Celebrating 2015: Four Reflections
This past week I've spent significant time reflecting on the things God did among us in 2015. Let me tell you - the list of blessings is remarkable and endless. I'll share four of these blessings so you can rejoice with me and be encouraged as we gear up for 2016. Please take a moment to read about these blessings and praise God for his faithfulness.
Reflection #1: It is stunning, miraculous, providential - whatever you want to call it - that we are now in our downtown venue.
Allow me to remind you of a few circumstances concerning our move into our new venue:
- We looked around downtown (and waited!) for a full year before finding the right space.
- We needed to raise $75,000 for our new building and by God's grace we raised exactly that in just a few months (started in January - everything was pledged by Easter).
- The church body stepped up in HUGE ways to help install the A/V and internet infrastructure as well as paint and decorate the space.
- Our architectural and legal work was done pro bono by an outstanding architect and an outstanding lawyer.
- It turns out that a certain Mr. Ryan Harding has the perfect skill set for new building projects
- Jolie's was kind enough to let us go "week to week" on our rent near the end of our time there so we could save some money.
- Our general contractor (Anglin Construction Co.) did an excellent job and was pleasant to work with.
- For the time being, our immediate neighbors are the wonderful people at Guardian Ad Litem. This is absolutely ideal.
- In a few weeks we'll have our own elevator!
The bottom line: upon reflection I can see the hand of God in every inch of this process. He has brought us into this space for a purpose, and I can't wait to see his full purpose unfold. Part of his purpose has been the volume of spiritual conversations I've been able to have with our downtown neighbors in the past few weeks. This space has afforded me with fresh opportunities to talk to people about why we're here and what we're doing. And by the way - the neighbors who have seen this space are THRILLED. To quote a downtown neighbor I met with this past Wednesday:
"Thank you for creating this space. This is exactly what downtown Gainesville needs."
Reflection #2: God continues to provide not only for City Church, but for other churches here in Gainesville as well.
As many of you are aware, City Church was started in partnership with three other churches, including one church in Evanston, IL (Evanston Bible Fellowship), and two churches here in Gainesville (Christ Community Church and Creekside Community Church).
Near the end of 2014, Rob Pendley, the founding pastor of Christ Community Church (all the way back in the late 90s!), moved with his family to Montgomery, AL to help pastor a church in that area. In addition to being one of the most influential mentors I've ever had, Rob was a major City Church advocate and helped maintain a rock solid City Church/Christ Community relationship. His departure, although certainly the right move for his family, raised questions about what City Church's relationship would look like with Christ Community going forward, and who would fill Rob's (very large) shoes at Christ Community.
Praise be to God that, in the summer of 2015, God raised up a wonderful new leader for Christ Community. Tim Hayse moved with his family from Chattanooga to Gainesville in August, and he is doing a fantastic job leading Christ Community into the next stage of its journey. Moreover, I have a great relationship with Tim, and he has been a significant City Church cheerleader since the day he arrived. Consequently, City Church, Christ Community, and Creekside continue to partner together in ministry, and the pastoral leaders of those churches (along with Faith Presbyterian) gather regularly to pray for and encourage one another.
Praise God for his provisions!
An additional quick note/praise: did you know that FIVE churches have given (and in some cases, continue to give) financial support to City Church? Praise God for these churches:
- Creekside Community Church (EFCA - Gainesville, FL)
- Christ Community Church (PCA - Gainesville, FL)
- Evanston Bible Fellowship (EFCA - Evanston/Chicago, IL
- University Presbyterian Church (PCA - Orlando, FL)
- Beach Bible Church (EFCA - Huntington Beach, CA)
Reflection #3: Our Ministry Team and Community Group leaders have stepped up to the plate
Seriously - our Ministry Team leaders and Community Group leaders put in some major hours this past year, especially because of the move to our new venue. All of these leaders have done an outstanding job in their respective roles. Praise God! If you see one (or more!) of these leaders in the coming days - give them a (big) hug.
Gainesville is a transient area, which means that key leaders will sometimes move to new cities. God knows this will happen (and when it will happen!) and continues to provide us with new leaders right when we need them. Amazing! He's clearly walking right beside us.
Reflection #4: The City Church staff (myself, Ryan, and Jay) have excellent relationships.
This is all God's doing, and we should not take it for granted. 2015 was a taxing year, but through it all God has seen to it that staff relationships are healthy. Please pray that this continues in 2016! We're depending on the Lord for this.
Happy New Year City Church! Be sure to take a moment today to prayerfully thank God for his blessings.
Love you all,