It has been an amazing journey to this point and I look forward to what God is going to do… here is how we got here
It was March 2009 and a friend of mine in Phoenix was going with his church staff to the 2009 Catalyst West Coast Conference in Irvine, CA. It sounded fun and a lot of great speakers were going to be there, so I went and little did I know what God was going to show me.
It was an amazing conference with guys like Francis Chan (author of Crazy Love and The Forgotten God), Craig Groeschel (author of It and The Christian Atheist) and Perry Noble (a church planter in South Carolina – leads the church “where the sinners go”). With ten speakers in less than two days, by the time it was over I was leaving with a headache because my brain was literally full-- so many thoughts, so many ideas, so many people to be reached for Christ. I didn’t know what to do or how it was going to get done. One thing was for certain; I was never going to be the same.
As I sat on the plane leaving Orange County, I thought about all the things that were said but one the one speaker that kept ringing in my mind was Andy Stanley, the Lead Pastor at NorthPoint in Atlanta. He shared his story of planting a church in Atlanta in the mid 90’s and all that it entailed and what God had done to bring it to where it is today (tens of thousands weekly over 5 campuses). I kept saying to myself that I would never be a church planter and I didn’t want that stress or to put that stress on my family or my friends. I guess we don’t tell God “no”.
I got home and really prayed about it. I didn’t even tell Christy right away. I wanted to hear from God to see where He wanted me and what He wanted me to do. As the time came and I shared with Christy, I was excited that she was completely on board. During that same time, before I even mentioned “church planting” to anyone, God was moving. People at First Baptist Rio Rancho were coming up to me “out of the blue” and saying, “if you plant a church, we will go with you.” That happened more than a few times.
We didn’t know how, where, when, or even if this was going to happen, but we started to talk about it with some friends. The first friend that I talked to was a buddy by the name of Scott Brownson. (you might recognize that name because he is now Paragon’s worship leader) We talked about the possibilities of what God might do in bringing him along… but it was a long shot, a VERY long shot – nearly impossible by any stretch of the imagination. It wasn’t quite as long of a shot for our other friends. It was just the question of how to make this a reality.
The summer flew by (just as it always does for a youth pastor) and September came. We had a church informational meeting in the PowerHouse that brought a lot of people out to hear what God was doing (it also brought out a lot of people because they found out we were serving Hot Tamales enchiladas, beans, and rice). A few more weeks passed and we had our first meeting in the fellowship hall on a Saturday Night. The Hendrix, the Proctors, the Lundays, Juanita Peralta, Katie Carroll, and Christy joined me and pastor Si to kick this off. We started meeting every other week and two weeks later we met for our first regular meeting in Room 204 (seats about 20 comfortably) with 24 people.
We continued to grow every meeting we had through December 2009, so much so, we had to move into and out of two rooms and finally ended up in the PowerHouse at First Baptist.
That brought us to March, and Sandia Vista Elementary School. Our first Sunday there (March 7) we started our Spring Training series with 77 people. The second week we had 83, third week, 93, and the fourth and final week, 94.
Then, we launched. Easter Sunday was preceded with door hangers, mailers, and a fun outreach at WalMart. God did His thing and brought out nearly 150 people to our first official Sunday. It could not have been better.
It has been exciting to watch the transformation from a Bible Study to a church in the past months. We have seen decisions for Christ every week since we entered the school. We have a Baptism “Life Change” Celebration on April 25th with six people already lined up to be baptized. I really can’t wait to see what is going to happen next.
Until NEXT time…