Well, I'm ready to announce a new chapter in our lives that has developed over the last month. We're really excited about it and know that God had to use something humbling to get us here but we're ready for the future.
DH and I will be planting a church. Technically, it will be another campus of our church but the style and staff will be a little different, although we'll have the infrastructure of our current church to back us up. So here's the story.
Our pastor has had a vision of a church plant for a number of years but it's just not been the time to do it yet. He told us after the fact that he was waiting for one of the staff to come and say "I would like to do this" instead of assigning it to someone because it's going to be a lot of work and really needs someone with a vision behind it. So it's been on the back burner for a number of years.
Just before vacation, my husband met with the senior and senior associate pastor and they basically took him off of being in charge of all the worship and instead would be taking that responsibility on themselves. This left my husband still leading one of the worship teams but not having a say in the direction or leadership of the worship ministry. It was a hard blow for him. It wasn't due to anything he had done so it was confusing to us as we went away the next day to go on vacation. Now basically, my husband's only responsibility was the computers and, honestly, if he was going to be a computer guy, he could do that in a regular job, make atleast twice as much money and no longer be struggling so with finances, and then volunteer to lead the worship team. When we went away on vacation, it seemed that would be the way we would go. But we left ready to pray about it and see what God would have us do. No one else knew about this but one other pastor who my husband had spoken to as a friend but not even our children knew.
While on vacation, my husband came to me and told me that he felt God leading him to think about the church plant and he was beginning to see that maybe taking away the worship would free him up to be willing/able to do the church plant as it's leader and maybe that's why God let this happen. As we prayed about it, we both began to feel strongly that this was the road we were to take but we weren't sure how it would be taken back at home (church). When we returned, DH went to lunch with the senior pastor and told him what happened while we were away and Pastor sat quietly. He told DH that he had been waiting for someone to take this vision and be the "man" in the lead yet no one had come to him about it until now. He got excited as DH spoke to him and, over the next few days, began to see that this just might be it. So, from my understanding, Pastor will announce tomorrow morning in services about the church plant to the whole congregation. Wow.
The basic plans are so far that we've found a location where there are no duplicate churches in the area (there are some other churches and some pseudo-churches as well, but none with the same stance on the basics as we have), and it's a youngish community. DH was just looking at the census information and that area has a high population of young families and it's a growing community. There's a lot of land there so for the future building, we will be able to build but for now, there are a number of hotels and a movie theater that we can look into as well as plenty of store-fronts. It is an area of the intersection of two main highways so it would be easy to get to from many areas and it's about 40 minutes away from our current home/church so we'd not have to move (unless we feel lead in the future to go out there, which is always a possibility). We would use the "simple church" model where we'd have Sunday services and home groups during the week, encouraging families to not be running all over for programs or separating to do their own things. Our home church has plenty of programs if people would like additional resources (kids' activities, youth group, classes for adults, support groups, etc.), but it would not be done at the new church. We have 9 pastors at our church and only 2 preach regularly (our senior pastor preaching to the congregation and our recovery pastor who preaches to the deaf) so that leaves 7 who would be able to cycle through the new church for possibly a few weeks at a time to do series of messages. We have a few worship teams who would be able to come through to assist in the worship and the area is one where we have atleast 25 families who are closer to the new location rather than our home church. So that would mean they could help "seed" the new church AND have someplace to bring their neighbors rather than a church 40 minutes away. We'd plan to have a great nursery/children's program set up for Sunday morning right from the start so families will feel comfortable coming.
So we're at the starting gate. We're ready to go and begin the planning and vision casting for this new chapter in our lives. God is so good and I so thank Him for leading us and giving us a great church home to be launched from. It's going to be an interesting next year as we pull this off with God's help and I pray that this church would lift high the name of Jesus on Long Island. How humbling to be able to be a part of it!