•October 11, 2011 • 11 Comments

It’s that time of year again… Time to grill up some HALLOWEENies & BOOgers!

Inspired by one of my mentors back in Denton, TX (Brent Bowen), HALLOWEENies & BOOgers is a chance to have some fun on Halloween with my family, meet & bless the neighborhood around me, and be a light for Christ in our community at the same time. For the past 7 year’s, my family and I have been celebrating Halloween by hosting this event on Halloween night- and it’s been a ton of fun to put on! Now after hosting in Denton & Fresno, we get the opportunity to do it here in Flower Mound!

Here’s how we roll… First, we invite all the neighbors around us to come on by for some free food on Halloween night (using the invite above). Over the past few years we’ve averaged over 300 trick-or-treaters, cooking up just as many burgers and hot dogs. Meanwhile we’re showing “The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” on our garage door (see below) & passing out bushels of candy (the good stuff!).

In addition to just being a ton of fun, this event really hits on a few other levels as well…

  1. Gives us an opportunity to meet TONS of neighbors we would have never otherwise have met & establish a connection with them (opening doors for dinners, birthday parties, & other individual or neighborhood gatherings…)
  2. Allows me to BOTH take my kids Trick-or-Treating AND hand out candy at the same time (winning!)
  3. Involves my whole family in blessing others in our own community
  4. Rather than taking the church (i.e.- my family and I) out of my community on the one night of the year the whole world is walking my street and coming to my door- it keeps us in our own neighborhood and allows us to make a missional investment right where we live

I’m not hating on Trunk-or-Treats or Church Fall Festivals (I’ve seen some churches really do an amazing job utilizing these venues to bless families & kids in the city)- but for my family and I, this has just been one unique opportunity for us to redeem one of the most festive nights of the year. Here’s some pics from last year…

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So there’s just another idea for your arsenal, if you’re interested. If you happen to live in a neighborhood that isn’t very active for this kind of thing, you’re welcome to come help out at the Sumlin household this Halloween!


Transitioning Back to Texas…

•March 22, 2011 • 7 Comments

As many already know, two years ago this May, my family and I made the move from Denton, TX out to Fresno, CA to work with The Well Community Church as pastor of the Fig Garden Campus. While it was tough to leave behind all of our friends and family, the state we had spent the majority of our 34 years of life in at the time, as well as our beloved home church (Denton Bible Church) – we felt a strong sense of the Lord’s lead out here to Fresno. From the moment we touched ground here, The Well instantly became our family away from family and Fresno became our new home & mission field. These past two years have been an amazing time for us. In our time here we have experienced tremendous blessing in our lives…

  • Had the privilege of working with an incredible church alongside an amazing staff in the midst of a great city
  • Felt the pleasure of God in seeking to invest the Gospel into the city of Fresno- and specifically in the lives I’ve been so privileged to shepherd at the Fig Campus
  • Have used my gifts & talents in ways & places I have never experienced before
  • Made some amazing friendships that have challenged & encouraged my family
  • Tapped into the wisdom of some wonderful mentors
  • Dialed into a neighborhood & school that have been better than we could have ever dreamed of being involved with
  • Experienced some of the most beautiful geography the U.S. has to offer!
  • Seen tremendous spiritual fruit take place in the lives of The Well Community- and it’s many partnerships in the city
  • And the list goes on…

Fresno has become home for us in these two years and we’ve been incredibly grateful to the Lord for bringing us out here to this amazing opportunity!

As many of you know, however, just a few months ago we received some tragic news that has had my family and I on our knees ever since… Right around Christmas, my wife’s mother was diagnosed with Sarcomatoid Mesothelioma (an aggressive and terminal form of cancer) at the age of 58. It’s a cancer that typically carries with it a survival rate of a few months to maybe 2 or 3 years. Sadly, she did not make it past two months, and went to be with the Lord on February 24, 2011. In the midst of a great loss, we did have the wonderful pleasure of seeing my mother-in-law come to faith in Jesus Christ shortly before she passed- and I had the privilege of honoring the Lord’s work in her life by officiating her funeral.

In the days prior to her death, the Lord began a stirring within our hearts concerning a possible relocation back to Texas. And in the days since she passed, that stirring became even greater. And after much prayer & fasting, along with a tremendous amount of counsel- we have decided to transition back.

I want to tell you that this decision has not been easy… And the reason why I take the time to write all of this, is because I want to be completely transparent with friends and family (both in California & Texas) as to how and why we have come to this decision…

First of all, I want to be up front and say that The Well Community Church has been absolutely AMAZING in this whole process. Both the elders, Brad Bell, and the staff have been completely supportive to my family in this time. I could not have asked for a more supportive church family to walk through this with us as the Well has done. Brad & the elders have prayed for us throughout this entire process. They were very quick to offer up multiple scenarios that involved keeping us here in Fresno- while at the same time allowing us to get back to Texas as often as we can for visits… And even after we still felt led to move forward with a transition- they were the first to offer up encouragement and support for our decision. I can honestly say, there’s probably not too many churches, companies, organizations, etc… that would offer to go the distance with us like The Well has done. For that my wife and I have been extremely grateful!

But again, even with some amazing scenarios in front of us that would allow us to stay put, there was still a ‘peace’ that was missing in my wife & I’s heart… the peace of just knowing “you’re there”, “you’re anchored nearby”, and now accessible to minister to our family in a way that had not existed before… A family who’s DNA has been catastrophically changed through this event. Believe me when I say, we had no desire to leave Fresno, we had no desire to uproot yet again… and in no way were we looking for an opportunity to “get away” from where we’re at… but after much prayer, fasting, and seeking godly counsel- we have come to an absolute & 100%, unified peace about the decision we’ve landed on. Either decision can leave a husband and wife with a sense of regret, but the ‘law of least regret’ led us to the conviction to move back. During this process, I have wrestled greatly with vocational “calling” vs. “comfort”, passages such as Luke 9:59-62, and the feeling of ‘selling out’ as a pastor (all feelings any pastor worth his salt has probably wrestled with)… but I’ve also wrestled with what it means to be a servant-leader husband, a steward of my family in a time of need (1 Timothy 5:8)- and resting on the deep conviction of knowing that wherever I go (whether California or Texas), whatever job I hold (whether teaching from a pulpit or flippin’ burgers at McDonald’s)- our heart will always be to invest in Christ’s Kingdom first and foremost (Matthew 6:33). So with that in mind, we feel a confident peace in our obedience to the Lord on this, and we will be heading back to Texas the first week of April.

Now I’m also excited to report that God is always faithful to resource where He leads. In praying for this decision, my wife & I have sought to ensure that this move had a long-term perspective in mind… We asked that if God would have us move again, that He would provide not only financially and vocationally, but that He might provide a spot where our family could anchor and invest the Gospel in the community around us for a long time to come… We prayed very specifically, that if it were His lead, that He would provide the right role with the right church in the right city… And He has indeed provided above and beyond what we even prayed for…

Through God’s clear provision, I have officially accepted a position with The Village Church as their Flower Mound Campus Pastor. I became acquainted with the Village during my years as the college pastor of Denton Bible Church, and have maintained friendships with several pastors on staff ever since. To those who know The Well- The Village is very similar in doctrine, philosophy, culture & mission. I consider it a high honor to have the opportunity to be a part of what God’s doing there. While my family and I are sad to leave The Well community out here in Fresno, we are excited about the opportunity to come on board with the Village and look forward to having a long-term investment in the Flower Mound /Highland Village /Lewisville area. Already the Village family has been extremely welcoming and gracious to my family and I. I’ll be working with a phenomenal staff, embedded in a great community, and serving with the same passion for Christ I’ve always had. We look forward to what God has in store for us ahead.

To The Well family that we leave behind… thank you for the incredible support, patience, and love you’ve demonstrated to us in the two years we’ve been here. You’ve invested in us in more ways we can possibly thank you for. We’ll continue to pray for the Lord’s blessing upon The Well and the city she serves. Know you will be deeply missed.

We’ll continue to keep everyone posted as the transition progresses. Thanks for the many prayers and support offered up by so many in this journey.


The Sumlin Family

7 Great Ways To Get Equipped At The Well

•March 22, 2010 • Leave a Comment

For those of you looking for opportunities to become better equipped in your Christian faith and in the advancement of the Gospel- whether here in Fresno or beyond… Here’s 7 great ways The Well can help you…

The Well’s Residency program is a ten-month, seminary level learning experience aimed at growing emerging leaders toward a better understanding of Bible, theology, leadership, character development, and servanthood. Like a medical residency program, we seek to immerse our residents with a solid foundation in the Scriptures, preparing them for a lifetime of service to our Lord. Since inception in 2004, we’ve graduated about 120 students, comprised of a good mix of men and women, including numerous married couples who experienced the program together. The majority of our residents are local to Fresno, but some have relocated from out of state in order to be a part of this incredible experience. Some of our students have full-time ministry aspirations, while others simply desire to bolster their knowledge and skill in whatever church ministry area God calls them. We are changing Residency this year to be an even more intense hands-on introduction into ministry. The target resident would be someone who has ministry aspirations and is ready to take those aspirations to the next level by making Residency their primary focus for 10 months. Want more info? CLICK HERE.

The Academy is designed for those who desire to deepen their knowledge of the Bible and theology, as well as prepare themselves personally for various ministries, in and out of the church. Over the course of three years, as a student going through the Academy, you will read all the books of the Bible and will see how each chapter fits together in the flow of each book. You will see how the whole Bible is woven together by God for our instruction and learn how to interpret the Bible with skill. You will see the major theological truths unfolded in the Bible and learn how to answer people when asked some of the harder questions about Christianity and the Bible. The goal is to grow in your relationship with Jesus Christ and in your understanding of Him in a profoundly personal way. Want more info? CLICK HERE.

The Urban Leadership Training program equips participants to intentionally engage their community by providing a Christ-centered biblical and theological framework, leadership skills, and knowledge of urban issues; the goal is for participants to become a catalyst for missions and serve as bridge builders between their Well campus and surrounding neighborhood. This is a 9-month commitment in which participants must dedicate 10 to 12 hours a week for service, meetings and homework. Participants will serve at least 4 hours a week in a Target Neighborhood community (Susan B., Easterby, or Powers-Gingsburg). Participants will attend a weekly, Wednesday night meeting – a time devoted to building community and to intentional development involving speakers, readings, and/or trips, etc. In preparation for the weekly meetings, participants must do the required reading. Participants must also meet monthly with the Urban Leadership Training Director. Want more info? CLICK HERE.

Feeling like the Lord might be leading you into vocational ministry? Not sure what that might look like, or what arena He might want you to serve in? The Well’s internship could be a great help! The Well’s Internship Program exists to provide you with exposure into the inner workings of The Well, to provide teaching on the philosophy behind what we do, and to help you realize your place in ministry. The hope is to give our interns a 30,000-foot view of the church, as well as hands-on opportunities in many of the ministries. It is possible to experience the Internship and come to the realization that full-time ministry is not for you. For us, that is exciting because you are gaining more clarity on the future God has for you and what particular design you posses to fulfill your purpose in life. If you have the desire and time to continue on after the Internship, you can apply to become part of The Well’s volunteer staff in a specific area of ministry. Want more info? CLICK HERE.

Every Neighborhood Partnership is a non-profit organization (originally established through The Well) that exists to help facilitate relationships between churches and neighborhoods in Fresno, who then work together to meet the needs of their school, their neighborhood and the families who live there. The vision of ENP is to have at least one church partnering with every neighborhood in Fresno. ENP employs a 5-step process in helping connect churches to these neighborhoods:

  1. Saturday Sports
  2. Classroom Volunteers & Mentors
  3. Community Outreach
  4. Neighborhood Presence
  5. Economic Development

In addition, several other outreach ministries have launched through the help of ENP, such as Neighborhood Thrift & Off The Front. If you’ve got a heart for the city, the broken down and unreached- ENP presents an incredible opportunity to come invest your life and make an eternal difference in the lives of others! Want more info? CLICK HERE.

Got a heart to take the Gospel to the world? or maybe starting right here in the city? Let The Well train, equip, and send you to do just that. Whether it’s short-term exposure or a long term investment, our goal is to help mobilize Christians to fulfill the Great Commission in whatever context the Lord is calling them. We have tons of opportunities to help train and equip locally or globally. Want more info? CLICK HERE.

Right now The Well has 3 multi-site campuses all throughout Fresno (with a 4th, regional one on the horizon). These campuses allow us to be one church in multiple locations. Among the many benefits that come from this model, probably the most important is that we’re able to keep the local church, “local”… By that, I mean folks don’t have to commute 45 minutes just to gather together as a body. This also allows us to strategically invest in specific neighborhoods and communities across Fresno. With that in mind, there are dozens of ways in which you can lock on with one of our campuses and be equipped to missionally engage a particular community. For more information on any of our campuses, visit our WEBSITE.

The Well Residency Program 2010

•March 13, 2010 • Leave a Comment

To all my Denton peeps, as well as anyone else who might be interested in an incredible life-transforming opportunity…


The Well’s Residency Program is a nine-month seminary level learning experience aimed at growing emerging leaders toward a better understanding of Bible, Theology, Leadership, Character Development, and Servanthood. Much like Tom Nelson’s “Young Guns Program” (Denton Bible Church), this is a year-long program aimed at giving you a better understanding of your bible, as well as solidifying & shaping the trajectory of your Christian life. However, unlike other programs, this one is coed, free, and open to anyone, no matter your vocational direction. The Residency Program is taught by myself, as well as several other pastors here on staff.

On top of the Residency Program itself, there’s also some incredible opportunities to serve and grow here at the Well. The Well is a young church that is rapidly growing in the midst of a small-feeling, big city (Fresno, CA). As a multi-site church with three locations throughout Fresno (and a fourth to come soon), there are some amazing opportunities to help bring the Gospel into many unreached areas of our city. So if you’re looking for an opportunity to grow, as well as an opportunity to be poured out- come take a year out of your life to make an investment that will pay off for the rest of your life.

The Well’s Residency Program is not the only gig around… for other opportunities in churches around the country, take a look at my “post-grad training” resources on the right hand column of my blog…

For more information on The Residency Program (including how to apply), check out our WEBSITE, or email me at shea@thewellcommunity.org.

The Missional Church… made simple…

•February 3, 2010 • 2 Comments

For those of you who’ve ever wondered, “what is a missional church?” or rather, “what makes a church ‘missional’?”… This video is a pretty simple, yet good, picture…

(RT Ed Stetzer)