We Didn't Want to Start a Church
Two years ago, several of us started thinking and praying about a new church in Midtown, Oklahoma City. On a couple of occasions, we received emails of concern after talking about this new church. These concerns got us thinking. They were constructive. They came from a place of love.
They were sociological, theological, denominational, and even practical concerns. There were legitimate questions. People weren’t sure if we should start a church.
Does Oklahoma City really need someone to start another church?
My friend Dave planted a church in Kansas City several years ago. He once told me that moving towards your launch day was like running around a track as fast as you can. There you are, sweat dripping, legs pumping, and the finish line is there. You cross the tape, hands up, exhausted, the crowd cheering…
But you realize that wasn’t actually the finish line. It was actually the START line!
Two weeks ago, nearly 220 people gathered to celebrate the launching of a new church. We prayed, laughed, hugged, cheered, and worshipped. It was a great day.
But even with all of the questions, the reality is this:
If we were to be honest, the questions and the critics were right. Oklahoma City didn’t need anyone to start a new church.
Certainly there are plenty of churches in Oklahoma City. Maybe too many.
So, it’s a good thing we didn’t set out to START a church. Rather…
We set out to BE the Church!
There was incredible energy in moving towards Launch Date (11/29). It was a great day. However, what has been so exciting to me is that people have come, anticipating something great, in these last two Sundays. The momentum wasn’t over on Launch Sunday. People are recognizing that this isn’t a sprint around a track but a journey of life together.
The curse of the church plant is that all the momentum can go towards starting the church. Once the start date is over, however, the momentum seems to drop.
But because we want to BE the Church – the called out, unique, people of God in the world – the momentum was not in starting a church but has been about partnering with God to do God’s work in the world.
In other words, our journey together is the goal!
THIS IS WHAT IT MEANS TO BE THE CHURCH
God has opened the door to build relationships. God has allowed us to meet people that are not like us. God is calling people and developing leaders. God has given us opportunities to build friendships and create bonds of love. God has given people places to serve. God is helping the people of our community to “be the best version of themselves.”
This is good.
And we want to continue to be the faithful, inclusive people that provide safety, healing, transformation, and HOPE to the world that needs it.
We do this by being together. We do this by being faithful in worship, being involved in a Parish Group, finding a place to serve the church, finding a place to serve neighborhoods, and by giving generously and faithfully!
So, I agree with the critics. Oklahoma City doesn’t need anyone to START a church. But Oklahoma City needs – like every other place on planet earth – a spiritually formed people living the way of Jesus. In other words, Oklahoma City does need a group to BE the Church.
I’m glad we’re on this journey together.