Now Is The Time

Well it's official: we're starting a church.

I'm sorry if some of you haven't been informed yet, but Kelly and I will be leaving Christ's Church at Mason this fall and teaming you with our friends Aaron and Dorota Burgess to start a new church near downtown Cincinnati. It's been funny to have this decision hanging over my head for the past few months and not be able to write about it here. This will be one of the most monumental events in my life and I've been longing for the opportunity to reflect about it. So let me fill you in on some of the details that have brought us to this decision.

Ever since college, I knew I wanted to start a new church. I thought it would be exciting to guide a new community into the future, with no history or dogmas to hold us back. I was just never quite sure when or where it would all work out. My ministries took me and Kelly all over the Greater Cincinnati area where we had the opportunity to learn and grow, but my passion for starting a new church waned. Just a couple of years ago, I thought I decided never to plant* a church because of my rebellious attitude. It's sometimes difficult for me to be submissive and I thought that me starting a new church would give in to my James Dean-ish problem with authority. But during the past few years I discovered that I [usually] am respectful of other's authority; it's not like me to do things just to tick people off. So I really had no excuse not to plant a church. I was just being a wussy.

I didn't want to leave behind what we have here. It's not that ministers rake in cash, but there is some security in working in an established church. If you work hard and care about the people you minister to, you can make a nice existence for yourself. You know that you'll get a consistent paycheck [that won't bounce] and if you scrimp and save, you can really enjoy life. Kelly and I have loved life while at CCM and feel rather comfortable here. We have a wonderful house in a great neighborhood, and we're surrounded by many friends we've made here. But since the beginning of the year we've been praying for God to do something in our lives. We were using our trip to Israel as an opportunity to let God speak to us. And He did.

During the trip Kelly and I talked about church, life and the future. We talked about the talents and abilities we could use in a church that we weren't using right now. But I think one of the biggest things to influence us was being in a culture where there were so many people didn't know Jesus and our hearts going out for them. It all culminated the Friday night after we got back from Israel, while sitting in an O'Charley's restaurant, with Kelly and I staring at each other. We weren't very talkative, somewhat exhausted from our travels. Kelly got a bit misty eyed and said, "We have to leave." She wasn't talking about the restaurant- she meant Mason. This is somewhat important to note, because in our relationship, I'm always the one who wants to blaze through decisions and move swiftly. But I know God is behind it if Kelly is there 100%. It's held true every time we've made a decision like this, and this was no different.

So that was March and here we are at the beginning of June. In between you've missed more prayer and meetings and discussions that are getting this thing rolling. We're not going the tradition church planting route by any means here. Actually, I guess you could say we're following the Field of Dreams "If you build it they will come" church planting philosophy. There's a lot to get done, from getting people and money and plans together. We're planning on beginning Sunday evening October 16th [most church plants begin their planning more than a year in advance, so you could say we're behind the eight ball here]. But we're not worried. If this is what God wants, it'll work. And if not, you'll still be able to see me at McDonalds. Just don't yell at me if I forget to give you the Egg McMuffin you ordered.

This morning at 11:00 we'll be taking an important early step in getting things going. I'm meeting with a church near downtown about renting their building on Sunday nights where we can have our gatherings. So if you could drop a prayer about that, I'd appreciate it. I'll keep you posted on how things go.

So now is the time. Can't wait to see what happens.

*"Planting a church" is the widely accepted evangelical terminology for starting a new church. I'm not much of a horticulturist [I kill just about every green thing I touch], so I'm not to big on the phrase "church planting." I guess I'm a tad fearful of thinking that if I effect this new church the way I do greenery, then we're screwed. If you have any ideas of what else to call it, be sure to let me know. I've got nothing.