Church Planting Kit at the beginning of 2015
Church Planting Kit at the end of 2015
These two pictures serve as illustrations of an organism organizing. We are a different group than we were a year ago. In fact, our make up is quite different. Families have moved away and families have come. Is where we are currently what I expected at the beginning of 2015? To be honest, I am not sure. I think that this question is worth exploring and so in reflection of 2015, I am going to try to attempt to answer this question.
1. When January 1, 2015 began, I certainly did not expect us to feel like a church so quickly. The beginning of this year marked a powerful transition for us. After 2 months of inviting people into our home at the end of 2014, 2015 brought with it a sense of community in a fresh way. I remember remarking with Heather, “Hey, I think we have a church!”
2. As amazing as it was to have 3 newborn children at the beginning of the year, I did not expect how much having these three children would impact our church plant. We quite suddenly lost a large portion of our volunteers. That was a challenging season!
3. I did not expect our community to start off with such great people! We have such a beautiful, talented, and thoughtful community. We have remarkable folks who were living out our vision statement even before they heard it.
4. I did not expect the emotional ups and downs of church planting. I felt the difficulties of church planting for the first time earlier this summer. Church planting from the ground up is no easy venture, and earlier this year I felt this challenged for the first time. I remember hearing early on from folks that church planting is hard. I now know what they mean. For example, it is hard to build relationships without the hidden agenda of, “Will this person want to join a church plant?” Dying to the agenda is something I had to learn earlier this year, and doing so has been a freeing experience.
5. Church planting is about inviting people into something exciting, not persuasion them into it. The urgency growth is always staring at the church planter in the face. Nonetheless, the posture of invitation has been more successful than persuasion.
6. I learned that homes are awesome to meet in for committed Christians. What an honor to sing and break bread together in such an intimate space!
7. I learned that homes are challenging to meet in every week. The pre-cleaning and then the post-cleaning was a lot. I have grown to appreciate why church buildings exist.
8. I learn that worshipping in homes can be a barrier for the unchurched. I would have thought the opposite, but the intimacy in a home is just too palpable and intimidating for people who have never felt the community of church before.
9. I expected more growth while meeting at Sonshine Gymnastics. I viewed Sonshine as a springboard (pun intended) Sonshine for us. We learned how to set up and tear down equipment. We learned the convenience of worshipping outside the home. We also learned that location, location, location is really important, and hence the need to move.
10. I did not expect us to start meeting at Penny Road Elementary by the end of the year. I discovered that solidifying meeting in a school is a long and drawn out process, and I am thrilled that God provided for us this new space.
Through the expectations, unmet expectations and lessons learned, we definitely look back with joy and thanks to our great God. We are a community who loves God, loves ones another and is eager to share that love with others. We are living out our vision statement month by month, and I am excited to see our ministry grow and develop. Who knows what 2016 will bring, but what we do know is that God will be with us every step of the way.
As you reflect back on this past year, do you look back with joy and thanks as well? Do you recognize and feel God’s presence through the expectations, unmet expectations, and lessons learned?