Posted by: tranalist | August 14, 2008

Yes, I’m helping plant a church…

I realize that some of you might be wanting to hear the back story as to how I ended up on a team that’s starting a church.

To do so, we’ll have to go back about 7 months or so.

The church I was going to was really digging into the theme of investing your time into the city in which you live. Friends told me I should move back to the Fullerton area, but I knew I was meant to be in Pasadena and I knew that slowly my life would begin shifting from Orange County to Pasadena. I also knew that it had to be a gradual transition. Because of all the life changing events from the previous year, a sudden change might not have been very welcomed by yours truly.

So, I kept going to a Tuesday night bible study in the O.C, my guitar class, and church on Sunday nights for several months. Life in Pasadena was lonely. I had no friends and being a relational person, I missed having company. Then a few months into the new year, a pastor friend thought I might be interested in a church that would be starting in Pasadena. I agreed to be added to the mass email list and told him I’d pray about it without any promises.

At the time, I wasn’t really thinking about leaving my church, but have learned to not shoot down any ideas myself, because God’s pretty good at doing that for me if it’s not the direction He wants me heading in, so I kept that option open to see where it might lead.

In March-ish, I went to listen to Jon and Kate share their hearts and vision for the church plant. I purposely showed up late, sat alone so that I could really hear their hearts as an incognito bystander, and as Jon began speaking, I began crying. His words, his passion and their vision for reaching the lost penatrated straight to my soul. Here was something I could believe in, someone who was speaking the hidden desires of my heart, someone who was willing to do church a little differently in order to reach a generation who has grown up not knowing God.

It’s no secret that church has been a hard place for me to go to for years. One day I woke up and could not stand the routine or the predictability of it, and I didn’t know what to do with that. I tried so hard to go to church (mostly out of obligation and I don’t do well with obligation when it comes to my relationship with God), but doing so caused such a reaction inside of me, so much so that I eventually stopped going.

Looking back, I am so thankful for the year-and-a-half I was outside of the church. God really taught me so much: seeking out truth in the word, doing things, not out of obligation, but out of desire and learning what it feels like to be an “outsider.”

When I came back from Canada in June 2007, I remember praying one morning and found that I actually wanted to go back to church. Then “Vineyard” popped into my head, which was odd because I had no connection with a Vineyard (and had never gravitated to major names like that). But, I’ve learned to trust and explore what I feel God is telling me, so I looked up the local Vineyards and attended one the next Sunday.

I knew God was in it based off of the message–it was on Hebrews 11, a chapter that someone close to me had spoken over my life. That day I met and made a great friend and that’s where I began taking free guitar lessons (another answer to prayer). A couple of months later, I also began visiting my old church again, which God had me do for specific reasons and lessons that I will forever be grateful for.

So, that day in March-ish, I introduced myself to Jon and Kate after the service, we went to lunch, I learned more of their hearts and they learned more of mine. In April I began attending the vision casting meetings for this Pasadena church. We were all strangers brought together by a common desire to see God really impact the city. I still wasn’t 100% in, but kept coming to the meetings and praying about it. I never heard a resounding YES, nor did I hear a resounding NO.

At the end of May, I reached a crossroads. I knew that I had to get off the preverbial fence. On one hand, I loved my old church, the people, the worship and I didn’t know if I was willing to give all that up. I wanted God to make it really clear, but He wasn’t doing that yet and I was so torn!

Finally, one night I skipped one of the church planting meetings to go to the Sunday night service at my old church and during worship I began crying and asked God if I really had to give all of this up. He said, plain as day, “No. You can stay here and be blessed, but it’s not the best that I have for you.” Immediately the burden fell and the weight was lifted. I was set free and knew I was ready to move into the next season of growth. I was able to grieve the loss of my present fellowship through silent tears during worship, but I knew, without a doubt, that I had hopped off the fence. I was going to Pasadena and wouldn’t be looking back.

Fast-forward a few months and here we are. Things are falling into place. The website is up (www.oasispasadena.org) and the venue determined (The Ice House). I am so grateful to be a part of this. I’ve never had so much fun and been so excited about being a part of a church in my life. I love the people who have gathered—they are absolutely amazing.

So my life has finally shifted from Orange County to Pasadena and I’m very excited to see what the future holds.

I’m just enjoying the journey.

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Responses

  1. Hey, we have a DVD of 6 acts of the Talent Show. Let me know where to send it or you can pick it up whenever. You are in two. The sound was done from the DVR recorder on the camera so it is not pristine. But they all came out good.

  2. That’s beautiful, Lara. It really moved me. I completely understand what you went through with your original church. I walked away from church (any church) for 27 years. While I came back to the faith I knew, and sometimes it moves me and fills me with joy, other times it is like an oppressive weight or burden. To me, Christianity (and denomination) should be about joy in Our Lord, reflecting the joy He has in us…and I sometimes thing that if your faith feels like a “burden” rather than a source of joy and love, then something is wrong. At the same time, like with your church in Orange County, the pull of a familiar environment and friends is hard to break and very comforting. I have tremendous respect for what you have achieved with your church planting.
    Peace & All Good,
    Joe


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