I grew up being “taken to church” in kind of a very polite southern way. I went through confirmation and that was pretty much it. By high school and college, I considered myself a non-Christian. I didn’t have anything against faith, but I didn’t see how it was applicable in my life. I adopted the cultural story that purpose in life was found through career, the amount of money that you make, and how you advance up the ladder.
And I was miserable. I knew there had to be more.
In that search for something more, that search for meaning, that search for purpose, that search to actually understand who I was and what life was all about, I found Christ. I found faith. When I came to understand that being a Christian is about being a part of what God is doing in the world — and conforming yourself to who God would have you be, I found a life that is transformed and joyful.
The only way to describe what I experienced is salvation. That’s the fuel behind my ministry and everything I try to do in and through this church. What we do now in The Gathering is to be that place I wished was there for me when I needed it. A place that welcomes everybody with all their questions and not knowing and offers a deeper understanding of God that helps them put a framework on how faith can be relevant to everyday life.
We just celebrated our four year-anniversary of the Gathering. We started four years ago in room 350 with 32 people that first Sunday. We now average between 400 and 500 people on Sunday mornings in two services. In its first year, The Gathering more than doubled. In its second year, it doubled again. And the third year, it dramatically grew yet again. And the fourth year? Almost entirely flat. We are out of space.
The growth of The Gathering has also resulted in the exceptional growth in our nursery-age child population. Those classrooms are very full. Our children’s Sunday school classes are also full.
I need you to think about the service that’s growing dramatically every single year until it doesn’t. I need you to think about the people we’re meeting and making space for — until we’re not. I need you to think about the children who are coming in and being welcomed into this place — until we’re not ready for them.
The time is now to do something about it.
I need you. I need you to be a part of this with me. I need you to be a part of this with us. God’s doing incredible work through this church. I can’t wait to see what God is going to keep doing through us.
I’ll see you Sunday in our All Church Worship event in the Sanctuary, where all of our worshipping communities will come together to celebrate what God is doing through us for our Next90.
God bless y’all!
Rev. Lance Marshall