We announced last Sunday that we will continue to meet at Ferris Heights for the next three months. Some of you had been part of that conversation and decision-making. For others, it probably came as a surprise, so we want to give a little more detail about how that came about and where we are headed.
This is a little long, but we want to do our best to give you the full scoop of what brought us here, why/how we’re moving forward, and how we’re asking you to pray.
We have been meeting at Ferris Heights for the last six weeks while the YMCA gym was being remodeled by the Mavs Foundation (which turned out awesome!). When we found out we’d be displaced for a few weeks, Ferris Heights was quick to offer their space to us at no cost, and they have been very generous and kind to us in these six weeks.
As we entered this short season, we talked with their pastor about potential hangups from either side and went in with our eyes open, knowing there would likely be some bumps in the road. By God’s grace, there were very few. We were able to make the worship space work for us, and the ability to leave all of our cargo, media, and kids stuff set up was a big blessing. The Ferris Heights family did not have any complaints at all. In fact, they were energized and glad to have us (and our kids!) around.
So over the last couple of weeks they have been talking amongst themselves, and last Tuesday they invited us to stay through the end of the year. The invitation was basically, “Things have gone better than we expected, and we’d like to see if this is a good longer-term fit for both of our churches.”
These three months would serve as a chance to try it out together for a little longer while both churches pray and try to determine if it might work as a more permanent arrangement. We did talk to their pastor about needing to spread out a little more and do some things differently over three months than we did in a six week temporary situation, and he understood and welcomed that.
What We Sense the Lord Doing
Bryan and I had a chance to talk and pray about it, as well as talk to our incoming elders, our staff team, and our team leaders. Of course there were a number of questions and things to consider, some that we have answers for and some we don’t. Time was obviously short on this decision, and as we all talked and prayed, we sensed the Lord leading us to accept the invitation. Part of that leading was a collective sense that the fit has been good for us on the whole, and as we prayed, we felt like God was leading us toward a next step in the same direction.
Another piece of our sense about God’s leading was seeing God do some uncommon things that seem to fit together in ways that we have not pursued and couldn’t have planned.
Our relationship with Ferris Heights started last Fall when Bryan walked in to meet their pastor and show him some documents he had from when Bryan’s great uncle helped start the church (crazy, right?). We then had our Christmas service in their auditorium, and in the Spring they agreed to let us use their building for various meetings and to office out of during the week, only asking for some help covering our costs in bills, etc.
Then God sovereignly moved us out of the YMCA for six weeks, and because of the previous friendship between our churches, Ferris Heights was quick to invite us to worship in their building during that time. It is highly unlikely that we would have decided to just try out six weeks at Ferris Heights without being displaced from the YMCA and highly unlikely that Ferris Heights would have invited us in without the previous friendship. So both of those things, and their timing, are curious to us.
Add to that a couple of unusual gifts God dropped in our laps last year: a church planting friend in Mansfield unloaded 190 of the soft chairs we now use on Sundays to us for $5/each (which usually cost around $25-30 each), and our original sending church in Cedar Hill basically gave us all the kids furniture we’ve been using upstairs. At the time of those two things, we had no idea why they were dropped into our laps or even what to do with them. But it seems to us now that God had a plan.
A third piece of all this were things said by several of our leaders around the idea that they had some conviction or nudge from the Spirit as we were moving out of the Y that we would not be going back there. I don’t think any of them would want us to overstate their thoughts or conviction on that, but taken with this string of other uncommon things we’ve seen God do, we think they mean something.
One final piece we’ve considered is the practical aspect. We were basically out of kids space at the Y, and Ferris Heights opens that up a lot. We have also been able to give our cargo, media, worship, welcome, and kids teams a break in workload because we’re able to keep most of it set up from week to week. We’ve actually been able to reroute some of that manpower to other worthwhile things, which has been pretty cool. Add to that our offices and other meetings at Ferris Heights, and being in once location helps us streamline a lot of time, effort, and resources.
Where We Are Headed
We have accepted their invitation to continue meeting in the fellowship hall through December, and we are already planning to do our Christmas service in their auditorium again. They have agreed to let us spread out a little, including using the foyer in the very front of the building and adding some things in the fellowship hall.
We have talked to the YMCA, and it is still an option for us if something more long-term does not work out between us and Ferris Heights as we head toward 2020. We will probably have to decide whether to move back or let that option go around December/January, so this Fall gives us time to pray and ask the Lord what he wants for us.
Up until now our arrangement with Ferris Heights has been temporary, and even as we stay put and spread out a little this Fall, it is still a short-term agreement. This season is our time to develop the friendship with Ferris Heights, work together on some things, and pray, asking the Lord what he is doing among us and where he is leading us. There are some questions that we do not have answers to at this time. Some of those we are beginning to discuss with Ferris Heights leadership, and some we are trusting the Lord to reveal as we move forward in faith.
We plan to have a robust discussion about all of this and the future at our next covenant members dinner on November 10th, so I would encourage you to be there if you are a covenant member.
Now Is the Time to Pray
We know that you may have more questions, thoughts, ideas, concerns, hopes, stories, etc. We know because we have all of those among our leaders. We welcome all of your stories, questions, and input, and we want to walk through this season with openness and conversation. As we do that, the thing we are asking from you most is to ask the Lord to lead you as an individual and us as a church.
A passage I came across just this morning in my reading was Psalm 81.10-16. I would encourage you to read it, but to sum it up, verse 10 reminds God’s people of what he has done for them in the past and tells them to “open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” Then he chastises them for not submitting to Him. In verse 13 the Lord says, “Oh, that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways!” And he reminds them what he will do if they will listen to him. He finishes in verse 16, saying that He will “feed [them] with the finest of wheat, and with honey from the rock [He] will satisfy [them].”
I don’t know exactly what our wheat and honey are in this situation, and our hope is not in a building or a meeting place, but God is clear that when his people listen to him and walk in his ways, he will fill us and satisfy us…and that is exactly what we want!
So we are asking you to pray, asking the Lord to speak and to show us his ways, resolving to listen and obey what we hear from him. Will you join us in that?