Back in late February 2017 Jordan, Marshall and I had a meeting to evaluate the previous year and discuss plans for the future. I came in prepared for a review– we would look over the blessings and successes of 2016, talk about individuals who seem to be responding to the gospel, think strategically about how my time could best be invested in the next twelve months. We did none of those things. Instead, Jordan said something like this: “We know that in the next couple years you’re going to be heading out to lead another church. What can we do in the meantime to prepare you for that?”
I was caught off-guard. We talked about perhaps more opportunities to preach, more appearances at elders’ meetings. Then I was asked another question: what is your ideal situation? What are you hoping for in the next twenty-four months?
For this I was not caught off-guard. Ashley and I had begun thinking about this question months prior and I had developed in my mind something of an ideal situation. It went something like this:
“I’d like to prayerfully and strategically gather a group of committed members of our church who would be willing to transfer their membership to a nearby church in need of revitalization. By God’s grace, we would be able to serve that church and help bring it back to health.”
I wasn’t sure if our church was in a place to be able to do this, or what Jordan and Marshall would think. I was surprised that the immediate response was affirmation and excitement. Jordan said, “I’m going to start praying for this, and I want you to too.” So we did. We didn’t have any idea how this would play out. We didn’t have any church in mind to go to.
Jordan ramped everything up. What I meekly brought up as a suggestion he championed and pushed forward. He told our staff, “I want you to be praying about this every day.” He told the same thing to our church’s elders. He and I began meeting a half hour before our staff meetings to talk and pray. Specifically, we were asking mainly for clarity in three areas: 1) where will we go?, 2) who will come with?, and 3) how should we do this?
In some ways, the rest is history. We prayed this way through summer, and in early October we were told about a church in the Grace Brethren fellowship that had a pastor retiring at the end of the year. They had a massive property, and a small group of saints in need of help. And because we had initially thought we’d be heading west into Ventura County, we were a bit jolted when we heard that it was in Alta Loma, about 70 miles east of Simi, in San Bernardino County.
The title of this blog is “How We’re Doing This” but it is by no means a step-by-step process of our great strategic masterplan. The way God has worked so far, it may look like we had such a plan because it’s coming together so nicely. But we didn’t.
Stay tuned for the second part of this post, where I’ll talk about some of the convictions that have driven this project forward.
The above is part of a series. Catch up on the first posts here: