Boy, do we have some catching up to do!
After we got the thumbs-up from ARC to begin our church plant’s launch phase (all the prep work that happens leading up to our first Sunday service), our speed of life has turned up a few notches. We are hammering out the details to start a new life in a new place! So over the coming days, we will share with you where that new place is, what we will be doing there, and how God has laid out the path for it to all come together.
I’ll give you one bit of exciting news right away — our church plant has a name!
First, let me weave a little back story for you.
Over the last several years, a picture keeps popping up in my mind. I see an expansive old house, the kind with a deep front porch. The front door swings open, and lining the warm living spaces are countless bedrooms, too many to fit in any house I’ve seen. The house is filled with people of all colors. I get the impression that I’m in charge of the house, and I am caring for all these people.
Four years, that dream has burned in my heart and brought tears to my eyes. I figured it was a far-off idea, that maybe someday down the road when my own children were grown, I would own a house like that and be wise enough (and selfless enough) by then to take care of a bunch of people who needed a place on their way to beginning new lives, somebody to love them and offer a sense of home and healing. Bright, warm, welcoming, comforting, nurturing. What a nice vision to have for my 50s or 60s.
At least, that’s what I thought. And then it hit me one day — that home might not just be a literal dream for my distant future — it may be MY VISION FOR THE CHURCH PLANT! Not a literal house, but what I envision the church accomplishing, summed up in that picture in my mind.
There it was, after so much time of watching Gunter begin to take his vision and put it into words, into a plan of action. There was the passion of my heart, wrapped in a neat little gift box. It was my piece of the puzzle that, we would soon discover, fit perfectly with my husband’s.
You see, as we thought and dreamed and mulled over what exactly this church plant needed to be, Gunter had talked an awful lot about encounter. And at first, I really didn’t get it. Encounter? It sounded kind of weird and emotional and dramatic to me…that is, until it came into the context of a home. Until I had a puzzle piece with the very same print.
Of all the arenas in which we’ve ministered, times spent with people in our home have been some of the most meaningful and fruitful. We love welcoming people in, feeding them, and sharing conversations around the kitchen table or on the comfy hand-me-down couches that have always graced our den. Home is where we get to know people on a deeper level. It’s a place we’ve been able to serve, laugh, love and be real.
That’s what I want our church plant to be, on a larger scale — not a literal house, but a home that feels homey. An inviting setting to meet God, to get to know Him on a deeper level, to be real, to love and to be loved. To be part of one big, happy family (dysfunctional, yes, but family nonetheless).
Lo and behold! That sounds a whole lot like what Gunter had been saying all along! “…everywhere we go, we create spaces for people to meet God…” were his exact words.
In fact, throughout the Bible, God has wanted encounter and relationship, too! He’s gone to the greatest lengths for it.
In the Old Testament, the Temple was a space that opened a door for God to connect with people, a house where He made His dwelling. In the New Testament, He came as a man — Jesus — to “dwell among us,” and invited people to come to Him. He took it a step further when He sent the Holy Spirit, as He now lives in every believer. And one day, we’ll make our home with Him in Heaven. Obviously, He wants people to be in relationship with Him, to share home.
God’s heart for encounter and home + His passion in our hearts for encounter and home =
We are God’s dwelling place, and we want people to encounter Him, whether we’re in a building on a Sunday morning, at work, at school, at the grocery store, anywhere and everywhere.
And, whoa, we even have a logo and some homey colors. (So homey, you could just about kick off your shoes and warm up your tootsies by the toasty glow, huh?)
The Dwelling. It just fits.
Well, that’s all for now. I cannot wait to fill you in on the rest! But that’s another blog for another day this week. Much love to you!