Join The Journey: A Tour of Romans
Christmas Eve 2017
Contentment, Longing and Christmas
An Update on the Mission in Fort Worth
Evening with the Elders
An Evening with Eric Metaxas
What a Compassionate God Wants You to Consider as Your Next Yes
Worship Together: You Are the Church
Worship Together: The Future of the Church in the Hands of Parents
Worship Together: Remember. Consider. Imitate
Worship Together: Influencing the Next Generation by Preparing Ourselves and Investing in Our Children
Do Good People Go To Heaven?
Step Up in Faithfulness, Discover and Invest Your Talents for Christ
Regretful Hearts v. Repentant Hearts
Leadership Matters…and Other Seminal Truths
The Future and Hope of Your Life and Our City
Keeping Short Accounts
Soldiers, Athletes & Farmers: A Biblical Look at the Spiritual Life
Why Your First Impression of Your Father Matters
Why Every Week is a Pastors' Conference
The End of the Search
The Christian in Culture
4 Dead-Ends to Spiritual Growth
A Spectacle of Glory: An Interview with Joni Eareckson Tada
Easter: “It is True”
Good Friday 2017
Fort Worth Raise The Mark
Seeing God as a Perfect Father
Who You Are, Eternally
Freedom from Following
Four Traits Christ’s Disciples Share
Inquiring of The Lord
Fort Worth's Opportunity... A Day We Can't Wait to See
Todd Wagner: Good evening, everybody. How are we doing? I love the chatter and the buzz. I love when friends greet each other. We are ready to take care of you. I always crack up when we do panels that they give them water like it's some exhausting five-set Wimbledon match, like we need water up here. We're ready to nourish you. We have chocolate chip cookies and hot chocolate, coffee, and hot water for tea lovers out there waiting for us when we are done so we can just enjoy each other for a while. We imagine that this evening will go up until about the 8:30 hour and fellowship will happen after that, at the very latest.
We thought we'd start by reintroducing ourselves to you. You have to put up with me a lot. My name is Todd Wagner. I talk a lot here on Sundays and get to serve as what we call the pastoral elder. From the very beginning, we always believed that if there was going to be somebody who served in the role of primary teacher-leader they ought to meet the qualifications of 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1.
So 18 years ago when we formed, the families that did that just said, "Todd, we believe that's the right role for you, so you're going to be the one out of our group who will be in this role of elder, and we're going to call it 'pastoral elder,' because in addition to you we want to surround you with at least two…" They chose no more than 12 people just because of relationship, but we've never even approached that, and we'll explain some of why our number of elders is not a dozen but is an intimate group of men who lead together.
The pastoral elder is the one staff elder, and then we've surrounded them with other men. We don't believe it's best to have the inmates running the asylum, in effect, to have individuals who are making their livelihood from and are provided for by the organization to be the ones who have even the majority share of the organization. That's why there's one pastoral elder on an elder team. Right now, the other men who are serving with me…
By the way, I thought the other thing that was amazing about the folks who founded this local expression of Christ's universal church was that they said, "We're not going to name ourselves elders. We don't believe that's the best way to name leadership. We'll serve as trustees until God raises up individuals that we believe we can give this thing to." After about 16 to 18 months of us gathering and meeting with and watching individuals lead here, Dean Macfarlan, who you're about to meet again, Kyle Thompson, and Brett Johnston were added to the elder team.
We gave a message that day, and we titled that message Introducing Our Elders: A Great Day or the Beginning of the End. It turned out to be the greatest day in the history of our church, because leadership is everything. Those are the men who led this church for 10 years, and then there has been some transition over that time. We don't have term limits, because we don't see them in the Bible, but we have an elder team.
Once there were four men, those trustees moved back to lay leaders in the body, and those elders have been leading with me ever since July 2001. So let me introduce you to the guys who are doing that right now and let them tell you a little bit more about themselves. I'll start with my friend Dean since I mentioned him first.
Dean Macfarlan: Thank you again for coming tonight and investing in this evening with us. We appreciate deeply the opportunity to connect with you. Many of you I may not know. Those of you I have known a long time, I just beg your forgiveness as I go back through this a little bit for folks who may be new to this mission. My name is Dean Macfarlan. I've been married to the lovely Tawney for 38 years, one of God's greatest gifts in my life.
We have two children, Mac and Callie, both married to wonderful folks who are all part of this mission here at Watermark and worship here. We have seven grandchildren, which is amazing, for those of you who have them. We've been blessed by that. It's really great. They stretch from almost 3 years old up to 7-1/2. I just got to spend this last weekend with one of them in the woods up in Kansas, so that was really special.
For work… A lot of people ask, "Hey, what do you guys do?" In my case, I'm in the real estate investment management business. I have a company called Macfarlan Capital Partners that I founded in the 1984-85 time frame. I tell folks various stages of success and failure ever since, if you know much about the real estate business. I do that with my son Mac Macfarlan and his brother-in-law Bryan Larson, so there are three partners. I'm especially grateful to those guys who allow me the flexibility to invest a lot of my time here in this mission. It's really fun to get to do that.
My spiritual journey, just very quickly. It's fun for me to get to tell you the story. My journey with Christ started because my brother Andy, who's four years older, came to Christ through the ministry of Young Life. Very simply, he obeyed God in terms of trying to teach and train others, and he handed me a New Testament Scripture, a J.B. Phillips version, if you guys remember that, and said, "I just suggest you investigate the claims of this man Jesus, because if they are true, it changes everything. You must decide what you do with Jesus," which was an amazing way to share the gospel with a younger brother who really didn't like his older brother very much.
So I started reading in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and got to John and knew I was lost and needed a Savior. That transaction happened when I was 17 years old. Philippians 3:10, Acts 2:20, and Mark 8:34-35 became a big part of my life, my life verses that hopefully have woven into the fabric of how God has crafted me, shaped me, and wants to deploy me.
Last but not least would be fun. What Tawney and I love to do is be outdoors. We really enjoy being in either the mountains of Colorado or we have a little farm west of Mineral Wells, Texas, that we get to spend some time out there. I'll stop there and kick it to Beau.
Beau Fournet: Thanks, Dean. I'm Beau Fournet. I grew up in south Louisiana in New Orleans. I grew up in a Catholic family that I would characterize as a culturally Catholic family more than anything else. I met my bride right before we both went to LSU and got married the week after we graduated from college, so we've been married now for a little over 21 years. Eventually we ended up in Dallas in 1999, just visiting churches.
I viewed myself as a Christian and thought when you move to a new town you find a church. I started reading my Bible with some people at my church, which was a different location, and also spent time in a Bible study with some neighbors and friends at work. In the context of reading my Bible Genesis to Revelation I understood the gospel for the first time and came to know Christ in early 2000.
Todd: I think it's encouraging for them to know one of them was John Cox, who's on staff. He really invested in you in his cul-de-sac, along with Matt Moss, who is now a significant leader here at Watermark, and Dennis, who was not a believer even after you trusted Christ. He now leads in our ministry over there in Frontlines. You see Dennis every week. There were three or four or five of you guys in that initial group who came to faith. Well, Matt knew the Lord.
As you guys grew, eventually, Beau, you had distinguished yourself as a man who was serious about his faith. I think it's encouraging for them to see. We're about to hear from JP again, who trusted Christ here. We have significant spiritual leadership at this church who have come to faith here, which is really encouraging and as it should be.
Beau: Absolutely. For those who have been around for a long time, Natalie and my first visit was Criswell College, I believe, a week or two before Dean, Kyle, and Brett were introduced as elders. So fast-forward. We have six children, privileged with three biological children and three children adopted. We also had the privilege of being foster parents for a while.
Professionally, I work in an investment management business at a company here in town called HBK. Our headquarters is here. As far as things we like to do, my wife and I love to cook and just love to hang out low-key. We just love spending time together either in town or on vacation. Just really enjoy being with family and friends. So it's a privilege to be here tonight.
Todd: One of the things we did as we were processing the team that was serving at the time… It was Kyle Thompson, who transitioned off the elder team this summer… None of us felt like he should. None of us wanted him to, but Kyle is a man full of the Spirit, and for months he increasingly felt like the right way for him to serve Christ was no longer in the role of elder-leader in the church. So we went, "Bro, we trust you."
Then he shared with the body that particular Sunday how he continues to be here and be leading, discipling a group of 16 guys on Wednesday morning, leading a Summit group right now, involved with Merge and other ministries here, but he's no longer serving on our elder team. One of the things we do when we meet with men is meet with those they work with and just talk about the way we lead together and the amount of time that takes.
Both Beau's partners and Dean's partners at the time said, "We believe this is an important part of our community service, that we would allow one of our partners, one of our employees, to steward the…I don't want to exaggerate…20 to 30 hours a week these men give. We are not a group of guys who meet on the first Monday of every month from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., and we'll talk more about that. These are the men leading Watermark with me. I think we're about to hit the Frequently Asked Questions, the questions we received. Right?
Beau: There are a couple of prepared sections before we go into the specific FAQs when JP joins us. I think the first one was talking about Community Groups.
Dean: I think that's one I was going to run with. You've heard us talk about this a lot, and we want to reinforce it again. Why is community so important? It's so important it's a core value of our church. Everything we want our church to be known for often starts and stops with our love for Christ and our love for the body of Christ around us. We've said often we want to connect with people in smaller groups. We want to make sure everyone feels shepherded.
Hebrews 10:23-24. We never want to stop meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encourage one another all the more as we see the day approaching. This is, I believe, one of the most important aspects of someone's spiritual development: they connect with a small group of people. They live in a transparent and authentic way. People help you grow, if you haven't figured out how to do that yourself.
If you don't know someone who is outside your community who you can connect with who is a wise spiritual leader, we want to make sure we solve that this week, because part of the responsibility we feel of shepherding the flock of God among us is making sure you feel that connection to someone who can help you if you bump up against a challenge you just can't solve. So community is really important.
One of the things we say often is that sheep are perpetually needy and shepherds are perpetually tired, but the reality is we're all going to be the sheep at some point and we need that shepherd to help us grow. So we want to make sure you guys know how important this is to us. A big part of the time we spend individually is our community working out the "one anothers" of Scripture with each other.
We're not going to call you to something we're not investing deeply in ourselves. This is a really important aspect of not just our whole church experience, but tonight one of the main reasons we gathered is we wanted to beat the drum of our connection to each of you individually once again this evening.
Todd: You guys have heard us a lot… As we teach through Acts, you see this is what defined the early church. None of our core values are Watermark core values. They're part of the catholic core values. Again, I say that… I had a sweet person who came up to me and went, "Why do you say we're catholic all the time?" I go, "Well, I don't all the time," but again, the word catholic means universal, not Roman Catholic. That's like saying Watermark church of Jesus Christ, when you say Roman Catholic.
That expression at the time, the local body that has become rather influential with a lot of satellite campuses, in case you haven't been paying attention to world history, that needed some reformation 500 years ago and needs it today… God's church has always been called to not forsake its assembling together, not just for corporate worship but day after day, it says. You've heard me talk a lot about being breadfellows, companions, people you break bread with, which means you eat with on a regular basis.
If your Community Group is meeting every other week, I guarantee you you're spiritually malnourished. Every one of us is individually responsible before God, but we are responsible for one another before God. This is why we said these are things we always want to hit when we're together. We're going to have a time together in January we call Better Together, where we come and hit these ideas again.
It is imperative to us that the smaller communities of Watermark see themselves as the future of the church and ask themselves, "If our church was defined by how our Community Group was doing, what kind of church would we be?" because Watermark is made up of a bunch of smaller communities, and those smaller communities are made up of individuals who have a relationship with God.
We say all the time we don't have married problems at Watermark; we have single people problems that we drag into marriage. We don't really have community problems; we have devoted follower of Christ problems that we drag into community. You get dysfunctional churches when you have dysfunctional community.
That is why you hear Dean say if you're a member and don't know who the contact is who is probably two or three degrees of separation away from us, then we want to fix that. Everybody in this room should know, "This is my community, this is the person the church leadership has assigned to us, this is who's assigned to that church leadership, and this is who is assigned to that person who's assigned to us." It goes both ways.
Dean: Beau, I'm going to kick it to you on the membership covenant in a minute, but Hebrews 13:17. If I feel a weight as an overshepherd, overseer, encourager, it's that I'm supposed to know well the condition of the flock. This is how we do that. You are a part of making a very large church smaller so we can, with all integrity, as best we are able, execute on this verse. So we're going to keep pounding this drum. We ask you to do it with us.
The last thing I'll say on this topic… We got a chance to meet with a lot of our staff team that is constantly shepherding the over 1,100 Community Groups we have. Honestly, I hope that number doubles, that those small churches spread throughout the city of Dallas. Todd mentioned that's the hope of the world. We love that we get to be a part of that. We love that we get to keep encouraging our staff team around that purpose.
One of the things we challenge them with is that it's really important you don't let the crisis keep you from the committed. What we mean by that is it's really easy to identify those couples who are in tremendous crisis, and sometimes if they're not abiding with Christ that crisis repeats itself and can often drain the group.
So we're asking you to not stiff-arm the couple in crisis, but don't forget all of those committed couples in your group. Invest heavily in those relationships. Encourage them just as much as that couple who may be in crisis, because they're ultimately going to be the way God meets the need of future crises in our church.
Todd: Beau, tell them what we did a week ago Wednesday. One of the things you shared was about how you encourage folks to take the membership covenant with them to community every week.
Beau: Absolutely. We met with all of these points of contact that are committed to helping our Community Groups, and we talked about a couple of things. First, the whole idea of care and correction is not a sign of unhealth; it's a sign of health. If we're going to continue to be growing new life in our body, having new followers of Jesus, and helping one another as we're sheep, we're going to have challenges.
We encouraged them with two things. First, don't feel like we're disappointed we have a problem when you have to widen the circle and include other people. The second thing is when you get into that situation bring a copy of the membership covenant with you. It's one page, and because we require every member of a Community Group to be a member of the church, that means everybody in the Community Group has agreed to the membership covenant.
You can just walk through, and almost every challenge you'll have with somebody in a Community Group will roll back to something on that membership covenant that they are either rebelling against or they've decided they're no longer committed to. I would find clarity on that rather than wrestling through the outward expression of that core disagreement you have in your covenant.
Todd: One of the things we want to do is spend time with leaders of leaders and leaders of others. We dip down and have time with as many people as we can, but we invest, obviously, in those folks we're talking about: your staff contact. One of the things I am constantly on them about is if I can ask any member of our body who's in a community, "Who is the person your community reaches out to if you have a question or feel like you're stalled?" and they don't know, that's a failure.
Now we don't just have staff over those 1,100 Community Groups. The staff has teams of trusted leaders who oversee those smaller communities, and we are all accountable to one another. Dean, you mentioned Hebrews 13:17. Let's just mention what that verse says. The first part is not why we're saying it. I can remember a time when a parent was trying to shepherd their kid.
My friend Joe White one time when his kid was little was with Cooper, and he said, "We're going to memorize a verse tonight, Coop," and Coop says, "Good, let's memorize it. What verse?" He goes, "This one, Ephesians 6:1." So he looked it up, and he goes, "This is the verse. It says, 'Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.'" Cooper goes, "That's not really in there." That's what he said to me. It's really in there.
But I'm not reading to you Hebrews 13:17 because of the first part of this, which says, "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are ones…" This is what it really is saying. God has given us each other. We have leaders. We're in mutual subjection to one another. It's a mark of a spiritual person that you live subject to one another. It says, "…submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account."
The exhortation is, "Let them do it without grief," but bottom line, that's the verse he's talking to. It's what doesn't keep us awake, but it's what we realize we're going to do. It's why we don't ever measure our success by how many folks attend services, because God is not going to say to us, "Way to go, guys. This many people listen to you podcast. Way to go, guys. This many people come to your Training Day."
He's just going to say, "Way to go, guys. You cared for my people by creating a system and using a system that is biblical." Not a Watermark way; the biblical way to create shepherds who care for one another. We're a kingdom of priests. So we ask ourselves, "How are we doing at raising up godly leaders?" I'm going to meet tomorrow… There are a number of pastors who are flying in from across the country to spend 24 hours with me.
We're going to talk about different things, and one of the things I guarantee I'm going to hear is, "We have a problem with leadership development at our church," which is code for "Our church is not a biblical church." Leadership development is what the church does. It's called discipleship. We are most passionate about that. It's why we want to talk about it. Beau, let's give them a broader leadership update. That's the next thing we wanted to make sure we did with our time with you.
Beau: Sure. This is one we planned to address ahead of time, and we definitely had a lot of questions about it. I think when people ask what's going on with leadership they're asking one of three questions. First, "How are we doing this with three elders?" The second thing is, "How are you overseeing other campuses, Plano and Fort Worth?" The third one is, "When are you going to add another elder?" I'll try to give a brief update on those three.
How we do it with three elders is no different in a church with 8,000 members than we would do it with 10 or 12 elders, which is relying upon community to be shepherding one another. Our span of care is limited at 15 to 20 people if we really invested the time, but because we require every member of our church to be in a Community Group, we are trusting that we're able to shepherd one another by everybody in a Community Group shepherding one another and knowing there's one person you could call who could widen the circle and include others in the leadership of this church as necessary.
It's the same model you see in Exodus 18. We don't want the line waiting. There's nothing the three of us could do that we don't have a number of leaders in our body who are capable of helping me with.
Todd: God didn't think Moses was the solution for Israel. Moses had a specific role with Israel in the exodus, but God's plan for Israel was never that Moses would be the guy who would show up in every tent or that as Israel grew there would all of a sudden be more and more Moseses in the sense that they would all share the title Moses shared. God's program always was that there would be leaders of 1,000, leaders of 500, leaders of 100, leaders of 50, leaders of 10. In Exodus 18 it talks about that.
We have just tried to reproduce that to where what we're doing is just saying, "Hey, if those leaders of 10 need help, here's the leader of 100 they go to, and if those leaders of 100 need help, here's the leader of 1,000 they can go to, and then if they need to they can meet with the elders of Israel." If everybody meets with Moses or you have enough Moseses for two million people, one of the things that happens when you have so much leadership is nobody is really leading. That just wasn't God's model.
From the very beginning it was Moses and Aaron and then a little Miriam mixed in, along with the leaders of the 12 tribes and the larger leaders underneath them. It's the exact same model you see in the New Testament. The very first day the church started, we know in Acts, there were thousands who were added, and he didn't say, "Oh my gosh. We've underestimated the number of disciples. We should have gotten this thing started with Jesus." So that answers the first question. What's the second one you had?
Beau: The second one is "How are we shepherding effectively other campuses?" I'll go back to the community thing, which is if Community Groups are healthier in Fort Worth than they are in Dallas, then I am shepherding Fort Worth more effectively than I'm shepherding Dallas. That's a big piece of it. The other thing is lifting up leaders, staff leaders and lay leaders, on each campus.
A construct we have (you don't hear about it as much in Dallas) is the whole idea of having a campus pastor on each campus, which is JP here, Kyle Kaigler in Plano, and Tyler Briggs in Fort Worth, and then we have campus shepherds, who are lay leaders meeting with a continuity or a rhythm that we're meeting with together but on the campuses who are thought partners and leaders on each of our campuses.
So they're doing that, and then we're spending time with the campus pastors and the campus shepherds. A couple of ways we're spending time with them… We pulled them all together for 24 hours away last month just for mutual encouragement and reminding one another of our roles. Then last week the Fort Worth team came. We prayed Friday together, so they jumped in with us. This Friday, the Plano team is going to be meeting with us and continuing to do that.
In addition, when the elders meet on Mondays we have JP, as well as Greg Crooks who you'll meet in a couple of minutes, join us to make sure we have continuity throughout the week with the things we're discussing, and then JP, Greg, and Todd meet with the other campus pastors on Tuesdays to spend time going through these things as well. So there are a lot of touch-points in all of that. If we ever add another campus (and we'll talk about what we're thinking on that during the FAQs), we would rely on it the same way.
Todd: I know you wanted to mention the fact we recently just got away with those guys who are the lay leaders along with the campus pastors. We just spent a couple of days with them as we got them away for an extended time to pray and see from their perspective on that specific campus what their challenges are.
We had other lay leaders from Dallas join JP. We had the lay leaders join us in Fort Worth with the campus shepherd there, and then also the Fort Worth guys specifically drive over every five weeks, and we spend a Friday with them in prayer. That's the way we collectively spend time with that campus. I meet with the campus pastor of Fort Worth every week, and we talk about the challenges they're facing and the ways we can best serve them.
Beau: Absolutely. Then the last one is "When are you going to add another elder?" People are asking the question. I wrote down a very specific statement, which is when the three of us are convinced we have identified someone completely qualified, then we will add another elder. The tricky part of this is "completely qualified." We don't want to be hasty. We want to pray, be thoughtful, and get this right.
As Todd mentioned 18 years ago, when he said it could be the greatest day in our church or the beginning of the end. If you choose leadership poorly you create major problems, so we are not going to be hasty on this. We start with 1 Timothy and Titus and looking at the qualifications of the elders, and then in addition to that we look at the rhythm of how we're meeting and making sure we don't become a board, so trying to understand availability.
As Todd mentioned, we could be spending 20 or 30 hours a week on the role of elder. The scheduled rhythm of the time is going to be about 10 hours a week during the workday to be able to be together, to make sure we're home with our families at night on a regular basis, so we want to make sure that when we ask somebody to do that that they do have the availability.
We're praying about that. We're spending time with individual people, having discussions about each aspect of the qualification of an elder, and if we were fully convinced we had somebody who addressed all that today we would move today. You could pray for us that we would get clarity and that we would be no faster than God would have us be but also be no slower.
Another thing I'll note on that is when we talked about Kyle rolling out of the office of elder, Todd said, "If you have any names of people who you think we should consider, please tell us." There were probably a dozen names that were sent to us, and I'm grateful that we knew every one of them. We had considered almost every one of them specifically for the role and had been praying on specifically if they meet not only the qualifications but the availability of being an elder.
Todd: I'm going to add a couple of things, because it almost sounds like, "Hey, wait a minute, guys. You're telling me in this church that has 8,000 members, about 20,000 people who attend, you don't have another gentleman, as the Scripture would require, who can serve as elder? I thought Todd said earlier a sign of an unhealthy church is a lack of leadership development. That's a tell on you." Let me answer that question for you.
There are three major things we look for. Beau already mentioned them. One is the biblical qualifications, the character issues in 1 Timothy 1, 1 Timothy 3, and Titus. We have hundreds, if not thousands, of men who meet those. The second thing is that they embody our core values. In other words, if you didn't know what our core values were… It's a good test. If I had to ask you guys to write down the core values that God says ought to mark his church, if you don't know what they are, you ought to, because we talk about those in the membership class. It's good to remind yourself of.
If you hung out with Beau and Dean and you didn't know what our core values were and I asked you after several weeks, "Hey, what are these guys most passionate about? What marks their lives?" I think you would say right away, "Well, these guys are committed to God's Word. It is clear that that is their authority and their conscience and their guide. These guys believe Jesus is a big deal. They are fully devoted to him.
These guys are gracious. They're authentic. They don't put on airs. They talk about their struggles, and they talk about what their needs are and how God is meeting that through community. They're committed to life together. These guys love lost people. These are men of prayer. These are individuals who aren't in a rut and guarding a tradition or forms they like, but they're committed to innovation and relevance." You might not say it in all these ways, but what I'm doing right now is giving our core values.
These are men who believe they should steward their gifts for the local church. Dean and Beau have divested themselves of pretty much every other… They have opportunities to lead in a lot of different areas, and they just go, "No, because this is where I lead. This is the ministry. I'm not right now serving on the Young Life board," or "I'm not doing this over here with FCA," or "I'm not involved with this mission organization. I won't do anything that's going to affect my ability to be all in with this mission."
So those two things check. By the way, I think we have a lot of individuals at our church who are core value people, who are 1 Timothy 3 people, but that third one is that margin, because we don't want just people we meet with once a month. These guys every week during the work week have to have that flexibility. We have talked about creating a stipend for an individual to maybe… As an example, what if a person has an hourly job? Does that forbid them from being an elder? We've said, "No."
I think what we would consider is if that person can't be at their hourly job, do we pay them their hourly wage so they can do the things they need to do so they can be an elder, so it's not just for guys who have a flexibility that a partner-level individual in a firm could do? We've looked at that, because we don't want financial reasons to be the reason certain people can't serve in this role.
The last thing, and we're unapologetic about this, is the same reason when we go to hire people… By the way, then we have all of those guys also do what has famously been labeled… These are on my website, Words from Wags, which is just a holding place I have online so that when folks ask, "Hey, where is that illustration used on Sunday?" I post it there so anybody can have access to it.
We've talked in the past about questions we ask every leader, that we want them to be fluent in theologically and doctrinally and in social engagement. It's kind of like, "Hey, we want a position paper from you on these 30 major areas before you lead other people. We want to know where you stand on those." These have to be men who are not just able to teach God's Word doctrinally in a way that doesn't violate Scripture but men who are thorough and expert in areas we think are culturally appropriate as well as theologically necessary.
I think the last thing I'd say on that is once those guys go through all of that… We have character and we have competency, but then the third one is that chemistry issue as well. Will we work well together given all the time we spend together? We spend a lot of time with individuals to evaluate that.
Dean: I think this is so important. If it takes a negative path you can go, "Oh, it's tick-tock, game locked." We want to make sure you understand that's not the case. One of the things for me individually… Every time I hear that list I go, "Oh, yikes. That is a weighty responsibility." I want you to know I take that on with fear and trembling every day, as should you, as we walk to be salt and light in this world, but I want you to know this.
The stewardship of life of Kyle Thompson, of Scott Coy, of Brett Johnston created a very high bar. These are men who love this mission exceedingly well. We take the responsibility of handing that off… If we all go down in a plane crash, we want to make sure you're well cared for. That's all this is about. We will add elders. It's going to happen. Pray for us as we seek to do that in a God-honoring way.
Todd: When we do, we will right away go, "Do we need to add more?" There has never been a time in the history of our body that we haven't asked ourselves, "Should we add another individual to this team?" We're always doing that. That's why we were so encouraged. There wasn't a single name that was submitted we hadn't spent time with and vetted.
Some of them just said, "Hey, that's just not the call on my life" or "This isn't the time" or "I have work to do before that makes sense," but it was a chance for us to encourage them and talk to them and continue to move forward. The other thing you see about your elders is that they're not flaunting it over you. Your elders are servant leaders.
This is not a position guys have so they have some vested power. These are servant leaders who are meeting regularly to ask, "How can we do a better job of caring for God's people?" That's the role. There is no perk or privilege. There is accountability before Christ. But keep the names coming. Stay in prayer for us.
I will tell you the reason we have never had a failure amongst our elder team in terms of unity or morality is because I know there are a number of you who stay in fervent prayer for the leadership of this church. I'm begging that you keep doing it. I love to say if you don't like your pastor, pray for the one you have; he'll change.
So that was the leadership question. We have a couple more we want to throw out, and that's a facilities update. Because elders aren't the ones who are building facilities, we thought we'd bring up the guy who leads the lay team that is. This is Greg Crooks. You may or may not know John Cox who served with us for 10 years. He transitioned off our staff team just a couple of months ago.
One of the things we're always doing as a staff is training up others underneath us, and there has been a guy who has been around Watermark now for some time. He came to Christ when he was at SMU and has been a part of our church from the beginning of his walk with Christ and now is leading us in the same role that John did with his incredible skills. This is my friend Greg Crooks. Greg, talk to us about the facilities update.
Greg Crooks: You bet. Hey, guys. It's great to be with you. I love what Todd said. I get to serve on staff, and I'm passionate about all of these things, but I represent a whole team of gifted, passionate, experienced real estate professionals. Most of them volunteer their time, and they've built and designed and been here since the very beginning, so I'm getting to communicate on behalf of them tonight, which is really a privilege.
My charge tonight is just to communicate with you guys what's going on since the last time we let you guys know. Campus, building, building fund resources. What's the update? Where are we headed? Just really quickly in a couple of slides I'm going to do that. Currently, we have $6.5 million in our building fund, and that goes across all three campuses. Those are resources that these men prayerfully steward across all of the different opportunities we have, meeting with the ministry teams, and just a constant source of prioritizing.
We're going to put before you tonight over $13 million worth of opportunities across our campuses, so that's about $6.5 million of resources that we're still praying for the Lord to invest through this body of believers. What does that look like? We'll prioritize those and go through a couple of them tonight.
We'll talk first and foremost about Fort Worth. As you guys know, back in May we closed on about a 26-acre property. It's an old church, and it needs a lot of TLC to be brought up to code for some of the things we do ministry-style-wise. We've been planning that. Demolition is underway, and we're building out the ministry strategy: what we need to do in order to use that space effectively.
The initial budget is coming in right at around $8.5 million. Lord willing, if those resources come in, we would hope to be on that property using that space sometime midway through next year. June-ish in 2018 is what we're thinking. I'm going to go through these really quickly, and then I'm going to give you a website at the end that has all of these facts so you can pray through and study those.
Todd: Already you can see that the $6.5 million is not in some kind of holding pattern. It's being executed right now. You saw we had $10.1 million that we, with our lay leaders and staff leaders, would call tier-one needs right now that we believe if we had the resource that's a great place to put it to work. So we're waiting on God's people to move resources that God has given us already to go to work here where we see God at work.
Then we have others we're calling tier two. We're praying that money comes in, but the other ones we're just saying we are waiting right now, and not waiting for it, but we can't wait for God to provide what we believe we have a green light to go on. So here we go.
Greg: That's a great add. So we'll bump up a couple ahead. The East Tower, as you guys know… We recently purchased the property immediately to the east here on the adjacent land, and we've been working really hard to get that building up to code. We have fully renovated the first two floors, and we are using those things nearly every night of the week.
We have about 1,200 people who go through the first and the second floor each week. So they're being fully deployed for ministry. As we look out, we have more floors…the third floor, the fourth floor. We plan to sequentially work our way up that tower so we're using more and more of that space.
Todd: I wasn't at dinner with these guys, but tell them what you just heard from Scott Kedersha, who leads our Merge ministry.
Beau: We were talking about some of the different things we're doing. There's a new ministry that's using the East Tower on Wednesday night, and I asked them, "Why are you using it on Wednesday night?" and he said, "That's the last night that's available in the East Tower. The first two floors are full every night as well as on Sundays." So we're using those things, and the minute we get the third and fourth floor done I'm convinced there are ministries waiting to use them.
Todd: We have ministry and discipleship opportunities every night of the week that right now members and leaders we're raising up can't execute on because we don't have any place for them to gather right here. How many of you guys have never been in the East Tower, just out of curiosity? Just raise your hand. Awesome.
Well, we will open it up tonight if on your way out you just want to walk through the first and second floors and check it out so you can see that thing is being used all the time, as is every other room on this campus. That's the reason they're going over there now. There are no more rooms here. By the way, there are some rooms where 10 and 12 can meet, but what we're talking about is there's no room sometimes for others. But that'll be open for you later tonight if you want to walk over there.
Greg: That's great. Lastly, when we purchased that property we knew the elevators were in pretty rough shape, and we kind of had that planned as a "sometime soon we'll get to this." Our tenants over there and our ministry leaders have let us know that's a "right away" kind of thing, so we need to get started on replacing those elevators as soon as we can.
We'll roll next door to the West Tower. You might see some construction going on there right now. Over the summer we literally had a pipe burst in the south end of the lobby, and while that has brought with it a lot of chaos, it has also brought with it a great opportunity to do something that we've talked about probably for the last 10 years, which is to reorient that West Tower (that's where our staff gathers) and put the entrance to that building on the south end toward the handicapped parking and the two-hour parking.
It's just a much more natural and warm and inviting front door to this beautiful campus. So we're replacing that pipe this weekend. We're going to put everything back together, and you're going to see a really beautiful new entrance and front area there that I'll talk about next.
Todd: We never did that before just because we felt like that wasn't the right place to put resources, and when the Lord blew up the foundation of our building…
Todd: We thought, "Now is the time. The sea has been parted. Let's go ahead and do it." That's why that happened. We're thankful for the insurance we had and for the fact that a lot of that foundational work has happened from that, but now we have a chance to go ahead and continue it and we think make that building better use.
Greg: We just think that's going to make our property so much better. When we purchased the new adjacent land in the East Tower it really reoriented our property, so we've just been thinking, "Okay, how could we tie everything together, and how could we have some more communal gathering spaces where people can connect, just to tie everything together?"
There's a video that I think may roll behind me that shows you a little bit of what we're thinking there. That's a little bit of the vision we've been hoping for. As you can see, it brings everything together in a really neat way. Those are the things we're kind of on hold for that we want to do and really feel like would be great, but as you'll see as we continue on, the resources aren't there, so those are the things that are just pending.
A couple of other things. Right out these doors to my left there's a large space under the chapel we've been waiting to build out that would allow us to have a high ceiling, great visibility, a ministry gathering area, so as soon as the resources are there for that, that's one of those things we'd love to get started on as well.
Up in Plano, a really quick update. We've been working to secure some of our long-term parking agreements up there, and we're in the process of adding six more classrooms they badly need. Those are coming online. Then lastly, you might know we have about 4.5 acres to the north of that campus we own as well. We've engaged an architect to just say, "Hey, what's the long-term master plan for that property? What would it look like to steward the overall campus?"
You'll hear more about that in months and probably years to come, but it's exciting and there's great opportunity as well. We'll tie all that together in the last slide. Todd kind of hit on it at the beginning. It just says, "Okay, let's look at that $13 million. How would you prioritize those? Where would those go across the campuses? How much do we need to go forward on all of the things you talked about?"
I know I went fast. I didn't cover all of those, but we've built a website for you guys if you're really inquisitive and want to learn more. It's watermark.org/makingroom. It has pictures of the building next door. It has all the construction plans, FAQs, tons of details. So on your way out you can check that out as well.
Todd: This is a time of year when a lot of folks do what we would call strategic long-term giving beyond the regular, ongoing support of the mission. Sometimes there's this fallacy that Watermark is a well-funded ministry that is maybe even endowed, that isn't waiting on anything, and you just need to know that has never been the reality. We have never carried anything forward beyond what our advisory team has told us. I think we carry a little less than three months of our operating budget.
Beau: Yep, we carry about two and a half months of operating budget to make sure we continue to honor our commitments if there's a bump in the road, and then we have the parking out here that we signed the long-term lease agreement, where I believe it's 20 or 30 years on the lease, but there's a 10-year notice period if either side wants to end that agreement.
So we've made sure we're slowly setting aside money for those 10 years, so if we're ever at a point where we need to be able to end that agreement we want to make sure we can honor every commitment we've made. So we've slowly been setting aside money, and Greg and his team, the business advisory team, provide a lot of input into thinking about what is the right way to tackle those kinds of questions.
Todd: This is kind of a business thing, but the reason we did that… We had to secure a long-term need in order to meet code to use this building, so we asked for 10 years, because if they somehow say "You guys are out," that's about how long it might take us to put the resources together to put some other parking options on our current property.
Also, we have heard that apparently in 10 years all of you guys are going to have self-driving cars, so you can tell them to go home so we won't need our parking eventually over there. We can tell them, "In 10 years we're all going to have self-driving cars," and then we can stop that parking commitment. But that's why that's there.
Again, you need to be encouraged. This isn't stuff we're working on. This is when we have godly men and women on our campus who are working with Greg on those contract negotiations and that long-term planning and then with our staff and other ministry leaders, saying, "This is what's hindering the mission." Then we put together those opportunities, and then they're executed by those great leaders.
So now we go to the FAQ. This is our campus pastor Jonathan Pokluda, if you don't know him. JP has been an incredible blessing. We're talking about leadership development happening… I mean, my goodness. If you didn't get a chance to hear him walk you through Acts 21 today or all of the other amazing teaching JP does… I'm just so grateful for him and other communicators, leaders, and teachers on our staff.
We asked through The Current and other means, "Please submit questions you'd like us to cover," in addition to the things we knew we needed to make sure we shared tonight. Jonathan, Greg, and others have put all those together, and we're going to answer those questions you guys have submitted right now.
Jonathan Pokluda: As Todd said, we sent that through The Current. If you do not get The Current, please go to watermark.org and sign up for that. That is how we got these questions, and Greg and his team did a great job of putting those questions under eight filing terms, under eight banners. So it's really summarized into eight questions, and we'll provide a resource for you with an exhaustive list of the questions we received toward the end of this. The first one… This could be for any of you. This came in several times, and it was just simply, "Who is your favorite campus pastor?"
Beau: That's easy. Kyle Kaigler.
Todd: He couldn't make it. He had surgery on his shoulder. Tyler couldn't make it tonight.
Jonathan: Oh man. None taken. Thank you for that encouragement. We'll go with you, Beau. How do the elders work together, what are they focused on, and how are decisions made?
Beau: Well, there are two parts to that. I'll take the first part talking about the rhythm of our meetings, and then Dean can talk a little about how we think about making decisions together. As far as the rhythm, we meet every Monday and spend two to four hours just going through things we need to decide in helping to shepherd the body. JP and Greg Crooks participate in those meetings and help make sure we're staying on top of things and getting the feedback between those meetings from those who could really help us on that.
Coming out of that there's a host of meetings or opportunities to engage with people that will happen throughout the week that follow off of that. Then on the back end of the week we spend two to three hours every Friday morning praying for the body and going through specific ministries, through specific pastoral care situations we or our leaders are involved in, and then once a month we're trying to invite the Plano campus pastor and campus shepherds and then once a month the Fort Worth campus pastor and shepherds to spend time praying with us.
In addition to that, there's a whole host of other things we have an opportunity to jump into, as well as just being sure we get relational time together. Dean and I have the privilege of working on the same corner across the street from each other, so at least once a week we'll grab lunch and share thoughts with one another to make sure we're not missing anything and thinking about how to help one another.
Todd: JP, Kyle Kaigler (who you're about to meet), Tyler Briggs, Greg, and I, along with Jim Wimberley, who we've tried to get to be an elder here for 18 years and he's said "No"… We meet every Tuesday from 10:30 until 2:00. As the pastoral elder, I am getting constant feedback and touches with those guys. JP then meets with the Dallas leadership team on Thursdays.
Kaigler meets with them and the Plano campus shepherds on Monday, and then other meetings on Tuesdays. Tyler is doing the same thing on Mondays and Thursdays. Then it's constant connection, interaction, phone calls, email. We don't work for unanimity as much as we work for unity in the way we make every decision. We believe God works through the multiplicity of our leadership.
So everything we do, we just say, "Hey, this seems right to the Holy Spirit and to us, and collectively we're here, and we believe this is the right move for us to make," in concert with others, with our wives, with women in leadership, and with men in leadership, and then we ultimately make those final decisions when it comes to us.
You don't ever give somebody responsibility without authority, so we delegate our authority all through the mission. Every now and then they say, "Hey, here are two things that seem to be at odds with each other," or our job is to look across the mission and go, "Where are some values growing cold? Where do we think we need extra attention?" That's kind of how we're leading together. Dean, what would you add to that?
Dean: Don't think of us as folks who vote on things. We reason together. We pray. First Thessalonians 5: "Be joyful always. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in all things, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." That is how we want to shepherd. So we wait on each other. We're wired differently. We think differently. God has given us unique gifts and talents, so we listen to one another.
If I want to go a different direction than Beau, I trust Beau. If Beau has a word… He's wise. He loves Christ just like I do. If it's different than mine, I want to work that out with him, so I'm going to be patient. I'm not going to force this or drive it to some kind of voted outcome. That's really what you should know. We spend a lot of time thinking and praying and reasoning together about what would be best in terms of how we shepherd this flock.
Todd: It's not like there are a ton of decisions that come at us. What we're doing is trying to go, "Hey, how's everybody doing? What resources do they need? Let's get them the resources and encourage them and make sure we're maintaining the sound standard God has given us and we're contending once and for all for the faith." It's not like we're making a ton of decisions.
Dean: That is very true. I think one of the things that's so important is we spend a lot of time with our staff, making sure their marriages are healthy, that they're doing well with Christ, they're abiding with Jesus, they're shepherding their own homes well, so they can shepherd the rest of the folks on our staff and lay leaders in different places.
No, there's not a tremendous amount of decision making, and there's not a lot of agitation, honestly. That happens more just personally when we offend each other as sinners, but in terms of the mission, we reason together, and there's not a "My way or the highway." If you want your way, don't serve as an elder. I promise you, that's not going to be useful. If that really discourages you…
Todd: Another way to say it is "If you want your way, don't get married." Right? Our job is to become one. I love what the Holy Spirit did when he built into the New Testament church plurality of leadership. We're not run by an imperial wizard pastor here or a personality. The pastoral office is sitting before you. It's not a person; it's a group of men. We're accountable to one another, we're accountable to you, and we're accountable to the team.
I will tell you, though, one decision we did make, and it's one you asked as your next question. Recently, we made a decision to expand the mission of Christ and the ministry we were having here in Dallas by at first saying "Yes" to a group of people who said, "Will you help us be the church of Jesus Christ in Fort Worth?"
Then we had space problems in Dallas, and under Kyle Kaigler's leadership we had a bunch of members of Watermark (which was very different than what we did with Fort Worth) who moved to a campus God allowed us to purchase together up in Plano about 17 miles north. So we now have campuses. That was the decision we made, and you had questions about that.
Jonathan: Yeah, I want to comment quickly on, first, your availability to the staff. I've been incredibly encouraged by that, and as you guys have been kind enough to allow me to join you some on Monday, I've been surprised and encouraged by something, and it's that you don't always agree, but you guys do a tremendous job of waiting on the Lord and seeking him and praying through those decisions. The question he's referring to is "Will our campuses remain satellite campuses or will they become independent churches?"
Dean: Obviously something we would petition your prayer on regularly, because we think and talk and pray about it a lot. As we sit here right now, we don't have any current plan to roll off Fort Worth or Plano, but we're constantly asking the Lord, "Are we the best stewardship of this responsibility in those locales?"
What we're doing is raising up men, the means, and a shared mission. We always should be about that. So don't be surprised if someday that occurred, but we're praying about what God would have us do. What we do know is the way we would do this in the future I do think is changing. Do you guys want to speak to that?
Beau: Sure. We have a couple of opportunities that have been raised recently for us to think about. One of them is Downtown, which we've mentioned before, and then a more recent one is Frisco. We're probably a little farther down the road right now and just exploring what it might look like to do something in Frisco.
What it starts with is just recognizing that what we've done in Plano and what we've done in Fort Worth is not a set game plan for how we're going to consider having future campuses. We're doing it differently there. Maybe if Kyle wants to come up for a couple of minutes he could share about specifically what we're doing in Frisco. For context, we have 200 members in Dallas who live in Frisco and 200 members at the Plano Campus who live in Frisco.
Todd: So this is Kyle Kaigler. Kyle was part of that little group, the eight we call the founding families a lot, which is a misnomer. There were many of us who started this thing eventually, but there were eight of us who met and prayed about "Hey, do we start to have coffees with people and say 'Let's do this thing'?" Kyle was one of those and has been on staff from some of the earliest days.
He was leading as a Young Life staff person, and then we just said, "Bro, come jump in with us and lead this thing we birthed together." He has led from the very beginning our members who went and settled in Plano to reach Collin County for Christ. So as the Frisco group kept surfacing, I just said, "Kyle, it makes sense that you help us think through that strategically." Kyle, talk to them about what we're doing right now.
Kyle Kaigler: It's really fun. There are a bunch of folks who are interested in it, so we're trying to figure out who's interested and who is committed. Right now we're just meeting with a group of 12 couples we've identified as folks who are really committed to this, and we're studying 2 Timothy. We're doing a Bible study through the rest of the fall just looking at God's Word.
We're going to get to the end of that, and we're going to ask, "Do you want to do what we just studied in 2 Timothy?" Not, "Do you want the building we have in Dallas or the building we have in Plano?" I remind them of stories, that in Lake Highlands High School you walked into the teachers' lounge, which is where our infants were, and you'd put your foot on the couch and six mice would run in all kinds of different directions.
Just a reminder that we want to be in love with the church and not the building and not the staff. Do we want to go be the church in Frisco? So we're working through that together as we study the Pastoral Epistles. We'll do that for the rest of the fall. If we say, "Yes, we think that makes some sense," we'll probably enlarge that to the next level of leadership, probably do something similar again, and then figure out if God wants us to do that. Right now we're just investigating, "God, do you want us to do this in Frisco?"
Todd: We're constantly asking ourselves, "What about Downtown?" Some of that initial group that was meeting and together and the leadership that was around it… As we met with them, it just didn't seem like there was the momentum there to continue even that conversation. We're not saying we're not going to do it. We also felt like we needed to communicate to people, "Hey, the expectation…"
I think folks looked at Plano… Wow, there was what came to be a $15 million to $17 million facility we launched. Part of that was a lot of the folks who went up there had poured out their heart and soul to create a place and a mission center out of, that we were saying, "We need space, and would 500 to 1,000 of you families go up there? We're going to help give you a space to minister out of in the same way we created one together here."
Fort Worth we've been leasing for the last three years. Fort Worth is probably the most miraculous work that has happened in the history of what we would call Watermark. Even in Dallas… I had been in Dallas for 15 years at the time. Kyle had been in Dallas for about the same amount of time. We had a lot of relationships. So when he and I said, "Hey, we believe God would have us start to be the church together in this community," we had many friends, hundreds, who joined us pretty quickly.
We started Fort Worth with four families. I could go through… Literally, the very first time I went over there, there were a couple of families that had not yet even dealt with their affair, a couple of guys who had not shared with their wives their severe porn addiction, another person who had really struggled with their deployment as a leader, another man who is now deceased. That's what we started Fort Worth with.
They had heard about the work you were doing in Dallas, and they said, "We would love a work like this in Fort Worth" that they could go to, not be. We just said, "No, you have to be. We're not going to start something you can go to, but if you want us to teach you how to be this…" That's what has been happening now to where there is a core that is getting it done in Fort Worth.
There are about a thousand of them every week, and together we've put this facility in play that we're prayerfully developing that they are leading out on. We believe it's important for them to participate heavily in that facility they're going to steward. It's really interesting what God has done. We're open to Frisco. We have said no…
There's not a week that goes by we don't get an email from folks asking us, "Hey, can we be a Watermark church in South Carolina? Will you let us be Watermark in Boerne? Can we be Watermark in New Braunfels, in Midland?" We get it all the time, and we go, "Unless we can be together continually, like we are with our other campuses, we don't believe we can be what the New Testament wants us to be," so we've said, "No."
We've said, "How can we help you?" It's part of the reason we're doing the Church Leaders Conference. We're trying to help the church anywhere it is. That's why I'm meeting with pastors from all across the country tomorrow for 24 hours. We're trying to help those churches thrive, because we care about the holy catholic church, and if the holy catholic church is going to be everything God wants it to be everywhere, it has to be here, which is where I spend my heart and my time with these men.
Jonathan: You guys answered two questions. First, "Will those campuses become independent churches?" I heard you say, "Maybe. We're always asking the Lord what he wants to do." Then the other question was, "What's next? Are there any plans for future campuses?" You're talking about Frisco, and you addressed Downtown. You guys are always praying, "What would the Lord have for us to do next?"
Todd: I'll let you give it back to Kyle for a second. Kyle, how often do we ask you in Plano…? What we want to say is if the ministry of Jesus could thrive more if there was a less formal tie between us and our brothers and sisters on the Plano Campus, there's a godly leader with godly leaders around him for the plurality of leadership, the membership believes that's the right way to glorify Christ, and the means to do it is there, we're like, "Let's go."
Kyle: Yeah, we're talking about that all the time. There are a couple of things we don't have in Plano yet. We don't have that prophetic teacher who is courageously attacking with the Scriptures, loving and caring for people, who can teach, and we don't own our geography yet. So if you're thinking about Plano and praying for us… We have folks from Allen and McKinney and Parker and Murphy and all different places.
We want to be Collin County's church, and we don't own that yet. It's one of the things we are working on in Plano. We want to be that city on a hill for Collin County, that church Collin County looks to to make a change in that community. So we're not ready for that yet, but we're talking about it all the time, and we are trying to get our campus ready to do that if God wants us to.
Todd: Right now, we believe the best way to be the church of Jesus Christ in the cities where we have campuses… By the way, we have three campuses but thousands of locations. I would say this to your Community Group. How long are you guys going to be a part of Watermark? The answer is as long as you being here is the best place for you to grow and thrive for the purposes of glorifying Jesus Christ.
If any one of you wants to come to us and say, "We think we could do better if we started and made this thing its own little local cell community underneath these guys as elders," do you know what we'd say to you? "Go be the greatest local community of Christ followers in the history of the church. How can we help you?" We look at that all the time. Meanwhile, we have to meet together regularly while we are accountable before God for one another. Right now we believe that's the best way for us to do it.
The reason we've said no to those further places is we can't meet as a staff regularly and as elders don't believe we can give account for those souls, but in this city we have we are to appoint elders, as God has told us, and we're doing that and meeting with them and holding it loosely. We believe there might be a day when all 1,100 of us smaller communities don't meet under this thing called Watermark, and we want your local gathering to be ready.
Jonathan: Thanks for jumping up with us, Kyle. The next question is around money. What is the annual budget? Where does the money go? I'll throw it to you, Beau.
Beau: Sure, happy to. We put a slide up that shows what our budget is, for those who are curious about that, but really what I want to talk to you about is how we think about developing a budget and that we don't have pledges, things like that. The first thing is that the budget we develop every year bottoms up, so we have strategic plans for each of our ministries.
Greg Crooks and Jim Wimberley and others meet with each of our directors to make sure we understand all of the details of what it is we want to do in the coming year, and we do that each spring leading into June when we reset the budget. Also each of our ministry leaders meets with the three of us and others and presents their strategic plan, and we try to get it down to one page with just "What are you trying to accomplish? What are your key challenges? How can we help you?" to make sure we're informed on that.
Then we develop those budgets, and as we mentioned earlier, we try to set aside about two to three months of bandwidth in case there's a hiccup along the way to make sure we could honor all of our commitments. The last thing on the budget is people will often ask, "How much of your budget is missions?" and our answer has always been the same, which is that 100 percent of our budget is mission budget, because we should be on mission with everything we do.
If you come to re:gen on Monday nights, you'll see that we are on mission for our city on Monday nights. If you come to The Porch on Tuesday night, we are on mission to reach young adults, and with those who are exploring marriages, people who have found the marriage and it's now hard, and everything in between, on Wednesday night we are on mission for marriages in Dallas, and it goes on and on.
We do things that are overseas, and that's what some people mean by missions. There's a line in there for how we're investing with some of our ministry partners that we include there, but we want to never forget, as JP mentioned this morning, that we should be on mission every day with our neighbors and with our friends.
Jonathan: God is doing an incredible work here, and he's adding to our numbers daily those who are being saved. As an end user, as someone who comes here with three children and waits in the line out there to park and then comes in here and checks in the kids and tries to make it in on time, it can be a crazy place on Sunday mornings. So what are you doing to address overcrowding here, Todd?
Todd: We, at great cost to our staff, started a Saturday service a little over a year ago and did not discontinue our Sunday service. There are plenty of parking spaces and seats available on Saturday at 4:00 and Sunday at 5:00. We don't have any other opportunity to get rid of our space problems on Sunday morning except to ask our most committed people to change when we gather.
We are looking at constantly and praying about if there are other facilities close to here that maybe would come to us and say "Would you guys want to begin to have folks gather here?" and potentially stream into those spots and encourage folks to go there. We've pursued those. We've talked to them if Sunday morning is the right time. How many of you guys have never had an opportunity yet to visit our Saturday service at all?
I would encourage you guys to check it out, and not just to come but to make that, as much as you can, a regular place of attendance and to invite friends. We talked a lot about when that is. Listen. It is a real possibility, if we don't see a greater return on that investment because of the high cost that is to the mission and the leadership of it, we will not do it in perpetuity. Sunday night is a video-only service. The band and the greeters are here, but we don't ask the teacher to teach four times. They teach the three and then video on Sunday night.
All we're saying is if the body isn't responding to that opportunity, if Sunday morning on this campus is the only time we're going to fill this room up, we probably won't continue to do all of those forever. Meanwhile, we're committed to it for enough time to really give it an opportunity. So if you're really considering how you can deal with the crowding issue, Saturday night is your solution, and we'd encourage you guys to jump in with us and make that a reality.
Jonathan: In the same vein of crowding and in light of Sutherland Springs, what are we doing to ensure that this place is safe and secure when we gather? Dean, would you take that one?
Dean: Yeah, I'm happy to. Psalm 127:1: "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it…" We pray for the protection of our flock regularly. It is a high priority around here. We invest heavily. We are prepared, we are ready, and we are trusting. You see uniformed officers around here. That is not all we are doing, I can promise you.
We don't telegraph the extra measures we take because we don't want other people to know that, but we do the very best we can. There are really talented, faithful lay leaders who are helping us do the best we can to be good stewards of the lives that are on this campus. So it is a very, very high priority for each of us individually and our church staff and security team collectively.
Todd: Dean started quoting Psalm 127:1. He got the first part, and he meant, I'm sure, to continue. "…unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain." That's where Psalm 127:1 goes. So we are guarding the city and we're trusting the Lord and continually praying. By the way, this is not in light of Sutherland Springs. This is what we have done from the moment we began gathering on Sunday morning. It's the world we live in.
I get calls, typically from media outlets, asking what we do here, and I just tell them, "You just need to know we are not a soft target. We have never been, and we're not going to taunt evil." We're grateful the way the Lord has chosen not to just yet have one of those incidents happen here. He might, and we don't live in fear of that. We have been responsible. We will continue to be responsible.
We don't talk about it. We make this a welcoming place, but we're doing our part. There's a safety medical team that has been here from the beginning on Sunday to respond as best they can, and bottom line it doesn't matter what you do. We live in a world where terrible things happen at elementary schools and movie theaters and at places where people gather to love Jesus, and we don't live in fear of that, but we're not asleep.
Jonathan: Yeah, I would only add to thank God for the grace he has extended to us thus far and just the way he has protected this place and also ask him to continue to protect it. I'll ask you this question, Todd. I've heard you answer this on panels before. How do you think about trying to become more racially diverse either as a church and/or a staff?
Todd: I think about that like you need to make disciples. Disciples love people. They don't love people who look like them; they love people. One of the things I am most humbled by… When we started Watermark most of the people looked like me, but we live in a city where 70 different languages are spoken in the homes of kids who attend the Independent School District which represents our city.
You look up after 15 years and, lo and behold, there are members from about 80 different countries, who were born in other countries, who are members here because folks in this church loved them. We have over 90, maybe even close to 100 now, different countries that attend here. When we look to add staff, we are not looking to look like a Target ad.
It's so interesting right now. If you watch commercials, almost every commercial… It's funny. There are multiracial marriages in the commercials. There's one right now where there's a sloth… I was just watching it today. There's a white guy married to an Asian girl sitting next to an African-American person married to another person. It's like we have to make sure everybody is appropriately represented.
What I would just say is we have to make sure everybody is appropriately loved. In the New Testament when there was racial trouble it was because people felt like they weren't being loved because of the race they represented. What I want to say is if there's anybody here of any race who feels like they are not loved, welcomed, celebrated, and unleashed for the glory of God here, we want to know that. That will become a matter of first importance to us. That's a matter of repentance, and we need to deal with it right away.
We also, though, don't believe the way you measure spiritual maturity is by racial diversity. You do it by love. If you live in a community that's racially diverse, you ought to be increasingly looking racially diverse, and guess what? We are. When we go to hire, we don't ask, "Gosh, do we need another woman? Do we need another man? Do we need a white person, a black person, an Asian person?" What we ask is, "Who's the person God is bringing us who's most qualified?"
If we're not going to love them because they're of a different gender or different race than us, that's worthy of confrontation and repentance, but we don't believe we have to push a certain age group or color or gender in front of people at any given time just to do it. If we resist it because we don't want to, that is not worthy of following. A healthy church is measured not by diversity but by love. We're trying to make disciples that love our community, and I'm encouraged that that's happening.
Jonathan: Absolutely. Before I ask this last question, I want to make you guys aware of a resource. It's watermark.org/elders. It is an exhaustive list of the questions we received along with answers that have been given before. Questions like, "Do we have women teachers, women elders? What about gifts, speaking in tongues? How do we feel about those sorts of things?" It really is an exhaustive list.
So if you asked a question and this last question doesn't answer the one you wrote in, please go there and see exhaustive resources that you men have provided for us throughout even recent years answering those questions. The last one is just "What are you guys excited about?" What are the elders excited about right now? What are you thinking about? What are you praying through? What is God doing?
Beau: I'll jump in with one. I think we provided a list of a number of the things we're excited about. One is, as we mentioned a few weeks ago, Bruce Kendrick joining our staff and trying to tackle the broader life issues. That includes the foster care system, it includes adoption, it includes birth parents who are losing their kids to the foster care system that we are really excited about tackling.
We've said it a couple of times. I would love if CPS shows up at somebody's house and takes their children for the word to be out that "If you want any hope of reestablishing a relationship with your children, go to Watermark, and they're going to help you." If there is an addiction issue, we want to help with that. If there's conflict in the home, we want to help with that. Whatever the topic is, we want to help and through that present the gospel in word and deed with each of those families. I think there's no reason why we cannot tackle the foster care system in Dallas as a church.
Todd: Our hope is that we would have families that have been through the foster care training waiting for children and never children in Dallas County waiting for families. We believe this is an area, as we speak more and more about the life issue inside the womb, that we have a chance to be the church in a way that the watching world would go, "We need more people just like you. Not who are trying to tell us what to do with the child in our womb but who are loving the children out of the womb this world has left in crisis."
We are really excited about that being a major emphasis of us, as Jesus' disciples in this city, over the next 5 to 10 years. We hope to be the foster care solution for Dallas County and Collin County and Tarrant County.
Dean: One of the most exciting things for me about this role that I would love to invite you into is just a very close seat to lives being transformed. It is unbelievable what we get to hear and see and experience each week. I just can't express how amazing that is. Tawney and I get to serve in the ministry of re|engage on Wednesday nights and have for many, many years, and we do that primarily because it makes us more fully devoted to Jesus and to each other.
What we get to see is God using that ministry to change generations. He uses re|engage, he uses discipleship, a lot of different things, but once that marriage repents and turns toward each other, those kids and future generations are changed for good, and that is an extraordinary thing to witness. That's happening all over our campus in a lot of different kinds of ministries.
So I would just say, very simply, life transformation. The second thing I would say is it is really fun to watch people catch a vision of abiding with Jesus Christ, that heartrending, daily, John 15:5, "I'm the vine; you're the branches." Seeing people catch that vision, connect deeply in community, and grow in Christ never gets old.
Todd: I'm incredibly excited about our staff. We have an amazing staff that we love taking care of and that love serving you. We have somebody right now who is making a decision to walk away from literally hundreds of thousands of dollars to come serve you on staff, and there's not a single staff person we have who is doing this because they don't know what else they would do.
These are people who could provide for their families in ways that the world would say, "You go get you some of that" who are choosing to be on mission here to serve you and to raise up an opportunity for you to be deployed, encouraged, and discipled. We have an amazing staff in Plano, Fort Worth, and Dallas, and I couldn't be more privileged to serve alongside of them.
We love seeing our midweek ministries thrive. What's happening here not just on the weekends… Most churches judge their success by the weekends. We don't. Weekends are an opportunity for us to engage hearts, to gather and remind ourselves of the greatness of God, that we might remember him throughout the week in smaller communities and make disciples and also meet felt needs to introduce them to Christ Monday through Saturday, and it is happening here in spades. It's why we got the East Tower in Dallas and why we're getting after it.
I love the way our Residency and Fellows program, which, if you don't know, we've started now… We have dozens of people every year who are college graduates and who are in their 20s (we had 50-year-olds last year who jumped in with us), folks who want to be in long-term leadership who now come and spend nine months with us in intensive theological and biblical training with real-life leadership development. They're a part of our staff for nine months, and we're raising up leaders for the larger church world. We believe it's the new seminary, and it has been an amazing privilege to watch it.
We're excited about QuestCare Clinic. Over 8,000 different people were treated this last year about four miles from here in one of the most under-resourced parts of town. Our city has done a diagnostic where they say, "We know this has saved the city seven figures worth of money because of what you're doing." Collin County has worked with us. Our private partner QuestCare has worked with us. We're opening our second one up near our Plano Campus, and it's an amazing thing to watch happen.
Our Church Leaders Conference. Three weeks ago, we had a thousand church leaders who were here in mini-conferences we do. We believe part of our responsibility, as the ministry of Christ is thriving here, is to equip larger numbers of communities to do the same thing other places. This book Come and See… I didn't mean to write a book about the local church. You guys just didn't give me any other option. That's just a fact.
I don't know if you've read it yet, but if you want a copy or you have somebody who can be blessed by it somewhere else who's doing ministry, let us know. That book is dedicated to you, and it's about the work of Christ in the world today as is evidenced by you. I love the way churches all across this world are getting resuscitated because they go, "We can't say 'Wouldn't it be great if Jesus was doing the things he did in the New Testament?' anymore," because they can come right here and see him doing it through you. It's an amazing privilege.
Next April, pray for us about that conference. We have room for 3,000-plus church communities to come here. It's not for staff; it's for locations to come with their leadership and let us breathe into them a reminder of what God wants them to do. We could go on and on, but I'll stop right there with that. What I will tell you… You heard me mention this last week. We did take some of those families that were around Watermark year one and have been around for 18 years… So, people who have filled out 18 consecutive 4B forms were invited to come to DC and hang out.
We had a chance to go through the Bible museum, and we just said, "Hey, this book they're trying to enshrine? You guys are making it famous in Dallas." It was a chance for us to encourage each other, to get on our knees and thank God for what he has done. One of the things we did… My friend Ben Stuart is starting a church up there in DC, and we invited him and some of his leadership to come with us.
I took advantage of the fact that there was, at the time, probably about 80 of us in the room with him, and I said, "Why don't you guys just give Ben little one-word bits of encouragement that they have to do if they're going to experience Jesus at work the way we have these last 18 years." As soon as it was over I was like, "Dang! I wish we would have recorded that." What we tried to do is recreate it. I would say this is a shadow of it, but nonetheless, when you start to think about what we want to do…
We're going to come out of this video, and we're each going to give you one more word, if we could just look at you and speak into your life as guys privileged to serve alongside of you, that we hope you hold on to. We want to give you that, and then we're going to go and enjoy some fellowship together. If we didn't get to your question it's probably on the website, or let us know and we'll figure out a way to answer that question and get somebody before you to answer it. Watch this video.
Todd: Hello, friends. Recently, I was in a situation that I wish you could have been with me at. I got away with some of the very first families that began this work, this mission we call Watermark, about 18 to 20 years ago together here in Dallas. We were with friends who were exactly where we were when we started this work, and we were trying to encourage them about the things they needed to do so they could experience what we've experienced in the cities where God has us at work.
After we got through encouraging them, we realized the very things we were telling them they needed to make sure they were going to do are the things we had to make sure we were doing right now, and the day we stop doing these things is the day we are done.
Male: You have to be committed to God's Word, to read it through, pray it in, live it out, and pass it on.
Male: Pray a lot, and just believe that God wants to do this through you. He's going to do it through someone. Why not me?
Female: It's not about being comfortable and what things you like, but it's about being on mission every day for the Lord.
Female: Everything we do, we need to consult God first and pray about it.
Male: We use Scripture as our conscience, our authority, and our guide, and how we counsel one another.
Male: It can never be enough just to come to church or attend church. We have to be the church.
Female: It's about what God plans to do through his people, not what you hope he does with your plans.
Female: Care for your student and children's ministry, because they are your future.
Male: Meet people where they're at and not be afraid of what they're bringing in and love them enough to not have them stay there.
Male: You've got to bet the farm on community.
Male: A lot of times we were not taking ourselves too seriously. We were taking the Word of God really seriously, especially in the area of children.
Female: Make sure you don't sacrifice your family for ministry.
Female: As a leader, it's important not to only teach well but to have a teachable spirit.
Male: The excitement you'll find in starting up a new church is God allowing you to participate in life change, telling somebody about Jesus.
Male: People would say, "Why don't we have this ministry?" or "When are we going to start this?" and the answer from leadership was always, "Rise up. Take some leadership and do it."
Male: Let people have responsibility that are willing to do the work.
Male: We must acknowledge and confess our brokenness in order to be a healthy church.
Female: Don't believe the lie that there's anything in your life you can't share with someone. Be fully known.
Female: Because you have received much grace, you have to extend grace to others.
Male: Don't get married to the methods, but stay focused on the mission.
Male: Live in the light. Live authentically. Share your struggles, because that will draw people closer and will impact them for Christ.
Male: Full devotion should be normative for every believer.
Male: Conflict is something you should look at as an opportunity for God to do something great that you should run toward, not something you should flee and avoid at all costs.
Female: Remember to have fun and encourage one another and have a great sense of humor in the midst of it all. It's a sin to bore a kid with the gospel, so don't do it.
Female: Don't be afraid to think outside the box to reach the next 100 people.
Todd: These are the things that anybody who is strongly in love with Christ is always going to tend to. We want to be people who are biblically based. We want to be firm where God's Word is firm and flexible where it's flexible. We want to be fully devoted. A lack of devotion to Christ is what's not normal. Full devotion is normal for a believer. We want to be grounded in grace. We want to eagerly extend to others the kindness we have received.
We want to be passionate in prayer, making sure we do it not just in action but in attitude all the time; individuals who are authentic in our walk, that the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. We're going to be committed to the uncommitted, building relationships with people, not to convert them but to love them, because Christ gave his life for them, and so should we.
We're going to be individuals who are going to be relevant and innovative, not looking to make things work with our own little petty preferences and styles of music and dress, not holding on to traditions because it's the way we've always done things, but where the Bible is flexible and there's a better way to do it we're going to radically do it better, and we're going to be people who are committed to community, practicing the "one anothers" of Scripture, admonishing the unruly, encouraging the fainthearted, helping the weak.
We're going to be people who love each other and gather together, not just weekly but day after day, not attending services but tending to the Lord's business. This is what the church does. When we don't just talk about these things or do these things, we don't just have a great history to look back on, but we have a future we can't wait to experience ourselves. This is why our best days are not behind us but are still to come.
[End of video]
That video will be on that website. Watch it with your Community Group. Stop it after every one of those people speaks into you. We have to make sure we're still doing this thing or all we were is a church that used to be God's church. Every one of those things… Those folks without knowing it shared our core values. Not Watermark's; our core values, the church's. So just stop and go, "How are we doing? Where can this little circle of 10 repent and become more of that?"
Then just double down. If you're stuck, get ahold of your staff contact. Remind people that we're stuck a little bit on unleashing more facility resource like this so we can gather this way and gather today and are going to meet all week until God moves resources from people he has given it to toward that. Take advantage of that prayer sheet we gave you.
That was what we prayed from August 1999 through November of 1999 before we tweaked it and prayed differently once we started in January of 2000. You'll look at that and thank God for the ways he answered prayer, and you'll see we're still praying the exact same things. So what we've been doing is what we have to do. That's what we're excited about.
Dean: If I could leave you with one thing it's the following. Ephesians 3:10 says the manifold wisdom and grace of God is going to go out through the whole world through his local church. We get the opportunity to be the local church. Christ in us is the hope of glory. Philippians 3:10, as I mentioned earlier, is my favorite life verse, just because I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection, the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings and becoming like him in his death. There's no greater privilege any of us can have than investing all we have in the mission he has given us.
Beau: I'll just say when we get together on Fridays one of the things we often pray for is that every follower of Christ would be a fully devoted follower of Christ. We know that can't happen if everybody in this room is not a fully devoted follower of Christ. I just encourage you to sit down with your Community Group and say, "We need to commit to doing all we can to help one another in being fully devoted followers of Christ," and then go all in on that mission. If we do that, all of the other things we pray about… We'll find that God will be using us and those around us to answer our prayers.
Todd: Here's what I'd love to do as we close. Take that prayer sheet right now, and I would love for everybody right where they are individually… Don't all grab the first one. Just grab something somewhere on the sheet. Somebody grab the first one, someone grab the last, and grab everything in the middle. Just one. Then we're going to spend a minute silently praying for that one thing.
I would ask you to take those sheets and maybe a few other copies (there will be more copies on this Watermark elder website) and to make this a matter of prayer as you commune together and share Communion in your smaller communities. Then in about a minute after we pray, Jon is going to lead us in a song we've sung from the very beginning here. It's kind of our doxology. It's "One Pure and Holy Passion."
Then when we're done with that we'll go out and fellowship and enjoy some time together out there until you need to head to the next thing you have this Sunday evening. This humbles us for there to be about 1,500 folks here on a Sunday night. We love you guys. We are proud to represent Christ with you in this community. It is a privilege to serve you, and that's where we see ourselves: as your servants. If there's something we can do to help you thrive for Christ, let us know. So let's pray quietly for a minute, we'll sing corporately, and then we'll fellowship until we're ready to leave. Bless you guys.
Father, will you protect us? We are much more concerned about an Enemy who is a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour than we are struggling individuals who live among us. Lord, unless you guard this city the watchman will stay awake in vain, but may we watch over each other, not just in a strategic police way but watch over our souls. Would you, Father, not let us miss wolves in sheep's clothing?
Would you not let us drift as leaders or drift as individuals? I pray that we would take heed to your Word and do the things your church always is to have done so that we might experience again just tomorrow what it is you want us to experience. You told us, Lord, that the things you did in the New Testament, even greater things than these will we do if we abide in you and believe in your Word and ask you to do it.
So, Lord, we're asking, through this earthen vessel that is this community of saints, these friends, Lord, may we be attentive to your Word, abide in you, so that more can come to know Christ, families can be places of blessing and children can thrive and relationships can be reconciled, resources can be unleashed, children can be harbored and cared for, families can be restored, cities can be transformed, countries can be preserved.
Lord, thank you that there is a world that is hurting beyond any of our ability to do anything about, so we cry in quiet desperation. Jesus, glorify yourself in us. Do something that can only be explained by the fact that a virgin-born Son of God lived and gave his life to redeem fallen humanity, restored relationship with a living God, indwelled them with his Spirit, and then became a light and a blessing to the world.
Lord, may that truth scream loudly through us as we gather in your name. We know that can only happen as you give us one pure and holy passion, one magnificent obsession, that we would only know and follow hard after you. This is our prayer, Lord.
I look forward to the way you guys are going to go love each other out there. It is an incredible expression of your love for Christ that you would come listen to people privileged to serve you talk about what we need to keep doing together. May God bless you. We love you. We'll see you.