Top Seven Events & Trends of 2014
As the years go by, I realize how easily I forget what happens during each year. Such forgetfulness leads me to challenge myself to journal more and record significant events and when they occurred.
New Facility at City On A Hill Kenmore (North Campus)
It was a miracle. On Sunday, June 15th, we announced at our church that the following weekend, we were going to rent from a new church and meet in their building. Yet, that week, a facility came up for sale, and after a short bidding tug with a Buddhist temple, on Friday, we got our keys and held our first service at our own building on June 22nd.
It was a unique experience going through the funding process, which required a 2 year voluntary audit of our church finances. It once again revealed to me the great people God has blessed City On A Hill Church with!
It seemed like for weeks, we were daily glued to our computer screens, praying and watching the political situation in Ukraine unfold and lead to a war. Thousands of people were killed, and the country I was born in was torn apart.
At City On A Hill Church, we had a group of people quickly mobilize, and prepare humanitarian aid to the affected region. Four huge containers were sent with clothes, shoes, and non-perishable food items.
One of the saddest aspects of this war was to watch Slavic people in the US divide, fight, and start to hate one another, often times, due to misconceptions of each other’s views on the situation. Clearly, Russia’s involvement in the war in Ukraine was evident, and without Russian support, the war would have been long over. But the scariest aspect of this war was the media manipulation, and the influence it had on the people watching them; what undoubtedly were two close brothers (Russia & Ukraine) will never again be back to normal relations.
The Closing of Mars Hill
In late fall of 2013, I sat at Mars Hill Downtown with thousands of pastors while attending the Resurgence Conference with world renowned speakers and leaders. Knowing the influence and impact that Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll have had on Seattle, the US, and even me personally, I would have never guessed that exactly a year later, Mars Hill would close as a church.
It is still mind-boggling. To us on the outside, Mars Hill was the “ideal church.” Great teaching. Great music. Thousands of people coming to the Lord. The church was growing. And, probably close to a 1,000 immigrants from the former Soviet Union began to call Mars Hill home. Then, Mark Driscoll resigned.
For many years to come, the story of Mars Hill will continue to be studied and written about in doctoral thesis and books. And, the story of Mars Hill is not over. It did give birth to 11 independent churches, and our prayer is that each of these churches flourish. Honestly though, it was probably more healthier to make each campus independent, than to try to find a persona who would continue to speak through a screen on a weekly basis. I believe the body of Christ is much more gifted, than to limit the teaching role to mostly one person.
One of these days, Ill write a blog on lessons we can learn from Mars Hill. But, Seattle and the NW will miss Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll.
Ebola, ISIS, and the rest of the World
I am a news junkie, and I am easily captivated by events going around the world. It was with deep sorrow as we watched several national and international news stories, including the spread of EBOLA, and the horrific stories related to ISIS.
Concerning Ebola, I was saddened to hear many Americans quickly demand that no US doctors affected by Ebola would be admitted back to the US. These were the finest men and women of the world, risking their lives to help. If Ebola were to spread to the US, it would do so with or without the doctors being treated in our hospitals.
While following some of the world news, I discovered “VICE NEWS” on YouTube. It is by far, my most favorite News agency. Though some of the journalists take sides that I don’t always agree with, VICE news is setting the standard for journalism and broadcasting. You can follow VICE news here https://www.youtube.com/user/vicenews.
Due to my commitment to church on Sundays, I was only able to watch half of the Superbowl. But, it was fun! Plus, it was a blessing to our community, as it brought a lot of business, tourists, prime TV exposure, and discussion about Seattle. Ironically, even those who hate the Seahawks locally gratefully benefited from the Superbowl!
Purity Forum & Covenant Eyes
Pornography is afflicting havoc on families and in our culture. It is changing the brains of young men and women, and is the “Elephant” in the room that not many are talking about.
In June of 2014, we were excited to host author and speaker Heath Lambert. He wrote a book titled, “Finally Free.” Together with Dr. Lambert, we hosted Covenant Eyes, and had a very open discussion about pornography, marriage, purity, parenting and counseling. You can watch the full forum here: https://russellkorets.com/2014/06/26/sexual-purity-forum-with-dr-heath-lambert-covenant-eyes/
After the Forum, we challenged each and everyone of our Youth and rising leaders to sign up for Covenant Eyes. Our desire is to set a standard as leaders in accountability, and then challenge parents to do the same in their homes. In other words, if you were to take my personal phone, laptop or ipad and were to try to access pornography, not only would it be blocked, you’d be getting a call from my wife and from one of our pastors (Mike Khochay) within several minutes! Over 30 of our leaders in the church are currently under our church account with Covenant Eyes, and as a church, we pay for it! Its one of our best investments!
All easy access to pornography must be blocked. Its like playing with fire! Ive had way too many conversations with young men who get exposed to pornography at an early age, and then are addicted for many years to come! If you are a parent and you have computers, phones, ipads or any other internet access at home, it is plain unwise (more like dumb, idiotic, and stupid) to not have internet filtering. You are basically inviting demons to come in and feast!
Covenant Eyes is not the only filtering system, but it is a good one! Get it!
Ravi Zacharias in Seattle & The Rise of Atheism Amongst Slavic Youth
Five years ago, we invited Ravi Zacharias to come to Seattle. And what was a 4 year process, Dr. Zacharias was finally with us in September of 2014. It was an honor to meet Dr. Zacharias, and spend some time with him. You can watch one of his messages from the conference here: https://russellkorets.com/2014/10/03/ravi-zacharias-jesus-amongst-other-gods-at-city-on-a-hill/
When we invited Dr. Zacharias, the daily talk in town was “Calvinism vs. Arminianism.” Little did we know that when Dr. Zacharias would come to visit us, the discussions on Calvinism were long done, and the debates & discussions in town & on Facebook were now debating the existence of God. Understandably, a conference sermon was not going to end all debates on atheism and convert all of them to Christianity, but, for those looking for some resources, RZIM is a great start, and we were excited to introduce our community to them!
The rise of Agnosticism continues amongst the Slavic youth in America. I continue to meet privately with a number of people who are doubting faith and the existence of God. Social media also has had a big impact on many of these youth, as they find like-minded friends who encourage their unbelief.
It has become a trend to doubt everything except pluralism, and the cool and right answer to every question has become “no one really knows.” And anytime anyone provides any answer, the agnostic looks for any way to discredit the person and bring the conversation away from the provided answers.
The saddest aspect of this “rise,” is the idea that these youth believe they have stumbled upon something so new and significant, that without further study, they begin to accept it as truth and publicize it as newfound truth two minutes after they’ve discovered it! (Truthfully, most of these same people were promoting and pushing Calvinism just one year ago as the newfound truth that everyone had been missing…)
My plea to the Agnostic Evangelists and Crusaders: no one in their death-bed will say to you, “Thank you for teaching me to doubt my Christian faith.” Before saying there is no God, look underneath every rock, peek inside every cave, explore every planet and travel the universe. And until you are certain that there is no God, make less claims about your certainty of the non-existence of God, and realize that you’ve only started exploring!
And I believe as you keep searching, the only “god” you’ll find missing is the “god” you’ve created in your own image.
City On A Hill Church was planted over 5 years ago, primarily set to reach people with a Slavic background connection. And people came. Over 1,500 attend our weekend services, in 3 campuses (Federal Way, Kenmore & Bellevue).
At our North Campus in Kenmore, our facility is at maximum capacity, and we have people coming from 12 different nationalities! God has placed on our hearts to expand and start a 2nd service on Sundays, at 12:45 pm, and reach out to the community. This will be a bold step for us, as we try something new, something different! But, opening a 2nd and 3rd campus was also something new, and God has blessed it!
We have an amazing team of 40 leaders and volunteers who are ready to reach out to the community! Please pray for us, and, if you are looking for a home church, join us Jan 11th! More info can be found here: http://www.cityhill.tv/blog/new-english-service-kenmore