This preview of Dan’s update on church planting progress is exclusively for members of our group. Can you feel his passion for this project as you read it?
Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.— Isaiah 43:18-19
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth.
Do you not perceive it?
Yes…we certainly do! If I had to describe the new church plant so far in a single word, it would be: “WOW!” One would think I could conjure up something more definitive from the annuals of ecclesia. But honestly? “WOW” is all I can think of, considering its definition: “…an exclamation expressing astonishment; as a verb, to impress or excite.”
First … astonishment. At our first meeting, I was taken aback by the degree of hurt that was expressed. As one person noted: “You always hear about people leaving the church…but this kind of feels like the church left us.”
We would be remiss to overlook the significance of this statement. So, let’s just call it what it is. Disaffiliation is a choking weed in God’s harvest of good grain. No matter what side of the issue you are on, no one wins; instead, everyone loses by degrees.
As a pastor who is likewise tangled in the weeds, I can personally attest to the deep emotional hurt that comes from seeing the true colors of people you thought were your friends, the heartbreak of changed relationships, and the coolness of half-empty sanctuaries. But as another person in the group also stated, “None of this has caught God off guard!” And to that I say, “AMEN!”
Moving then into admiration and excitement, I find that the resilience of the people is beyond anything I personally anticipated. Weeds are being plucked out and different roots are starting to sink deeply into the rich soil. As someone else in the group remarked: “God is still planting seeds.” Signs of new growth are emerging; anticipation is building for a great harvest.
We have met three times now. We have wept together but the laughter is quickly outpacing the tears. We are dreaming big and have already identified opportunities for what we call “ministry beyond the living room.” We don’t have a name yet, so, for now, just keep calling us “the new church.” We’ve decided discerning what God wants us to be is more important than rushing to pick a name. Who knows? Maybe one day, a name will emerge that reflects our values.
We don’t know where we will ultimately worship, or even what the worship service will look like! But no one is losing any sleep over that. We are perfectly happy to be where God is. We quickly discovered that the most sacred place we can be is with each other. We study together, pray together, fellowship together, and sing hymns.
We are studying Olu Brown’s book Zero to Eighty, which recounts Brown’s experience as a church planter. You can find it on Amazon. You should check it out…it’s an awesome resource that can be used in a multitude of different settings. We are also answering essential questions for understanding why God has raised us up for this season, and how each of us will live into our personal and corporate callings.
While we are diligently figuring out what we want to be, we already know what we don’t want to be: church as usual. There’s no use replacing a broken wheel with the same version that fell of the axle to begin with.
This is the new thing that we perceive God is doing. And you can be part of it too! If you are interested, contact me at 662-255-2485. I’d be more than happy to share what God is doing in this new church plant. Also, check out https://umcnewalbany.com. Click “subscribe” to stay in the loop, or sign up to receive our newsletter at https://umcnewalbany.com/subscribe.
Come and be part of a “new thing.” All are welcome.