Here are some of the highlights of what God has been up to this month…
Our LAUNCH TEAM is gathering weekly!
Our Launch Team added a new member and we are now gathering weekly! As part of our “Bring – Fill – Pour” strategy, we will “pour” by serving in the community as well as throwing a party every month. (Find out more about our strategy!)
I recently met w/ the principal & joined the PTA at Holly Grove Elementary School to see how we can serve them. We discovered that one of the best ways we can serve them right away is to bless the staff. So this past week, we assembled a gift basket full of different snacks and fruit for the staff lounge. I talked to Bailey’s teacher yesterday and she commented on how the basket really made the teachers’ day and how much they appreciated it. We also asked the teachers to list any supply needs they have that we can get for them. We will also be volunteering at their big annual fundraiser coming up in a few weeks.
It might seem strange but throwing parties is an important part of our strategy. What might sound even more strange is that throwing parties is Biblical! When Jesus called Matthew to follow Him, one of the first thing He did was throw a party. Parties and banquets are really common in the New Testament and are a great way to meet people and get to know them. We want to be a church that knows how to throw great parties! We are working on plans to host a tailgating party at a Holly Springs High School football game in a few weeks to support the school and meet some new people.
We are really excited about the opportunity to host a booth at a large community festival coming up on Oct. 25th called HollyFest. We will have pumpkin bowling and a mask making station for the kids, as well as give away candy and sports bottles. We will even have a drawing for a family weekend getaway! A couple of weeks later we’ll have a follow up Vision Party to get to know people, share the vision, answer questions, and invite them to be part of what God is doing by joining the launch team.
This coming Sunday night, we will be serving and sharing about LifeSpring at a Fall Festival in Fuquay-Varina hosted by a church called The Gathering. I have become friends with the pastor and they have been very helpful and supportive by offering to help us in a variety of ways.
We are also developing a partnership with Northwest Community Church in Cary. Some of our team are beginning to worship there regularly and we are planning to connect with one of their Lifegroups that meets in Holly Springs. Northwest recently made a generous donation of several large storage cases and other equipment that we will need once we start our worship gatherings. Another church offered us some free space to store them until we need them. It’s awesome to be connected with other churches and pastors that have a Kingdom vision!
We are continually working on getting to know our neighbors by going for walks, engaging people in conversation, and inviting neighbors over for dinner. Once a month we are also planning to host a party at our house just to create another opportunity to get to know our neighbors better. I recently joined our neighborhood HOA Board to find ways we can serve and help create a greater sense of community. The HOA is already planning to host a block party in November.
We are also taking the opportunity to turn Halloween into a huge block party in our neighborhood by giving away hot dogs, drinks, and candy (of course) to the trick or treaters and their parents. This is one of those rare opportunities where everyone will be out and walking around, so we want to make the most of it!
One of the things we are realizing is that it’s going to take time to get to know the people in our neighborhood and the community. Many people have small kids and tend to be really busy, so finding time to get together with them is a real challenge. Even though we have lived here for so long, we didn’t truly “live” here, so while the places are familiar many of the faces are not. That is amplified by the number of new people that continue to move in! We are definitely making progress but it’s kind of a slow process. We know that starting a healthy church the right way is worth the time it is going to take as we consistently invest in relationships on the front end. Keep praying that God will give us patience and open doors to connect with people.
TRAINING & NETWORKING
A couple weeks ago I attended a 2 day intensive church planter training at Journey Church in north Raleigh. Journey is our sponsor church in North Carolina and organizes the Triangle Church Planting Network that we are also part of. It was a great couple of days of being challenged, encouraged, reminded of some things, and getting to meet some other guys who are planting in the greater Raleigh area.
Last week I had the incredible chance to travel to Dallas for the Sentralized Conference and got to connect with the other guys who were in our residency at Brentwood Baptist Church in Nashville. We attended this conference last year in Kansas City at the beginning of the residency and there were several defining moments that really challenged and expanded by thinking about what it means to BE the Church rather than just DO church.
This year I came away with some great encouragement and practical ideas about how to move forward in the context of Holly Springs. It was a very affirming week and one of the big takeaways for me was that our mission is to make disciples and planting a church is our method to accomplish that mission. Disciples aren’t made microwaved or made overnight. It’s a long, sloppy, sometimes painful process that is infinitely worthwhile. This is what we are giving our lives to do. We are giving God everything we are and everything we have to the mission of making disciples.
I’ve heard it said many times that if we make disciples, Jesus will build His Church. However if our focus is on starting a church, we may or may not succeed in the mission to make disciples. I need to be reminded of that often as I feel the pressure to “produce results” and keep things moving forward. Some things can’t be rushed in this process and we have to patiently wait for the Holy Spirit to do what only He can do. Just like surfers can’t make the waves, we can’t force the Spirit to move. All we can do is pray, prepare, wait, and watch for the wave to come and when it does – hold on for the ride!