Sunday, December 1, 2013

We asked, God answered!

Andy Stanley (Pastor of North Point Community Church) once said churches don't necessarily need more buildings; rather churches should learn to share existing buildings with more of a Kingdom mentality.  With this idea in mind, I sent letters to several churches throughout our region asking their leadership to consider hosting a church plant within their building.  It must have sounded like a far-fetched concept to many of them!  Meanwhile, we were still looking into fire halls, schools, and any other facility which could house a small crowd with a few rooms for children.

We prayed and prayed for God to reveal where He wanted the church plant to start gathering a launch team.  It felt like it was taking forever for God to answer (even though we had only been looking for a few weeks!).  I received a call from a kind gentleman during dinner on October 21st stating his church would be very excited to host us.  We were prepared to go up to 30 minutes from where we live.  Yet, his church was only 1 mile away!!!  Within a week, they gave us keys to the building and granted 24/7 access (with the exception of Sunday morning).  We have agreed to honor their church calendar and serve together as various community initiatives arise.  They even insisted that we utilize their building for a Christmas Eve service.      

On November 10th at 5:00pm, we had our first meeting at St. Thomas Church in Gibsonia.  That night, I laid out a vision for why churches need to continually plant new churches regardless of their size and resources in order to advance the Gospel.  The next Sunday, we looked at some passages of Scripture that communicated the Kingdom.  Christ reigns and will return for all His followers.  Therefore, we should function with a Kingdom mentality where churches work together.  Churches should never compete with each other for that is a scheme of the Enemy.  Last week, we experienced a night of worship with a full band.  It was incredible as several churches throughout the region were represented.

We have no idea if we will publicly launch out of St. Thomas Church.  However, God has richly provided an ideal situation to hold Boot Camp in preparation for the future.  We will continue to seek His will for every decision along the way (Proverbs 3:5-6)!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Things I Like about Living in Gibsonia, PA

Moving Day
     In May of 2008, our newly constructed home was complete.  We had worked hard for a few years at getting out of debt and saved for this day to arrive.  We were thrilled!  Our girls (three at the time) were so excited to explore and dance in their new bedrooms.  Many of our friends and relatives spent a day helping us unload the moving truck.  It seems like yesterday!  The memories since then have overwhelming when I stop and think about it.

Our Neighborhood
     We have been blessed to be surrounded by really friendly neighbors.  Whether shoveling snow, getting the mail, or heading out for a walk, they typically enter into conversations with us.  We have enjoyed having our neighbor's children come over to play in the backyard on our playground set.  On occasion, we also enjoy having meals together.  (Although we really should do that more often!)  The seasons change, life is always busy, and time just goes by way too quickly.

Top 3 Things I Like about Gibsonia
     1.  "The Pace" - We used to live in the Cranberry Twp. area in a large housing plan.  There were many people, great sidewalks, a solid sense of community, and lots of places to eat.  However, traffic was terrible with a stoplight at seemingly every intersection.  Gibsonia, on the other hand, has a suburban feel without all the congestion.  We like the suburbs a lot!
     2.  "The Simplicity" - A few weeks ago, I spent a few minutes reading the history of Gibsonia from its website.  It was interesting to learn of many aspects of its heritage.  We enjoy the simplicity of participating in a local CSA where our family supports local farmer by purchasing their fresh fruits and vegetables.  The girls love to see the animals each week!
     3.  "The Community" - We like to frequent local restaurants and connect with their servers and managers.  We have been going to Max n Erma's almost every week for several years.  Many of the employees have become our friends.  I have several breakfast meetings each week at local Eat n Park restaurants.  It has been great to get to know these people who provide quality service to the community.

When considering where God was leading us to start a new church, we asked God to show us His plan.  When a church about a mile from our house opened their doors to us, we sensed God's leading to invest deeper into a community we have called home for over the last 5 years.   

Monday, October 28, 2013

Current Books and Stats

A little about me...

     I am the husband of my best friend, Heather, and the father of five wonderful daughters ranging in age from 2-9.  I am a child of God and have placed my faith in Jesus Christ for salvation.  Over the past few year, God has been orchestrating some incredible things in my life and in the lives of some of my friends.  
     This blog will shed some light into what God has been revealing.  It is my desire for God to receive great glory through this blog and through the network of churches He is stirring for an amazing revival in Gibsonia and the entire Pittsburgh region.

Theory to Reality...
     I enjoy learning and applying what I've learned.  To me, that's the reality of true knowledge - actually applying what we've learned.  If something is never applied and tested, it really isn't something we can claim to "know".  In other words, it is just a theory unless it's implemented.  

     I read and study to grow and be stretched.  Some of the books I have been studying lately are:
  • Radical by David Platt
  • Multiply by Francis Chan
  • Launch by Nelson Searcy
  • Planting Missional Churches by Ed Stetzer
  • The Externally Focused Quest by Swanson & Rusaw
  • The Up the Middle Church by Matt Keller
  • Vertical Church by James MacDonald
  • Center Church by Timothy Keller
  • The Unchurched Next Door by Thom Rainer
  • Church Planter by Darrin Patrick
  • The Book of Acts by Luke
     All of these have impacted my thoughts of the nature and calling of Christ's church.  In general, the American church has drifted into calm waters of status quo and complacency.  Clearly, there are some exceptions.  However, exceptions do not equal "the norm".

     We need to readily produce more churches, because more churches statistically reach more people with the gospel.  
     Yet, the number of churches in America is rapidly shrinking.  According to the North American Mission Board, in 1900 there were 28 churches for every 10,000 Americans; however there were only 11 churches for every 10,000 Americans in 2004.  Additionally, the Spirit uses new churches on average to win more people to Jesus than established churches.  "Churches under three years of age win an average of ten people to Christ per year for every hundred church members" while "churches over fifteen years of age win an average of three people per year for every hundred church members" (Stetzer, Planting Missional Churches). 
     I am totally in favor of and participate in international mission opportunities, because people all over the world need Jesus.  However, the following stats are frightening!  According to George Hunter, "the United Stated is the largest mission field in the Western Hemisphere" and "the fifth largest mission field on earth".  Stetzer writes, "the spiritual deadness of North America appears not only in its culture but in its churches as well".  80-85% of American churches are on the downside of their life cycle.  3,500-4,000 churches close each year in America while approximately 1,500 new churches will open.  

What will it take for the American church to wake up?  
     A fresh revival!  May it start with me, with us, right here, right now!