Blessings shared from church startups
Clergy appointed to start new churches in North Georgia were asked to “identify one or two positive things about the opportunity that excites and energizes you.” Below are some of their responses:
TERESA ANGLE-YOUNG, SACRED TAPESTRY (2007): “The most exciting thing about starting a new church is allowing God to lead you to design and develop a worship experience and discipleship process that is going to facilitate an encounter between a non-believer and the living Christ! I am smiling just writing that sentence!”
STEVEN USRY, HARVEST POINT UMC (2000): “(The most exciting thing is) the process of giving yourself to something that God is at work creating. We remember in Genesis, God created “ex nehilo” – out of nothingness – and if there is anything a church planter learns early on it is that when we show up to get to work in the planting process… God has already been on the ground working in people’s hearts and tilling the ground that we are showing up to water and plant.”
JOE McKECHNIE, SIXES UMC (Founding pastor of Arbor Pointe UMC- 2003): “One could not plant a church without the movement of the Holy Spirit, and God does amazing things, even through our human weaknesses and frailties, when we submit our agendas to His will.
“Because new churches are intentional and deliberate about reaching the unchurched, being the pastor of a church plant gives you a front row seat to the ways in which the Lord is wooing people through His prevenient grace.”
JEREMY GREEN, EDGE POINT UMC (2011): “I get excited when new people buy into the vision of what God is doing …. It is humbling to watch people grow in their faith in this new church environment that is different than what they grew up in.”
ERIC LEE, THE BRIDGE UMC (2008): “Starting a new church is exciting because it is an opportunity to take the Gospel to a new community of people who have yet to hear and receive it. It is an opportunity to establish a new faith community through which God can impact the larger community around them in new and different ways.”
RODRIGO CRUZ, NORTHBROOK UMC (2009): “There is nothing more exciting than sharing with those who have not been told about Jesus, so they can see, hear and understand.”
DAVID WALTERS, THE VINE UMC (2007): “The first thing that is exciting about starting a new church is the explicit challenge of reaching unchurched/dechurched people in order to survive. Now, that we’ve grown to a healthy 500-plus on Sundays, it’s easy to become content. While I’m not content, the early days of planting the church were based in desperation! That was exciting!
“(It is also exciting to know) that you, as the pastor, have the ability to shape a church’s culture. Everything from “core values” to worship style is shaped by the pastor and possibly the launch team. That’s extremely exciting!”
CAROLYN MOORE, MOSAIC UMC (2003): “Mosaic tends to reach those who live in the margins, giving them a safe place to experience the love of Jesus. We have learned together how to hold grace and holiness together, so that those who have been wounded can finally experience the good life. I love the transparency of our people. Most of them don't know the ‘rules’ of church (we've baptized something like 130 adults since Mosaic began), so they are comfortable sharing honestly about where they've been and where they are weak. It is a joy to watch God work in this environment.”
BERT NEAL, SACRED PRAISE UMC (2010): “Seeing new people come to Christ is what excites and energizes me. It is just as exciting to see people return to church and pursue their faith journey. (Regardless of the reason) they left the church … the new church gives them an opportunity for a second chance (and that) keeps me inspired to continue doing what we do.
“It is exciting to see children and youth participate in ministry. They have an opportunity to be at the beginning of the ministry and not have to find their way to be accepted by an existing group. I hope to make them remember that when we grow and new people come for the first time.”
BRIAN FUNDERBURKE, CROSSROADS UMC (2011): “Crossroads partnered with Acworth UMC and Must Ministries to provide lunches for kids in Paulding and Cobb counties. During the first week of July, Crossroads helped by making 1500 lunches to be distributed during the holiday week. It was a reminder that regardless of the age of the church we can work together to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
OLU BROWN, IMPACT UMC (2006): “I believe starting a church was one of the most fulfilling ministry experiences in my life. Specifically, receiving an opportunity to mold and shape an organization is a special gift from God. Walking with an individual as their faith is developed is a special opportunity for new and existing church pastors.”
JOHN KENNEY, QUEST UMC (2004): “Starting a new church is exciting because no one says "We've never done it that way before! The most exciting thing is seeing lives impacted and changed because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
“Starting a new church caused me to get out into the community in ways I never had before. I met and continue to meet so many people "outside" the church walls. After 7 years I still spend over half of my week outside the church walls and an ‘office’."