May 2016 Update

May 2016 Update

A lot of you have been following the story of our planting GraceLife Church in Avon, NY and I thought I’d give an update.

In 2010, we began the process of starting a new, gospel-centered, community-driven church in Avon. In 2011, we launched publicly with a core team of about 40. The first two years were exciting and we had a lot of growth, though it was pretty shallow. Most people were transient or curious. I constantly felt like I was auditioning and a lot of people had different expectations as to what GraceLife should become. No fault to pass around here. It’s just the nature of new churches, I think. We averaged about 75-100, but that wouldn’t last long. 2013 was a tough year as about 75% of our original core team left and our church dwindled to 40-50 people. That was personally difficult for me as I was confronted with my own insecurities, fear of failure, bitterness, and physical exhaustion. Again, no fault to pass around here. It is well with my soul. God is sovereign and used it in my life & in the church. He gave us grace to persevere through that spiritual winter until we came to spring.

When we launched in 2011, we didn’t have our own place, met on Sunday nights, and changed locations four times between 2011-14. In 2014, we moved to into a small daycare and moved to Sunday mornings. We grew back up to 60-70, but more importantly, we grew deeper together. In 2015, we built out a plaza site and it turned out awesome. We moved in around Easter. That was huge for us.

Regardless of the countless objections today about “the organized church” inside and outside of modern Christendom, I still think most people don’t think you’re a legitimate church until you have your own space and meet on Sunday mornings. Within 6 months of moving into the plaza site, we doubled in attendance. Now, after about a year in our new facility, we average around 125 a Sunday (with a high water mark of 169) and currently have around 10 community groups. These groups meet in Avon and surrounding communities to grow together in the gospel, in outreach, and in relationship. We now have a team of five church leaders and a staff of three. We also have over 30 who have become members.

So many positives. Within, we are growing deeper in relationships as a church family and are growing in the gospel. I have a great team of teachers. I’m thankful for our youth leaders and kids’ ministry team. People are being healed and trained by grace and God’s love. Without, Avon is a great community and generally supportive. Our relationship with the school, the police department, and fire department is healthy. We have many families who are woven into community life.

At the same time, we still face lots of challenges. Within, people are busy. We’re always needing more volunteers. We need to do better at groups. I’ve got too much on my plate. We need to eventually add more staff. Without, like most places in the U.S., we live in a cultural climate full of people who are apathetic, ignorant, or even hostile to the gospel and the church. And yet, the church exists as much for those outside of it as those inside of it. We have our adversaries who despise us and would love to see us fail. In it all, though, we walk in peace and confidence that God sent us here for his glory.

As an aside, I’d like to invite anyone reading this, far and wide, to come and visit GraceLife and see the cool things God is doing. We’d be honored to have you join us!

Acts 29, a worldwide movement of new churches, has been extremely supportive on our journey and for that we’re thankful. Shout out to Kevin Maloney & our Grace Road Church friends for all their encouragement and support.

This September 23-25, we’re going to have a celebration weekend for our 5th year. Powerhouse speaker and friend, Pastor Bob Donohue from Leesburg, Virginia will be joining us for that time along with his family.

We do hope to continue to reproduce: more believers, more disciples, more groups, more leaders, more churches. For those who believe in what we’re doing, please pray for us as we move forward. We want to continue to spread the name and fame of Jesus everywhere we can, and see people healed by the gospel! Thanks for your love and support.

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