Church Plant Meetings
The beginning of Lent marks the beginning of a new stage of our church plant. This week, we will begin to meet as a church plant team. For the first four weeks of meetings, we will be studying what it means to be a church community, and we’ll be working on building that community amongst ourselves. Most of our team members have met one another but do not know one another very well. I am hopeful that beginning this work by focusing on how we live together under the Lordship of Christ will be the perfect opportunity for us to grow together as a group and envision how our church will live out it’s calling to love one another. During this time, we’ll be designing our small group ministry, where we hope congregants will grow together as fellow travelers on the path of discipleship.
We have been looking for a location for these church plant team meetings, and last week The Salvation Army, who we partner with on Tuesday nights to host our weekly food ministry in the East Village, offered us the use of their fellowship hall. I am grateful for their continued partnership with us. It seems fitting that we will be hatching the plan for this church in the same room we have used to feed the hungry for so many years.
I dedicated several days last week to getting our website up and running. It now looks and feels fairly complete with working links, pictures, biographies of some of our church plant team members (more to come), and even some of my sermons from Southeast available for listening. We will continue to fine-tune it over time, but I came to realize that the website is the only public representation of our church right now, so it should be a place where potential church members and potential contributors can go and learn something about who we are and what we are doing. I’m working on setting up a link for online donations, and Brian Flaigmore recently took some high quality photos for us around East Village that I’ll use to replace some of the lower quality pictures when I get a chance. Check it out!
Sunday Morning Location
We are still hopeful that e3 Civic High (in the downtown library) will lease us space on Sunday mornings, but it is taking them quite a while to meet internally to figure out what they can offer. I was a little more aggressive this week in trying to “nudge” them into figuring it out, because we need to have time to finalize something else if it falls through. As a backup plan, I have been talking to the downtown library itself about a small meeting room that they have available for rent. It can hold 46 people, it has street access, and it would be fairly cheap. This would at least give us somewhere to start if we haven’t locked down anything else in time. It would be nice to have “plan B” be in the same location as “plan A”, and who knows, maybe we’ll fit there easily for a while and save a little money. I’m not worried about exceeding the 46 cap at first, but we wouldn’t have any classroom space for kids or any room to do anything other than have our service. They have also said that they probably can’t rent it to us long term because of some in-house programming they do on Sundays from time to time. Pray that God would put us where God wants us – we will be very happy to have the space issue settled!
Luke 3 describes John the Baptist coming to Israel and calling upon people to repent and be baptized. This repentance was to involve some fairly dramatic lifestyle changes, which was just the beginning of what was to come. John’s purpose was to prepare the way for Jesus. John warns his hearers that while he baptizes with water, the one who is coming after him will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. John warns that the wheat will be gathered into the barn, but the chaff will be burned with unquenchable fire. This time of preparation was no joke.
Lent is a time for the church to prepare to receive the messiah through fasting and repentance. This, too, is no joke. The season snuck up on me this year, but as Ash Wednesday seemed suddenly upon me, I was reminded that everything we do with this church plant has to be rooted in hearing “the voice of one crying out in the wilderness – prepare the way of the Lord.” It’s easy to get caught up in putting together a great looking website, finding the perfect space to meet, raising enough money, etc…, but Lent comes as a timely reminder that our work as a church plant team is first and foremost about responding to the pronouncement that the kingdom of God is at hand. As the heart of our preparation, we need to come as the tax collectors, the soldiers, and even the crowds came to John asking, “What, then, should we do?”
It was no accident that we chose the season of Lent as the season of preparation for our team. As you join the church in fasting and prayer this Lent (and I hope that you do!), please ask God to humble our team and to prepare us for what is ahead. Pray that God would keep us focused on following Jesus, and that we would be shown what it is that we should do.
Thank you for your prayers and your support. Have a blessed Lent!