the story of a church plant

Big life events are my favorite. 
Births. Big family trips. Birthdays and super special date nights. 
I love the days that feel electric and different, the days that feel jittery and magical. 
I'd always expected the day our church plant launched to feel like that, but it didn't. 
It felt real and just right. It felt special, for sure, but also super known - like a dream I'd dreamt over and over and over again, only to live it out in real life after waking up. 

I want to gather up those days and hours surrounding the first service with twine and hang them on the wall like some piece of abstract art. I'm a memory replayer and right now, a night of fun sounds like a cup of coffee and a couch to myself - to lay back and recount all the conversations and the faces and the feelings. But. The best part about church planting (so far) is that it's only just begun. That first launch was so fun and fulfilling, but it just keeps going now. And I love that. 

But while I'm here, why not go ahead and write the play by play? 
For God's glory and my heart's gratitude. 

Thursday 1/16
Thursday was a big old fat day. It was Nick's birthday, we were having a huge sale in the shop, the Morgans were arriving to celebrate the first Gospel Community service with us, AND my kids were out of school. You know those days that you need to go perfectly? That was Thursday for us. It started rougher than rough at 6am when I fell all the way down the stairs, bruising and bloodying a huge portion of my body and waking up all four kids. Thirty minutes later, Cannon dropped my iPhone into a cup of coffee. By 7am, I felt done for. I had a whole house to clean, a husband to celebrate, kids to entertain and we had a church to plant. I took a whole lot of deep breaths and two Aleve, asked God for joy, went to breakfast with Nickers, asked my mom and sister for kid help, and thanked the Lord for AppleCare insurance on my phone. Many errands and loads of laundry later, my kids were home and thrilled to see the Morgan boys just arriving from Indiana. We did our best to get 8 kids to sleep in two bedrooms and the four of us snuck out for a late birthday dinner for Nick. It was such a sweet break to pause and celebrate. 

these guys. made the weekend so sweet. 
Friday 1/17 
Friday was a flurry of kid and toys and noise and fun. Nick spent the bulk of the day finishing up sermon prep, there were people in and out of the house all day, just like I like it. My heart was super expectant for what the Lord was going to do, but it was a really nice distraction to just be about the actual physical people in our home rather than focusing on the big thing coming to fruition that we'd been working at for so long. 

this was half of our crew before going door to door to hand out invitation

Saturday 1/18
Before the day got started, I snuck away to the guest room where Nick and I were sleeping, took off my glasses and wept for about ten minutes into my hands. I wept with joy and gratitude for how the Lord had sustained us over the years and in thanksgiving for what He was about to do. I put my glasses back on and tried to pull my junk together as best I could. 

That morning brought over 20 people, our core team and friends from nearby and far away, into our home so that we could all go out into the neighborhood. We spent time praying and then split up to go pass out invitations. We went door to door, I went with Nick and our boys. I love seeing him in his element and it was a joy to walk with him. He'd knock on the door, we'd greet and explain we were planting a church, then as we walked away - pray for the people we'd met or the house we left an invitation at. The kids were cuter than cute and I think they were starting to feel such sweet ownership over the church. My heart was swelling with excitement at this point. 

Saturday afternoon my mom blessed my face off and took all our kids to her house. I spent about ten minutes sitting in silence, thirty minutes straightening up the living room for the beating it had taken, and I was a new woman. That night we went to dinner with the Morgans and came home to finish up a few church admin things - children's ministry check in sheets, coloring sheets, order of service. Nick and I talked before bed and both said - God is the same He's been the past few years. He's the same God who has loved us when we've failed and He's the same God who's helping us plant a church. We did a little cuddling, took some melatonin and went to bed. 

my mom made this pastor's wives pack for me complete with mints, feminine products,
Tide togo & headache medicine. She's the best. 

Sunday 1/19
During the second or third song, I snuck away from my front row spot, grabbed a cup of coffee and stood in the back. Almost all the seats were filled, worship was going beautifully, and I could hear the kids muffled laughter in children's ministry next door. People we'd prayed would come had come and people we'd never met (but had prayed for) had come. There were four people/families who had heard of our church via instagram or Facebook, which blessed my heart to no end. These two things we do - church and online, can often feel like they're competing, but in the end - they're both all about His Kingdom. Nick preached a message that seemed so incredibly fitting for the audience that we couldn't have anticipated. We've been praying for years for a church where people could be our family before they were a part of God's family. We've prayed that we wouldn't be just a holding place for Christians, but a home for those who have relationships with the Lord and those who don't. He preached the gospel honestly and invitingly, somehow spurring us all on - wherever we were. 

oh swoon. 
My favorite part was after the service, when we started "Starting Point", our info session for people who were ready to walk with us and move forward as a church family. So few people left and it seemed that all those people sitting were genuinely interested. They wanted to know about family groups and discipleship and I wanted to know about them. 

We went to lunch with the core team and then some and everyone came back to our house for football watching. By 6pm, I was feeling donezo and by 10pm, I was a hot mess. But we'd made it through the day. We'd launched our church plant. We said goodbye to the Morgans and I laid on the floor of the guest room - sending texts to the people who'd come and shown their support. To the family members who served in children's ministry and the faces that made my day. 

Monday 1/20
I told him, "I feel inadequate. I don't think I can do this!" The more I thought about it, I wanted to back up. I'm going to make a terrible church planter's wife. Nick smiled at me and put an arm on my shoulder, "Good. I feel inadequate too". We went on to talk about how our ministry and church ideas have always been based on continually needing the gospel, continually being changed by the Good News that only God is good and we need Him. I suppose now that we're leading the church, this will still be the same for us. We are needy and inadequate still. 

my house, just how I like it. 

Tuesday 1/21 
We had our first family group with over 25 people. There was Sprite all over the floor and kids all over the place. But, oh man - I loved it so much. I love these people so much, the new friends and the ones who have so faithfully given the last few months of their lives to walk with us. The ones who aren't here yet, and mostly - the man who got dreamy and bold and told me five years ago that he felt called to to plant a church called Gospel Community on a snowy night in Seattle. 

I find myself just saying thank you thank you thank you to the Lord under my breath for all that He's done in the last years and weeks to get us here. We're inadequate and He is not. We're weak and His power is made perfect in us. 
We are living out Gospel Community.
And I can't wait.