In 2017, the Bridge Church in Portage MI established a Church Planting Team to oversee all new church plant initiatives, formed a Search Team, and engaged their first church planter, Rev. Philip Rose (RCA).
During this same time, the leadership of the Bridge and Southwest Michigan Classis were approached by leadership from Twin Lakes Reformed Church to discuss the future of an RCA presence in their community. The congregation was aging and declining, but they had a deep desire to see ministry and mission continue in that place. These discussions eventually led to the prayerful discernment that Twin Lakes Church would complete their season of ministry at 5475 Ravine Road April 1, 2018, and return their property and assets to the stewardship of SWM Classis to be used for a new RCA church plant in NW Kalamazoo under the supervision of The Bridge.
The mission, vision and values of this new church would be in alignment with the mission of the Bridge, rooted in scripture and revealed in the faithful practice of its members. In February, 2018 an initial launch team of 60 adults and 25 children began meeting to pray, learn and reach out into the community. This team represented all age groups and was gathered from seven different churches in the greater Kalamazoo area.
Work began on renovations for the facility on Ravine Road in April, and the vision for a new ministry continued to form. Eventually a name for the church plant was chosen, The Living Well, and a vision statement was adopted:
We are a group of people who
Find real life in Jesus Christ,
Celebrate that life in community, and
Share the life with everyone around us.
This vision was born out of our desire to be missional and community-minded community, and it is expressed in our Five Core Values:
#1 – Belonging
Real life is experienced through relationships and diversity
#2 – Celebration
Real life is expressed in passionate worship and joyful community
#3 – Transformation
Real life is characterized by becoming more and more like Jesus
#4 – Devotion
Real life is practiced with dedication, attention, and service
#5 – Purpose
Real life is multiplied through Spirit-led connections & conversations
The Living Well Church is built upon and guided by these five values. They help to remind us of who we are, what we believe, and how we can experience real life together in Christ.
On October 7, 2018 we celebrated all that the Holy Spirit had done among us with a Grand Opening Celebration that was attended by 230 people in two services! God continues to bless and lead us, and The Living Well continues to celebrate the real growth that is happening in our hearts, homes and communities. We are excited to become who God is making us, to do what God is showing us, and to god where God is leading us. We’re excited to “share the life” together!
What’s in a name?
In John’s Gospel, we hear several stories of Jesus connecting with people through everyday conversations. John 4:1-42 recounts a connection and conversation with a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well. Jesus is willing to engage in a conversation, even though it goes far beyond the walls of social convention, ethnic boundaries and religious distinctions. Jesus uses the metaphor of living water to describe God’s offer of eternal and abundant life. Jesus tells this woman that he is the only source of that living water—he is the Living Well. He tells her, “whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” Not only does the woman receive that gift for herself, but she goes and tells everyone what she has found. She becomes a conduit for the living water that only God can give.
This story reminds us of three essential truths of the gospel. First, Jesus Christ is the only source of eternal life—he is “The Living Well” and he offers his living water to anyone who is thirsty and willing to come (John 7:37). Second, this eternal life that he offers is an abundant and immediate life—those who belong to God can begin “living well” as followers of Christ who are filled by the Holy Spirit (John 10:10). Finally, anyone who receives this new life in Christ becomes a vessel or conduit for the living water He offers to the world—we become “living wells” out of which His living water flows (John 7:38). We are not the source of living water, but we know and point to its source in Jesus Christ. Our individual desire, and our shared vision, is to be a community that drinks deeply from The Living Well, to always be “living well” in the fullness of Christ’s eternal life, and to allow Christ’s living water to flow out of us as “living wells” into the world God loves.