Hello Ethos Family!
It is hard to believe that our family has already crossed the half way point of our missional adventure. God has blown our minds and exceeded our hopes and dreams in every way possible. Thanks to your prayers, our boys have traveled well, no one has gotten sick, and our sister Christiana Muir “aka Nana” has been an absolute gift from God to our family and the mission here.
Each week we have been receiving reports from Nashville about the things God has been doing among you as well. It has literally made Sydney and I tear up as we’ve read about God’s work among our church family while we have been away. We love our family at Ethos Church so much, and we have been so grateful for the ways that God is blessing all of you while we have been extending our church’s mission globally. We are joining you in prayer every day this week for Baptism Sunday on February 21st. We can’t wait to hear what God is going to do!
Although the time has gone by quickly, we have missed each of you in ways that are hard to describe. I’m writing this blog at 5am on a sleepy Monday morning here in Lisbon, Portugal. Micah and Jack are sitting here with me (thank you Jet Lag), and they told me to tell you all hello. So hi! Our family arrived here on Saturday evening after an amazing 16 days in Kenya.Today will begin 13 days of intensive training for our Portuguese church planter (Andre Prim) and his team here in Lisbon. Please pray that God helps us lay a solid foundation for our a new expression of His church in Europe.
Although I will wait to give an exhaustive report of our travels once we return to Nashville, I want to take a moment as we cross the half way point to update you on God’s work thus far. The purpose of this update is not to share what we have learned (although I will certainly do that once we have prayed and processed more thoroughly) but to simply share what we have been doing. Hopefully you will find this helpful as you continue to pray for our work while we are gone. Our time in Kenya revolved around 3 big purposes:
#1 - LEARNING
The first purpose of our trip was to learn. We did not come to Kenya as the experts, but as the students. A little more than 2 years ago, God spoke to Sydney and me, and He told us at that time that the future of what He was planning to do among our church family would be largely learned from the global church. So for the last two years, we have been diligently praying that God would connect us with the right people and churches across the world from whom we needed to learn.
As I mentioned in my sermon in early January, Muriithi and Carol Wanjau from Mavuno Church in Nairobi, Kenya are two of those people. They lead an amazing church that is deeply committed to both transforming their local community and reaching the ends of the earth. In many ways, we feel like we got a crash course in global mission and leadership as we walked side by side with Muriithi and Carol as they led their team — a team that oversees church plants in ten different nations! Their hospitality, humility, boldness, and missional innovation will leave its mark on our hearts and the Ethos Family for many years to come. I’m glad to report that these world class leaders have become some of our dearest friends. I look forward to the day when they will get to visit us in the states to pour into our entire church family as well.
#2 - TEACHING
The second purpose of our time in Kenya was teaching. We were graciously given the opportunity to train, teach, and pour into church planters from across the world. Once a year, the Mavuno family gathers their church planters (currently from ten different nations), and their church planting apprentices (representing more countries than I could keep up with) for a week and a half of playing, praying, and planning for the year ahead.
I was astounded by the boldness, innovation, and joy that permeated the lives of these men and women. Although Sydney and I were invited as “teachers,” we felt more like the students. It was such a joy to encourage each of these planters and their families in the journeys that God has marked out for them. It was also encouraging to see the ways that God’s work through Ethos is spurring on others in many global gateway cities.
#3 - PARTNERING
The final purpose of our time in Kenya revolved around partnership. I have a deep conviction that if Ethos Church is going to be a local church committed to global church planting — then we must become friends and form key partnerships with believers in the global church. There are many parts of the world that can only be reached by leaders who look and think differently than us. If our church family is going to have an impact in those places, we must partner with churches and leaders who can help us be faithful and effective beyond the borders of the United States.
As our church continues to lean into the third part of our church’s mission “Awaken a Movement” — Sydney and I will continue to give more time to making global friends and forming global partnerships so that our church family can have a greater impact in advancing the gospel of Jesus globally in the years ahead. We are convinced more than ever that our time in Kenya was a worthwhile step in that direction.
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Although we have missed our family in Nashville greatly, we believe our time away will play a key roll in shaping the way our church will engage Nashville and beyond for many years to come. Thank you for your prayers and your notes of encouragement. Thank you for the way you have loved, supported, and prayed for the Ethos Staff in our absence. Thank you for being a church that is truly committed to making Jesus’ last words (Matthew 28:16-20 & Acts 1:1-8) your first priority. It is a joy to be on this journey with you. We can’t wait to hug your necks and share stories about all that God is doing in His church across the world. See you in two weeks!
We love you,
Dave, Sydney, Micah, Jack & Judah Clayton