Friday, August 14, 2009

"A little child will lead them." (Isaiah 11:6)

I am doing something a bit different with Dwell & Cultivate this week. The people who are my "family" at Stone Ridge Church will soon face a big decision about our future. We are becoming increasingly overcrowded and must decide if it is time to build the next phase of our campus. Regardless of the decision we make, I think it is time to tell a bit of the story of how we got where we are. The vast majority of our attenders don't know that history...

It was the Spring of 2005. The heavy equipment was completing the earliest stages of construction on this Land God gave us. We were excited and a bit nervous about moving onto our campus.

The excitement was obvious. How could we not look forward to our own brand new buildings after eight years of "church in a box"? That we could set everything up and leave it during the week was a heady thought after all those years. Add to it that we could gradually shape it the way we saw fit in order to be more effective -- we were thrilled!

Our nervousness stemmed from the awareness that we were taking on a huge responsibility. If our church continued to grow, we would be ready to face larger financial obligations. If not...

One thing concerned us. We had reached younger families over the previous few years, but we weren't sure that we were ready to fully reach out to children with the Gospel.

Not long before that, a series of circumstances brought Kathie and Marty Schotten to us. I knew her reputation. She had served as a Children's Minister for 18 years. Her ministry had grown consistently during that time. Could it be that God had sent her to us "for such a time as this?"

After prayer, our Elders took a leap of faith. We had enough money to hire Kathie for the last six months of 2005, but were we ready to take the risk of adding her to the staff? The answer was, "Yes!"

Even during those months before we moved onto the campus, our Children's Ministry was beginning to grow. By the time we actually opened -- on Christmas Eve that year -- Kathie and a great team of volunteers was ready. Our ministry to children grew over 50% that first year.

Isaiah 11:6 is a prophetic verse about the coming of Messiah -- Jesus -- into the world as a baby. However, much of our grow at Stone Ridge has been because of our ministry to and with children. Now, our Student (Youth) Ministry is also growing rapidly. Young families pour through our doors and we constantly receive feedback that goes something like this: "We (adults) like it at Stone Ridge, but our children love it!"

No wonder our most pressing need for space is for...

Kids!