Today’s “Missions IMPACT!” segment is the conclusion of Guest Author Josh Martin’s comments about church planting on a university campus in Washington state. After you read the rest of his story, be sure to check our his links below and read about his church and his music ministry. Josh is an incredible musician and (obviously) wordsmith. Please consider supporting his ministry… or perhaps even invite him to your church for a concert and time of worship.
On August 19th, 2007, Resonate Church took our little Jesus community public. The week leading up to our launch we had 30 volunteers come up to Pullman and help us blitz the campus with fliers stapled to granola bars and WSU keychains and many other random things. In one week we made over 5,000 contacts with students using handouts and raffles, and personal contacts through MySpace and Facebook. Our team also served as the entire volunteer crew at an all campus gathering called “Up All Night”, where we were allowed to set up a booth and share what we were doing.
By Sunday the 19th at 5 p.m.(our church meets on Sunday nights at 6), we felt that we had done everything in our power to invite. We felt exhausted and nervous. We felt so alive. At 6:07 we sang our first song as a Church and 190 people were there to sing along. God had honored Himself in this whole endeavor so it seemed fitting to have our first song be straight out of Psalm 115, “Not to us, not to us oh Lord, but to Your Name be the Glory, for Your unfailing love and faithfulness.” Moments that just feel right should be cherished, because they are so rare, and in those words, in that melody, with those people, on that night, in that place, we had one of those moments. It was heavenly.
Since that day our team has worked with vengeance to make new relationships and keep existing ones healthy. For anyone who put their name on our email list (which was 90 people) we divided their names among the staff and each sent them a personal e-mail thanking them for taking part in a special day for us. We then took the next step of inviting them to meet and have coffee with us so we could have a chance to hear their story and get to know them. We sent out the emails and crazy as it may sound, we got responses.
I had coffee with 13 people last week.
There are so many great stories that I could tell about God’s favor being ever upon us during the transition from 40 to 190 but I know we don’t have the time. I will say quickly that the Pullman/Moscow newspaper sent a reporter to our second service to write an article about us and it ending up making front page in the local paper. I’ll also say that during that second service we were able to reinforce the authentic community value by giving out a free coffee drink from the WSU campus bookstore to everyone in attendance. We wanted our people to have coffee together, to get to know each other, to begin the journey of life together, because we know transformation only happens in the nearness of close relationships, not in the back row of a church service.
For our first ten months in Pullman Drew and I worked at that campus bookstore, and one day after the launch I went in and spoke to the assistant manager about how the service went and about what we wanted to do in our next service in order to give practicality to our life together principle. I asked her if we could purchase 100 drinks and during my speaking she pulled out about 400 free drink cards and handed them to me and said, “Josh, this is nothing, don’t worry about it.” (That is about 1,500 dollars worth of expresso and I’m pretty sure she is not a believer.) She said she thought what we were doing was a good thing, that she enjoyed having me and Drew and one other of our staff members named Kim, work for her, and that it brought her joy to give to us.
This still doesn’t make any sense to me when I think about it.
God’s favor is ridiculous sometimes. Just ridiculous.
The joy of church planting in Pullman is the joy of people. The Gospel is being spread through people, the Gospel is being read in the context of people, and the Gospel is doing in Washington State what it has done for thousands of years; igniting the souls of people, and that is our joy.
Success is measured by faithfulness.
Success is found the names of individuals.
The last thing I wish to say is when it comes to church planting and reaching your culture for Christ a valuable thing to realize is this:
Jesus does not need to be made relevant… He already is.
Its our job to contextualize the message and be interpreters of truth to the lost world, but it is not our job to go about spiritually picketing for the relevance of Christ. We do not need to argue of His importance, we need not be frustrated by rejection, and we need not make the Gospel simply watered down truth so innocent bystanders can have a sip. We must not waver from sharing the whole truth of scripture, because in this truth there is not merely a sip of water, but rather a wellspring of life that will never run dry. The relevance of Jesus existed before the creation of the world, and is continually made know because of who Jesus was and still is. In fact it is only in Christ that we know the definition of ultimate relevancy, ultimate reality.
Let us show this relevance of Christ by love and good deeds my friends, and let us as the local church be what God has always intended us to be… His greatest apologetic.
– Josh Martin
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.