Yesterday was a powerful church service for me. It was almost 8 years ago that my husband and I took the step of faith in planting a new church. We longed for an environment that threw off the trappings of religion and pursued wholeheartedly a relevant, honest, heart-changing relationship with Jesus Christ.
Our first church service was on the front lawn of our home. It was BYOC–Bring Your Own Chair. Over 150 people came to that first gathering and we found ourselves needing a more permanent home for this new church. We found a warehouse—a dirty, but functional warehouse that we cleaned up and renovated to serve as a meeting facility for our church family for seven years.
Over the past few years we’ve outgrown our little warehouse. “God, show us what your plan is for our next season of ministry,” has been our prayer. And God answered that in the most unusual way.
A United Methodist Church in town had seen membership dwindling over the past few years. This aging congregation knew they couldn’t continue to survive. They had to make a decision to merge with another church and sell their facility. What a heartbreaking decision that must have been for them.
God allowed our paths to cross in a way that only God can. We were praying for a facility and they were selling their building. After many months of prayers, discussions, and negotiation we purchased the building last Wednesday.
This past Sunday the congregations of Faith United Methodist Church and Crosswinds Community Church worshipped together. It was a mix of emotions. Faith United Methodist Church has ministered for 97 years in this location. They have married, baptized, preached, and prayed in that building. Lives have been changed and kingdom work has been accomplished. It was the end of an era and yet the beginning of a new season. And it was a kingdom victory: two congregations from different denominational backgrounds worshipped together, prayed together, and took communion together.
Yesterday the 20 members of Faith United Methodist Church passed the baton of ministry to the over 2oo members of Crosswinds Community Church. A new era begins. But we don’t have to start from scratch–we get to build on a foundation of faith that has already been laid.
It was an interesting mix of emotions for me personally. I grew up in the United Methodist Church. In my own life, a foundation of faith was laid for me there and then the baton was passed on to a different denominational experience that continued to deepen my faith. But as an adult, I didn’t have to start from scratch—I was able to build on a foundation of faith that had already been laid.
As I sat there marveling at how God had, in a way, brought me full circle I was struck by how often we use denominational differences to divide rather than unite the kingdom. The nuances of our theological beliefs, the different styles of worship, the traditional versus contemporary arguments are used by enemy to divide.
I’m glad that, in this case, we were able to lay aside our differences and score one for the kingdom!
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