My family and I began attending Faith Community Church
on September 11, 2011. We knew after that first Sunday we had found a new church home. In a month's time, the five of us completed the membership process and were recognized and affirmed as members of the church.
I immediately began serving in the church, as the Lord presented opportunity. I've served on the church's security team. I've assisted with the church's outreach events. My family and I have joined one of the church's several week night Faith groups (home fellowships). Occasionally I substitute teach during the church's Sunday morning Growth Groups (adult Bible studies). I also have been blessed to occasionally teach the children during AWANA.
About 18 months ago, I began a process with my elders, the goal of which was to have my elders commission me, through the laying on of hands, to serve Faith Community Church as an evangelist, in keeping with the role of an evangelist as delineated in Ephesians 4:11-14. The process included meetings with the elders, a close examination of my present ministry as an evangelist, an equally-close examination of my character and gifting, and the writing and re-writing of a ministry proposal. The process also include an examination of my financial accountability with ministry-related funds, which, in part, resulted in Cross Encounters Ministries receiving ECFA accreditation, under the umbrella of Revival-USA
I benefited greatly from this process with my elders. I learned how seriously, thoughtfully, and prayerfully my elders make important decisions. The elders extended to me a great deal of love, patience, grace, and friendship during the process, with one of the elders taking time to personally help me with the re-write of my ministry proposal. The elders were also very helpful by pointing out areas in my life and ministry that needed maturing. They were always quick to encourage, quick to listen, and were never afraid to offer their collective and individual wisdom, discernment and, when warranted, correction.
The process drew to a close in December of 2013. In the end, my elders affirmed what they believe is God's call on my life to serve Him as an evangelist. At the same time, they found aspects of my evangelistic gifting and ministry (namely, open-air preaching) philosophically incompatible with the evangelistic direction the elders have set forth for the Faith Community Church family. That being the case, the elders determined they could not lay hands on me and commission me to serve Faith Community Church as an evangelist.
The elders assured me that they would not ask me to stop open-air preaching. They assured me that my family and I were welcomed to continue being members of Faith Community Church, for the rest of our lives. They repeatedly re-asserted their love and care for, and support of the Miano Family. However, the elders collectively determined that the best thing for me and the ministry to which they affirm God has called me would be for me to find a church where the elders and I would philosophically be on the same page regarding open-air preaching--a church where the elders could fully embrace every aspect of my ministry.
Again, the elders never asked me to leave the church and emphatically welcomed me and my family to stay at Faith Community Church, indefinitely.
With the elders' caring and candid encouragement to try to find a more philosophically compatible church home (the elders of Faith Community Church and I were very theologically compatible), I advised a small group of friends (open-air preachers, pastors, apologists, and other lay people) of my intention to seek a new church home. In a short amount of time, I received calls from pastors/churches in New York, Oregon, and Missouri.
Just a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet with one of the pastors from Grace Community Church
(senior pastor, John MacArthur) to discuss the ministry opportunities presented to me by the three before-mentioned churches. During our conversation, the pastor wisely suggested that I seek to exhaust any and all ministry opportunities at churches in Southern California, in order to maintain my family's deep familial, relational, and ministerial roots in the area. He also asked me to prayerfully consider whether or not Grace Community Church might be a good fit for my family and ministry.
This meeting led to a subsequent meeting with the pastor and two additional pastors from Grace Community Church, during which we discussed what life and ministry might look like for me and my family, there. The possibility of future opportunities to serve under the leadership of the pastors overseeing local outreach and the Grace Advance network of churches were also seriously discussed.
After consulting with Mahria and the girls, further prayer, and seeking yet more counsel from some of the godly men in what might be called my "inner circle," I decided the best thing to do for my family (my first and most important ministry), as well as the best thing to do to further cultivate, mature, and engage in the evangelistic ministry the Lord has given me, is to accept the invitation to move my family to Grace Community Church where we would pursue membership and opportunities to serve Christ and His Bride.
I communicated my decision to my elders. The elders blessed and endorsed my decision. In doing so, they will maintain our membership status at Faith Community Church until such time as we are officially welcomed as members of Grace Community Church.
Today was our last official day at Faith Community Church. Our time at Faith Community drew to a close with me leading our Sunday morning Life Group (One Accord) by presenting a teaching from Revelation 2:1-7, during which I called those present to examine themselves to see if they truly love Jesus and the lost as much as they believe they do. I explained to them that our love for Christ and our love for the lost will be rightly expressed through our active engagement in reaching the lost with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
At the end of the meeting, I shared our plans to make the move from Faith Community to Grace Community. With the elders' blessing, I shared with them the process that led to the decision. Many tears were shed. The group, led by one of our elders, ended the meeting by gathering around my family, laying hands on us, and praying the Lord would bless us as we go.
So, beginning Sunday, March 2, the Miano Family will call Grace Community Church "home." Words cannot express how much we will miss our Faith Community family. Relations that have been forged there will last a lifetime. We deeply love our Faith Community family.
My family and I are making this transition without any anger, bitterness, or resentment toward the elders of Faith Community Church. To a man, they are a godly group. They serve the Faith Community family well--sacrificially, loving, tenderly, biblically. The decision they made regarding my ministry and its place in the church was not an easy one for them to make. They believe the decision they made is the best and right one for Faith Community. I respect their decision and I fully accept it.
My family and I now look forward. We look forward to starting yet another new season, in a new church--one that is very familiar to us.
What does this all mean for Cross Encounters Ministries?
Cross Encounters Ministries will continue in its present form and direction. The financial accountability of the ministry will continue through Revival-USA
We are in the process of establishing an Advisory Board for the ministry.
As my family and I seek membership at Grace Community Church, I will also seek to bring myself and my ministry as an evangelist/open-air preacher under the authority and accountability of my pastors/elders. How long this will take, what processes will be involved, and exactly what all of this will look like will be determined by the elders of Grace Community Church.
Since I speak so often about the evangelist's responsibility to the local church
, and since I have recently started writing about what I believe should be the spiritual qualifications of an open-air preacher
, I thought it very important, for the purpose of full disclosure and accountability with my Christian brethren, to let those who follow and support
Cross Encounters Ministries know about this important change.
Please pray for us as we make this very significant spiritual and relational life transition.
Shepherds' Conference Outreach Opportunities
I am attending this year's Shepherds' Conference
. The man of God will be hard-pressed to find a finer conference anywhere in the world. I've attended many times over the last 15-20 years.
During the last few years, I have tried to encourage conference attendees to join me for street evangelism, on Saturday during conference week. I've been blessed each year to have some of the men join me. This year I want to be a little more proactive in encouraging men to join me.
This year I am offering conference attendees four opportunities to join me on the streets*.
Tuesday, March 4, 0800-1000 hrs - Mission Hills FPAMG Abortuary
Tuesday, March 4, 1030-1300 hrs - Cal State University Northridge
Saturday, March 8, 0800-1000 hrs - Mission Hills FPAMG Abortuary
Saturday, March 8, 1030-1330 hrs - North Hollywood Metro Station
If you would like to join me during one or more of these evangelism outings, please email me at: email@example.com
* These outreaches are not directly associated with the Shepherds' Conference, nor are they officially endorsed by the Shepherds' Conference or Grace Community Church.
Desiring to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified,