Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Why I Love My Church

Antioch was born on Mother’s Day in 1987, and the five families who formed the core knew that God had called us together to be a church. We also thought that we were the church that this county had needed all along. At least, that thought probably crossed my mind because of my years of experience and my unfathomable wisdom as a 29-year-old. Sigh. Anyway, we started Antioch like a house afire. We had a clothes closet, a door-to-door evangelism team, a children’s ministry, a discipleship program, a prayer ministry, and much more. God smiled and was very patient with this little group.

Fast-forward 10 years, and we were in the middle of an outreach to the college campus. We had been faithful to come when he called and work where he sent us. We had baptized 67 believers, 20 of those being college students. We had seen students come to the service we called Celebration and say, out loud, “I have never liked church. It’s boring.” Then, the next thing you know, they were coming and bringing their friends every Sunday. We had heard them say, “I don’t think I will ever get married, much less have children.” But then they hung around us for a while and drank the Antioch water. By the time they graduated, many of them had spent time in our homes, had become a part of our families, and were excited now about having families of their own. We started the church looking at programs. He turned our eyes back to him and to people, to Dads and to Moms. We were trying to figure out a way to attract people to a place. The Lord turned our hearts in a different direction and has helped us turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers. He has helped us open our homes to the lost and bring them into the family. He has taught us how to worship him with all our hearts, and how to treasure the Word of God as our daily bread.

God has built a spiritual family at Antioch for his glory, and as the Psalmist said, “This was the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.” He has used this family to give birth to others, as we have been able by God’s grace to plant two churches and are “expecting” again this summer. We have also been able to assist in dozens of other church plants around the nation.

If Antioch has a “life verse,” it is Revelation 3:8. “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.”

We are 25 now as a church; what does the next 25 years hold? We don’t know, but our prayer is that the Lord would use us in any way he chooses to bring glory to the name of Jesus Christ. It is by his grace that we continue to live and act in the truth that we have a little strength, because that means we have to depend on his unlimited power. It is by his grace that we have kept his word. It is by his grace that we have not denied his name.

Jim Elliot once said, “Wherever you are, be all there.” That’s good counsel for a church and for any follower of Jesus. I am thankful to have been part of such a teachable, loving church for a quarter-century.

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