Ministry Update November 2016

Ministry Update
November, 2016

Where do I begin? It’s been months since I updated my friends and ministry partners on my post-Word of Grace kingdom work. So I guess that means I should at least begin with: I’m really sorry!

I also don’t know where to begin because so much has happened in the last many months since you’ve heard from me.

Movement Day

At this present moment, I’m returning from NYC where I attended—and participated in—a three-day Global Movement Day ( Three thousand leaders from 100 countries gathered in New York to be instructed and inspired to lead city transformation movements in their cities. We had forty influential leaders from Phoenix attend, because we have made plans for a similar event in September next year. I’m blessed to say I’ve spearheaded this, and recently we received significant funding to move this forward. Billy Thrall, former executive director of HopeFest, is now serving as exec director of Movement Day Arizona, which will be hosted by Grand Canyon University.


You’ve prayed for us and many of you have given generous financial support to Nothing But Grace, so be encouraged that your sacrifices are not in vain! Your seeds of faith have empowered our ministry to Phoenix and our great state of Arizona.

John 17 Movement (

As you know, I’ve been leading the way to build bridges between evangelical Christians and Catholics. While in New York City this week, I presented at a special dinner with leaders from Manila, Boston, New York and Montreal. Present were two extraordinary leaders: Montreal Bishop Tom Dowd, the second youngest to become Bishop currently in the worldwide Catholic Community, and Lorisa Corrie DeBoer, the Protestant Mother Teresa of the Philippines, who has established seven hundred preschools for underprivileged children, mostly among the thousands of people living in the garbage dumps of Manila ( You can read the report I prepared for this meeting here.


“Mother Teresa” of the Philippines, Lorisa Corrie DeBoer

screen-shot-2016-11-10-at-3-37-18-pmBishop Tom Dowd

John 17 Leaders Meet with Pope Francis

And perhaps some of you have heard that the leadership of our John 17 Movement got the attention of the Vatican, and Pope Francis invited us to meet with him personally on June 10. About thirty prominent pastor and their wives, seven from Phoenix, were with us for this extraordinary meeting. We were with him for two hours. We worshipped, prayed, and had a conversation about church and theological issues. Pope Francis made it unmistakably clear that he is devoted to Jesus Christ as the only way of salvation. And perhaps most significantly, he stated emphatically that we must center our lives in Jesus, not the church.

Some of you may think, “It’s about time the Pope said something like that!” But hear me out: every Christian, in some way, is as devoted to their church, their form of worship, their doctrines, as they are to Jesus. I was raised Lutheran, and many Lutherans … and Baptists, and Assemblies of God, and Nazarenes, and Bible church people, and … know that there are other Christians out there. But if you’re Lutheran, you kinda believe that God is probably Lutheran. Or Baptist. Or AOG. Or Nazarene. Or Jesus would go to a Bible church. Yes, our distinctives are important, but sometimes they shrink Jesus.

Praying for Pope Francis and meeting him personally

What makes us unique often becomes a dividing wall of hostility, like Jewish and Gentile Christians in the early church (Acts 15: and Ephesians). In our meeting in Rome, Pope Francis was echoing the words of Paul when he rebuked the divisions in the church in Corinth, “I was determined to know nothing among you than Jesus Christ.” Sounds like me: JESUS PLUS NOTHING

American Bible Society (ABS)

I am so grateful for what has become my primary focus of ministry: leading an effort to transform Greater Phoenix with God’s Word—and that I’m supported by American Bible Society in this task!

According to a Barna study commissioned by ABS, the number of Americans skeptical about the Bible has gone from 10% to over 20% in just the last five years. And the number of Americans engaged in the Bible, that is, hearing it or reading it no less than five times a week, has declined from just over 20% to 17%. So at least according to this study, for the first time in history, there are more Americans antagonistic and skeptical about the Bible as there are actually engaged in the Bible.

And Phoenix, in a list of the 100 largest media markets in American, is number 92 in Bible-mindedness. We’re in the bottom ten, with New York, Boston, San Francisco, and Las Vegas. You read more about these national studies on Americans and the Bible at

The good news is that about 40% of Americans would like to read the Bible more, including 80% of Catholics! So …

  • I have the blessing of Phoenix Catholic Bishop Thomas Olmstead to spearhead a Bible engagement movement for the Catholic Diocese of Phoenix. I’m working with a prominent Catholic Bible teacher, Kevin Saunders (, to provide on-line content and Bible apps. The door has opened so wide, that in the next six months, as many as 25 of the 93 Catholic parishes in Phoenix will be offering the Alpha Course, which introduces people to the basics of the Christian faith and, specifically, the power of the Holy Spirit to transform our life.
  • I launched a partnership between ABS and Family Bridges ( to reach Latino families with the Word of God.
  • I’m working with Young Life Arizona to provide scripture resources and social networking around the Word of God. ABS is currently developing an amazing app for Young Life New York City, which we are hoping to introduce to Arizona.
  • Jose Gonzales ( and I are developing a plan for annual Month of Bible for Spanish language churches.
  • Jose Gonzales has been the catalyst for an annual Law Enforcement Prayer Breakfast. Early in May we had about 800 attend, for whom ABS prepared a very special 7-day scripture journey for law enforcement people and families.
  • I am partnering with the Arizona Coalition for Military Families ( to bring the Word of God to veterans and active-duty military ( Did you know that one out of ten adults in Phoenix is a veteran? We are working on a plan for churches to serve and mobilize veterans for kingdom work.

Please pray for us—and give as God leads you (


This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.