I call them "rah-rah" moments. There are times when you just need to take a break and celebrate.
En route to Echo Church last Sunday night, I passed two churches celebrating anniversaries—one over 50 years, the other 100 years—and I felt somewhat inadequate. Five years of existence seems minuscule compared to those other congregations. But I like to think the humble beginnings of Echo makes us a true underdog story, so we continually need to reflect on how much God has blessed us.
I've always thought the cards were stacked against us:
- We started in the midst of an urban neighborhood where new churches go to die.
- We started with a core group of about ten people (four of whom had other opportunities which drew them away within the first year).
- We didn't fundraise to start the church.
- As minister, I've always been bi-vocational, from bread-making to supply preaching to teaching to college recruiting.
- And we broke virtually every church planting rule I knew of when we started.
And yet, we've lasted five years.
I'm happy. And Sunday night I took some time to share that with our church.
By the numbers, I listed the many things that has happened as a result of our church:
- 250 worship services (featuring 250 Scripture readings, 800 songs sung, 1,213 bad jokes by me)
- Over 100 different people who have called Echo their home at one time or another (not including all our visitors)
- Almost $50,000 of our offerings directed towards benevolence&missions (that's over 20% of our total offerings)
- Three community festivals sponsored.
- Five (soon to be six) Halloween Trunk N Treat outreaches.
- 2,000 meals served at the Walnut Hills Soup Kitchen.
- Investing in the message of Jesus being taught not just in Walnut Hills, but the Cincinnati communities of Lower Price Hill, Westwood and Northside, as well as the nations of Poland, Pakistan, and Burma.
Numbers are nice, but I prefer to focus on all the different people God has brought our way. That's what we're about: connecting people with the God of the Universe. It's good work if you can get it.
And for that, we partied.
When we were nearing the completion of our first year of ministry, we took a group picture on the front steps of the church we rent. It was a great group of people. Here's Echo Church in 2006:
This past Sunday night, we tried it again. Even though there were some well-wishers in the crowd that aren't regulars, we were missing a quite a few people who were unable to attend. At the very least, it gives you a sense of how God has grown this vision.
And now that we're sufficiently motivated, we take down the party decorations and get back to work.