As I write this, I’ve just wrapped up reading the book of Joshua. One thing I find interesting from Joshua and Deuteronomy is the emphasis on remembering the story the Lord is writing. As Moses anticipated his own death before Israel entered the Promised Land, he reminded them of God’s hand at work, from Joseph’s journey to Egypt, to Israel’s bondage and Exodus ending with the destruction of Pharoah’s army, to the journey and miracles in the wilderness, all the way to the point they were ready to enter the Promised Land. Similarly, Joshua rehearsed the story before his death, recognizing how important it was that they never forget how God’s hand worked among His people. Notice even in the New Testament as Peter ties together the story of God’s involvement with His people all the way up to the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Stephen does the same before stepping into history as the first martyr of the Christian faith.
With these accounts in mind, I believe it is vital that we are freshly aware of the story the Lord is writing in our lives, not just as individuals, but as a people. This blog is an attempt to keep the memory of the Lord’s work in bringing together a new church in Charlotte fresh in our minds.
We pick up in February of 2008. When we decided to leave our old church and begin something new, we did not know what to expect. We took a month off to establishing some stronger foundations in our family. We started a special Sunday morning devotional time and began going through the book of Acts. One of the blessings of this season has been watching the children make connections between what they read and what’s happening in our lives. One example of this is during a recent devotional time we discussed one of the early apostles’ journeys to minister to believers. As we read, one of the children quickly chimed in “oh that’s just like Mr. Carl!”, a reference to Carl Herrington, the apostolic leader from Newfrontiers USA who is actively involved in the Charlotte church plant. Our hope is that our children will correctly understand that Acts is not a mere history book recording the “glory days” of the past, but a preview of what the Lord wants to do in our day, perhaps on a grander scale as we anticipate the day when “the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ”.
I told people that if we started meeting and our home and no one else showed up beyond our family, we were ready for that. But the Lord clearly had other plans. About 2 dozen came to the first Saturday night gathering in our home in February of 2008. We had a time of worship and those in attendance endured a message from yours truly. The theme was about a church with 2 foundational priorities, fellowship with God, and fellowship with each other. And those pursuits would position us for mission, to reach our city with the gospel.
We went around the room and asked everyone why they attended that first meeting. There was a lot of curiosity and mystery in the air. What would become of this gathering? Would it really amount to anything? We weren’t exactly sure what to expect. Our hearts were just to obey the Lord and leave the results to him. Now, exactly a year later, as we expected, we recall the names and faces of people who “dropped in” but ultimately did not sense a call to join us for the church plant. From the beginning, our hearts have always been to welcome in those the Lord brought to us, even if only for a season.
It should be noted that while my wife and I were interacting with Carl Herrington, we began meeting in our home with no promises or guarantees from Carl or from Newfrontiers. We just knew the Lord was in this. I can say that we were very anxious for people to meet Carl and the wonderful people we met from Jubilee Church Atlanta. That would happen just weeks later. And from there a sequence of events that developed faster than many of us imagined. Ahead, details on Carl’s first visit to Charlotte, and our first group visit to Atlanta, as “The Journey” continues…