Reflections on the 1st Year
October 4, 2009 a new church was born in Baltimore. Over the last year we have seen God do an amazing work in our region. God has given us a front row seat to see many people come to faith and be baptized as a public sign of following Jesus.
In addition to the 87 who have come forward in our services to receive Christ and the 26 baptisms we saw in our first year, we’ve seen many people come back to Christ after years of drifting. We’ve also been able to become a church home for some people who felt called to become missionaries with us and found Captivate to be a place on mission where they could use their gifts for God’s glory.
There are four major "human" reasons I believe we've had a great first year:
1. Unique Vision matching Pastor and Place- God has been birthing this vision in my life for many years. I'm a match for the culture and the vision is a match between my giftedness and our area.
I get sad when I ask a potential church planter about the area to which he is called. When the conversation jumps to spreadsheets I start to snore. During our fundraising phase I had guys call me every few weeks to ask how to get started. Finally I stopped being polite and started being honest. I told one guy "I don't hear a gut-wrenching vision. Why should people give money to YOU for THIS PLACE? What is the God-story?" I told him to save his graphic-design budget until God revealed to him why he was the one for the task.
What is your God-story? How has God been preparing this church to be birthed? If God has called you, you must be able to articulate the answer to "Why you?", "Why there?" "Why now?" and "Why you, there, now?"
2. The Team- I could not do this alone. Let me repeat, I could not build Captivate Church by flying solo.
I just deleted a long rant about my frustrations with parachute plants and the denominational employees who advocate them. Moving on...
We're so blessed with Captivate. There are many people who sacrifice without fanfare. They are the ones who make Captivate happen.
3. A Strong Base of Support- We have been blessed with two major pieces of support. Financial and Human. I have documented over the last year the people and churches who have helped us. We were blessed to receive a great financial push at the beginning. This allowed us to launch well. We are so thankful to have these partners committed into year 3 of our church. This is huge for us.
4. Preach through the Invitation- I've learned to preach through the invitation. I heard this principle at Elevation Church's THR3E on April 28, 2009. Pastor Furtick spoke on the fact that Pastors often preach a strong sermon but then ask nothing in the way of response.
In my previous ministry experiences I didn't put as much of an emphasis on response to the sermon. I've come to see that as a mistake.
When God is moving in someone's heart it is so important that we allow that person to respond. We have a come-forward altar call at the end of every service for people making a decision to follow Christ. Here are a few reasons:
A. Puts The Pressure On- I don't want to encourage 'easy' decisions. People don't just check a box, they actually acknowledge Jesus publicly.
B. Allows Our Church To See God At Work- As a Pastor I often get emails, cards or phone calls from people who want to share what God did in that week's service. As a church I want our people to have access to all God is doing as well. It's an encouragement to the church to see God active around them.
C. Reminds Our Church That Preaching Prompts Response- Part of what I love about the altar call is that the Christian in the seat has a few moments where they can respond to God at the end of every service before the worries of the day get in the way.
To Be Continued:
At Captivate we have much to learn and a long way to go but I will tell you that I have started to pray for the day when God gives our church the honor of seeing Him work in 1 day the way He worked in us this first year. I'm asking God to allow our ministry to grow to the point when we will see 87 salvations and 26 baptisms in the same day. I believe that day is coming and coming sooner than we may think.