In July, my family and I celebrated five years of living here in Cypress. We love Cypress. We love Houston. We love Texas. While there is so much that we are thankful for, our Grace Life Church family is at the top of our list. (By the way the 2017 picture is missing about 30 of our regular folks. You know how Sundays go in July.) As I passed my five year anniversary of pastoring Grace Life, I wrote out just a few of the lessons that God has been teaching me over the past five years:
- Love people. Teach the Bible. Pray often.
There is no “secret sauce” for growing a church. It has been my experience whether youth pastoring in Arizona, Pennsylvania or pastoring here in Texas that what people desire is for someone to love them and yet patiently, lovingly, and graciously teach them the Bible. God builds His church through His Word. Occasionally, someone will ask what we have done to grow Grace Life. My simple answer is we love people and teach the Bible. That’s it, nothing special. Additionally, I really believe we have seen our church grow because of dear saints here in Texas and at my previous church who have prayed for us faithfully at Grace Life.
- God builds His Church by His Word.
Over the past five years, we have walked through the Gospel of John, Genesis, Acts, Ruth, Philemon, Sermon on the Mount, 1 Timothy, and Titus. Not one time have I been pressured to do anything other than teaching the Bible systematically, consecutively, and expositionally. I thank God for His people who want to grow by His Word.
- Biblical community is underestimated and therefore undervalued.
This has been the greatest surprise to me and one of the greatest sources of joy and grace. Our Life Groups have turned out to be the richest source of biblical community, far more than I could ever have imagined. If you haven’t experienced biblical community not only do you underestimate it, you undervalue it. Through our Life Groups, I am learning to be transparent as I confess sin. I am learning to listen to others confess temptations. I am learning to pray through tears. I am learning to love brothers and sisters praying in their heart language.
- Relational evangelism is essential to fulfilling the Great Commission. I wish we could go back to the days of mass evangelism, ala Billy Graham. The people we have seen born-again in our assembly have all been saved through the relationships with members. Because God has brought so many people to our city that do not have Christianity as part of their background, if we are going to see people won to Christ it is going to take every Christian building bridges to individuals for the Gospel’s sake. Five years from now, along with former Roman Catholics and other western religions it should be normal to have former Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Mormons, and atheists as part of our church family.
Stay tuned for part two.