Well this is the week of launch for weekly gatherings at the deep, and there is a sense of excitement all around. It has been like nothing I have ever been apart of before, preparing for weekly gatherings while trying not to lose focus on the big picture of community presence. So our initial series is a good fusion of vision, with some soulful worship while communicating our value of being Jesus to our community. This is where we get, "Christmas Presence," and will unpack the presence of Jesus on earth, the presence of the Holy Spirit in us, which then sends us out to be a presence in the lives of those around us (the surrounding community). I have been at the beginning of three other church plants, one a year into it, one nine months in, and another that never made it past week one, but this has been so much different. First, inviting people to be apart of the core, not attenders, but core people who want to serve rather than be served, is such a different mind set. There were two people from our mother church that came, and two families that came from our grandmother church, so it has pretty much been a parachute drop for Rob and Bethany. Then it can't just be asking friends and family to stop in, or help out, because there is a diversity factor that you have to keep in mind. Muskegon is one of the most diverse cities in the state, racially and socio-economically, and that presents plenty of hurdles to hop. It's made me rethink a lot of what I have previously done in ministry and how I approach the newness of the deep. The needs and challenges that face the community in which we are serving is intense and much broader than I have encountered in the past. Serving, loving, and belonging to the less fortunate, in the past, pretty much consisted of mission trips to other states or countries. Now I am mildly embarrassed to know that there is such a huge need and cultural mosaic that has been ten minutes north of me for the last three years. The action steps of many of the books I have read the last several years, has been waiting a few miles away from my house. So I now find myself on a team and in a community that does not need my programs, but needs my heart, hands and feet in serving the most basic of human needs. My family lives thousands of dollars under the poverty level, determined by the state of Michigan, yet we live quite well off compared to those we are seeking to do life with. I'm pretty sure we had more people come to our preview gatherings and special events asking for money rather than tithing it. Church has changed, it had to, and my family and I are stepping out in faith in a whole new way. Some of my prayers have been answered, and I now know I wasn't prepared for the results. My relationship with God has changed, again I know it had to, and we now have a huge challenge and adventure awaiting us.
So I ask you, yes all of you reading, please consider more than prayer. I am inviting you to move here and join us or give generously to this new Christian community called the deep. Just go to www.outofthedeep.com and find the link where you can join the team. I very much believe in the power of prayer, but I also wonder how many times WE are the answer to the prayer we are tossing up. Maybe you are the answer to our prayers, or to your own prayers for the deep community. I know God has gone before us into Muskegon, and now it is for us to follow Him.
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