Monday, August 22, 2016

1 + 1 = 3 ... A united church

Hey everybody,

I wanted to pass along my transcript of what I shared yesterday about a Oak Grove's potential merger with Hub City. One thing that I think I forgot to say, that I want to emphasize, is this is not a 100% done deal. We believe God is leading in this direction and we are trying to follow his leadership, but Oak Grove has some tough decisions to make and discussions to have. We also want to give you time to ask questions. I want us to be united in our decision as we seek to obediently follow where the Holy Spirit is leading. I shared a timeline. I should have shared that the timeline is tentative and could change. We have to put the "f" word into practice: Flexibility!

Like I said yesterday, I want your questions. Email them to me before Sunday if you can. There will also be time for you to ask you questions on Sunday.

I want you to know that I am grateful for our church family. God has done and is doing some great things in us and through us. Pray for that to continue. Pray for Oak Grove.

Here's my transcript:

What was the first awesome gift you remember getting? For me it was an awesome banana-seat bicycle that I got when I was 5. It was awesome. I learned to ride a bike on that bike. I used to ride it to school when they still allowed you to ride bikes to school. It was like the best gift ever. That is until I turned 8 and I got an upgrade, a Mongoose Blue Max BMX with aluminum mag wheels. It was a better gift, a way better gift.

This morning I want to talk about a gift God has for the Hub City Church family.

I want to show you a verse. Hebrews 11:6

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Without faith it is impossible to please God. That means that pleasing God and faith are linked. They go hand in hand.

But what is faith? Verse 1 gives us a definition:

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

The best picture of faith that I can think of is riding on the back of someone walking across a tight rope. Now let me ask you: On a scale of 1-10, what would you rate your faith level?

The reason I ask that is that this gift that God is giving us is going to require that we take our faith to the next level. It’s going to take faith on our part to accept this gift from God. But as I’m going to show you, this gift will help us to become the church that God wants us to be and transform the world where God has placed us.

So what is this gift that God for us? What if I were to tell you that God is giving us a gift of 40 people? And what if these 40 people come with a building? And it’s as if God is saying, “Here’s a gift.” God is giving us a gift of another church that wants to unite with us and become a part of the Hub City Family.

Let me tell you a story. A few months ago, when we started this revisioning process where we’re moving from just doing church to being the church, I met James. James was facilitating some training that our church health task force was going through. James wanted to get together for coffee and learn more about Hub City and our story so that he could do a better job consulting and helping us.

I met James at Bella Latte on 290 and shared him the story of Hub City and what had led us to where we are. At the end of our conversation he asked me to pray about something. He told me that he was the transitional pastor at Oak Grove Baptist Church and that the church had just voted to pursue a merger with healthy church in the area. He asked if I knew of anyone who might be interested in talking with him. I said that I didn’t, but that I would pray for God to lead the right church to him. The truth is that I didn’t really know anything about church mergers, so the whole idea was foreign to me, so honestly, I didn’t think much else about it until the next day.

That happened on a Wednesday. On Thursday, I went to be a part of this pastoral leadership training that I’ve been a part of and Paul, some of you know Paul. He’s the big guy that has been helping us through our revisioning process. Well, Paul walked right up to me and said, “I hear James talked with you about Oak Grove merging with Hub City.”

I immediately said, “Whoa, time out! That’s not what we talked about at all. I thought James just asked me if I new of anyone who might be interested and I told him I’d pray.”

So after that meeting I went to text James and asked him if he was trying to test the water with his question. Like, “are you asking me if I’m interested in Oak Grove merging with Hub City?” He told me that all he wanted me to do was to pray about it.

So I did. I really didn’t want to pray about it. I wasn't really interested. So I said to God, “God, if you want me to have another conversation with James about this, then I want you to make it the only thing I can think about.”

So for the next few days, honestly, I couldn’t get it off my mind. So I met with Mike and asked him to pray with me about having another conversation with James. We prayed for a few days and both decided that God was saying yes to another conversation.

 So on June 16 I met with James to hear more. I heard how Oak Grove has been on the decline for over 25 years, and that they haven’t really had any real vision or mission for almost that long. I heard that they have a leadership void. I heard that they are willing to do whatever it takes because they want God to use them and their facility to build his kingdom and make disciples. I learned that they’ve been hurt and burned and are wounded and in need of love and care.

What I didn’t hear were any red flags. Now, I had a long, long list of red flags that I was looking for that would let me know that this wasn’t really what God wanted us to do.

I was totally shocked that not one red flag came up, so we decided that I should invite a few more Hub City people into the know so that they could pray. I met with Jaimee and Allen, Bryan Scott, and Mike. I shared with them asked for them to seek God’s leading. Does God want us to move forward with this? After a few days of prayer, they all agreed that God wanted us to move forward with this and have a first date. The first date was four leaders from Hub City getting together with four leaders from Oak Grove to share and listen and pray. Gary, Jaimee, Mike and myself met with four people from Oak Grove. After that conversation we all agreed that God was leading us to a second date.

On June 27 I met with the Leadership Community, Church Health Task Force and Church Health Prayer Team of Hub City Church to share about a potential merger with Oak Grove Baptist Church and to ask for prayer. We had 27 people in my house. All participants overwhelmingly and excitingly approved moving forward in obedience to how God was leading.

The second date would consist of 12 people from Hub City meeting with their merger team of 9 people to talk about the vision, mission, non-negotiables, and DNA of a united church. After that meeting, Gary and I met with their team one more time to answer some of their questions and clarify some things for them, and they voted unanimously that God was calling them to merge with us, and in the words of an 85 year old man named Bob, “We need to make this happen.”

Now, as I’ve said, there have been a lot of people at Hub City who have been involved in this decision making process. The Leadership Community, Church Health Task Force and Church Health Prayer Team as well as a few others. If you have been on the team that has been discussing this please stand.

The reason I want these people to stand is that I want you to know that this has been a decision that has been discussed by and prayed for by all these people.

And all of us firmly believe that this is what God is calling Hub City to do.

I want to answer some questions you might have. I know I won’t answer everyone’s questions, that’s why we’re going to have a question and answer time next Sunday.

What is going to change for Hub City?

The two big things that will change are where we meet and the number of people who are a part of our church?

But what’s awesome about this is that each of us bring something unique to a united church. I want to tell you what we bring to a united church.

We bring a name. The united church will be Hub City Church.

We bring a vision and a mission of making disciples who make disciples. They need a vision and mission.

We bring a come-as-you-are value of authenticity. Our casual atmosphere will stay the same. The reason we have a casual, come as you are atmosphere is that we don’t want to do anything that would put up a barrier between someone and God.

We bring a more relevant music and worship style. We will still have the band and do music like we do music. They actually bring some musicians who have been limited in how they can use their gifts.

We bring partnerships with Alex’s House, Disciple’s Village, Church Builders. Not only will these continue but they will get better. We’ll be able to do more.

We bring a lot to the table that they need, but the truth is that Oak Grove brings a lot to a united church.

They bring more people to love and disciple.

They bring people who have been burned and hurt by church and we get to help people who have been burned and hurt by church heal. Many of you have been burned and hurt and have found healing at Hub City.

They bring a partnership with a school. They already have inroads with the District 6 Child Development Center. I have always wanted us to be able to serve a school regularly and consistently.

They bring a group of people who want to serve and make a difference.

They bring a segment of the population that we don’t currently have: Senior Citizens. I believe that the church should be multi-cultural and intergenerational. We have a ways to go so that we look like that, but this merger moves us more fully towards being intergenerational with the addition of seniors who have a lot to teach us and who need some young energy to build their faith.

 They bring an opportunity to do things that are very difficult to do being portable. They bring an amazing, debt-free facility. Yes, it does need to be renovated. But it’s a great facility and property with a ton of potential. We’re going to give you the opportunity to tour the facility on September 4.

The facility has a workout room. That’s right, they have a workout room. It’s amazing what resources they have that don’t get used.

The facility has a fellowship hall where we can eat together. We get an ice machine which will be very helpful for Movies in the Park.

They bring a permanent home base, which will allow us to better train and equip you to be the church. We also get some property that we can make available to the community. There is a great ball field that the community can use.

They bring a neighborhood. Right here we are in the middle of a retail center. Behind and around their property are neighborhoods that we can serve.

Let me share the tentative timeline.

      Today we share with both churches.
      Tonight: Gary and I go to Oak Grove to answer questions
      Next Sunday: We will use our worship time to answer questions.
      September 4: We will worship separately, but after worship we’ll head over there to eat together. It’ll be a mix and mingle time.
      September 11: They have to vote for this to be official. This will be our final day of worship in the theater.
      September 18 will be our first worship gathering together as a new Hub City Church. This just happens to be Hub City’s 8th birthday.
      September 18- October 23: This will be the only time we do Sunday Night Church. This will be a chance to teach our disciple making mission, our disciple making process, what Hub Groups are like, and our membership class.
      October 30: Recommit and recovanant to membership in the new Hub City Church.

I’ll be honest, this is kind of scary. It involves a significant amount of risk. But what I’ve discovered is that doing what God calls you to do isn’t always safe and predictable. Remember what the writer of Hebrews said: Without faith it is impossible to please God.
I want you to know my heart. We would not be having this discussion if I or the Leaders here at Hub City weren’t confident that this is what God is calling us to do. In fact, I think this is the path for us to see our “be the church” vision come to fruition.

I also want you to know that I want each and every one of you to be a part of this. One of my reservations is that we would lose some of you in the transition. I have been praying against that. I’m going to do all I can to make sure that doesn’t happen. I want you to make sure you do your part to make sure that doesn’t happen as well. Commit to be a part of this.

We’re actually creating a team called the “no person left behind” team whose sole purpose is that we don’t leave anyone behind. This team will be made up of people from Hub City and Oak Grove.

So what do you need to do? First, I want you to ask questions. I know you have questions. We want to do our best to answer your questions. We want to hear your questions. That’s why, next Sunday, during our normal worship time, we’re going to worship with our questions and use our time for Q&A. This will give you a week to come up with questions.

Actually, I would love your questions ahead of time. That way I can make sure I have all the information I need to answer things well. In fact, some of you already have questions. Well, that’s why you have a 3x5 card. What questions come to mind for you right now?

Second, I want to invite you to pray. More than anything, we want God’s will to be done. I don’t want Hub City’s will done. I don’t want Oak Grove’s will done. I don’t want my will done. I want God’s will to be done. That has been my prayer and the prayer of our team all along. And we want to invite and encourage you to pray.

And honestly, this is a really big and life changing decision for the members of Oak Grove. Some of them have been members at Oak Grove for 70 years. There’s a lot of history there. So I would ask that you pray for them. It will be harder for them to make this change than it will be for us.

Finally, a want to invite you to live by faith. God is giving us a gift.