The Long Slow Dance (church plant update)

Well, well, well. Let's see where we're at. I'm going to do a quick catch-up and you feel the freedom to skip any words that you already knew. 

In 2008 God called my husband to plant a church called Gospel Community. We were living in Seattle (though we were from North Carolina), and I wanted to live in Seattle the rest of my days. He felt called to Boston, MA. I pitched a fit until he really unpacked what he though "Gospel Community" was about. And then I was sold. Not because I believed in him necessarily, but because I so believed in what he was saying and I wanted to go to that church. 

From 2009 to 2011, we really did a lot of fumbling. It became incredibly apparent that we weren't supposed to head to Boston many different times. I struggled with depression, our family struggled with poverty in light of the economy crashing, and mostly - we just struggled to find our way. We really had to work through all those thoughts about gospel and community and see if we believed them. It turned out, we did. 

In 2012 we moved to Indiana for Nick to serve alongside a church that was replanting itself as Gospel Community. It was a total chance-meeting of Nick and this other pastor, but they hit it off and the Lord showed us - for such a time is this. Nick served full time at Gospel Community in Indiana and I started really pouring into internet work. We launched Influence and worked on growing Naptime Diaries and we got pregnant with Cannon. In September 2012 Nick told me one of the craziest things I'd ever heard. He felt like Boston was definitely not where we were suppose to go, but Charleston. Charleston. Where all my family lives. Where they all serve at a mega church nearby. Where there is beach, beauty, and more culture than I could ever dream of.

Too good to be true doesn't even cut it, but we moved forward and it seemed that provision provided direction. We left Gospel Community Indiana in June of 2013 with our four kids and a few amazing friends who moved with us or shortly after us. God provided a miraculous house in this really beloved neighborhood of ours, right smack dab in the middle of downtown. Our kids got spots at an amazing public Montessori school with a brand new building and wouldn't you know? They were willing to let our church meet there as well. A small team gathered and in January 2014 we had our first public service. 

January through September was weird and wonderful. We only met once a month, which was so nice to ease into all the work - but proved hard for us to get the real momentum we needed. We walked through fun things and very, very hard things those first few months. Mostly, every time we met - I just felt WEIRD. Those Sunday mornings felt a little out of body-ish for me. I could watch everything happened, but it didn't feel like MY church. MY worship. MY people. I struggled with loneliness and loyalty and a million other selfish feelings. I also got very, very excited and saw a lot of good gospel work happen. I was immensely proud of my husband and watched him carry a lot more weight than I ever imagined he'd carry. And that was only the first nine months. 

The week before we went to weekly services or OFFICIALLY LAUNCHED as a church was this past September and by far, the worst week of my 2014. It was the first time Nick told me that he really didn't think he could do it. It was the first time I saw him really crack. Around Tuesday or Wednesday of that week, we were having intensely doubtful feelings - like SHOULD WE REALLY DO THIS OR SHOULD WE JUST PACK IT IN. The two years prior to that, everything had really just moved forward so naturally, but suddenly it felt like our bones were stiff and our hearts were petrified. The only answer was the Holy Spirit and He came in and did a massive work. We did meet that Sunday, about 20 new people came to church, and it genuinely hasn't felt "weird" to me one Sunday since that. 

It feels like a church. It feels like MY church. MY people. It feels like exactly what Nick described to me back in the winter of 2008 when we were in the middle of a big Seattle snowstorm and I never wanted to move. It's messy and it has it's problems. Our people are broken and they're surely not perfect. But man, they want more of God. We leave Sunday refreshed and convicted and we come together during the week, in different settings, to learn little bits more about one another. We're all so different. Different seasons of life, way different backgrounds, different families, different viewpoints of religion, with one need - more Jesus. 

A lot of my experience as the church planter's wife the past few months has felt very counter cultural to what I anticipated. I'd heard that I'd be asked to do a lot of tasks and I kid you guys not - I feel like no one ever asks me for anything. Nobody asks me to make the meal plans or serve in the nursery and sure enough - no one has asked me to help lead worship (mostly because I'm a horrible singer). Some parts have still required a lot of patience and grace and prayer, but mostly I feel really protected by my husband and protected by the Lord and loved by our people. I think some of the world's most passionate and God fearing women go to our church and it's my stinking honor to be their pastor's wife. They inspire and spur me on and they're becoming my family in a really sweet and beautiful and slow way. 

And that's where I feel like we are. At the beginning of a long, slow dance. Nick and I have not been a part of a community for longer than a few years due to moving so often. In those years, God really graced us with the ability to grow roots quick and deep, but growing these long slow roots is a whole different ballgame. It takes grace. It takes adjusting. It takes time. It takes patience. It takes showing up daily, weekly, monthly to just listen, invest, and worship together. But He is working, for His glory. And I'm grateful. 

We just wanted to be changed by the gospel.
In community because of the gospel.
Commissioned for the sake of the gospel.

And I believe that's happening. Even without me leading worship. :) 


Jessi Connolly10 Comments