Anniversary Highlight: Lifepointe Church Wake Forest

Dec 15, 2020

Question: Can you name one thing that happened in our world in 2015?  I would highly recommend NOT googling “top news stories in 2015” like I did.  Let me just sum up the top stories for you; 

  • Shootings
  • Plane crash
  • Shootings
  • Terrorist attacks
  • Plane crash
  • Refugee crisis
  • Train crash
  • Oh….and shootings.

If you want to see any story that represents something positive, you’re going to have to be a bit more specific in your search.  Something like “the top 10 best things that happened in 2015” will do.  And here’s a sample of what you’ll get:

  • Discoveries made on Pluto
  • Journalist freed from Egyptian prison
  • Poverty decreases worldwide
  • The new Star Wars film was actually good (not kidding)
  • The W.H.O. declares the ebola epidemic is over
  • There’s water on Mars ya’ll

Ok, you got me.  That last one didn’t even make the top 10,000 stories by any news organization.  But trust me, it was big news around here. 

Lifepointe Church started in Raleigh in 2004 in a small movie theatre in North Raleigh.  My wife and I came with 3 small girls (our youngest just 6 months old) to be the worship leaders at Lifepointe in March of 2006.  It was an exciting adventure for us to move away from family and friends in Michigan and be a part of a new church. A Stadia Church from the start, Lifepointe had an energy like we had never experienced in ministry before.  Growth was steady and portable became a new normal for us.

Lifepointe jumped into the deep end of the multi-site waters in 2009 and literally doubled overnight (and kind of almost drowned to be honest). That was pretty crazy.  We learned a lot from our failures and successes along the way and after a bunch of other crazy God-ordained things that can only be explained with timelines, charts and graphs, God was doing something in me that I couldn’t ignore….though I didn’t know what it was or how to describe it.  I came to our lead pastor, Donnie Williams, sometime in 2012 and let him know that while I still loved music, I thought there might be something else God may be calling me to.  Though I had no idea what that was, I just asked if there was ever a position inside Lifepointe that he thought would fit my skill set and personality that he consider me as a candidate before going outside our staff to fill the position.

Now fast forward just a bit to 2013 when we opened our own building and once again, God gave us substantial growth.  Just 3 weeks in and we were wondering how many services we would need to add to accommodate the growth. (ok, side bar….this just feels so weird to be talking about packed rooms during this time of COVID doesn’t it? But it happened!)  It was very apparent that we had a lot of people coming from the neighboring towns of Wake Forest and Youngsville which are both to the North of our (then) new building.  We had a choice to make:  Provide 2 or 3 more services OR make use of all those trailers and crates in the parking lot and launch another site. 

Well, I wouldn’t be writing this blog if we had gone with the first choice.  Donnie asked me if I would lead a new venture into Wake Forest as the site pastor and I felt this just might be the thing God had placed on my heart a few years before. So, in September of 2015, once again with the coaching and financial support of Stadia, we launched Lifepointe Wake Forest with a great launch team of about 130 people.  It’s been a little over 5 years now and to say I’ve learned a lot would be an understatement for sure.  Some highlights include:

  • Seeing over 10 people baptized through spontaneous response in an Easter service
  • Witnessing people receiving Christ as their Savior
  • Partnering every year with the high school we meet in to provide Thanksgiving meals and Christmas gifts for students and families in need.
  • Being on the top of the call list when the school we meet in needs help with something.
  • Witnessing people’s “spiritual family tree” grow as they invite one person, who invites another, who invites another etc.
  • Watching my own kids serve Jesus through serving the church (not because they have to either)

But guess what?  It wasn’t all highlights. It never is. If you’re a church planter or have been involved in church planting you get it.  It’s not all hands raised, high fives, and hugs all the time.  Spiritual warfare is real and it really affects you.  Disunity is real, and it affects you.  It affected me.  I experienced the value of professional counseling for the first time in my life.  I sure don’t consider that a highlight (or at least I didn’t at the time).  I experienced the importance of weeding out disunity and fighting hard for unity in The Spirit.  That can take a toll on you too.  And now…..COVID.  Meeting outside in the parking deck behind the school because the county won’t let you meet inside is challenging to say the least.  But guess what? We are determined to continue to meet so that our church can say….”Remember that year we met in the parking deck and God……”.  We are certain that God wants to add to our highlight list.  That if you googled “top 10 things that happened at Lifepointe Church Wake Forest in 2020” you would see a testament to the power, grace, love, and faithfulness of God to this local church. 

When Paul writes to the church in Philippi, he does such a great job of encouraging them.  In chapter one, he uses words like “confident” to express, well, his confidence.

“I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.Philippians 1:6

His confidence in God’s completion of the work HE (God) started. As we head into year 6 of Lifepointe Church Wake Forest I wonder where we are in our journey.  Have we just gotten started?  Are we halfway there?  Where is “there” anyway?  I don’t know.  But I’m taking a cue from Paul and I’m confident that God began this work, and will continue it until Christ Jesus returns.

To Him Be All The Glory,

Joel Close is the Wake Forest Site Pastor for Lifepointe Church in Raleigh NC.  He loves to see people find new life in Jesus and grow deeper in their faith.  He also loves to talk.  Topics that can keep him talking for hours include old cars, guitars, and dirt bike racing.  He has one wife (Erika) of 24 years and three daughters (Lydia, Sophie, Ella). His favorite thing to do in life is to sing with them.  Preferably all of them at the same time. 

Joel Close

Wake Forest Site Pastor, Lifepointe Church - Raleigh, NC