This journey isn't ours alone—it also belongs to the people we've met along the way, it's the cities we have lived in, it belongs to the church locally and globally that we unite with, and ultimately it is Jesus' story because without Him, the depth and meaning to what we are living out wouldn't be there.

Dad, I want to be a Pastor...

998854_10151788772289801_845024673_n-1 Something really cool happened after church this past Sunday. My son and I started having a conversation on what it means to be a pastor.

My son is a senior in high school and wants to follow in my foot steps and attend Ozark Christian College (My alma mater), and go into full-time ministry.

We talked about what the calling of a pastor means. We talked about how some of the things to remember is that ministry is about people. Programming and stage decorations and paint have their place, ministry is always about people.

And specifically the job of a pastor is to guide people back to the heart of God, and help them see grace operating in their lives. 

As he and I journey this year together and as he moves closer to graduation and Bible College, I will teach him some of the most important things about what it means to be a pastor.

Here are some of the things I will share with him...

The biggest thing to remember is that a pastor is a servant to the people of God, and an under-shepherd to the Chief Shepherd, Jesus. Pastors must always remember that Jesus is the Pastor of the church and we are blessed to be a part of of his bride. Jesus leads his church through us not the other way around.

He will learn that no one makes you be a pastor, but you willingly submit yourself to the authority and calling of the Holy Spirit in your life. Being a Pastor is rewarding and burdensome at the same time.

I will share with him what Eugene Peterson suggests the three things a Pastor should focus on: 1. Pray 2. Preach the gospel 3. Listen

pastor2I tell him that being a Pastor immediately puts you in the position of a servant. That as a pastor we seek to be last and the servant of all (Jesus - Mark 9:35). It is caring and leading people through servant-leadership. As pastors, we are shepherds of God people and it can be messy and difficult at times.

I can't wait to have more conversations with him about what it means to be a pastor. We have only a short time before he graduates high school and heads off to Bible college...

For now I have him reading this passage and journaling his thoughts on it.

"Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. " - 1 Peter 5:2-4