When the conference asked us to launch a campus of Williamson’s Chapel, we had no idea that it would ultimately give birth to a “legit” church. And even though we are a “church” – we prefer to reference West as a movement. A movement of community, real people doing real life and sharing God’s love in real ways.
Because it had been a few years since launching new churches was a successful venture for our conference, everyone was pushing really hard to do it in a healthy, sustainable, and successful way.
“Do not dare ask anyone to be on the launch team.”
“What???? Really? You want me to launch a campus, but I can’t ask anyone to do it with me?”
“No. They need to come to you. And I’m really serious about this. Trust me on this one.”
My senior pastor said he would pray about it, and he fully believed that God would nudge the right people to come and volunteer to launch the West campus. People that were truly about the mission of reaching people that more traditional settings would not reach. Not just people with a personal agenda to fill some type of inner need for power, authority, or control.
I had great angst about that . . . because we had a very finite amount of time to get the launch team ready. But he was my boss so I listened. Not because I trusted God, but because I respected the authority of my leader.
And honestly, it was a little crazy. Over the next four weeks, literally every other day some new email, text, or phone call would come in. “Can I talk with you about being a part of the West campus?” I couldn’t believe the people that volunteered!!!! If I could have picked “The A Team” – it would have been these people! They ultimately formed the launch team that began West’s journey to becoming the faith community you know today.
“What is the commonality among all these people?” the Director of Congregational Development asked me once I turned our names in.
As I looked among the list, I realized that every single person on that launch team was someone that had “done” life in ministry with me in intense, relational ways.
Either working together in worship or missions . . . traveling to different parts of the community and world rebuilding Hurricane Katrina ravaged homes in hundred-degree weather, a dormitory for the deaf in Jamaica, or week in and week out planning worship services for Williamson’s Chapel at 6 am on Saturdays at Panera, then leading Saturday night worship, playing together in the band . . . every human on that team had put in some blood, sweat, and tears with me in leadership. And they were willing to take a bold leap into the future ways of doing ministry.
It looked a lot like what happened a few thousand years ago with a man named Jesus of Nazareth and his closest friends.
They did life and ministry together, wandering homeless, learning from and teaching one another, sharing meals, prayers, and in doing so, they were able to see what a unique and intimate relationship with God could be like. Jesus brought them to the very heart of God.
And he does that for and in us, too.
Allow Jesus to do “life” with you as a friend. Revealing the joys, the struggles, the happiness, the sadness, the peace, the anger, all the stuff you go through . . . . offer it as thoughts to The Divine and recognize how your life changes and how you grow closer as a friend to God. It changes everything.