Something Special

Pastor Brett and Darryl Sharing the news with our Grace Covenant VA church family that Valley Gate church would plant in Phoenix, Arizona was momentous; GCC VA is where it all began. Twenty-one years ago Pastor Brett Fullersat in our basement for our weekly bible study, but this occasion was different. I knew God was calling me to surrender my life to Jesus Christ, and it had to be done then. After sharing my desires, Ps. Brett and Jo Ann joined me as I prayed the prayer of repentance and ask Jesus to be my Lord and Savior.

Much has changed since then, but more was inspired by that moment in October of 1993. In many ways what God planned for Valley Gate Church was initiated back then and even beyond. In Jeremiah 1:5 God tells His uncertain prophet,

“Before I formed you in the belly I knew you….”

This should be encouraging because the only One who has the ability to form us, knew (perceived and saw) us before we were formed; He had in mind what we would do and be. Yes someone may have voted you most athletic or most likely to succeed, but they guessed. Our God knew our greatness, saw our gifting, and perceived our contributions to His world before He formed us.

Valley Gate Church and those in it will not come about by chance, God knew long ago we’d be in Arizona changing lives and strengthening communities. I encourage you to look back over your life and find that moment where it began for you; the moment God changed your heart, provoked your call, and expanded your sense of purpose. That’s where it became real for you, but don’t forget, He knew what He had for your life, BEFORE your were formed!!!!

As parents we see our children’s potential  before they do, and after all of our support, encouragement, preparation, and correction they realize it for themselves. In this life of trusting God by faith remember, God gives man a preview of what He already knew!!!!

With the collection of great people being added to this team and soon to the church, I can only guess what God knew Valley Gate Church would be. If I had to guess, I’d say, “MOST LIKELY TO BE SOMETHING SPECIAL!”

 



Big Shoes to Fill

Joshua 1:1-3

Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land, which I am giving to them-the children of Israel.

 

God spoke to Joshua after Moses died and told him, “arise and go over this Jordan.” Before journeying across the Jordan, Joshua had to deal with his Moses complex. Moses was a great leader whom none could compare: none has arisen like him, God knew him face to face, he performed wonders and signs in Egypt before Pharaoh and all the people, and he displayed God’s mighty power in the sight of all of Israel. One can only imagine the internal struggle Joshua felt when tasked to fill the shoes of such a great leader. These were big shoes that God commanded Joshua to exceed, by crossing the Jordan.

I WANT TO ENCOURAGE YOU, THIS IS THE SEASON TO FILL SOME BIG SHOES. GOD IS CALLING HIS PEOPLE AND CHURCH TO “ARISE” BECAUSE MORE JORDAN RIVERS NEED TO BE CROSSED AND MORE PEOPLE NEED TO CROSS THEM. WHEN GREATNESS CALLS, YOU CAN’T LIVE AS AN ASSISTANT ANYMORE, IT’S TIME TO RISE UP AND ASSUME THE POSITION.

 You may feel like the shoes are too big or you can’t grow to fill them, but my encouragement to you is to KEEP TREADNG. God told Joshua, “every place that the sole of YOUR foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. “

When you have big shoes to fill remember:

  1. Arise (assume and accept your position, because God called you to it) v. 2
  2. It only takes a step (one foot at a time) v. 3
  3. Put your sole in it (if you don’t step you won’t possess) 3a

 



Dream Chaser

I’m certain every person reading this blog has a dream in them that’s yet to be fulfilled. Initially, it burns the soul hoping to catch ablaze, but often the inferno of our dream is doused by fear, doubt, apprehension or sheer comfort. I believe we should live and give ourselves completely to pursuing and fulfilling God’s plan. We’re called to bigger, and purposed for greatness. We all have a “promised land,” the place or thing we seek after. Unfortunately, many of us dream about our “promised land;” yet, we choose to remain in our “Egypt” or abstain from crossing over our “Red Sea.” For me, church planting has become the dream.

After completing my divinity studies, I promised God and myself that I would fast and pray concerning what He had in store for my future. During this time, I remember vividly reading, “You have dwelt long enough at this mountain. Turn and take your journey…” (Duet 1:6-7). I understood clearly that God was calling me beyond what I could see or imagine. I realized my dream was not based only on what I had hoped to see; it involved the journey God had called me to take. So one day while visiting Arizona to watch my daughter compete in gymnastics, God caused me to start dreaming.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined God calling me back home, but while driving down the road in the pitch dark of an early Arizona morning, I began to see! I saw people and places from my youth that began to burn in my heart. I felt God tugging my heart for communities in the Valley of the Sun. I sensed that all He had formed in me over the last 21 years in Washington, D.C. would prove to be God’s training ground for a magnificent church in Phoenix.

Phoenix will again be my home, but this time it’s a city to which God called me to fulfill His dream. I encourage you to be a “dream chaser.”



We Dare to Bear Fruit

AFTER RECENTLY RETURNING FROM A FIVE-DAY,CHURCH-PLANTING BOOT CAMP IN NASHVILLE, TN, I PONDERED THE MANY
CHALLENGES FUTURE CHURCH PLANTERS ARE LIKELY TO FACE. THERE’S RAISING MONEY, MOVING, AND ASKING OTHERS TO DO THE SAME. IF THAT’S NOT ENOUGH, IMMEDIATE GROWTH AND SUCCESS ARE RARE FOR CHURCH PLANTS.

AVERAGE ATTENDANCE FOR THE FIRST YEAR OF A CHURCH PLANT RANGES FROM 50-70 PEOPLE. ACROSS THE U.S., CHURCH ATTENDANCE HAS STEADILY DECLINED; 3500-4000 CHURCHES CLOSE THEIR DOORS EACH YEAR, LESS THAN 20% OF AMERICANS ATTEND CHURCH REGULARLY, AND 12-16% OF CHURCH ATTENDANCE DECREASES DUE TO FAMILY MOVES. CHALLENGES LIKE THESE HAVE TAKEN A TOLL ON PASTORS, A FACT THAT IS MADE EVIDENT BY THE MANY WHO ARE LEAVING MINISTRY FOR DIFFERENT VOCATIONS.

THE TASK SEEMS BIG, THE CHALLENGES GREATER THAN MY COMPETENCIES, AND THE LIKELIHOOD OF SUCCEEDING DIMMER AND DIMMER. I’VE WONDERED, “CAN I REALLY DO THIS?” CHURCH PLANTING IS INTIMIDATING, AT TIMES DAUNTING, AND COMES WITH DIFFICULTIES; BUT,IT IS THE MOST REWARDING AND FULFILLING CHALLENGE ONE COULD EVER PURSUE. THE SOLE REASON WHY CHURCH PLANTING IS WORTH IT IS BECAUSE IT “CHANGES LIVES.”

ROMANS 8:24 STATES, “FOR WE WERE SAVED IN THIS HOPE, BUT HOPE THAT IS SEEN IS NOT HOPE; FOR WHY DOES ONE STILL HOPE FOR WHAT HE SEES? BUT IF WE HOPE FOR WHAT WE DO NOT SEE, WE EAGERLY WAIT FOR IT WITH PERSEVERANCE.” WE HAVE THE FAITH AND HOPE TO BELIEVE FOR WHAT WE DON’T SEE, BECAUSE THAT IS THE SAME HOPE THAT SAVED US.

I AM A CHURCH PLANTER BECAUSE IT IMPACTS PEOPLE. IT IS THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY TO REACH THE UN-CHURCHED, TO REACH OUR NEXT GENERATION, AND TO FULFILL THE GREAT COMMISSION (MATT 28:18-20). PETER WAGNER SAYS, “THE SINGLE MOST EFFECTIVE METHODOLOGY UNDER HEAVEN IS PLANTING NEW CHURCHES.” TIM KELLER SUGGESTS, “THE VIGOROUS, CONTINUAL PLANTING OF NEW CONGREGATIONS IS THE SINGLE MOST CRUCIAL STRATEGY FOR NUMERICAL GROWTH IN THE BODY OF CHRIST AND
INITIATOR OF CORPORATE RENEWAL AND REVIVAL IN PRESENT CHURCHES.”

PLANTING CHURCHES IN OUR COMMUNITIES HAS PROVEN TO BE FRUITFUL! NO MATTER HOW DIFFICULT, WE ARE CALLED TO BEAR FRUIT, AND CHURCH PLANTING ALLOWS US THAT HONOR.

 

IT’S ON!



Follow Me

In 1st Century Jewish culture, discipleship began during a child’s school years. Students studied and memorized large portions of the Torah (the first five books of the Hebrew scriptures – the Pentateuch) as a major part of their learning experience. By ages 12 and 13, boys who did not excel academically completed school to work in the family trade as carpenters, fishermen, leatherworkers, etc. Only a select few who displayed great intellectual aptitude and passion to be disciples (followers/learners of the Rabbi) sought deeper meaning of God’s word and purpose for their lives.

They desired not only to know about God by learning from their rabbi; they had a consuming passion to be like their rabbi. This meant committing to walk with and learn from their rabbi. Wherever the rabbi went, his disciples would follow. It was the students who chose their rabbi. Though the rabbi had to accept those solicitations, the students remained the ones who chose – much like our higher
learning system where students ready themselves for the institution’s requirements. The submission of an application suggests that particular institution as their choice school. If accepted, they’d willingly pay the cost to spend the next four years learning there. However, this is not the formula for the greatest of all rabbis, Jesus Christ.

As Jesus walked along the Sea of Galilee, he noticed some “fishermen”and others in their boat casting their nets. He said to them, “FOLLOW ME.” This simple request had significant meaning. Fishermen were not the smartest, nor were they possessors of unique abilities; they were ordinary people. Yet these ordinary men, who followed Christ, would soon do extraordinary things.

The disciples we read about were like you and me. By simply choosing to accept Christ’s invitation to follow him, we too can do the amazing! Whenever you look in the mirror and see how ordinary you are,
remember who your rabbi is and that HE CHOSE YOU; YOU DIDN’T CHOOSE HIM!



The meaning of our church name

The name of a church reveals its vision and mission.

Today I’m honored to share our name: Valley Gate Church.

Our name is inspired by the miraculous story of the Lame Man at the Gate Called Beautiful. (Acts 3:1-8)

Daily, this man crippled from birth, was carried and set at the temple gate to ask for money. One day he encountered Peter and John as they entered the temple for prayer. Peter seeking his attention asked him to, “look at us,” and the lame man hoping to receive something, obliged. Although Peter did not have silver or gold, he freely offered what he did have, a life changing relationship with Jesus Christ.

The miracle that day extended beyond the lame walking: he met some men who introduced him to Christ, and in returned his powerless body was healed. They helped him gain his strength, and he walked, leaped, and praised God. Finally, for the very first time he entered the temple.

Both the gate and paralysis represent weaknesses he could not overcome alone. These barriers blocked him from moving closer to Christ and experiencing His power.

Our name represents a church aimed at becoming a “gateway” to Christ’s love and power. We seek to gain the attention of the valley by: cultivating authentic relationships, offering Christ Jesus to those in need, and helping others find strength in life-changing relationships with Jesus and His people.

As the pastor of Valley Gate Church I honestly say, “This is what happened to me.” Christ saved my life, strengthened my soul and granted me full access to a life with Him.  I pray our church will encourage people to experience all Christ intended for them.  We are called to be the entry gate to God’s best, so let’s walk, leap, and praise Him together in the “Valley.”

Valley Gate Church, IT’S ON!

 

Be Blessed,

Darryl Morrison



Are You Ready?

Hello Everyone,

I pray you’re doing well. With the Phoenix church plant becoming a reality I want to encourage you to understand the difference between excitement and achievement. There is always something to get excited about, but the greater excitement is achieving. Many of us quietly disappear somewhere along the road from excitement to our place of achievement. Somehow the journey takes its toll and we find ourselves worn from our travels, and unable to realize our great goals. Even if you have the strength to endure you may look around and realize those who joined you in your excitement have grown weak along the way.

I recall hurting my neck, while playing football, and earnestly praying and believing for God’s great power to heal the disc herniation, and allow my return to play. At my proclamation of faith many joined me, in hopes of seeing this miracle come about. But as the doctors reports returned unfavorable and time slipped away, only a remnant of those who once believed with me remained. At times in life it is difficult to endure and you may want to give up, but let me encourage you. STAY YOUR COURSE, FINISH YOUR FIGHT, AND COME FACE TO FACE WITH YOUR FULFILLED DREAMS.

The secrets to our success and achievement are persevance and commitment! The Apostle Paul’s plans to visit Rome were hindered on many occasions but it did not deter him. (Rom 1:13) He seemed inspired all the more to make it there because he was committed to God’s purpose of bearing fruit and preaching the Gospel. Eventually he would make it and fulfill his earnest desire to be with the people of Rome. (Acts 28) By Paul making it the example was set for us.

Our church in Phoenix will be planted in the Fall of 2015 as we persevere and remain committed to the vision of bearing fruit and preaching the Gospel to a lost and broken people. As you pray for Phoenix, think of those who will benefit from from this church being there. It may seem challenging at times to remain excited, but I encourage you to choose commitment and perseverance over excitement, they’ll take you much further.

Pray Genesis 12:2

I will make you a great nation

I will bless you

And make your name great



The Big Announcement

Sunday, September 14th, marked the first time our entire congregation learned they would be the sending church of a new church plant. For many the idea of assisting with the establishing of a new church comes as no surprise. After all, Grace Covenant D.C. was established over 14 years ago as a church plant sent from Pastor Brett Fuller of Grace Covenant Church in Chantilly, Virginia. The network of churches (Every Nation) we are associated with lists church planting as one of the four main objectives in their mission statement. Church planting is what we do, who we are, and a part of our spiritual DNA.

While church planting came as no surprise, much of the congregation was shocked to learn of the actual church planters. As Pastor Donnell completed his magnificent sermon entitled: Spiritual Family: The One You Never Knew, he shared, “When in family there comes a time when you have a baby and now is that time.” Immediately excitement and anticipation arose as the church realized we were planting a new church, and sending a team to see a new community of believers established. Many were amazed when Ps. Donnell uttered these words, “We’re sending our very best to plant a church in PHOENIX, ARIZONA!”

At those words it all became clear; Grace Covenant Church was planting a church and the lead pastors would be the Morrison’s!

As Jo Ann, the kids, and I stood to greet the congregation we were met with much applause, cheers, and tears. The emotions were overwhelming, and for as much preparation that was put into getting to this moment there was nothing that could prepare us for our feelings in the moment. This moment represented something so bitter but yet so sweet.

We realized we are truly leaving Washington, D.C. We are leaving our lifestyle, community, friends, family, and the church community God allowed us to be a part of for 21 years. We’re leaving those we’ve counseled and cared for, performed weddings for, and mourned during great loss. We’re leaving our support system our “spiritual family.” The kids realized they are leaving the only home, school, friends, church and life they’ve ever known. For a second it was bitter, but in the moment of bitterness something felt so sweet.

In the midst of our family tears and somber feelings, God granted us great joy as we shared why we were going back to Arizona. Some may naturally think we’re going back because it’s home and there’s comfort in being home, for us that’s not the case. We love Phoenix, our family and friends there, but it’s changed as have we. As much as it is home we recognize we’re foreigners (experientially) in many ways. A lot has changed in us and Phoenix, since we departed in 1993. While we look forward to being reacquainted with a place we once called home, there’s only one reason why we return and that is CALLING!

God called us to plant a church and make a difference for His kingdom. He called us to share His gospel and help those yet to know Christ come to know His unfailing love. He also called us to make disiciples of all nations teaching them to obey His commands. Calling for the Morrison family is more about obedience than comfort. We will obey His call and leave what’s been the norm, to establish a church in Phoenix that looks like, feels like, and loves like the church we’ve grown up in.

As I told our congregation on that special Sunday, “OUR church is pregnant, and with their help it is going to be a big healthy baby that looks a lot like them.” God has called us home to make a home for so many who desperately need Christ, like we once did. We look forward to sharing all we have and pray that you too, “ACCEPT YOUR CALL.”

Join us in Phoenix because, “IT’S ON!” 

Commit today to Pray, Give, and Go and experience the “sweetness of obeying God’s calling.”

Make sure you answer because YOU HAVE A CALL!

Blessings,

Darryl and Jo Ann



“It’s On Now!” Phoenix church plant announcement

“It’s On Now!” Here is a video of us announcing our Phoenix church plant to Grace Covenant Church of DC! Share this with everyone you know!


Why We’re Going to Phoenix

Over the past 21 years living in D.C. and being a part of the Grace Covenant D.C. family, God has done amazing things in our lives. In 1993 we both surrendered our lives to Christ and began our pursuit of him. We were blessed to play professional football for the Washington Redskins, raise 5 amazing children, serve as pastors, and complete our graduate studies. Through these years we did not realize God was preparing us for such a wonderful opportunity to plant a church in Phoenix, but now it all makes sense.

God gave us so much while in Phoenix, but we didn’t have much to give in return. But now we are prepared to sow back into the city we left many years ago. Although we return, we recognize that so much has changed including us. God has added to our lives, our family, and our ministry, and we can’t wait to share them with you.

The reason why we decided to go to Phoenix and plant a church was because God called us to do it. Our job is to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those in the Phoenix metro area living in spiritual darkness, like we once did. We will honor God and make disciples (followers of Christ), and in so doing make the Valley of the Sun a place that shines bright with the radiance of God. We look forward to the journey ahead of promoting Jesus’ name and sharing his fame. We revel at the thought of coming back to a place we once knew and see firsthand how much it has changed. Most importantly we look forward to executing God’s kingdom plan in Phoenix.

Whether we know you or not we want to personally invite learn more about this Phoenix church plant and more importantly about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Phoenix, “It’s On!” We can’t wait to see you!