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...
By the time we moved into our new "digs", we were concluding eight years of what we had come to call "church in a box." During that time, we learned what it meant to live simply. Every piece of equipment needed for Sunday services had to be carted in and out each week.
During most of those years, the only building we owned was our church office -- the same office we have today. My office has a table that can comfortably seat eight to ten people. At times, meetings or Bible Studies were held in there with far more people.
At the same time, we were learning to have Small Groups in homes. Occasionally, we found another meeting place for larger gatherings during the week. We were well received by businesses and other churches.
More important than what we were learning about meeting spaces was what we were learning about being the Body of Christ. God kept (and still does!) gracing us with people who have a heart to serve. As He literally transformed us from a church of obligated workers to a church of heart-felt servants, we saw more and more people outside the church develop an openness to what was going on inside.
In fact, we discovered that our neighborhoods were filled with people whose heart is open to the love of Christ. We encountered little out-right resistance as we determined to love people no matter what their background or circumstances. If Jesus Christ didn't come to be served, but to serve, what better example for us to live by?
The more Christ's attitude became ours, the more the church grew. We were still in rented facilities. We still had limitations. We still needed to raise money. We could have used all these reasons to not reach out. But that would have meant we weren't like Christ!
Our leaders kept careful track of our numerical growth during those days (still do!). We heard horror stories about churches that weren't growing who thought that a new building would make them grow. Big mistake! Buildings are but tools to help growing churches take care of the people God is sending them.
God blessed us with growth when were didn't have buildings. He was about to bless us even more when we moved into our campus.
To be continued...