Reflecting Through The Rear View

Jan 4, 2019

It’s not always clear what lies ahead in life, but NOTHING gives better clarity than to see God’s hand from the rear window.

Journey Christian Church launched in February 2004, and celebrates its 15th Anniversary this year. We are still a long way from maturity – but taking a few minutes to look in the rear window of the trip so far helps us see God’s hand in EVERY STEP along the way. We’ve discovered in that reflection, that although we didn’t know what was ahead, NOTHING helps us see God at work better than reflecting through the rear view.

Never in our wildest dreams did we fathom what God was going to do with our lives back in 2001, when He spoke to Dianna and I about leaving Ohio and pursuing a call to ministry. We had no reason to go … my company was doing well, our church was amazing, we had all of our family & friends there, and there was no reason to embark on a journey for more work, greater challenges, and less income like pastoral ministry. Only God’s hand in our lives and His work on our hearts led to a spiritual hunger that out-weighed the fears and risks. So we went all-in – sold the house, replaced our roles at church, found a new partner to take over the business, and left to attend Ozark Christian College in Joplin, MO.

God instantly showed up there too! While there, a friend and mentor met over dinner with us, and encouraged us to consider church planting. Again, we had NO desire to do church planting – yet our friend made the referral to a group called Stadia (which was just being birthed out of the NCEA). Like a roller coaster reaching the top of the first big hill, the ride began to accelerate quickly. Every step has been God steering the car exactly where He wanted us to go!

It’s in the rear window you see how God was working:

  • In Assessment – in the midst of a grueling process to confirm we were called for planting, God radically changed our hearts overnight, and confirmed it with their full recommendation
  • In finding the location – traveling 1300 miles in 3 days, God confirmed our calling to Tracy by the immediate connection we made with 3 families that were praying for a church
  • In locating our first venue – when every venue seemed taken, God opened the door through an elementary school administrator who held their multi-purpose room for us until we launched
  • In seeking our first staff – God used our relationships through Ozark to bring out students for soccer camps each year, several of which ended up being outstanding staff members to launch the church
  • In expanding our reach – God used relationships with local organizations and international missions to grow the church and take the Gospel forward
  • In leading our community – God opened doors for partnerships with other pastors, building something uniquely special in our town – our shared work has led to Service Days, Days of Prayer, and much more
  • In growing new leaders – God continues to use us to develop Kingdom leaders, and His hand on children that have grown into leaders of ministry is the backbone of this church

God has built Journey into a healthy and thriving church. Not the biggest church. Not necessarily the church with all the programs or facilities. Not even the church with lots of resources. But while we always long for more people to commit their lives to Jesus and grow as followers, it’s in the rear window that we can see more clearly how God has worked in amazing ways:

  • Thousands have walked through the doors of Journey and heard the good news of Jesus
  • Hundreds have accepted Christ and been baptized into the death & resurrection of Jesus
  • Four churches have launched, and several others supported by the planting work of Journey
  • Thousands (and likely 10s of thousands) served through the missions & ministries we support
  • Hundreds involved in local missions, and many serving on short term trips to other countries
  • Staff and interns developed into great leaders in the Kingdom, serving throughout the nation
  • Hundreds of children grown into Kingdom workers for Jesus
  • And much more!!!

While Journey is still a young church, we are learning more and more the simple power of Jesus’ New Command – to Love one another. At Journey, we call it: Loving People one-at-a-time. Simply put, we each look for the next person God wants us to love every day.

Fifteen years gives us time to reflect and look at the rear window a little, but we can’t keep the vehicle moving forward by looking backward. We know God has HUGE plans for Journey in the future – we see a campus that builds leaders, grows kids into Kingdom leaders, and influences the community. We believe the Scripture from Leviticus 26 that called us to start Journey will be fulfilled – the original 5 chased 100, and 100 are now chasing 10,000 to know Jesus, and the harvest will continue to mount each season. We expect that Journey won’t be a church of accumulation, but a church of multiplication – in the Central Valley, in the United States, and throughout the world. But it won’t be measured by our size or scale, it will be measured by our mission – of inspiring people to pursue God and love people one-at-a-time. Because that’s the way Jesus led His ministry, and what He calls us to do here too.

Our thanks to Stadia, and especially to those who challenged us, supported us, and continued to invest in us as a couple, and as a church. It was their commitment and encouragement that kept us going, and gave Journey the best chance to flourish.

I shared with Stadia at the beginning of this journey that I knew SO MANY OTHERS who are successful in business, yet unfulfilled in life. I fully believe there are some GREAT church planters that have been looking in their life’s rear window, and know that God wants to do more through them. Maybe YOU are reading this and wishing you had the courage to try. Dianna and I will tell you — there is NOTHING MORE SATISFYING than seeing God use you for His Kingdom! Yes, that can come through a vocation, through giving, through serving in the local church, and through dozens of other ways. But I believe some of our greatest Kingdom leaders are just WAITING for a better calling – to leave behind the temporary seductions of paychecks and positions, and do something that leaves an eternal impact in their rear window.

Scott & Dianna McFarland started Journey Christian Church in Tracy, CA on February 8, 2004.  They followed a call of God to leave their home, business & church family, obtaining a degree at Ozark Christian College, and selected by Stadia to be church planters.  Their leadership has led to a thriving church in Tracy, focusing on raising kids into Kingdom Leaders, and discipling adults into missional servants of Christ.  As a result, Journey continues to be a flourishing church, growing leaders within the body and sending people into missions and ministries.  You can contact them at: [email protected] .

Scott McFarland

Lead Minister, Journey Christian Church of Tracy