“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace…”
To the City Church Family,
Many of you have been aware of the process we have been walking through to relocate the activities that we do as a church to a property where everything is under one roof. I have not been the kind of pastor that is super interested in facilities. Since planting this church in 1997 we have been somewhat nomadic and I have been pretty contented in that tent-dwelling life. I have also loved the idea that sharing facilities with other churches, as we have now with the First Presbyterian and Seventh-Day Adventist congregations, has been a wonderful way to steward Kingdom resources. I did have the sense when we began using the SDA facilities that this was going to be a very temporary landing spot for us. When we crossed over the one-year mark of meeting there in February of 2013 I began asking specific questions in prayer regarding where we were to be.
The only answer that I heard as I returned home from my sabbatical was that it was time to bring the church into one place and under the same roof. I initially imagined that would be coordinating to find a way to do weekend services around the Presbyterian’s service schedule. When that door was effectively closed to us, I redirected my eyes toward facilities that we could rent or own exclusively, and then spent some time searching for buildings like that. As I looked at locations and prices, and considered the costs of improvements, I found myself grieved at the prospect of putting very large amounts of money into walls and floors that might provide a place for us, but would, at the same, time financially limit or constrain the work of reaching people with the love of God, growing them up in disciple-making, and deploying people in ministry service to others.
When the property on South Bonnyview Road was pointed out to me as a possibility, I initially rejected it because there is a church already functioning there and I was well on my way towards looking for arrangements that would allow us to identify ourselves clearly in our mission and the freedom to do all that Jesus has placed in our hearts to do. As I considered it further, I felt that I should reach out to the pastor of Destiny Fellowship at South Bonnyview, and as I drove to meet him, I sensed the Holy Spirit speaking to me that I was to make my heart and desires fully known to Pastor James. So I laid out the cards telling him that we are not interested in another “tenancy.” We want a place of partnership and collaboration in ministry. I knew that theologically both churches were almost identical. What I did not know is how this request would provide an answer to prayer for their church. It became apparent from that first meeting that God’s hand was involved in this process, so we began walking through the multiple meetings, seasons of prayer and negotiations that were necessary to bring us to this moment.
Work has already begun on the group of rooms that we will be occupying for our offices, meeting, and Children’s Ministry rooms. We plan to move everything from the Presbyterian Church and be fully functional at South Bonnyview by the end of this month. Finding a way to share facilities on Sunday morning presented one of the greatest challenges as both Destiny Fellowship and the City Church currently hold services beginning at 10:00a.m. Ultimately a decision was made for Destiny to move their service to 9:00 and we will move ours to 11:00. The change of service time and location will begin on Sunday, August 3rd.
I need to ask you for your help with two specific practical matters. First, we are being generously welcomed to move into and use these facilities, but we are moving alongside an existing congregation of people. My request is that you walk with “grace out front.” This means that kindness, understanding, and a willingness to overlook faults show up wherever you go; just a couple of moments before you. We will need to walk this way in relationship with the people and leaders at Destiny Fellowship and among our own family and leaders as we make all the necessary adjustments that accompany any kind of change.
My second request is that you reprioritize your participation at Sunday worship gatherings. I know what the trends indicate: the average Christian attends a weekend worship service once every three weeks. Our lives are busy and weekends can get jammed with activities or projects that are hard to do during a work week. I do understand all of that, but in a culture of low expectation around attendance at a Sunday worship service, it is really easy to allow this to fall into the lowest or last place of priority. I’m not going to try to change your long-term thinking about this right here or right now. What I am going to ask is that you, for the sake of our unity of spirit and community of thought, words and response, would do your absolute best to be in worship each Sunday through the next three months.
I was reading in Haggai a couple of months ago and in chapter 1:2-9 God speaks through Haggai to the people who were putting off the building of the house of God (the temple), so that they could remodel and improve their own homes. He calls them to “… go up into the hills, bring down timber, and rebuild My house.” This Scripture is often used to promote building projects and physical church campuses. The house of the Lord for us, however, is the expression of ministry that God has given us to do in this community; the calling of City Church to put our hands and hearts into the loving, growing, and serving mission He has assigned to us. As we move to South Bonnyview Road, we find a physical house already built and waiting to be used for God’s glory. The task that stands in front of us is to divide attention away from our self-interests and “go up into the hills and bring down timber” so that together we may rebuild the ministry house of reaching, teaching, disciple-making, loving, serving, encouraging, and investing in the lives of those who don’t know Christ and those who are needing help finding their way to follow Him.
We are excited and energized about the path and provision that God has brought before us. I believe that this physical move will open up new possibilities along the path of ministry and mission which we have already been walking. Hopefully you have already heard about the VBS being planned for August 4th-6th and the remaining summer Community Groups that will happen that month. The Rendering, the City Church youth group, will be moving to a Wednesday night meeting beginning August 6th. We also have our annual Church on Location at Whiskeytown Lake on August 24th. Lastly, mark your calendars for Sunday, September 7th. We are planning an after-service BBQ and potluck celebration of our move to the South Bonnyview location. This will be a fun day of music, food, games, and community, all in honor and celebration of Jesus and His provision and work through this church.
Receiving Christ’s grace, and giving Him glory,