I set out to order this post in list form, neat and concise, straight to the point.
The problem with that is that I don’t think in lists. I think in long winded sentences that use the word and more than is really necessary.
And then there’s this other thing: I don’t really want to write this post. I feel ill-equipped and altogether worm-ish when I slip on my church planter’s cap.
Maybe you know what I mean when I say worm-ish. I hope not, but this ain’t heaven so you most likely do.
But I digress.
This post is the one that has been played out in my mind a hundred times or more and I’ve just not wanted to do the hard work of pushing the words out. But in recent months, it’s become quite clear that you guys have a lot of questions about our church/ministry/life on Avent Street.
Some questions have come by way of email. Some have come while we stand together in line at Target. Others have some via text, voxer, or phone call. Some have even come by a knock on the front door and a confession that we’re just being checked out. I love these methods for gathering information. They make my soul leap for joy.
But there is another method for gathering information that is gaining some traction and, in all honesty, it just gripes my hiney. This method is what I like to call the third party method. It goes something like this:
A brave soul visits our church, shakes our hands and kisses our babies. He or she smiles as big as sunshine and says all the right things. But instead of sticking around to ask all the right questions, he or she skips on down to another church in town and in a lapse of better judgment, asks that pastor all the wrong questions. Questions like these: What the heck do they think they’re doing in that neighborhood? Do they even have a vision or a mission or a purpose? You think they’ll make it? They’re not mainline, are they?
(It’s Small Town Bible Belt, NC, y’all, and you can bet your bottom dollar that church news travels faster than molasses in July.)
In order to help clear up some confusion about what the heck we think we’re doing, I thought I’d take some time and tell you the story of Fellowship Bible Church Rocky Mount.
Today’s post is the first in a series of posts I’m calling We Are Fellowship.
Shall we begin?
Fellowship Bible Church Rocky Mount was never the dream.
Rocky Mount was the dream and in December of 2011, the Man and I packed up the U-Haul and our six children and drove from Dallas to Rocky Mount in the span of 36 hours.
We unloaded the U-Haul into an old home in a less than desirable neighborhood and the Man got to work doing what he knows best: making disciples.
In January of 2012, he and one other man began to study the Bible together each week and gradually the two became three. When the group grew to four, they multiplied. After three months, one person came to Christ and was baptized in a horse trough out by the Tar River. The baptism was the first gathering of the men and their families and in April of that same year, we began to gather in our home on Avent. We had no money for a building and the money we did receive went immediately back into our community. The house was easy and it made ministry simple. We gathered and we served. For free.
As our gathering grew, the intent was to multiply by launching another house church in another neighborhood. We even tried it. But this is the Bible Belt and the house church model just didn’t fly. So in the fall of 2012, we combined both homes and committed to plant one church.
After much prayer, we felt led to reach back to the legacy of the Fellowship Bible Church we were a part of in Dallas and we became Fellowship Bible Church Rocky Mount. (You can read more about our legacy here or by reading the book Building Up One Another by Gene Getz, the founder of Fellowship Bible Churches all over the US.)
In January 2013, we moved our church to the local YMCA where we continued to grow and shrink and then grow some more. This is the rhythm of church planting and we are learning to keep moving even as the rhythm ebbs and flows.
In June 2014, we moved once again.
This time to Baskerville Elementary.
Hope you’ll join me next week for part 2: Why Baskerville?
And just a little housekeeping…I’ve said some hard things here and I’d like to encourage us to keep our comments about these things constructive. No glorifying of the worm or banner waving to hush the folks who use poor judgment. Keep it nice and Jesus honoring here, remembering always that He died for the Church, no matter how she looks.