Friday, July 24, 2009


We're back from Atlanta and are now proud to be a part of the Association of Related Churches! We found out yesterday that we passed the process! This is HUGE for us and our church and makes us a part of a network of life giving churches that are springing up all over the country. To put it into perspective, the ARC's goal is to plant 2000 churches by 2020... how incredible is that vision?? And in the first 4 months of 2009, they planted a church every FOUR days! We learned so much and I was blown away by it all. When Josh told me last winter that he wanted to start a church I probably looked at him as if he had two heads. My thoughts ranged from, "like a cult?" to "can you do that?" to "oh my gosh that sounds expensive!". But after going to these conferences and learning about the process, the fact that we are really doing this humbles me beyond belief. Yes, it is expensive, but if it's life giving, the people are going to give back. And yes, we can do this because we have the passion and the vision and the call to do it. Six months ago I would say that I wondered if a "calling" from God could really exist. After moving here and really understanding the magnitude of what it all means I no longer wonder. More than anything, this weekend validated our move to Small Town, Illinois for me. Even though I felt as if it was the right decision from the start, I have had my moments where I can't believe that we moved from a big city to a tiny town so far away from our friends and family, because who wouldn't think that? I mean let's be honest, we don't even have a Chick-Fil-A much less a mall! Even people here in town ask us why in the world we'd want to move here from sunny Florida? It's a valid question, but in my heart I know that we didn't choose Illinois, God chose it for us and we have been blessed so far through this journey. One of the speakers really put it nicely when he said that he was driving along some years ago and passed all of these forests that had been clear cut and he wondered why someone would cut down the big, old trees? When he drove a little further he saw clear cut fields with tiny saplings springing up and it all made sense. This is the work that God is doing all across our country: he's cutting down the old, dying trees so that new life can spring up. There are people in this world who are chaining themselves to these old trees, old traditions, old dying religious factions, but the only reason God would clear them away would be to plant new hope and new life! And then he said that 100 years from now when people read about church history, they will read about this movement, when outdated churches slowly died out, but new ones sprung up all over the country and we are a part of that! WOW! At that moment, I was awestruck. What an incredible thing God has asked of us.

So anyway (since I got way off topic) the conference was pretty awesome- we had 2 interviews with the assessors, an interview in front of a panel and the other applicants, and many group activities, role playing, skits, and a final presentation of an idea for a new church. There were 19 couples there (their biggest assessment ever) who all wanted to plant churches across the country for a variety of different reasons and it was amazing to hear their stories and their passion for doing this. Many of them have a heart for a city that they've only visited but never lived in (kind of like us) and others are wanting to launch right in their own hometown. To hear the reasons behind their passion was all very inspiring, and hanging out with 19 solid married couples was almost like a marriage retreat- so refreshing! We actually came back more energized and excited than when we left, which is a pretty awesome feeling. We were told up front that all 19 would probably not receive the backing from the ARC so we fell very fortunate that they saw something in us that they want to support. Now we just have to ramp up for our launch on September 20th! Mark your calendars!

And a HUGE thank you goes out to Grandaddy and Mawmaw for hosting us over the long weekend. We greatly enjoyed your company (as well as Dad's, Alex's and Avery's) and cannot wait to come back and visit again soon.

PS - Sorry for the lack of pictures lately but the cord to unload them has been misplaced. We promise to include some soon!

No comments:

Post a Comment