You never know where God might take you. Just ask Marc and Kathy Shaw, who recently moved back to the U.S. following 16 years of serving in key leadership roles for Foursquare in Europe, where they helped to start 20 churches and mentored scores of leaders who have become church planters themselves. They now live in Woodinville, Wash., where in April they planted Generations (Woodinville Foursquare Church).
“After 16 years in Europe, my wife and I both sensed that we had entered into a transition phase, something we had learned to recognize over the years,” Marc tells Foursquare.org. “Kathy was feeling very strongly that our time in Europe was finished and that we were to return to family and American culture. The Lord opened doors for that to happen.”
Following a season of pastoring in Hillsboro, Ore., and a sabbatical, Marc and Kathy planted Generations. Meeting on the campus of an elementary school, the fledgling congregation of nearly 40 members has already become very active in their community. Marc serves as lead pastor, Kathy as an assisting minister. Two of their three adult sons, who live close by, are helping with the church plant, as well.
Generations has conducted music outreaches in secular venues such as restaurants and malls, using talented, professional musicians. These events, Marc says, allow church members to mingle with people in the community and invite them to church services. The congregation has also done beautification of a service club and school facilities.
It’s all about building a band of disciples, Marc says, who are motivated by the transforming love of Jesus to be change agents in their world on a daily basis—to find and express God’s heart for the community and everyone they see. In addition, he notes that the congregation’s name, Generations, is not mere window dressing; it’s a key value in the church’s mission.
“We want to develop a band of leaders who are inter-generationally focused,” Marc explains, “not simply including new generations to help us do our thing, but focusing on releasing them to do God’s thing in and through them.”
Doing God’s thing—recognizing His voice and following His lead—is something Marc has experienced personally and can model for others. He shares, for example, about a time many years ago when he was leaving the gym and, as soon as he walked outside, felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to go back inside and invite one of the young men he had seen—a total stranger—to lunch. Marc hesitated at first, fearing how weird it would seem, but ultimately obeyed what he believed God had told him.
To Marc’s surprise, the young man accepted the lunch invitation, and they went to a nearby diner. Over time, they got to know each other. The man started attending the church Marc was then pastoring and gave his life to Christ. Due to a new job opportunity, however, he soon moved to the other side of the state.
“We didn’t see each other or hear of each other for another 10 years,” Marc recalls, “until I received a call from him one day after we had departed for missions ministry in Europe. He had tracked me down, and wanted to thank me for being obedient to the Holy Spirit and leading him to Christ. He said he was now serving Jesus as a Presbyterian pastor.”
Absolutely nothing excites Marc more, as he puts it, “than seeing a life connected to Jesus for the first time, experiencing in his or her spirit His love, forgiveness and gift of eternal life—being hugged by the Father into His eternal family.”
Equally satisfying, he notes, is watching people embrace God’s truth in ways that not only change their lives, but also the lives of those around them. Such transformation started in his own life when he accepted Christ and was baptized in the Holy Spirit at age 17, and he has observed God do the same for others time and time again.
Musically gifted, Marc’s passion to share Christ after he was saved was soon channeled through participation with the “Jesus bands” of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Singing in churches, schools, parks, camps, rock festivals and prisons, Marc and his friends witnessed true historic revival.
“Wherever we went, young people turned to Jesus,” Marc, now 59, recalls. “Youth groups either developed or grew, and many future leaders and pastors came into the kingdom of God. This set the course for a lifetime passion of kingdom ministry.”
That passion includes mentoring the younger generation, a value to which Marc has always held and one that is key to his new congregation in Woodinville. And with that, he offers some great insight to pastors who want to successfully disciple others and experience a ministry that multiplies.
“Look for gold in everyone,” Marc asserts first. “It’s there. God put it there. It’s been buried under layers of negativity, sin and lost identities, the dirt and rocks of this fallen world.”
Second, he conveys, we must love, believe in, and invest personal time into those God draws to our attention as “multiplying leaders.” It is important, he asserts, to develop “authentic relationships that build trust, honesty and an excitement about the future of kingdom growth as these individuals blossom in ministry.”
Marc also shares a lesson that, he says, is one he needlessly learned the hard way and hopes will prevent other pastors from experiencing burnout: We need to take care of ourselves and the ministries God has entrusted to us, so that our “modeling of Jesus-likeness is not only authentic, but also consistent and sustained.”
Finally, he gives perhaps the best advice of all, simple yet profound, and an important reminder to us all: “Let the Grace of Jesus Christ overwhelm your life!”
Do that, and you may be surprised by where God will take you.
By: Bill Shepson, a Foursquare credentialed minister and freelance writer in Los Angeles