PRDX ANNUAL REPORT 2017
 
 
 

God
Has Done
Great
Things...

Family,

“The LORD has done great things for us and we are glad,” the Psalmist once wrote (Ps. 126:3). That could be our song this year too. We spent the year rejoicing in our suffering as we walked together on Sundays through Philippians and lived its themes out with one another throughout the week—themes of joy, trial, obedience, humility, unity, and mission. Our life is a song, together we’re the choir, and Jesus is glorified in us.

We have set out to “saturate Fort Worth with the Glory and Grace of Jesus”—these are our marching orders. So, we baptized new Christians this year, we multiplied City Groups, we planted Grace Church, and now, in 2018, we seek to do it again. 

I hope that as you read through this Annual Report, you will connect the dots from your service, your ministry, your mission, and your money to the fruit that God gives. Be encouraged! He has done great things for us!

For His Fame,
Pastor Jim Essian

 
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In
Church
Planting

 

• 1st Church Plant
• 2 New Church Planting Residents
• 7 ChuRch Planters Supported

 
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Grace Church Benbrook

Howdy fam,

I thank God for your prayers, care, and generosity. You have blessed us in so many ways, and I can't imagine anyone trying to plant a church on their own. Churches plant churches, and you have done so boldly and abundantly with us. We love you, Paradoxians, and praise God for our forever bond with you. 

I want to make you aware of how the Lord has blessed us so that you might rejoice and praise God as well. Jesus has given us strong, godly leaders who love Jesus and our city and are pouring out their lives for the sake of the gospel. The Lord allowed us to gather outside at the Benbrook stables and baptize four people on October 9th. The Lord has gifted us with 67 members who have been through our membership process, and we have more in the queue. By the end of the year, we should have 85-90 members committed to the mission. We started off with two Community Groups in Benbrook proper, and Jesus has multiplied that to eight groups, spanning from White Settlement to South Hulen with seven couples in training to potentially launch in 2018. Our people are sharing the gospel, growing deep friendships with one another, and are treasuring Jesus. You sent 60 adults and 40 children, and since our launch day on August 20th, we've averaged 103 adults and 61 kids on Sundays by God's grace. Our kids classes on Sundays and family ministry have been wonderful from day one because of your generosity and help. Glory to God!

Pastor Ryan Keeney

Please join us in praying for:

• More men, women, and children to meet Jesus through our bold evangelism
• Elders, Deacons, and other leaders to be developed and installed
• Our first church planting resident in 2018 so we might plant another church in 2-3 years
• Us to grow in treasuring Jesus and fostering deep friendships


Did you know?

Grace CHURCH BENBROOK Launched Eight Community Groups
& Baptized Four People in 2017.


Thank you for your
generosity.

From Fort Worth to Dallas, Brazil, Portugal, and East Asia, your giving has been used to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into new church plants and teaching them to observe all of which Jesus has called them. Your money was given to you by God to be mission ammunition. See just a little bit of what Jesus has accomplished in the battle for the hearts of people everywhere through your faithful giving.

 

This year we partnered with two new Church Planting Residents. 

 
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Kaynenn parker
Church Planting Resident

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ERIC DARJEAN
Church Planting Resident

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 Your money was given to you by God to be mission ammunition.

Pastor Jim Essian | Church Planting at The Paradox 2017

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Lisbon, Portugal

with The Pearsons

This year has covered every season under the sun for me and my wife, Julie. As we entered into the new year, we mourned the passing of my mother, and now in a few short weeks, we eagerly await the arrival of our son, Oliver. There’s been a time to weep and a time to laugh. But above all, 2017 has been a time for healing, a time to grow in the Lord, and a time to build our mission in Portugal.
 
Though losing my mother was a hard way to start 2017, God – ever faithful – saw us through it. He remained faithful once we returned to Lisbon by ensuring that a position was held for me at the university, where Julie and I both take language classes. Rather than repeat a language level, God answered our prayers by letting me advance in my studies.
 
God not only provide us the chance to resume our language lessons, but he also provided us the strength to overcome the language barrier and make strong relationships both in and out of the church. It’s been through our relationships – both in our neighborhood and in the church – that we have most felt God’s blessing and assurance in our mission work. Before ever beginning this journey, people told us that we would struggle to meet and befriend the locals, but by God’s grace, our neighbors have welcomed us with arms wide open. Our son, Luca, has been a particular asset in this department, as the neighbors absolutely love him.

We have also become better connected with members of surrounding churches. By fostering connections with other churches, Julie and I have witnessed how other churches operate, which has helped us better establish our ministry in Lisbon. And now having finished our formal language classes, we have had more time to pour into these relationships – to serve and to pursue our church planting mission.
 
Most recently, I have been meeting with pastors and church leaders throughout Lisbon, generating interest in our mission, as well as opening a discourse in which we discuss next steps in the church planting process.
 
Right now, Julie and I are in a season of waiting – waiting as bureaucratic issues are resolved, waiting while our work with the other churches becomes more defined, and waiting for the arrival of baby Oliver. As we wait, we continue to pray, plan, and pour into our relationships.
 
We look forward to all that God has in store for us in the coming months both in our mission and in the addition to our family. As we transition into this new phase of life and ministry, we ask our Paradox family, who we greatly miss, to keep us in your prayers.

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In
Baptisms

 

• 48 Baptisms

 
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From Death To Life

"In 2015, I was at my lowest of lows – the height of my suffering – when God decided to take control of my life. When I thought I had nowhere else to turn, God presented me a solution –  His solution. I found myself reaching out to an old friend and bought myself a Bible. Through the course of another year, God strategically put people into my life that helped me grow closer to Him, until I felt as if I was chasing after His love and acceptance with all my might. I was ready to accept Christ into my heart, but I couldn’t seem to figure out how. I prayed and prayed and just felt so undeserving and defeated. It was when I finally laid it all down to Him and let Him decide the timing that I finally welcomed Christ into my heart. He used my dearest friends to help me understand that His love is a gift and that I am forever saved by grace and get to spend an eternity with Him. I am so glad I got to proclaim His truth to everyone during my baptism in 2017 and am grateful to the Paradox Church for their guidance and support. He is good!"

 

- Danielle Lasor


In
City
Groups

 
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Trusting
and Obeying

with The Eadies

Before our marriage, we served in leadership roles at various churches in the past. However, our motivations behind leading were driven by a need for approval from those whom we were serving alongside. Ultimately, our involvement in the church became a performance; we adopted a works-based theology, which inhibited us from truly understanding the Gospel and experiencing the freedom only found in Jesus Christ. But instead of acknowledging our need for approval for what it was - sin - and repenting, we allowed it to govern our decisions - most notably when we came to Paradox and God called us to be city group leaders.

Having attended Paradox for four years and partnered with them for three of the four years, we occasionally discussed becoming city group leaders, but it never seemed like the “right time” - an excuse that kept us from obeying God.

When a need for leadership within our city group arose last year, the excuses abounded one after another. Our current leader announced that he would be joining the staff at Paradox, at which point, he asked the group if anyone was interested in taking over. Reflexively, we said no. Not only were we moving within the next year, but we were also expecting our first child. With so many life changes on the horizon, we defaulted to the same excuse - “It just isn’t the right time.” Rather than engage in the group discussions about leadership, we remained silent.

Fast forward six months, and our group is still under the same leadership. Still, we looked for reasons to justify our decision. However, through several people within our group, Jesus rebuked us for our disobedience. Yes, the timing was not right, but honestly, it probably never would be. There will always be something in life demanding our attention. As our city group pointed out, the key is not letting the busyness of life distract us from serving the Lord.

So after talking and praying with our city group, we decided to go for it! We signed up for the leadership training, and surprisingly, the process was much quicker than we had anticipated. The whole experience has been such a blessing. In trusting and obeying God, we are now more equipped to further God’s Kingdom in the city of Fort Worth. And though we will only be here for another 6 months or so, we thank God for the opportunity to serve our Paradox family.

 
 
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31 City Groups

2017 Leadership Development:
• 6 New City Group Coaches (with 2 Apprentices)
• 42 New City Group Leaders (with 15 Apprentices)

 

Did you know?

seven of our city groups multiplied this year to saturate more of Fort Worth with the glory and grace of god.

What would it take to see your group multiply in 2018? 


 
 

In
Redemption
Groups

 

• 52 Participants
• 18 Stories Shared At STORIES & SONGS

 
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A Psalm by Liesl Grant

My mind is in turmoil, and my thoughts are continuously spinning out of control. I press in to regain control only to be lost deeper into confusion, anxiety, and this emptiness I can’t quite grasp.

Joy is distant now. Only a small glimmer of my past. I desire it back so deeply. Crying out to God to relieve me, to calm my anxious spirit. I pray continuously, trying to find hope in Him. But my cries disappear into a void. I hear no answer, I feel no relief, and my hope fades. I want to know God’s presence again – to know His goodness and love – but week after week passes, I’m still waiting, and it hurts terribly.

In impatience and pride, I’ve given up. Turning all my senses to focus on anything besides God’s silence. I deny that I care so deeply only for myself. I can’t see how much I care for others’ opinions or for self-glorification. I am full of anger towards God.

As months pass by, apathy towards God takes over my days. I silence my prayers and close my Bible. It’s easier to give up.

Yet deep down, my spirit yearns for its creator. The truths I suppress push back to make themselves known.

I am tired –  so very tired. I can't go on alone. Lord, where are you? I can’t see you you!!! If it’s my darkest sin I must see, show it to me now. I’ve waited for a year for your answer. I’ve turned to my own abilities but to no avail. Please, God, I so desperately need you. Renew your spirit in me.

My hands are shaking. There it is – the sin I’ve been so blind to: my deep selfishness and my self-image, my identity in my work. To name it specifically, the praise of people for what I can do.

Immediately, I want to minimize it, but then the pain it has caused is laid before me. The people I have blamed turned to people I have wronged.

I can hardly believe it. Looking up, I see His face; it’s shining with grace and forgiveness. I see His arms; they are beckoning me. I hear His voice – His glorious and gentle voice; He is calling me back. Though I yelled at him in anger and accused him of abandonment, though I belittled His title of “God,” yet He still is forgiving me.

My body hurts through and through. Oh, how I have wronged my Savior! I run towards Him, falling at his feet. He lifts me up.

Some time has passed. For the first time in months, I open His word. The pages unfold before me, revealing hope and encouragement I could not see before.

Praise to God! He never left me! He has always been holding on to me.

My sins are still beyond what I can count. Oh Lord, continue to wash me clean.

Create in me a pure heart.
Renew a steadfast spirit in me.
Show me your paths.
Do not let me wander alone.
Restore a joyous spirit and a praising heart within me.

Music begins to play, and an overbearing desire to sing envelopes me. It has been so long since your praise has left my lips. God, you are so good!

Anxiety is ever trying to to attack. I turn my anxious thoughts to prayers. Peace overflows!

Before me, lay the mountains. I am overwhelmed by your power and might. You assure me you love me! Though you are God, you never stop considering me.

A rush of wind brushes over me. I can feel you again! Tears overflow my eyes; no longer tears of anger or self pity, but the tears of joy I used to so often cry. Let this praise always overwhelm me! Though trouble will always surround me, let me always look to you! God, you are so good!


In
Prdx
Kids

 

• 88 Weekly Attendance (Avg)
• 20 weekly Volunteers (AVG)

 

The Gift of Serving

"About six or seven years ago, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. For a while, it wasn’t a problem, until one year ago. Suddenly, it got much worse. Overwhelmed with fatigue, anxiety, headaches, and stomach pains, my health began to interfere more and more with my work and my ability to engage in community. More disappointingly, it interfered with my ability to serve at the church.

At this time, when I could barely summon the strength to attend City Group regularly, I was offered some exciting opportunities to serve. I wanted so badly to say yes, but I was afraid to commit because my health was so unreliable. I felt like the eager kid who was saying, “Put me in coach!” Instead, I was benched - indefinitely. This caused me to become frustrated with the Lord.

Finally, I went to see AJ and Daniel for prayer and to be anointed with oil. Though I knew the Lord could say no to healing and still be just, I feared His answer would affect the way I viewed Him. But in the end, I left the meeting with peace and a sense that it wasn’t time to be healthy yet.

In fact, my health got worse. However, in the midst of this weakness, God spoke more tenderly to me than ever before. During this time, I dwelled on God’s Word, which says He does not withhold good from those who love Him. At first, I was confused because I thought health sounded good. He helped me see that Christ is the ultimate goodness, and He never withholds Himself from those who love Him.

Not only did God reveal His goodness to me, but He also showed me that I’m not “benched.” If ever I was on the bench, it was because I put myself there. God revealed to me that my weakness was a strength because it enabled me to relate with others in a way I couldn’t if I was healthy. As such, God called me off the bench and put me in the game - the game being kids ministry.

I told Heather Thompson that I had been praying about serving in PRDX Kids. After reflecting on the ways God provided for me in the past, I realized this situation was no different. If I felt called to serve the children, then He would provide the strength. There were many Sundays when I felt awful both before and after serving. But during my service hour, I was deeply aware of the Spirit at work in my heart and in the hearts of the children. As a matter of fact, it was often the weeks I didn’t feel prepared or energized that He seemed to work the best.

I began to thank God regularly for my suffering because it was through suffering that I fell more deeply in love with Him. I also thanked God for the chance to serve the children at Paradox because I was reminded of what a gift it is that we get to be a part of His exciting battle against darkness. What a joy it was to share the Good News with some of our youngest members of the Body!"

- Sarah Naumann


Did you know?

On December 3rd, we dedicated 15 children.
God has given us lots of babies over the last year!


In
Music
& Arts

 

• 6 Original Songs
• 2 Art Shows
• New Music residencies

 
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He Is Faithful To Complete

with Scout Harell

My life leading up to the Saints and Sorrows gallery felt exceptionally dark. I returned to Fort Worth after a year in Seattle feeling depressed, wounded, and scarred. Feeling so far removed from my creative being, I deemed myself inadequate. How was I supposed to lead others in worship through creating art when I myself hadn’t been able to pick up a brush, pen, or marker in months? Despite my desire to create an original work, I drew a blank - literally. I had nothing to offer.

To compound my feelings of inadequacy and anxiety towards leading, it seemed like no one was interested in participating in the gallery. Just weeks before the premiere, the creative team only had three confirmed pieces. Though we thought it might be best to postpone the gallery, we instead decided to go through with the event. Regardless of how many pieces we curated, we knew that the Lord would use the work to reveal Himself and in turn bless those who came. Even if only one person left knowing more about God, who is our refuge in suffering, then it would be worth it. Armed with that knowledge, the creative team carried forth its vision in the midst of extremely busy schedules.

As the date drew nearer, my anxiety expounded. I still had no clue what I would contribute to the gallery. In the end, I decided to live paint, and I prayed that when the day came the Lord would guide my brush to His glory.

Finally, June 17th - the Saints and Sorrows premiere - came. Among the frenzy of setting up the gallery, the longing for the Lord to show Himself was palpable - so much so that I felt a peace overwhelm me and calm my nerves. I stood before my easel and wrote Philippians 1:18-21 on the canvas, and from there, everything flowed.

Using dark hues to symbolize the darkness in my own life, I expressed myself wholly. I created a swirl of color, as messy as my own grief, but over the painted cloud of darkness, I wrote the words “I WILL!” over and over again - a declaration to myself and God that I will rejoice in all things.

Not only did the Lord work through me and my work, but His presence was evident in every piece of work. The walls were lined with pieces - more than we ever anticipated. Even the attendance bespoke of God’s goodness. New and familiar faces filled the gallery as performances relayed messages of suffering. Michael touched the hearts of those listening with his spoken word about depression; Claire played her harp and sang about the Lord’s goodness; Matt led the attendees in praising God and singing out “living is Christ, to die is gain.”

We collectively came together to express suffering, but more importantly, to express the knowledge that we are not alone in our suffering. God works with us and through us in our suffering to bring about His goodness. He does not leave us nor forsake us. Even if all else is lost, He remains. And He is enough.

 
 
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Music & Arts

2017 Artist Development:
• 2 Worship Leader Residents
• 4 Band Residents

 

In
Racial
Reconciliation

 
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Prdx Round Table
Sessions

This Summer we gathered some of the family around a table to discuss the history and importance of Juneteenth and the reality of continued racism in our hearts today. 

In
Sermon
Series

 

• Saints and sorrows
• equipped
• advent with the paradox

 
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Saints and Sorrows

 

• 32 Sermons
• 609 Average Attendance on Sundays
• 7 Songs written from Philippians
 

 I don't really remember what Pastor Jim was saying, but I remember being completely broken. Like God was breaking my heart, my hardened heart, so he could put it back together.

Johnny Hatcher | on the sermon titled "Sharing in Suffering"

 
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Equipped

• Five Sermons
• Five Gospel-Centered Practices
• Five Preachers
 

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Advent with The Paradox

• Four Sermons
• Three Preachers
• Two Chapters in Luke
 

In
Giving

 
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$149,000
given to Church Planting


$30,500
given to City Renewal

 
 
 

Hope
For
2018

I have three prayers for us this coming year – three hopes that I believe God will do in us because they align with his will and because he is good and powerful.

Intimacy with God through the Word and Spirit

After witnessing the enthusiasm and fruit of  #PRDX31, where we read the Bible together in the month of August, I want us to continue this pursuit through #PRDX365. It’s more than a reading plan; it’s a commitment together to pursue more intimacy with the Father through the Word and Spirit.

If we desire to see the Holy Spirit move in power through us, we also need to pursue the heart of God with dedicated devotional times, an eagerness and expectancy on Sundays, and a praying-at-all-times dependence on Him.

Deep dependence on the Spirit for ministry

The elders and deacons have been reading, discussing, and praying for more of the Spirit—His fruit in our lives and His gifts in our ministry – and we pray and hope that He does that same work in you.

We need the Holy Spirit (and not just a class or program) to disciple each other and live out the “one-anothers” of scripture.

Holiness in our relationships, Holy intimacy in our marriages

As we look forward to A Wild Heart, our Spring sermon series on sex, singleness, and marriage through the Song of Solomon, I am praying that the Spirit would do good work in our church.

I pray that we would hear the gracious demand to obey God’s design for sex, dating, and marriage. We must “graciously demand” from one another that we will date Christians, not practice sexual immorality, cultivate a holy intimacy in our marriages, give an example to the many singles in our church of the great things Jesus has planned for them, and that we would call one another to this.

Will you pray and hope for these things with me?

For His Fame,
Pastor Jim Essian

 
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