There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. (Eccl. 3:1)
Greetings, Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
April has arrived, and with it a season of change. Spring is in the air (at least it’s knocking on the door), and summer will be here before we know it. As a church plant here in Kalamazoo, we are going through seasons as well, and the significant changes that come with it. We are currently a strong and enthusiastic group of 70, including children (and why wouldn’t we?) We are two months into the launch process of our new church, and we are heading into a new season we’re calling “Phase 2.” The Holy Spirit is moving powerfully in us, among us and around us, as He continues to shape us into His community of worshipers, disciples and kingdom ambassadors. It’s a new season, but our calling is unchanged. With new seasons come new life and new opportunities; but new seasons also present new challenges. I am so grateful to God that you are standing with us, wherever you may be, as prayerful partners in the Gospel.
A NEW LIFE
On Easter Sunday, April 1, the 145-year ministry of Twin Lakes Church officially ended and we received their facilities and their blessings to establish a new church in that place! At sunrise that morning our team gathered at the water’s edge of our new home to celebrate the resurrection, and the promised hope of new life. What a fitting way to move from “Phase 1” of our process— building the foundations of our discipleship—to “Phase 2”—living into that calling as a community on mission. With the generous support of our parent church, The Bridge, we will begin making substantial renovations, repairs and improvements to those facilities immediately.
A NEW NAME
One of our goals heading into “Phase 2” was to determine a new name for our new church. Our name will reflect our values and communicate our unique calling as a community of Christ followers in Kalamazoo. While reading Dan Grider’s book, “Starfish Movement” together, it occurred to us that these principles of outreach and discipleship are beautifully illustrated in the encounter Jesus has with a Samaritan woman (recorded in John 4). Jesus makes a connection with the woman and has a spiritual conversation. He tells her if she keeps doing life the same way—if she keeps drinking the same water—she’ll always be thirsty for more. She will never be satisfied drinking from that well. He says he can provide her with living water, and whoever drinks from his well will never be thirsty again. As the only source of living water, Jesus is the Living Well. Our desire is to drink deeply from that well AND to point everyone who is thirsty to the source of living water. As a community of disciples, we are excited to live into that calling; to enjoy God’s grace AND extent God’s glory. And so, we are excited to name our new church…THE LIVING WELL!
For two months we have been laying a foundation for our new community with our weekly GAME Times! G.A.M.E. stands for Gathering, Accountability, Motivation and Equipping. We want to construct a strong foundation, built on the simple concept of being disciples who make disciples. As we head into “Phase 2” of the launch process we’ll continue to build on this solid foundation we have in Christ (Eph. 2:19-21). At the same time we are building our team, we will begin work on the physical building at 5475 Ravine!
Phase 2 goals:
– Continue to grow spiritually, missionally & numerically: laser-focused on prayer, intentional about creating “on-ramps” for new team partners, and diligent about always looking outward.
– Continue to create healthy community and commitment in the launch team: we will continue to press into prayer, worship and fellowship as ways we are strengthened & enlivened in Christ.
– Begin to develop systems and teams: we will form teams to explore and implement ministry ideas, and to give everyone opportunities to exercise their unique gifts and abilities.
– Implement outreach strategies that build upon the principles of the Starfish Movement: we will use the idea of connections & conversations in creative group outreach activities, community partnerships, neighboring initiatives and inviting our friends & neighbors to community events.
– Begin building renovations, repairs & improvements at 5475 Ravine: we will be stewards of God’s property and resources, using them to create space for ministry, mission & transformation.
Planting a new church comes with all sorts of challenges—some challenges are personal and some are shared as a whole group; some may come as clear threats from the Enemy and others as growth opportunities provided by God to strengthen and stretch us. One personal challenge I faced last month (and continue to face) is the sudden, unexpected death of my father, Roger Rose. Dad fell a few weeks ago and broke his hip. He was unable to recover from the surgery, and last Friday (Good Friday) the Lord brought him home at age 87. On Easter morning, he was “absent from the body, and present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8). For that we rejoice, but I feel his absence deeply. Dad served as a pastor for 60 years before retiring at age 82. I don’t hope to take his place in the kingdom, but I long to honor his legacy. Planting a church requires energy, focus and concentration—all things that are difficult to muster in the wake of grief. I thank so many of you for responding with cards and messages. Please pray for our family as we walk this path of sorrow AND joy.
With challenges come opportunities. That’s true for me and for all of us at The Living Well, but it is also true for you who partner with us for the sake of the kingdom. There is an opportunity to pray that the Holy Spirit will open doors for our ministry (Col. 4:3) and that this brand new church, The Living Well, will bear much fruit (John 15:8). There is an opportunity for you to join us in ministry wherever you live, by allowing the Lord to lead you, use you and allow his living water to spill out over you into the places you live and work (John 4:14, 7:38). And there is an opportunity to financially support Christ’s mission in Kalamazoo. We hope to raise $100,000 over the next six months to pay for much needed work on our facility. If the Lord has given you the means and the desire to donate to that effort, please give. I will say more about that in my next letter, but if you’d like to give, please make any checks out to The Bridge, and indicate “Church Plant” on the memo line. The address for the Bridge is 7200 Angling Road, Portage, MI 49024.