Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Ten years ago, Pam and I loaded up a car with our two kids and a few pieces of luggage, and left our families and close friends for a two-day drive to Colorado and New Life Church. Three weeks later, we were chosen through a vote to be the new pastors of a church that needed healing.
This week, two close friends jokingly questioned my mental aptitude when I chose to leave a great church in Dallas/Fort Worth for a messy one on the Front Range. I told them the biggest miscalculation in the move was the loneliness. My first Sunday, I stood in front of thousands of strangers, preaching a message to a people that wanted to trust me, but in time. Pam and I were alone in a sea of people we were called to lead, wondering if we would ever feel at home. The risk was not failing in front of everyone, but succeeding while all alone.
The two friends who were needling me this week have stood alongside me this entire time, encouraging me when I wanted to quit, and helping me when the way forward was not certain. As I’ve reflected on the past decade, I could talk about the churches we have helped plant, the Dream Centers we’ve opened in our city, and the new congregations that have flourished in the past few years. But all this happened because of the miracle of relationships.
Unity is the unicorn of our culture – often discussed, but never seen. People divide so easily, so it’s an enigma for the world to see the people of God form into a tribe, church and a family. It’s the work of the Holy Spirit these past 10 years that has allowed New Life to thrive.
It was not a tricky leadership model, a charismatic personality on stage, or strictly following a systemic church growth model. New Life is making disciples today because a group of people made a decision to stay steady, to love one another, forgive one another, overlook one another’s faults, and encourage one another.
For the past 520 Sundays, we have met to pray, to worship, and to hear the Scriptures. We have chosen simplicity over gimmicks and relationships over personal preferences. Along the way, we have fallen more in love with Jesus and his sometimes flawed church. We have chosen the path of sincere relationships over the quick fix, a long obedience in the same direction. Now, we are ten years into the journey, alone no more.