That’s when this whole church planting journey began. 13 men got together in an apartment in Philadelphia (which happens to be the same complex as where I’m living now) to talk about our burden for folks in our generation who did not know Jesus and what God would have us do about it. Over the next 5 years, we met regularly, did papers on reformation movements and revivals within Church history, prayed a ton, fasted, studied church planting, talked with pastors, talked with each other, and kept moving forward – albeit very slowly.
It’s interesting. At the time, I was probably most against church planting. I didn’t know what it was, and didn’t know we were ‘allowed’ to do it. But after much wrestling with God, He made it clear that this is exactly what He’d have me give my life for. Since that first meeting, our group has experienced a ton of transition. Many guys dropped off, other guys joined on. Marriages, babies, graduations, new homes, new jobs, etc, etc. And still, we kept moving forward.
The latest transition for our group came at the beginning of this month when we said goodbye to dear friends – Saju, Anu, and their five kids. Saju had been a part of the crew since way back in 2003. A stunning guy, lots of wisdom, really encouraging, and very humble. In a surprising, but awesome way, a position that Saju & Anu had dreamed about for 9 years suddenly opened up. Just one thing – it was in Chennai, India. And so at the same time that Shainu and I were saying goodbye to friends in Boston to head to Philly, Saju & Anu were saying goodbye to friends in Philly to head to India.
So in a lot of ways, our group looks a lot different right now than I had expected. Some of the folks I thought would be here aren’t, and some of the folks that I thought wouldn’t be here are. So here’s what I make of all this.
I think God knew exactly who we needed to get us to where we are right now. We’re standing at the doorstep of church planting, and that’s because of the fruit of that group over these five years. In every way, it seems to me that God assembled precisely those He needed to arrive us at this moment.
That’s when this whole church planting journey begins a new phase.
This past weekend, our current crew gathered in our apartment. In a sense, we were ending one season and starting a new one. We celebrated what God had done over these last five years and thanked Him for the people that got us here. But these last five years are done.
In September, we’ll throw the doors open to anyone that God might send our way. We expect the crew that launches 7 Mile Road to look a lot different than the crew that birthed the vision for 7 Mile Road. We’re hoping to lock arms with many more people throughout the city. New faces, new personalities, new stories, new gifts – all committed to a common vision. Our idea is to have a vision casting night the last weekend of September. And then we’ll see who the Lord adds to us from there.
So Jesus, thank You for these last five years and the men and women who had a part in getting us to this moment. Through their advice, their encouragement, their prayers, their giving – You used them to place us at the doorstep of this new season. We thank You for them. And now we pray that You would add to us all who You know we need as we enter this next phase. Lord protect us from wolves and help us to fight them well when they come, but bring many who belong to You who are not yet a part of Your fold.