I walked into Cedar school (the new venue for our third site) with two practically-minded individuals this week and had the following inspired thought; Why? I mean, why on earth are we going to try and run three sites as Life Church? It’s mad! As I was chatting through the practicalities of running a third site: the extra equipment, the extra people needed, the rotas, the extra buildings to hire, the different meeting times, the frantic preaching schedules – I had this inspired revelation – ‘this is madness’. I mean utter madness.
However, that inspired moment has drawn me to focus back on the reason we are doing all of this in the first place and has encouraged me to dig deeper back into the place of prayer, which of course is where all this began. I share these thoughts with you as I hope it would encourage and sustain you through the challenges that lie ahead, and that when you come up against obstacles or challenges, you two would turn to the place of prayer and find peace with our saviour Jesus Christ – “the Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9v6).
God spoke through his Word
Through God’s word, one thing is very clear – God wants us to “Go into all the earth and make disciples”. We are convinced that the most effective way to reach more people with the good news of Jesus Christ is to build more church sites that can impact the local communities around them. The primary reason we want more sites in Southampton is that we want to see more people come to know Jesus and we believe we can reach more people in three locations than we can in just one.
God spoke through the Prophetic
At Life Church we have had countless words relating to the fact that we are to be a church that meets in multiple locations. Historically we received a word that we are to ‘bridge the city’ and that this bridge wasn’t a straightforward bridge but is a bridge with one central pillar and two pillars either side. In recent years we had a word about opening 3 sets of doors across the city and most recently about being ‘pregnant with twins’. Again and again God has spoken to us very clearly by the prophetic that he is calling us to a three Site church across Southampton.
God’s timing is Perfect
God’s timing is always perfect. With a strategic management head on, the timing of our third site makes no sense! We have only recently been running two sites, why now?! – let me encourage you with these very simple words that appear so often in scripture “But God”. You see so often God has a different plan to the one we were thinking doesn’t he! As the elders were praying one day around 18-months ago there was a “But God” moment where we knew he was not calling us to go from one to two, but from one to three! I am so grateful we are a people led by are incredible God who graciously leads us and stirs our faith.
God is in complete control
Perhaps the most encouraging thing for us is this; God is in complete control. As one of the leaders of Life Church, I can promise you it will be a difficult journey, I can promise you that we will make plenty of mistakes along the way whilst trying to do our best to faithfully follow God. But one thing is certain. God is in complete control, he already knows what mistakes we will make and he has a plan that is far greater than we could possibly conjure up of our own making! So I encourage you to bear with us (Colossians 3v13), look to Jesus to sustain you (Hebrews 1v3) and communicate lots with us as we continue to work out this multisite madness together.
I hope and pray that all at Life Church are able to grab a moment over Christmas to reflect on 2017. To thank God for all that he is doing with us as individuals and all he is doing with us together. I am so encouraged by the many lives that we have seen touched by God as we have been stepping out in faith in this multisite madness; to see the new families that have found a home in Life Church West End; to see many from Life Church Central stepping up into new serving roles; to see people growing in gifting as the gaps appear; to see someone come to know Jesus at all three of our sites. There is no place I would rather be than on the adventure of Faith following Jesus together.
As we begin 2018, let’s press on with faith as Malcolm Kayes exhorted us to do back in September this year when speaking from Philippians 3 – much like Paul encouraging the Church in Philippi to persevere to the end. Let’s continue to be a people united by the word and prayer as John Groves emphasised the importance of for us as we move forward together. And in those times when it feels a little bit like ‘madness’, let us remember this is all about Him, it’s all for Him and we pray in 2018 many would come to know Him, the Prince of Peace; Jesus Christ.