A lot has transpired since Sunday, April 19, 2009! On that morning, we gathered together in the basement of Greg and Jen Nitzel and held our very first service as ReCAST Church. We set up folding chairs in the basement. Had a children’s program with our kids upstairs. Dave Bunt led us in singing with an acoustic guitar. And I preached my very first sermon as a lead pastor. The series was the book of Ephesians, because it is so focused on what it means to be the church. We had 31 people there that first Sunday: fifteen adults and sixteen kids!
So since it has been four years, I would like to give God thanks for four amazing things that have come to us from the hand of God as a church.
1. God has given us an amazing sense of unity! I have been around churches enough in my life to know that unity is not a given. This is not to bash my church experiences, but to give praise to God for the unity we have experienced as a church. We have gone through some major transitions, moving to two services, changing our bylaws, buying property, hiring an associate pastor and all of these have been done with absolutely no controversy! Ironically, we are possibly the most diverse church I have ever been a part of, and yet, so far, we have been very layed back and trusting of each other. I obviously pray that this spirit continues and am so grateful for the past four years of unity.
2. God has also given us some amazing stories of transformation! We have seen many people walk through the doors curious about the Christian faith, but with very little background. We also have had many come in with significant hurts, trials, and needs in their life. I have no power to change a life, but time and time again we have seen God use his Word to move people along in their journey of faith. Many are further along in community sharing life together. Many are now plugged into areas of service toward others recognizing that God has given them a part to play. I rejoice that God has been changing lives here at ReCAST by the power of the Holy Spirit.
3. We have grown in numbers. We certainly don’t measure success according to how many attend each Sunday, but no farmer is going to be enthusiastic about an apple tree that produces one VERY GOOD apple. I recently started reading the book “Center Church” by Timothy Keller and from the very beginning he challenges the notion of numbers as success AND the notion of quality as success. He puts forward a model of understanding fruitfulness as success. And when I take into consideration the life transformations AND the numerical growth I see an exciting fruitfulness. We are running close to 300 counting children each Sunday in two services, and we have just a little more room to grow in our current facility.
4. God has provided for us financially beyond what I could’ve ever hoped for! Many church planters warned me ahead of time, about the financial difficulties of starting a new church. So many young churches get sidelined because of financial duress that forces a shift in philosophy of ministry. From the very beginning we have always taken in enough to meet our monthly expenses and all but just a couple of months in the past 4 years we have taken in substantially more than our monthly expenditures. This is what has enabled us to recently purchase 12 acres in cash. I have never been tempted to beg for money. I never been tempted to be careful to avoid offending people for fear that giving may decrease. We have never been a church driven by financial need at all. I am grateful for this amazing provision from God!
I rejoice in the past 4 years and look forward to what God is planning to do in the next four. We have grown from a thought, to a gathering, to a church plant, to a church. We love our Mattawan! We are growing in faith, community, and service. And four years from now I expect that we will still be here blessing our community, forging authentic relationships, maintaining our programs in the realm of simplicity, all while standing firm on the power of the Truth of God’s Word to draw us deeper into faith in Jesus Christ our Lord!