Next Level Church is different now. Yup… I said it and I feel much better.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I’d like to share a few things with you that I’ve been praying about and contemplating over the past few months. The purpose of this article is to share with you my heart and to let you know that I’m aware that some of you are feeling unnerved by all the changes that have come about in the last year.
A few things from my heart:
1: We’d never be where we are without your sacrifice. I remember dreaming with many of you in the early days and I remember the sacrifices that you made over and over again to keep NLC moving forward in the right direction. I am and will forever be grateful to you and your families for believing in the vision from the very beginning.
2: God writes the script, so we should probably throw ours away. I can’t tell you how many times in the last year I’ve come to that realization. What’s happening now and the way in which it’s happening was never in my script. But it was certainly in God’s. One day I told God that I would do whatever He wanted me to do and that I would do it wherever He wanted me to do it. Today, I’m doing the best I can to live that out in a real way.
3: With growth comes pain. I guess that’s why they call it “growing pains”. Seems logical to me. In one year we’ve tripled our staff, we’ve more than tripled our attendance, and we’ve more than tripled our number of services. We all used to attend one service together and we all loved it. I used to lead everything and we all had fun. I used to be accessible at every corner and it seemed to work. Now all of that has changed. We have four services a week. I lead 3 of them. We have staff members who now lead most of the ministries in our church. I’m not as accessible as I used to be. It’s all very different and we are all aware of it. But I think it’s really important that we take a step back and really evaluate what God has done and ask ourselves… is it about us or is it about the Kingdom. Remember, this is God’s church and He is the one who grows it.
4: We’ve made a ton of mistakes and we’re going to make a ton more. Have you ever felt like you were constantly chasing something and no matter how hard you tried, you couldn’t catch it? That explains the last year at NLC. We’ve made a ton of dumb mistakes and we’ve done a ton of dumb things. And I’m certain that won’t stop with this article. But the good thing is that we learn from them and we do the best we can to grow out of them. If you’ve felt overlooked, under-appreciated, or unnoticed at all during this last year, please know that it was never done intentionally. I LOVE you and I VALUE you so very much.
5: We need soldiers. I’ve never believed that the church was ever suppose to be about me. I’m more convinced of that now than I’ve ever been in my entire life. We are surrounded by brokenness. At every turn we have another opportunity to reach down to a broken, screwed up life and bring that person to the Savior. It’s messy. It’s overwhelming. But at the end of the day, it’s incredibly fulfilling. I believe it’s exactly the kind of ministry that Jesus had while he was here on this earth.
A quick story of something that happened to me today. I had to make a visit to one of our transitional houses to go over some paperwork with a new client. In the midst of the conversation I shared with him how much I believed in him and how safe he was with us. Most of his life has been in shambles. He’s still a very young man, but a very broken man. Today, in the midst of our conversation, I said to him that true transformation doesn’t happen outside the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He looked at me and said “Jesus who?”. He had absolutely no idea who Jesus was or what His message was all about. Through tears, mine and his, I had the opportunity to watch him bow his head and weep his way to Jesus. I was reminded once again – we are exactly where we are suppose to be FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS!
The last thing we need to do is retreat, isolate or jump ship. This is our moment. This is our season. God has literally answered our prayers to be a bright and shining light to a broken world. It is my prayer that we break through the emotions of nostalgia and prayerfully ask God to show us how we can continue to pour into this everlasting investment and make an everlasting mark in the Kingdom of God.
I love you,