The Message – The Mission – The Move (West County Church)
By Craig McAlevey
January 27, 2017
The Move – God’s provision and our need for greater dependence
“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:19–22
West County Church:
As you know, we are on the dawn of another move. Sunday was our final gathering at Midwest Music. No longer will red cushioned pews, red carpet, stained glass windows, and scattered pianos and organs greet us on Sunday mornings. Gone too, hopefully, are vast temperature fluctuations and the need to crank up the A/C on the Saturday night prior to our Sunday gathering!
Actually the move has been in the works for several weeks now. Members of our church have been re-assessing, sorting and organizing the toys, supplies, and other sundry items needed for our Treehouse children’s ministry…thank you, Krisi Maichel and your team! Henry Viola has been so gracious in using his skills to build a couple of rolling storage carts that will be of great use to the Treehouse. Henry has been a specific conduit of God’s grace in my life very recently. Thanks for your patience, brother. Members of our worship and sound team have been diligently seeking the optimal way to facilitate our new set-up for sound and A/V at Crestview. And our setup and breakdown team is rounding into shape. For those who were able to be there Sunday night for the dry run at Crestview, thanks for the extra time and work! We could still use more help on the team if anyone is willing to serve in that way.
This Sunday, January 29th, we begin yet a new chapter in the life of West County Church. This next chapter turns its pages to Crestview Middle School. Of course, since it’s a fifth Sunday we get to gather once again with our Mid-Cities brothers and sisters, always a joy! Before we gather this Sunday though, I wanted to take the time to say just a few things God has put on my heart as it relates to this recent move.
Why the move? I think we’ve been clear why we’re moving. The simple answer is because Midwest Music is selling their building. However, even in that simple answer we see something profound about God. Specifically his provision for us and his desire for greater dependance on Him.
From the beginning of Red Tree’s existence, God has always been faithful in providing a place for us. This time is no different, and once again, God’s timing is impeccable. Just a few short months ago the school was being used on Sunday mornings by another church that has since relocated. The fact that we can move to a space that is just a couple hundred yards away from where we are now, is more cost effective, and is available, is a testimony to God’s grace and provision. However, God’s not just providing a space for us; he’s providing a context to do ministry. I’m not saying Crestview will be the only or even primary context of ministry for our church, but for however long God has us in this new place we want to be used by God to love, serve, and bless this school and community. At the very least, but of no little significance, is the opportunity to pray. We have the unique opportunity each Sunday to gather all over that public school and pray.
Sunday evening some of us were at the school doing a test run for sound and video. I began to walk the halls, nostalgically at first, since that was once the high school I attended, but then I noticed some of the lockers…they had students names on them. And some of the doors to the classrooms had the name of the teacher on them. Church, nothing is stopping us from praying specifically, by name, for students and teachers there, nothing! And God has provided this for us. There will undoubtedly be other ways we’ll be able to bless Crestview, and I’ve reached out to discover ways we can help, but if all we ever get to do is pray each week in a public middle school….that’s enough.
Greater dependence? How? The answer to that question is as diverse as the people that make up our church body. For some perhaps, it’s getting used to worshipping in a less traditional space. For others maybe the mere thought of a weekly set up and tear down is exhausting and unappealing. And for others, you may be thinking “here we go again, another move”. “Will we ever find a home or are we destined to be West County nomads”. Those are not invalid feelings and concerns. There is something to be said to the stunning architecture, high soaring ceilings and beautiful stained glassed buildings that can make worship a holistic experience. And it’s never our intent to place an undue burden on our people. Furthermore wanting a permanent church home is not, in and of itself, a bad thing. But what we have to remember is that God is greater than all those things. God’s desire is for his people to depend solely on him and connect deeply to his heart and that we grow in the likeness of his son, Jesus Christ. Ultimately We are his holy temple! We are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. Could it be….could it just be that God is using this as an opportunity to do a great work in the hearts of our people? Clearly this is the door God has opened for us. At this juncture our job is to walk in faithfulness and steadfastness to what he has for us.
We’d love to have a permanent place in west county from which to do ministry; to love the community and create safe places for people to heal and be loved. But that has to make sense fiscally, and more importantly, it has to be God’s timing. Right now God’s simply not opening those doors. As some of you know, church buildings can be a burden on the body of Christ, in fact, we’ve seen that in two instances recently with churches right here in west county. Maybe God is protecting us right now and has us in a season to rent space at a school at a reasonable cost so we can love and bless the students and faculty and focus on the healing, nurturing, strengthening, and building of relationships in our body, the household of God.
A church leader said something in an interview I recently listened to that stuck with me.
“The gospel is the engine of the church, and if the gospel is the engine of the church then change is the necessary rhythm of the church.”
Now, what this does not mean is that the elders manufacture change for the sake of change. Believe me, we don’t consider “necessary rhythm” to mean a yearly move for our church. The fundamental reality of the gospel is that the dead come to life, the blind see and the lame walk. Change! Profound change! Believers are all in the process of sanctification and by definition that means — you guessed it — change. I realize comparing sanctification to a new place to gather on Sunday’s is not the same, but that statement blew me away because it is so very true — change is the necessary rhythm of the church. But we often resist it and in the process miss out on what God has for us to grow closer to Him.
I’m not sure where each of you are in this move. Honestly, feedback has been either indifferent, or largely positive. I hope and pray you are truly excited about it, not because of a rah rah speech anyone of us may give or even because of what you’re reading now, but because this is what God has for us. If we believe God is sovereign, and we do, and we preach that consistently, then we must see his hand in this. That’s what should excite us, the hidden hand of God clearly and gently guiding us to a new place and shaping the body into his Son’s precious image.
I guess what I’m saying is that how this move impacts our church is up to you…the church, the body. Each of us as individuals, who are being transformed into the image of Christ, have a say into how this move impacts our church. But that’s not all. We also have a profound say as to how this move impacts Crestview Middle School, the surrounding community, as well, as the community each of us lives in. We are the hands and feet of Jesus.
When all is said and done, may this be said of West County Church —
“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth,” (Colossians 1:3–6, ESV)
With much love,