Well, this amazing journey of church planting is now entering a new phase. Last Saturday, May 11, we officially “launched” Lift Church! This just means we pushed all of our marketing (radio, mass mailers, FB ads) towards this ONE BIG DAY in order to create some critical mass. And, guess what? It worked!
Prior to last weekend, our core team has been holding great services with anywhere from 30-60 people in them. Saturday, we had 161 in attendance and most were first time guests. Friends and fellow pastors drove from Sydney, Maitland, and Nelson Bay to celebrate with us. The service itself was very special and we sizzled some sausages while kids ate sugar and ran laps through the jumping castles afterwards!
Most importantly, one lady made a decision to become a Christian and many of our guests experienced church and God in a fresh way that was upLIFTING, pardon the pun, and actually surprising for them. Many will return and begin this journey of understanding their Creator alongside us. Now, we have a great foundation on which to build.
On a personal note, I have to share what meant the most to me on the day…
Our family moved to Newcastle 11 months ago from Texas; we didn’t know anyone here. We came with amazing training from ARC on how to plant a church, money we had raised from supporters in the States, some experience in pastoring, and that’s about it for the tangible pieces. Everything else we owned was all tied up in the secret places of our hearts. Our dreams, vision, and burden was alive in us but we felt very alone. We believed strongly that God had called us and sent us here; however, we really had NO IDEA how we would get our first members.
One family moved here from TX to help us and then suddenly in July, one more approached us and asked if they could come along (which we thought was quite funny as we really weren’t in a position to say NO!)! Over the next month, we gathered a couple more people which allowed us to begin “living room church” with five families.
As the weeks went on and one by one we added to this core team, shared our vision, and began putting systems in place and holding serves, a significant shift began to occur. What was once only in OUR hearts, poured out and took root in OTHER PEOPLE’S HEARTS. What I saw on Saturday, and what made me weep on and off all day (and again as I type), was a group of about
40 “LIFTERS” who were absolutely SOLD OUT to our vision.
They came early and stayed late.
They moved equipment and decorated.
They shopped and planned and cooked and cleaned.
They practiced playing their instruments and singing.
Their kids joined in the labour of love that was about to “LIFT-OFF!”
The enthusiasm was electric and each and every one of them invited friends and family and were so proud of what they, with God’s help, had accomplished.
This, to me, is God’s Church at its best. Unity and enthusiasm working hand in hand. A dying to ourselves and a willing sacrifice in order to provide a place of refuge and hope for the lost and hurting.
When we place our gifts in God’s hands and allow them to be used in the local church, there’s no greater example to the world of Christ’s love and character; and THIS, my friends, is why I love the church.
Before Jesus was captured and crucified, he prayed a beautiful prayer for his followers. Tonight as I reflect on all that is good in my life, I am praying a portion of this same prayer over Lift Church and our amazing team:
“I’m praying not only for them
But also for those who will believe in me
Because of them and their witness about me.
The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—
Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
So they might be one heart and mind with us.
Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.
The same glory you gave me, I gave them,
So they’ll be as unified and together as we are—
I in them and you in me.
Then they’ll be mature in this oneness,
And give the godless world evidence
That you’ve sent me and loved them
In the same way you’ve loved me.” (John 17:20-23, MSG)