August 18, 2009

Raising the Pillars

It's been a year since we moved to Charlottesville and 11 months since the inception of our church. I have recently been reflecting on our time here and how God has shown Himself powerful in our lives. I will try and write later about my personal journey this year, but for now here is the latest update I sent out. (If you aren't on our list and would like to be, please leave a comment and let me know.)

If you spend any time in Charlottesville, it’s not long before you notice the beautiful old buildings full of Southern charm. Many of the homes and buildings are reminiscent of Monticello and the Lawn at UVA through the use of pillars.  The pillars speak of the heritage in this place, history that leads all the way back to the founding of our country.
Many are unaware, though, of the spiritual heritage. There are some spiritual pillars that have been raised here in the past: Lottie Moon (a longtime missionary to China and, really, the first mobilizer of missions in the U.S.) was saved on the UVA campus and sent out to China from FBC. John Broadus, the founder of Southern Seminary and a deep theological thinker, was first a local pastor. Vacation Bible School was a creative outreach that started in Charlottesville. And the first chaplaincy program began right here in our city.
Unfortunately, the spiritual pillars have been torn down over time. Although there are pockets of light, the city is dark and the legacy of spiritual greatness has failed to pass from generation to generation.
 The Calling
Kyle and I are beginning to understand why God has asked us to come here and build a church. There is an overwhelming need for Bible-believing, truth-teaching, people-loving churches. We have a passion for the gospel and a passion for discipleship. We desire to leave a spiritual legacy here and raise the pillars once again.
 Highs and Lows
It has been a very fast year since we moved in and September will mark one year since we started with 7 people studying the Word on Sunday evenings in our home.  Since that time, we have experienced both highs and lows, successes and disappointments.
·       We have had a great team come with us and work alongside us. Bill and Kyle have had a great personal and working relationship. Faith (administrative role), Marylyn (children’s) and Nick (worship) have been instrumental in helping get things off the ground and a blessing to us personally. That little team has grown into a core group of believers who serve our community so well.
·       We were meeting in a community center and recently moved into Cale Elementary. We have had weeks lately with more than 50 people attending. Praise God! In those numbers, we have seen a few new families, college students, singles, international folks, and unbelievers.
·       We have had multiple successful opportunities to serve our community and show the love of Christ.
·       Individually, many on our team and in our church have had opportunities to share the gospel and befriend unbelievers.
·       We have two small groups going strong and hopefully a third starting soon to meet the needs of families.
·       Discipleship is happening among our church.
·       Personally, our family is thriving here. Our kids love their friends, schools, and especially their church. Kyle and I, because of a year of stresses and uncertainty, have had an opportunity to grow together in our marriage in the areas of communication and serving one another.
Disappointments and Struggles:
·    We would like to see more people come to faith than what we have currently seen. We have a new sister in Christ, Jessica! We would like to see Wilson, a committed church attender, come to faith, as well as many others through evangelism and outreach events.
·       We have struggled to find a location to meet next. We only have Cale for 2 months, and, although we could ask to have it longer, we still feel God calling us to Monticello High School. Community leaders and school officials are not open to our church or the idea of us serving in the community.
·       We have suffered rejection, but we count it all joy (James 1:2-4) and know it is producing in us something precious (I Peter 1:6-8).
·       We have, at various times, struggled with fear, doubt, discouragement, and loneliness. But God has comforted us and shown us that none of these things are a part of life in the Spirit.
Year Two
As we approach our second year in CVille, we are excited! We feel that this past year has been a year of turning over the hard soil in preparation for some serious planting. The church has a feeling of momentum and excitement. We ask that you continue to labor with us in prayer! We need prayer for the following:
·       We are holding 3 community-wide outreach events on August 1, 15, and 29th leading up to our official launch in September. Please pray for the logistics of these events and that we would have many personal opportunities to share with people and invite them to church. (side note: two of these have happened since I wrote this and have been extremely successful. Some of our church visitors have been from these events)
·       We hope to “launch” (which is like a grand-opening) in September. But to do this, we need to be in our permanent space. We have run into brick walls at Monticello. Please pray!