2015. Wow. Whew. What a year.
At the beginning of 2015, we announced that we would be “leaving the nest,” so to speak, of the church where I’d been on staff since 2004 to launch a new church near the community in south Nashville where we’ve lived for the past five years. This has by far been the hardest year of my life. I’ve never worked harder or longer, and I’ve never slept less. Veteran church planters told me going into the year that this would stretch me, and they weren’t exaggerating. But never before have I seen God at work in my life and around me like I have this year. The list is unbelievably long and, well, almost unbelievable of the things small and large that God has done in our lives and in our midst this year.
Last year at this time, we had a dream, a logo, and a burgeoning vision for ministry, but that’s about all we had. We had no people other than our family. We had no location. We had no team. We had no equipment. We had had no gatherings. We had little money. We had no staff. We had nothing really but a longing in our hearts for something new, a strong sense that God was calling us to step out in faith, and a deep hope and many desperate prayers that if we followed the call, God would meet us there. We described it often as “jumping out of a plane not completely sure that we were wearing a parachute.”
Scared to death yet somehow confident, we leapt into the unknown. To our continued amazement and delight, God has met us time and time and time again in ways we never could have imagined or expected. From “chance encounters” with people to near miraculous “coincidences,” so many days have ended with Amanda and me looking at each other in amazement and saying, “Of course that happened. Of course it did,” because it’s become almost commonplace for God to surprise us in unexpected ways in the day to day of our lives.
And so, today, here we sit. We are ten days away from launching what last year was a distant dream into a full-blown reality. Ten days from now, The Village will officially launch as a church in our community, holding weekly worship, and I couldn’t be more excited.
Over the past 365 days, God has blown our expectations out of the water. From providing a space for worship, to assembling a crammed living room full of excited and willing Jesus followers at our house last January ready to partner with us in our launch, to an Easter service that exceeded our expectations, to a summer of loving and serving our community, to a season of preview services this fall that knocked our socks off, to a growing team of “village people” who operate well above my abilities as a leader in their capacity to serve and their love for God, over and over and over and over again God has proven that his capabilities are well above my comprehension and don’t even always fit inside my theology.
So here I sit, in the Starbucks that has become my “office,” at the end of 2015, and I am grateful. Overwhelmingly grateful. And I am hopeful, over-flowingly hopeful. And I am excited, uncontainably excited, for what God is preparing to do through, in, around, and in spite of us.
2015. One year. The truth, though, is that God has been planting The Village for much longer than a year. At this point, I can only suspect that God has been preparing me for this since I was born. January 10, 2016, our launch day, only 10 days away. The truth, though, is that God is looking well beyond that, and I can’t wait to catch a glimpse of what God can see.