This past weekend, the Thomas family loaded up the minivan and headed north, six hours to Boston. It’s been a few years since we’ve made that trip together. I got to preach at SMR’s Mens’ Retreat as well as on Sunday morning at SMR Malden. We returned encouraged, refreshed, and ready for more gospel-work. Here are some quick thoughts.
We couldn’t help but feel nostalgia as we crossed the state line into Massachusetts. It was so much fun to show the kids the apartment where we first lived, and the hospital where Hannah was born, and our favorite breakfast spot (that sells cream of wheat you would die for…that’s right, cream of wheat…trust me).
The first time I made that trip, I was 22. I didn’t know what “gospel-centered” meant. I didn’t have a clue about theology. I had never heard of church-planting. We found ourselves repeatedly stunned at the story the Lord has been writing. Just take this in for a moment.
Paul McPheeters, pastor of Forestdale Community Church, went to a conference that encouraged the attendees to consider if there was anyone in their congregation that could church plant. He came back home and the only person he could think of was Matt Kruse, the newly married M.B.A. student at Boston University that was attending his church. He called Matt into his office, and within 15 minutes, Matt was ready to plant a church. True story.
And from that, now there’s a church in Malden, Melrose, and Wakefield. There’s a church in Philadelphia. Soon enough there will be one in Waltham and Houston. There are missionaries serving Jesus overseas. And it seems to me that we find ourselves on the brink of God doing more in the days to come than He has already done in the days gone by.
You know the couple that swears that they’re done having children? Their kids are grown. Everyone’s basically independent. No more midnight feedings or diaper bags or lugging around a car seat. They are done with that phase of life, thank you very much. And then they hold their friends’ newborn? All of a sudden, the wife turns to her husband and whispers, “I want another baby!”
That’s what it felt like being around the Malden church plant. They gathered in a high school cafeteria with folding chairs. They had to set everything up and tear everything down. Their “Sunday School” is a handful of kids meeting in the hallway. In everyway, the church is a baby. It’s just learning to walk. And it was beautiful.
In more ways than I know how to express, I missed those early days and came back wanting another baby. I know we’ve said before that we want to be a church planting church. So this is nothing new, but I came back saying, Lord-willing, somehow, someway, we have to plant again!
Perhaps more than anything else, Shainu and I were impressed with a renewed sense of how we need to live on mission. We were challenged and inspired as we saw how hard SMR was working to see people come to faith in Jesus. I could qualify the following sentence with a hundred qualifications, but I won’t: If we’re not doing everything we can to make disciples of Jesus of our neighbors, and co-workers, and classmates, and relatives, and friends, and circles of influence, then what are we doing?
When you put money into the offering basket on Sundays, it’s hard to see what it’s going towards. This past weekend, I got to see what your investment is yielding. Brothers and sisters, rejoice that there are people coming to faith in Malden through the work that your giving enables. God won’t forget your generosity, but will reward you. Be encouraged and commit to continue to excel in giving. Below is a word from pastors Dan Ko and Justin Gottlieb and some ways that you can pray for the church plant in Malden.