This is a little glimpse into our story. For part one, click here.
It may seem self-serving to say, but it takes courage to start a church. For Courtney and I, we had left a stable environment, a salary that didn't count on our ability to raise money, and a community of people that we were grateful to be a part of. But in a weird way, those things that may seem the most important for provision and security are actually secondary to what became my greatest fear and thus the place where courage was needed most. When you start a church you are counting on God to show up and do something. You are expectant.
Expectation. If we could sum up this process in one word, it has been that. For Courtney and I, we had finished our time at a church we had served at for 10 years that did not support us in planting a church. We live in a place where church attendance, much less church planting is far from the norm. In the darker moments, fear commandeers your expectations whispering in your ear, "You know you're going to fail." "Yeah, some people can plant churches, but not you." "They're right, you're not a good enough leader." "You're not charismatic enough, connected enough, smart enough, strategic enough."
What you realize is that fear will not stop preaching its false gospel of scarcity and insecurity. And you know what there is some measure of truth in all of our doubts. The truth is I'm not a good enough leader. But what this season has taught and is teaching me is to lift my eyes (Psalm 121). If my expectations are centered upon my own giftedness or ability to change situations, despair is a proper response. But if my expectation, or said another way, my faith, is in the God who raised Jesus from the dead, then I am unburdened by the dread of failure and freed to pray, to grow in leadership and vision, and to simply know myself as a beloved child of God and teach others to know the same of themselves.
I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
Through this time of preparation and planning, God has been redeeming my expectations—redeeming my imagination. Like everything the God who became flesh does, he doesn't just do this conceptually but concretely. Through the course of the past year Ecclesia became an official plant of the Evangelical Covenant Church, a denomination that stunningly embodies the kind of church we hope to build. God has brought some of the most beautiful and missional people into our lives to be a form the core of our church, committed to plant the church and to live out the Gospel of Jesus in community with one another. God has provided financially, God has provided relationally. Again and again God showed himself faithful.
And now as we sit on the precipice of launching our weekly Sunday gatherings in April, I am expectant. I am expectant that God will change hearts, change neighborhoods, change schools, change destinies. I am expectant that God will do immeasurably more than all I can ask or imagine. I offer a pray that I wrote down sitting on the corner of Vandeventer and Nassau where our church gathers for worship:
Jesus, I still believe or perhaps believe it for the first time that your Gospel is big enough to break through all the cultural barriers, all of the indifference, and hard-heartedness. Start a movement right here, by the power of your word, for the glory of your name.