the Youngs

We are planting a church in Sacramento

the Vision

We believe California’s best days are ahead

California is a gem. We love the array of cultures and climates and geography and food and creativity in our state.  California is the largest state by population in the USA and has some of the least evangelized cities in our country. Yet, this great state has a rich history of cultivating churches that glorify Jesus and influence culture. We believe California’s best days are still ahead. 
We are excited to see many healthy, reproducing churches established in California; churches that are anchored in Scripture, filled with the Spirit and united on mission. We are especially excited to see these churches planted in California’s major cities, which are influential in the USA and across the world. By God’s grace we will get to be a part of seeing this happen in the state capital of Sacramento. 

About Us

Katie and I both grew up in the heart of California, the San Joaquin Valley. We met while studying at Fresno Pacific University and continue to be very interested in each other.

In seven years of marriage, we’ve lived at seven addresses, created three sons, and been on three epic road trips.

Before sensing the call the plant a church, I served at Radiant Church for six years alongside good friends on a good mission in Visalia, CA. We are excited to stay linked up with Radiant Church in putting Jesus on display in our state.

Values

Values are catalytic. We are excited to be a part of the Newfrontiers family of churches  and carry their values in our hearts. Here are a few things we especially value:

Grace

It is grace all the way! The gospel of the kingdom is really good news for a busy and tired generation of people.

Scripture

The word of God is a precious gift to us. We want to faithfully proclaim and demonstrate what God has graciously revealed to us in the Bible.

Team Leadership

Leadership is best done in community, shared among gifted and called elders. Since the primary leadership in the church is a plurality, so should other areas of leadership be shared among a team of leaders.

Community on Mission

We love being together. Yet, we recognize that this community is a means to the glorious end of seeing Jesus lifted up on the earth. And we think Jesus is made famous as more people worship him as Savior and follow him as Lord.

God’s Presence

The Holy Spirit is God, not a force or good feeling. We are excited to see the Holy Spirit lead and empower us for ministry…making us bold for witness, equipping us with the full array of gifts described in the Bible and directing our worship toward God.

the City

We will be a church for the city of Sacramento. We will be a blessing to the people of our city by serving and building up our neighborhoods. We want to be a part of seeing God’s kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

Support

Church planting is not an individual venture, it is a team sport. As excited as we are to see Jesus establish a new church in Sacramento, CA, we are especially excited about doing this with a team of people who are praying for the church, funding the church and even moving with us to help build the church.

Stay Connected

To keep up to date with the Sacramento plant, sign up through the link below or contact us at mike@radiantvisalia.com

Sign Up

Support Financially

If you would like to give financially to this new church plant, you can give through Radiant Church, our sending church. All donations are tax deductible. To give online follow the link below and be sure to designate “Sacramento”.

Help Fund the Mission

What are we doing, anyway?

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When I tell people we are “planting a church in Sacramento”, this can mean ten different things to ten different people.

Some people respond, “Where is your church?”

Others wonder, “Why are you a middle school teacher, then?”

And still other folks imagine we are gathering in a building, with a worship band, a great sermon and decent sized crowd.

I don’t blame them. There are many ways to start a new church. And there are many types of churches! I love these questions because they allow me to re-focus on what we are doing here in Sacramento.

Click here to read this short article from my friends at Broadcast Church Planting Network. I like how they describe church planting from the time of Jesus’ ministry on earth until now. “Jesus is building his church and he is doing so through local churches starting new local churches.” The simplest answer I can give people is that we were a part of a church that we loved and so we wanted to see more churches started. And God spoke and told us we were to go to Sacramento!

So, how that looks in the early days is a small band of friends meeting people, getting jobs, settling their lives in a city, praying, worshipping and looking for opportunities to display Jesus to people we meet. I hope (and believe!) these efforts will bear fruit and result in a new community of Jesus worshipers in Sacramento (and maybe even a building, a worship band, a great sermon and decent sized crowd!).

We get to join Jesus in planting and watering the seed of His Gospel in Sacramento. He is charge of the growth and the timing. 

Parties Are Super.

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“When Jesus got to the tree, he looked up and said, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry down. Today is my day to be a guest in your home…Jesus said, ‘Today is salvation day in this home! Here he is: Zacchaeus, son of Abraham! For the Son of Man came to find and restore the lost.'” Luke 19

Jesus was clear about his task on earth: find those who are far from God the Father and bring them back to God the Father.

Jesus preferred connecting with all sorts of people in social settings, especially parties at people’s homes.

With a similar attitude, the Sacramento Team is focused on finding as many reasons as possible to connect with as many people as possible.

Planting a church is certainly about the work of the Kingdom. And we focus on our King as He seeks and saves the lost. It just seems that the work of the Kingdom often starts with simple things like food and a good celebration. And we pray that King Jesus would take our simple actions and multiply them for His glory!

Planting and Patience

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This past weekend spring was screaming at us. After a week of rain followed a week of sunshine, everything is becoming vibrant and green. So we made a trip to a nursery in town and let the boys pick out seeds they wanted to plant. They were thrilled and their imaginations were going crazy as they excitedly picked out future crops. Carrots, corn, beans and tomatoes will soon fill our garden.

As soon as we got home they wanted to get their seeds in the ground. So, we prepared the ground, found a good spot with plenty of sun, dug holes and planted the seeds. Then the boys zealously poured water on the ground.

Since then, they have been eager to check on their seeds every day, but this excitement wanes as they see just plain dirt. They are living in the time between planting and harvest.

I can’t blame them. Being a farmer is an exercise in patience. But if we keep watering the seeds, we will get to one day eat the fruit that grew from those seeds.

I feel similar about our time in Sacramento the past couple of months. When we first arrived I was running around with excitement like my boys at the nursery. I could imagine all the growth that was ahead for us. I envisioned a healthy church reaching our neighborhood. I was confident we would soon see spiritual fruit in this city.

This zeal soon faded as searching for jobs has become arduous and meeting new people has been slower than we thought. There have been many days lately where I’ve needed to take a deep breath and remind myself to keep watering and trust God for the fruit to come.

I’m realizing that planting a church is not too different from planting a seed. Both require patience. Both involve unseen progress. And both will get our hands dirty as we trust God for the growth.

A Living Hope

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“According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice…”

1 Peter 1:3-6a

Coming off this weekend’s celebration of Jesus’ resurrection I am reflecting on the fact that this (the resurrection of the dead!) is the Church’s main offer to the world. Not our music, not our acts of service, not our organized church services. These are all down the list on what we can offer. Jesus’ historical resurrection and our own eventual resurrection is truly what distinguishes us from any other religion, organization or human being. We believe in the resurrection of the dead.

Peter writes that through this resurrection we are born again into a living hope. It is one thing to affirm a belief in Jesus’ resurrection, but quite another to experience the living, breathing, forward-moving hope in this life that is slowly creeping toward the inevitable death of our bodies. The language Peter uses to describe our hope is so absolute. IMPERISHABLE. UNDEFILED. UNFADING. Sadly, the word itself has been hijacked to mean some sort of wishful thought of a slightly better future. But the Bible knows of no such thing. Biblical hope is firmly rooted in an absolute fact that just as Jesus walked out of the grave, we too will live forever. Hope is expectation, not wishful thinking.

So today I am checking in with my hope level. If I’m honest, most of what I “hope” in is a better job, a successful church, a more vibrant marriage, sons that grow into real men, a vacation…not bad things, but certainly not ultimate things. Because I look to these things to give me a better future, the idea of hope is eroded into that worldly, wishful thinking, soft version of hope. The only future that can produce that living, vibrant and real hope is the resurrection from the dead. We may not taste the fullness of Kingdom here on earth. Trials are certain and disappoints will come. Death and tragedy will appear to win every day. But one day…one day death will be swallowed up in the most alive life and we will be resurrected. Forever.

In this we rejoice.

Love for the Long Haul

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During Lent, as we prepare to celebrate the cross and resurrection of Jesus, I am reading Jesus the King by Tim Keller. I am really hoping to gain a greater revelation of the unfathomable grace and power of God displayed in the cross. This quote struck me from the book.

“Patience is love for the long haul; it is bearing up under difficult circumstances, without giving up or giving in to bitterness. Patience means working when gratification is delayed. It means taking what life offers – even if it means suffering – without lashing out.” (pg. 63)

Love for the long haul. I can’t move on from that phrase! What a rich description of patience. Normally, I associate patience with avoiding something (anger, anxiety, boredom, etc.), but seeing patience as a movement toward something is very freeing. Patience is a love for the long haul.

We have been in Sacramento for four whole weeks and I can tell you I have already had thoughts like…

“Why is this taking so long?”

“Why hasn’t anyone been saved yet?”

“Why aren’t best friends with an atheist couple yet?”

“Why don’t I have a full-time job yet?”

I can feel the clock ticking and every moment that passes without some tangible proof of a church being planted I am invited into impatience and a hatred for the long haul. I don’t want this to take decades!

What a needed grace from Jesus to rest in Him as He unfolds his plan over the long haul. The truth is, the best things take time. My prayer this Lent is to grow in a love for the long haul, knowing that in death or life I am not my own. 

A warm welcome.

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We have been surprised and grateful by the welcome we have received from fellow Jesus followers in Sacramento. What an unexpected grace! We have been able to visit two churches so far, Capital City Church and Society Church, and been happy to connect with the leaders of these communities. I was also invited to a monthly gathering of downtown pastors. It was really encouraging meeting these leaders and hearing them encourage me in planting a church in Sacramento.

Of course, having friends and allies is a huge blessing to us in the early days of church planting. But I will also be able to learn about the city and context for mission from these churches that have been faithfully serving people and proclaiming the gospel for many years. I have a couple meetings set up with local pastors and even another church planting getting started in a nearby neighborhood. I feel very humbled by the gracious and supportive welcome. There is a great deal of camaraderie and friendship shared between churches in this city! I am so glad to be invited into it.

On community.

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This past weekend, we tasted the beginning of a new worshipping community in Sacramento. A few of our team members made a visit and spent a fruitful 24 hours in the city with us. It was so good to share meals, watch our kids play and scope out the neighborhood together. We are so grateful for these courageous pioneers!

The feeling that lingered after these friends left was a desire to fill up our house with more people who need to be introduced to Jesus. There are more seats at the table waiting to be filled!

Community is a central value for us as Jesus builds this new church. And not just any community, but a Kingdom community, filled with diversity, freedom and genuine love.

One powerful effect of the cross of Christ is that God has formed one new man out of formerly separated and divided people. Because of the broken body of Christ, our differences can be celebrated instead of feared. Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus we can enjoy a diverse expression of cultures in our church. This diversity in our local church will be a glorious glimpse of what we will enjoy forever one day in God’s Kingdom.

So, Jesus, in your grace, fill up this table and make it look, smell, taste and sound like your Kingdom coming in Sacramento as it is in heaven.

 

Why Sacramento?

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When people find out we’ve moved to Sacramento to plant a church, the inevitable question coming is: Why Sacramento?

Its a question that is hard to answer because the move is really a move of faith. We came here not because of a guarantee or years of market analysis or because its prime for a new church plant. We came because God spoke and we respond as best we can in faith. Here’s a few of the ways we sensed God’s call here.

A Thought…I remember taking a random trip to Sacramento with Katie nearly five years ago. It was random because Sacramento isn’t on the destination list for romantic getaways. But we came away from those few days together just really loving this city. And I remember a brief thought…”I wonder if we might live here one day.”

A Dream…During our training in St. Louis I had a vivid dream that I was walking in the California State Capitol building with a prominent church planting expert talking about Sacramento and the various opportunities here for the Gospel. In the dream it was clear that there were vast areas of the city without a good church present. Upon waking up, I felt a sense of faith and desire to be a part of seeing people in Sacramento follow and worship Jesus.

A Plaque…I love a good plaque and therefore I love a good museum. I love reading about history and I was doing just that at the Museum of Westward Expansion in St. Louis just a couple days after my Sacramento dream. I was struck by a plaque that described the first successful Pony Express journey from St. Joseph, MO to Sacramento, CA. A good friend of mine leads a church in St. Joe and he was a big part of connecting us with Newfrontiers. I found the historic connection between these cities to be very interesting and it inspired faith in me.

A Prayer Walk…my good friend Travis and I took a visit to Sacramento. We walked around praying…it was a decent time of prayer, but nothing monumental as we were seeking God about where to plant. But suddenly, there was a wave of faith to Travis’ prayers as he felt God inviting us to send a local delegation to the capital to affect a whole state. There were tears and shock. And we realized…I think God just spoke!

So…a thought, a dream, a plaque, a prayer walk…that’s it. And a whole lot of faith! And now we are here, unpacking boxes, going to t-ball practice, meeting new friends and praying that Jesus would build his Kingdom in Sacramento.

So, why Sacramento? Because Jesus said. And we trust He is a good leader.

Goodbye. Hello.

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Its been a flurry of activity and emotions this week. 

Sunday…hands laid on us, prayers prayed, tears, hugs and laughs with our Radiant Church family on our last Sunday with them.

Monday…get the keys to our new Sacramento house, visit IKEA, run around the empty house, revisit IKEA, camp out on the floor in our new ‘hood.

Tuesday…re-revisit IKEA, build IKEA furniture, clean and prepare to move in, drive to back to Visalia.

Wednesday-Friday…pack, move out of current house, load up moving truck and run random errands and clean.

TOMORROW. We are Sacramentans. 

The mix of sadness, anxiety, joy, fatigue and anticipation is so tangible and present.

God, in your mercy, build a new church in our state’s capital.

Meet the RILEYS!

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Team Sacramento grows again! We are thrilled to have the Riley family joining the cause. Eric and Lori were a part of the original leadership team that helped plant Radiant Church. And now they are preparing to be sent out from Radiant Church to again see a new Word and Spirit church established. We are thankful and excited about their faith and Radiant’s generosity in sending out some of their best!

To introduce the whole world to these quality people, I have conducted a thorough and professional interview for this reputable blog. Enjoy!

WARNING: Eric has blackmail-worthy photos of me. You will see some of these photos. You have been warned.

THE RILEY INTERVIEW

1. Elrich and Lois, tell everyone about how far we go back…like tell them how we are practically like BFFs and I know you like my own mother and father.

Well it all started when Mike asked Lori to prom while I was dating her. I told her no and she disobeyed me. So, I punched Mike in the teeth and that is where our mutual respect began for one another. (only half of this is true, and I’ll leave it up to the reader which half to believe)

beat up mike

Actually my initial respect grew for Mike when he so boldly started to wear the same hair style as Jim Carrey in “Dumb and Dumber” as a college freshman. (He had some mad game with the ladies in those days as you might well imagine.)

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Soon after our initial interactions I began to train Mike in the ways of Combat emphasizing the strengthening of his upper legs through the use of the Hindu Squat.

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We danced together often.

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and went out to take photos together in the fall leaves.

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We basically had it all. That is until I fell madly in love with Lori and then it just got awkward when Mike was around.

So, I decided to move to Visalia and help plant Radiant Church and get married.

Mike was in our wedding, and the rest is as you might say “history.”

2. Wow…those photos make me cry. And they also make me want to wear scarves less often. Ok, so how much did it cost to rent those Baby Gap models for your family photo? Or if those are your real children, tell us about them and why the little one doesn’t have a beard yet?

We made those kids ourselves. All by ourselves. We’ll tell you how you can make some of your own if you would like to support us financially. Regarding Judah’s beard: It is thicker than yours Mike so I would be careful what you say about him, he’s got a short fuse and bites really hard.

3. You were a part of the original Radiant Church planting team, what makes you want to do that again in a new city?

The joke I was going to use here was something about how we are “gluttons for punishment”, ha-ha-ha. The reality is that we don’t particularly like punishment, to say the least. We are pretty averse to difficulty, discomfort, and challenges. But, we love Jesus. We love His mission and the agent by which he sees fit to accomplish it – namely the local church. We are convinced that Jesus’ mission will go forward through the local church and that establishing new churches is a key component to His Gospel being preached to all peoples. In particular we love Radiant Church, the church we helped to plant, and we want to see more churches like it in cities all over this nation. Not because it is a specific brand of church that is “cool” but because it is Gospel-centered, Jesus-adoring, Spirit-filled, and bent towards the lost and searching person.

Last May we celebrated 10 years as Radiant Church and gathered together with nearly 900 people in the Fox Theatre located in downtown Visalia. Before the service began I was upstairs and looked down at all the people gathering and felt Jesus say “Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people…” I reflected on all that God had done during the 10 years prior and realized that none of the hundreds of people gathered would have been there, had we not risked. I recognized that God took our simple faith, and made a people for Himself.

As I looked at all of the people who gathered that morning to worship Jesus and heard those words of scripture I realized that God’s desire is to call a people who are living in darkness in Sacramento, right now, to be His people. People who are enemies of God, who woke up without a hope, without peace, without light. I recognized that Jesus is desiring to create a people who would worship Him in Sacramento, and it shifted things for me. Jesus is calling them and chasing them, and we want to be a part of that. We are moving to Sacramento so that Jesus will be worshipped and people will be saved. We also believe that God wants to show His Goodness to us in a new and special way.

4. Sacramento is a big soccer city…do either of you know anything about the world’s sport? Also, its a big food city…do you know anything about farms and forks?

We love soccer. And by we, I mainly mean me (Eric). I tried to plan our 10th wedding anniversary around a trip to England to watch Tottenham Hotspur destroy West Ham United, but I got vetoed. I’m a Spurs supporter and for Christmas I’m asking Santa to get me a 2015 Spurs third kit, the purple one.

We’re also thrilled to be moving to a City with a club that we can support, the Sacramento Republic. Mike and I have begun to learn some of the chants, and songs. If you see him soon ask him to sing you some.

Lori practically grew up on a Farm. No, seriously her neighbors raise goats and chickens I eat a lot of things. Almost exclusively with a fork.

5. What passions/ninja skills/hopes/dreams do you bring to the team?

We’re passionate about Jesus. each other (wink, wink). our kids hearts. prayer. people. family. good food & drink. soccer. community. and board games.

Our hopes for this move is that we’d know Jesus so much more. That in partnering with Him in this way we’d love Him more, and be filled with His fullness. Our hope is also that our children would understand that Jesus is the organizing center of our lives. That He is Lord, and we follow Him where He leads. We’re hoping they see and understand how beautiful and wonderful our God is, and would be willing to trust Him with their lives as well.

We’re also hoping that many of the people we know or have met in our few visits to Sacramento would also see and understand how brilliant Jesus is, and would follow Him into life.

Regarding Ninja skills…those are a secret. You have to join the team to find out. But here’s a sneak pick…

• Whistling

• Snapping

• Clapping

• Raking Leaves

• Scooping Dog Poop

• Staring at Computer Screens

• Coloring

• and more!

6. When are you hoping to move to Sacramento and how can we pray for you in the transition?

Our plans are to move to Sacramento at the beginning of this summer. You can pray for us that:

• Lori and I would grow in vision together.

• We would hear Jesus’ good plans and walk in faith accordingly.

• Our children would understand and have grace for this move.

• A great job for Eric.

• A home and neighborhood to bless. (specifically: a home that has a mother-in-
law unit or 4th bedroom, and a backyard to host parties – so that we can host all

our family and visitors from Radiant & Newfrontiers.)

• The life and joy of Jesus to fill our home.

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