A Front Row Seat
My wife and I have two kids, our son Caden is eight and our daughter Avelyn will turn five in a few weeks. It is hard to imagine all that has happened in the years they have been a part of our family but I know we would not be the people we are without them. I thought having our son would have prepared me for life with a little girl, but she has been a completely different experience. I love watching how she is growing and becoming a strong and wonderful person with a slightly warped childlike sense of humor that only a big brother can foster. Her excitement over her independence and the joy she has about going to school next year all bring a new sense of wonder and confidence to her. I love to hear her talk about Jesus and her church, but I’m not very excited about her describing her wedding plans to me already. She is full of life. I love how she wants our car rides to be quiet so she can listen and sing along with the worship songs from church, I am amazed at her questions about life, and the way she tries to figure out what her role in God’s story will be. I am grateful that The Grove is the only church she has ever known.
I know there are other congregations in our region that have more established children’s programming, including great activities for families, and even though I am sure they are full of wonderful people, they do not have the people that our little girl now considers her church family. The Grove has given her a church experience where she has friends of all ages and from all walks of life. She also see’s her mom and dad invest in the lives of others as a regular part of her life and in many ways she has grown up along with The Grove.
I had served in various roles within churches prior to planting the Grove and just like having one child teaches you some basics about the others, each child is unique and that has certainly been my experience in helping to start the Grove. We will celebrate our fifth year anniversary at The Grove Church this year and being a part of a five year old church reminds me of the joy I have in watching our little girl as she approaches being five. The Grove continues to mature into an established congregation that often blows my mind at all she has done in five short years.
Early on in the the life of The Grove my role looked different than it does now, but I am a better man because I am a part of this congregation. At times we are equal parts confident and unsure, and yet there is joy in what God gives us each day. I think we exist in a place of wonder at what God is doing in and through His people here at the Grove. In five years we have seen 28 men, women, and children obediently take the step of being baptized, giving their lives to Jesus as their savior. The Grove has sought out ways to meet the needs of our city addressing food insecurity in our local schools and actively partnering with existing ministries that serve the homeless, and supporting those living with addiction that are pursuing lasting freedom.
In the last year we have re-focussed our ministry around three values that I have watched become more ingrained into the lives of the church. We are committed to pursuing Truth that changes us, Relationships that matter, and then putting our Love in Action. These are the values I pray will continue to be woven into the lives of the people who make up The Grove Church for the next 5 years and beyond.
Our partnership with Stadia was a little different. We had begun our efforts to start The Grove shortly before we became a part of the Stadia family, but Stadia was exactly what we needed to help us clarify and refine our focus. They provided a safety net and loving guidance through the difficult early years where The Grove was more like an unstable toddler than I would care to admit, so I will aways be appreciative of how the those trusted advisors came into our lives at just the right time.
I am excited that in the years to come my children will continue to grow up with The Grove Church. Each new season of life will bring its unique challenges as a father and as a pastor. I get a front row seat watching God grow His church and our kids and I am grateful for that and also for all of the people God has used to bring us to this point in life and ministry.