Monday, April 7, 2014

The Truth About Our Church

…….is that He never once left us.

For those of you who don't know, the pastor of the church Jimmy and I attend, Living Water Church, was terminated a few weeks ago.  I have been wanting to post for some time.  Mainly about this church situation, but the thoughts in my head, translated to paper, weren't right, weren't Godly, and weren't encouraging.  But, they were real and they were tearing me up. 

I also thought, "I need to do an update" really just to justify why I have been lax in my posts, but that seemed too upsetting to go through the reasons for my absence too.  In my wanting to use my blog as an outlet of truth (concerning the situation), I kept thinking of the story angle to use but in every in-mind trial run seemed wrong….until yesterday.

Even despite the situation with our pastor, this past Friday our church had a building dedication service where our choir joined with another choir and we had the minister from Abundant Life in Charleston, WV come and give us a message.  I can't even describe for you what a release that service gave to our existing congregation.  It was like the tunnel was revealed and there truly was light at the end of it.  We needed that.  We needed vision and a healing, and Pastor Wayne Crozier gave us just that.  The service was so anointed and you just really had to be there to understand how real His presence was.  

But leading up to that service, our choir learned this song.  Yesterday morning, we sang it and it was like an awakening in me….a realization of the past and and excitement for the future was birthed. 

"Never Once" by Matt Redman

When I really listened to the lyrics I was singing, I couldn't believe how there was such truth and relevancy to our church's current situation.  Yes, we have been through it.  Well, that probably doesn't even cover it, what we have walked through for months, but now we're in the healing stage and holding on to the excitement for the future!

Standing on this mountaintop
Looking just how far we've come
Knowing that for every step
You were with us
[Praise the Lord for this statement is oh, so true for Living Water Church]

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You've done
Knowing every victory
Is Your power in us
[It has been a battle; a bloody one.  But through it all, He has restored excitement in our church and has made so many 'ways' where we did not see any way out or forward]

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say
[There are a lot of scars.  Untruthful words caused scars, truthful words caused scars, the realization of fraudulent choices caused scars.]  "But with joy our hearts can say, never once did we ever walk alone."  I truly believe that!

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Every step we are breathing in Your grace
Evermore we'll be breathing out Your praise
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
[Truth, truth, truth!  He is and always has been faithful!]

I saw this picture and immediately started to praise Him for the future, but also for the current faithfulness He's shown.  He is faithful in the fact that we still have our brand new building - the old Around the Farm Store - and we're not in jeopardy of losing it either.  We have still have visitors coming and who are excited to return for future services.  We still have children's church/teen church teachers intact and new ones coming on board that felt God calling them out for particular positions.  Our worship leaders are amazing and Doug has agreed to fill in as the Sunday morning pastor.  The lessons he brings are so thought-provoking and when you leave, you feel like you've been to church and have a goal for the week ahead.  He is faithful; He has never left us.  So faithful that even trudging through this whole mess, a new visitor came to church yesterday, got saved, and dedicated her life to Christ!  He works in all ways!

I am sure if you clicked on this blog you were assuming you would see the rundown of what our pastor did and why he was terminated.  That's not what my blog, life or post will be about.  I am furious over the reasons that caused his termination - and those reasons were detailed by the deacons to the church because they had the right to know, and the reasons were not going to be swept under the rug and denied -  but my blog and life will not be filled with gossip.  At the end of the day, what our pastor did and the way he chose to live his life outside of the church was shameful, disgusting, and showed no character or integrity.  Our church could not risk having someone stand in the pulpit as one person and then be another person when he left the church walls.  Sad to say, but those two statements are the whole truth.    

I guess, for me, the sadness and grief, rage and upset has encouraged me even more to be out there with my faith, showing others that being a Christian looks like "this," not "that."  I am in no way perfect and fail daily, but I get back up and re-realize the goal God has for me. 

  I know growing up, my brother was labeled a "Jesus Freak" in school, while I just hung my head low and those who knew I went to church and believed knew, but I wasn't out there with my faith like he was.  I so regret that time and complacent decision because I saw so many come to him with their problems and with the hope to truly knowing who Christ was, and the youth group in our church grew from 5 to 25 in a matter of six months, even up to 50 in attendance at times.

Friday night, Pastor Wayne Crozier's message to our church was "Build Anyway."  He was open and said he really knew nothing about what happened with our church, but knew that we were hurting and the direction - in all aspects - was unclear.  He says, "Build Anyway."  

He wasn't meaning build another building as we were dedicating the one we had poured six months of hard, hard work into, but never lose sight of the goal God has for his people and his church.  A church is not made up of four walls, who is pastoring, or the name on the outside of the building, but who chooses to take Jesus with them everywhere they go.  Who chooses to allow him to tap on their hearts.  Who chooses to allow him to truly convict them when they're wrong.  Who choose to walk in His will and not their own will and way. 

His message spoke volumes to me and made me start thinking about when I was working to become a Mary Kay Sales Director.  Then I was inviting anyone and everyone to our MK meetings, hoping they would find their own dream within the business.  Why does church have to be any different?  I have family members who I know are not saved and do not attend a church anywhere, and friends alike.  Have they ever even been invited to church?  Not by me; shame on me!   As Pastor Crozier spoke, names and faces kept popping into my mind that I needed to reach out to and invite.  The fields are white and the harvest is plenty.  Why are we not doing our God-given duty?  

Now, I feel like I have a duty to invite and really stand strong on who I am; a Christian who has given her life to Christ and tries daily to walk by His will and promises.  Even when I type that out, it seems weird, but there is so much hope in that statement and way of living.  

In this time of transition for all, I invite you to come and give Living Water Church a try.  It's alive and well worth the drive!  That fact, we have not lost!  I would love to have you - any reader - as my guest.  

Here are some common questions we're getting about our church.

Is your church now looking for a pastor?

Yes, but we're in no hurry.  Our deacons need to seek God as to exactly what we as a church body expect from a pastor and then search for the right man, or woman, for the job.  

Where is your church located?

We have renovated the old "Around the Farm Store" building in Ripley, WV.  It's located right behind the BB&T building and Wendy's.  There are entrances on either side.  

What time do your services start?

10:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings
7:00 p.m. Wednesday night

Do you have services for children and youth?

Yes, we have a young couple who are serving as our current youth leaders.  They are great and our teens (13-18) seem to really like them.  We also have a tots class (3-5) and a youth class (6-12).  Newborn and toddler nursery are available as well.

We are a young couple and we're looking for a place to fit in.  Is your church filled with older, or younger couples?

We have a great mixture, but there are about 16+ young couples - some have children and some do not - in our church.  This past December, Jimmy and I hosted a Ugly Sweater Party at our house for the young couples that were currently in attendance, but now we have about five new young families attending that would be added to that group.  

What kind of music do you play?

We are a praise and worship church.  Every once in awhile, you'll hear an old hymn, but we do not have hymnals and many of the songs you hear on Christian Pandora stations or Klove, you'll hear in our church.  

Does your pastor, teachers, leaders lead from a certain bible text?

No.  We use all forms of the bible - NKJ, KJV, Living Translation, The Message, etc.

Is your church aligned with a certain denomination?

No, we're non-denominational.

Even through this whole mess, I think our church is stronger than it's ever been.  Everyone is really looking out for one another, invested in each other more than we ever have been and carrying one another's burdens and prayers.  We're excited to invite others and see a new vision that isn't about one man and his dreams, but being the "church" on the outside of our four walls.  More are walking in their ministry calling, additional ministry organizations have started, and the goal is so much more realized; Be Jesus with Skin.  

This is my all-time favorite verse and I know He has huge plans for me and you.  And, huge plans for our church!  If you want to experience a on-fire, fuss-free, no dress code, no rules or regulations, contemporary music-filled, loving church, join me this Sunday at 10:30a.m.  So 'the truth about our church' is….. that we're building anyway and we would love to have you as a part!