I had been looking forward to last night for about a month. The folks in charge at Brentwood church had been getting us all psyched up for this night- the night when the next step for our body would be unveiled. The next play in the game plan would be revealed.
We had an amazing time of worship … and I’m going to take a moment here to brag on Nic Carver and the rest of the band. Janette, Ben, Juan, Mark, Aaron, Luke … they put a lot of time into making worship at Brentwood a palpable encounter with the Lord. The excellence and genuine spirit with which they lead us sets the stage for us as a body to encounter the holy spirit … what a blessing. Jon addressed the challenges that we are facing and reiterated the vision of our church [to be an exciting, relevant church for unchurched people]. The biggest challenge: we are packed out. We’ve had to turn away cars from the parking lot because there were no more spaces. And on top of that, we’ve had to turn away people at the door because there were no more seats in the auditorium. We’ve had to turn away kids because there is no more space for them! This is a good problem … but it is still a problem. The last thing we want as a church is for our growth to plateau. There are thousands of people in the greater Lynchburg area who have not experienced Jesus Christ and his work in their lives … and we want to create space for them. That’s why we’re here. But alas, there are such things as zoning ordinances and fire codes … we can’t just cram them in! We’re already running three services at almost maximum capacity … so what do we do?
We’re going to 4 services. Two in the morning: 9am and 1045 am; and two in the evening: 430pm and 6pm. Not a typical solution, and not your typical Sunday night service. And … get this: we’re looking at selling the land and buildings that we have. We’re looking for new property or a new building, and we may end up going back to ‘church in a trailer’ if there is a time period between when we sell the land and when we purchase our next ‘home’. Jon used a closed, wrapped box to represent the future of Brentwood church. In that box is the next chapter in our history. We don’t know what that is … what it looks like … where it is … or even exactly how we’ll get there. This, folks, is where we get to exercise a little thing called faith. Scary stuff. But the joy and reward that comes from following Christ and being a part of what he is up to in this town is so worth it! Having our name associated with the fame of Christ- the satisfaction that comes from knowing that we’re being obedient, and the pride that comes from watching the family of God grow deeper and deeper in their knowledge of Him- so deep that they take that knowledge elsewhere and pass it on- these things are totally worth being scared for. What is in the ‘mystery box’ is worth pursuing … it is worth the exercise of faith … it is worth whatever it takes to be obedient.
The same goes for me. I love my life … grad school, my job, my friends, my family, the ministry opportunities that I have both inside and outside of Brentwood Church. My cup is full, sometimes to the point of overflowing. To some people, it looks like I’m perpetually ‘on hold’ … grad school because I ‘can’t get a real job’ or don’t want to grow up. Almost 27 years old … and still single. To those people, you need to understand that I’m not called to live my life according to your plan for it. Get that through your head now- because I don’t have time to explain that to you. And if I’m living in obedience to Christ, I won’t have to: he will be all over and all through my life in a way that is visible and undeniable. I don’t know what is in my ‘mystery box’. I do know what my gifts and passions are, and I am doing my best to steward them and chase them in such a way that I can maximize them for the glory of God. I’m seeking a graduate degree that will equip me to equip others to be disciples. I’m seriously thinking about pursuing a post-graduate degree that will qualify me to teach college students about the Word of God. And yes, I’d love to get married and have a family. But God hasn’t brought those things to me right now … he has, however, put me in a position where I can pursue those degrees I talked about a minute ago for free. I am surrounded by some of the smartest people I know! My job is to get smarter, to use the ministry opportunities at hand and to seek new ones, and to keep taking steps toward the mystery box. I don’t know when I’ll get there, and I don’t know what’s in it … and call me crazy, but I am too curious and too in love with the one holding the box to not want to know what’s inside.