Elevate Celebrates our 5th Anniversary!
January 15, 2012
We met for our first church service ever! There were only 4 people in attendance that cold day in January: me (Thomas-Steele), Haley, Don, and Jackie. For those of you who don't know...that's my mom and dad.
Haley got up early that morning and made cinnamon buns, poured some orange juice, and brewed some coffee. I set up our television and my bar (preaching) stool, got my Bible and prepared for what would be the first "service" of Elevate Church.
Once Don and Jackie (Dad and Mom) arrived, we gathered in Haley and I's living room, prayed, and began to cast vision. The vision was remarkably simple: love God and love people. We believed if we could do those things, and keep those things the primary goal and focus of every decision, there would be no limit to what God could do in our community; the lives He could change.
I honestly don't remember what else was shared other than that. And, I guess if you can only remember two things, loving God and loving people would be the most important. What I do remember, is leaving that morning...and by leaving I mean walking out of my living room and back into the kitchen...excited and terrified. We were all excited at the possibilities ahead, but we were all terrified because we were venturing into unknown waters. None of us had ever done anything like this before. Also, we had no place to meet and more importantly...no people who we thought would come. But, we ended our first meeting with prayer and decided to meet next Sunday...in Haley and I's garage.
And that was it. That was our church for the next 8 months. A small, once car garage, with no insulation...which made winter and summer months especially awesome. Whether it was 24 degrees or 94 degrees...we met in this tiny space to worship Jesus and plan for the future. And oh what a future it would be.
We purchased our church building!
We were so excited! We were also slightly overwhelmed. When we first walked in we saw well over 100 chairs filling the sanctuary. We immediately thought, "How awesome would it be to fill up all these seats with people!" We honestly, I won't say we didn't believe it was possible, but I don't think any of us thought we'd be having to transition to two services a little over a year later. But we did. And soon thereafter found ourselves having to decide between three services...or finding somewhere else to meet.
We made the official move from having services in our church building to Windsor High School. We were excited to be able to have church in a facility where everyone could be together! We were also overwhelmed because we found ourselves in a LOT bigger space. It went from feeling very cramped and crowded on Sundays in our little church building...to feeling sort of lost in all this newfound room. And then, just a few months later...
We made the move to our current location: Georgie D. Tyler Middle School.
It is absolutely astonishing to think of all that has happened in the last five years. It feels almost like a dream. Well...a dream come true.
But, though these are certain milestone events in our church's five year history...I don't want to give the impression our story is one of just moving from building to building or location to location. Because that isn't it at all. The best stories of the past five years are the ones that have nothing to do with a building or a location. The best stories are the ones of how God has worked in people's lives...the people who've put their faith in Jesus...who've gone public with their faith through baptism...the addictions that have been broken...the marriages that have been restored. These are the stories I love. These are the ones I'd love to write about. The stories of the kids going home excited to tell their parents about what they learned in kids church. Kids who are so excited for church and who don't want to leave! These are the stories I'd love to tell. Because these are the ones that matter.
Five years ago, when Haley, Mom, Dad, and I sat in my living room and cast vision...not once did we mention a building, a budget, or a big church. When we thought about what stories we wanted to be able to tell, none of them included any of those things. Instead, what they all boiled down to was God and people. Loving God and loving people. Loving God by loving people. Loving people by leading them to a loving God. And, in five years, we've seen a lot of that. We've experienced many amazing things. And today, I am just as excited...and honestly...just as scared as I was five years ago. But I am overcome with expectation of what God has in store for us and our community...in the five years ahead.
I love that the roman numeral for 5 is "V." Because when I see that, and think about all God has done in the past five years, there's one word that comes to mind: "VICTORY." And more than anything else I'm so thankful for all the spiritual victories God has won for people these past five years...and I'm already celebrating the victories still to come.
Pastor l Elevate Church