It Started As A Dream
I have been one of the few people fortunate to see and experience the birth of LifeBridge Church. Before there was a building, people to fill the seats or even before it had a name, it was a dream. It started as a dream birthed into the heart of my Associate Pastor at that time, Jeff Bennett. I remember the Sunday he announced God’s calling on his life to leave our church in Greenford, Ohio, to venture out as he took a step of faith to partner with Stadia and start a church plant in Acworth, Georgia.
The moment we heard the news, my husband, Tom Bloemker, realized that God might be opening the door for us to be a part of this adventure. He had already been looking at a job in Georgia and was anxious to see if it would be close to the new church plant. After a conversation with Jeff, they realized his job was only about 20 minutes down the road from Acworth! Jeff and his family, along with staff and friends, worked faithfully and launched the new church plant, Christ’s Church at Cobb in 2004. We were excited when God opened the doors for us to leave Ohio and join the adventure, arriving a year later in 2005.
Not knowing what to expect, we were quickly inducted into the church plant world. Every Sunday was setting up and tearing down the chairs, classrooms, coffee stations and equipment. Every Sunday required a diligence and a faithfulness to love on the people that walked through the doors, to prepare a welcoming environment and to help create a sense of community and family. My husband has served as an Elder and I have served on the worship team and as part of the administrative staff. As we celebrate these 15 years with Stadia, I want to reflect on some of the valuable lessons we have learned.
First, dreams have a way of growing on their own time frame. Any time a church is planted, I imagine there is the hope of blossoming growth and changed lives. We want the growth to happen quickly and think we are prepared to meet those challenges. But what we don’t always expect is the reality of the timing and all of what happens in between. The blossoming can take a lot longer than we anticipate and the struggles in between aren’t always easy. But God’s ways and timing are perfect. He uses these seasons of life to grow us in trusting Him and to show us His glory. We have to be faithful in the valleys and storms of life. God is still at work!
Second, sometimes our dreams require changes we are not expecting. What started off as a dream of Jeff Bennett had grown to a small community of believers who were functioning as the body of Christ. Jeff and Lisa Bennett faithfully gave all their heart, soul and energy for six years when God started to close this chapter of church planting for them in Acworth. God was preparing Jeff to the transfer the leadership to someone new as he began meeting with a neighboring pastor, Aaron Gable. In this friendship between Jeff and Aaron, God brought about new visions and new hope. God led them to bring on Aaron Gable as a pastor and to relaunch Christ’s Church at Cobb with the name change of LifeBridge Church in 2011. Slightly after bringing on Aaron, Jeff Bennett was offered a position at Verve, a church in Las Vegas. God created a smooth transition as the Bennett family moved to Las Vegas and as Aaron Gable stepped into the Senior Pastor role at LifeBridge Church with his family.
Lastly, God’s dreams for us are often way bigger and better than we would ever hope or imagine. Now, Jeff Bennett, is currently the US Church Planting Executive at Stadia. Did he ever dream that he wouldn’t just start one church, but would be a part of starting hundreds of churches all over the world? Wow! How awesome is our God? As for LifeBridge? In 2013, God blessed LifeBridge with a building. That was a big deal for all of those who had set up and torn down every Sunday for eight years! LifeBridge has continued to grow and make an impact in Acworth and the surrounding areas.
Just this past year, LifeBridge Church has made the move to plant another church with Stadia in Dallas, Georgia. They encouraged their Associate Pastor, Gregg Sizemore, and worship leader, Corey Brown, to follow God’s leading in theirs lives and sent them out to start Creekside Church this fall. LifeBridge has been working with organizations like Wellspring Living and Building Hope Communities to create a tiny home community for women who are survivors of sex-trafficking. LifeBridge also partnered with Compassion International and Stadia to help start a church in Ecuador this year.
This dream started 15 years ago and isn’t finished yet! If God has given you a dream, chase after it with all your heart. As we are faithful to serve day in and day out, God moves in ways that are beyond our understanding to accomplish His Kingdom’s work for His glory. We couldn’t always see in the moment the difference that our work was making, but as we take a moment and look back over the last 15 years it is easy to see the excellence and beauty of God orchestrating all the details. What a privilege that He’s invited us all to be a part of it. Looking forward to what God has in store the next 15 years!
Jill grew up in Indianapolis, IN and graduated from Cincinnati Christian University (BA 1998). She and her husband, Thomas Bloemker, have lived in Georgia since 2005 and have 4 daughters and 4 grandsons and a granddaughter on the way. Jill is pursuing her Masters in Counseling from Liberty University. She loves everything about Fall, decorating, performing and most of all deep connections with family and girlfriends!