In order to grow and make a greater kingdom impact we need offices for staff, dedicated quality space for children and youth, rooms for Sunday morning small groups and space to expand community ministries. Right now we have a small worship center, no offices, no dedicated community ministry space, no dedicated small group space and lower quality kids space than any of us would like.
Lately our church has been really growing! We've had new visitors in worship every week since August 1st, most weeks we've had new faces in small groups too!
Because of the growth of Metairie Church urgency for expanded space is growing. We're not busting at the seams just yet... but I believe we will be before long! So please, join me and our pastors and leaders in praying that God would provide a more permanent place for us to gather.
This year our church we hit several significant ministry milestones. In two months our family celebrates being back in New Orleans for 10 years! We returned to New Orleans in January of 2010 to plant Hope Church. In the spring we will celebrate the two year anniversary of our merger with Metairie Church; a merger that God has used to bring about increased health and impact. And this month we celebrate the four year anniversary of our non-profit ministry - First Hope Christian Ministries; a ministry that provides professional counseling and benevolence assistance to poor and hurting people in our city.
Honestly, the whole church planting journey has been really hard! We began with a high school student and a college student in the living room of our rent house.. along with two small children, we developed a small core team in our home over the first few years, we launched a worship gathering, we bounced from location to location, we struggled to multiply small groups, we struggled to learn how to be a diverse church, we struggled to engage with the Gospel, we struggled to grow and we struggled through a merger... like I said, it was hard!
But by God's grace, a thriving church exists that did not exist before and impactful ministry is happening all around us every day. Through lots of prayer, tears and struggle the Lord built His church. And all along friends, family and ministry partners have been with us investing, encouraging and praying with us. If you are one of those people:
Today I want to invite you to rejoice in our latest victories. For years we worked and toiled in the field; preparing the ground, planting and watering the seeds, fighting off the birds, praying life would spring fourth... and it did. And now suddenly we are reaping a harvest. Since August 1st we've had first time visitors every week in our service and a lot of weeks 5-10 of them. Right now we have four baptisms in the works, we have a large great of membership prospects coming to our Discover Metairie Church class this Sunday and we've recently established several new small groups and community ministry initiatives. Friends, God is moving and we're rejoicing and giving thanks!
Friends, family and ministry partners -- I want you to know that your investment, your encouragement and your prayers have had a HUGE impact and the fruit of your investment is being realized more and more every day. We give God all the glory but we also give thanks to Him for you and for your part in our story.
God has called each one of us to follow him. While every individual needs to obey Jesus’ call to follow, we cannot follow Jesus as individuals. The proper context for every Christian is the church.
It is impossible to be a disciple aside from the church of Jesus Christ. Look at it from this perspective: the New Testament is full of commands to do this or that for “one another.” Love one another, pray for one another, encourage one another, etc. So how can we teach people to “observe all that I have commanded” if they have no one to love, pray for, or encourage?
It’s impossible to “one another” yourself. It’s impossible to follow Jesus alone. We can’t claim to follow Jesus if we neglect the church He created, the church He died for, the church He entrusted His mission to.
Teaching people to trust in Christ and obey what Jesus commanded is a never-ending process that requires us to intertwine our lives with the Christians around us. As Christians, we join together with other believers, help them overcome the sin that holds them back, and challenge them to grow into more effective disciple makers.
Here is a homework assignment from the pastor! Go to www.biblegateway.com and search for "One Another" in the New Testament. Go through the list and find the texts that speak to the church. For example:
James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
Copy and paste each of these into a document. Print the list and use it to evaluate your commitment to one another in the church. Ask God to help you to value one another more and obey His Word.