One year ago this week I was still seeking direction concerning the timing for taking the biggest faith step in my life into church planting. Climbing my mountain down at Fort DeSoto on a daily basis in the morning fasting and praying I was asking God for faith and wisdom. Lorena and I knew it was what we were called to do. We just didn’t want to get out in front of God. We wanted to be faith filled not foolish. God was asking us to trust Him with everything. If this was a business decision or a career move it would have been ill advised to walk away from everything and truthfully and honestly have no plan B. We had Jesus and a dream called City on a Hill Church. God had shaped the dream into a vision now we were waiting on our marching orders. We received them Sunday March 21, 2010. Lorena was in first service at our former church and she clearly heard God ask her this question as she was in prayer and worship, “Why are you still here?” She left and went to work without seeing me. I went to second service and watched a young minister take the stage and I heard God say to me, “You may leave.” I felt such a sense of relief my seven year journey of preparation had come to and end and my biggest most exciting challenge was placed before me. When Lorena got home we sat down and shared our stories, drafted up a resignation letter, cried, prayed, and stepped out onto the high wire of church planting with no safety net. I resigned the very next morning. Little did I know that God had already gone before me and had already been preparing a people and calling a congregation into existence from all over the city. Not only was He calling the congregation He was setting in place a incredible series of blessings like I have never seen. His hand of favor, provision, and protection was resting heavy upon us. I had given a 90 day notice but the church only needed 30 days this was in itself awesome! We needed a place to hold launch team meetings and Native Sun warehouse gave us the meeting space for as long as we needed it free of charge. We our had our first launch team meeting and 45 people showed up, the day I turned in my laptop by that afternoon I had a laptop given to me, I began looking for a place for City on a Hill Church to call home we were already too big for the normal church plant meeting places like hotel fellowship rooms and the like. I went o Willis Johns Recreation Center and as I was walking out Brad Rice called out to me. Brad’s wife Leisa called me that evening we met the next day and signed a lease for the center which is an 11,000 square foot campus filled with enough seating for 452 people, children’s rooms, youth rooms, video games, games, toys, 2 playgrounds, swimming pool, skate park, and it is right in the center of the community! Glory to God. We needed sound equipment Frank Wilson gave us a fully functional sound system enough to fill a stadium with sound and volunteered to train our people how to set it up, tear it down, and run it. Then we needed a way to store it and move it around Carlisle and Michelle Cox gave us a covered trailer to store all of the equipment, during this time our Launch team had grown 80 strong. Our original opening date was to be September 12, 2010, we found ourselves in a sovereign move of God so we moved it up to June 20, 2010, but the blessings kept flowing so amazingly that we set the opening day to be May 23, 2010 which just so happens to be the Day of Pentecost the birth of the Church [Big C]. We opened our hearts and our doors that day to the city whom God has called us to and we watched as 340 people came from the North, South, East, and West. We opened with a full compliment of ministries from nursery to hospitality to worship to children’s to parking to greeter to you name it and we had it by God’s grace. Since that day we had an average attendance of 154 and we grew throughout the summer and right into the new year. Today our average attendance by God’s divine design and grace is 240 and rapidly growing. We had our first baptism on September 12, 2010 and saw 285 people attend to witness 22 people follow the Lord Jesus in baptism. We also watched as God held back the rain by divine intervention until we closed the door of our trailer. He even held back the rain, come on people that is praise worthy! Our Trustee Board was formed in April 2010 and at our first meeting in May we felt led by God to give away 10% of our income to local and global missions we started supporting 5 and now we have 8 monthly missionary efforts we support. To the glory of God and by God’s grace we have given over $24,000 to missions since May of last year and we have our first mission trip set for September 17-24, 2011, if the Lord is willing, we will send a team of 26 to Belize on our first oversees mission trip! Every third Saturday since May we have met at St. Vincent DePaul to purchase, prepare, and serve the less fortunate and homeless in our city. Some would say well this guy is just tooting his own horn. I would say to them I am rehearsing the good deeds of God and sharing a faith story that sounds like a Bible story because it is. I feel like I have been living Acts 29, a real life Bible story. I am humbled and amazed that God has chosen me to lead City on a Hill. This church planting experience has been truly a grace gift given to me and Lorena by an amazing God. We desire to build, become, and be a city within a city reaching our city with the life changing message of Jesus Christ one life at a time. We believe this can and will continue to happen if we always remember it is all about Jesus it has always been about Jesus and it will always be about Jesus. Our heart is to live out our life verse Matthew 5:14-16 as we Love God, Love People, and Preach Jesus in our city, region, and world. I began this blog two weeks before we opened and I titled it Showing Off because God hasn’t just been Showing Up He has been Showing Off. My prayer is that as you read this blog you will pick a fight with a giant that you can not defeat without God’s help, that you will go on a adventure with God has your guide, and that you will step out in faith with no plan B realizing that Jesus is all we need. When I started this journey all I had was Jesus and a dream. One year into this journey all I still have is Jesus and dream. I intend to run the score up on the kingdom of darkness in this city. I have no intention of playing not to lose, I play to win. I play to the glory of God! Some trust in chariots and some trust in horses but we trust in Jesus our God and King. God has been, is, and always will be our benefactor. If this was your first visit to our blog I hope this has inspired you. If you are one of theCOAH faithful who has been on this journey with us I hope this trip down memory lane has reminded you of the grace gifts we have been given by God. The greatest gifts He has given us is each other, Church family, and a place to call home. Glory to God forever! Our first Easter approaches rapidly last year was the first year in many, many years that I wasn’t privileged to be a part of a baptism. As I stood on the pier watching with tear filled eyes the Lord spoke to me and said next year will be a year you will never forget it will be City on a Hill Church’s first Easter baptism. I can’t wait to see everyone God is calling to be a part of that special morning. My heart leaps and my eyes fill with tears even now as I think of it! It is going to be glorious! God’s promises are yes and amen. City on a Hill Church is a living trophy of grace and testimony to an amazing, loving, kind, gracious, and powerful God.
Who Knew?…God Knew!