Changes and Church Planting
Many of you already know, some of you may not, but Kimber and I feel called by God to plant a church in hopefully early 2018, and I thought I’d take some time to talk about our Journey in Youth/South Florida and the calling to pursue church planting.
A verse that has really summarized my life in so many ways is “God is faithful even when we’re faithless—He cannot deny Himself” – 2 Timothy 2:13. This has really been a major theme in my life; when I doubt God, or am worried, God has proven Himself to be faithful time and time again, and I know He will be for this as well.
We’re about to step out and take the biggest adventure of our life and we are so excited and also a little terrified as well. In many ways I feel like a Bible character who is on a journey with the Lord.
It was about 8 years ago my wife and I drove 3,000 miles to leave the beautiful mountains in California to mountains I’ve never seen before until Florida… garbage mountain. And it was 8 years ago we left home to work in the youth ministry at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale not knowing that all along the Lord would stir in our hearts to plant a church here in South Florida.
You have no idea how much we have loved youth ministry—every student, parent, friend, volunteer, staff, and so much more throughout these 8 years. It’s been some of the best years of my life. Kimber and I have spent our whole adulthood here in Youth Ministry and really our whole marriage in South Florida.
We’re forever grateful to Jesus, and the people in our lives. We’ve been blessed to be a part of so many mission trips, summer camps, services, outreaches, chapels, and more. We’ve seen hundreds of students come to know Christ, follow Christ, become a disciple of Christ. It’s been the greatest joys of our life. Calvary has given me the opportunity to preach hundreds of messages and has been so patient with me as I grow and develop into who God has made me to be. Everything in my life has been because of Jesus and His incredible grace.
I’ve learned two important truths in my time here: I am more wicked than I think I am, and Jesus is more wonderful than I think He is.
Many of you reading this have no idea how grateful we are for you in our lives! I know some of you have even graduated College now, and it’s been years since I’ve seen some of you, but you hold a special place in our lives. We still pray and think of all of you. I think that’s one thing I’m going to love about heaven is just talking about the goodness of God with people I miss being around. I think that’s why this transition out of youth has been one of the most difficult things and one of the greatest things.
We look forward to what Jesus is going to do through this church plant. We want to see people come to know Jesus and really experience the power of the Spirit in their lives: to be freed from sin, rescued from hell, marriages restored, disciples made, other churches planted, and we know it starts with taking this journey.
You know for many years I’ve wanted to plant a church, but never really knew if I was called. So earlier this year, Kimber and I started praying and seeking the Lord on this. I never want to do something because it sounds cool or I like the idea, and so the last several months God has been so faithful to use His Word, people, and prayer to really make it known that this is something to pursue with everything we’ve got. And so that’s what we’re going to do!
We know that God has called us to plant churches. The greatest way to make disciples is by planting churches, and maybe you’d be surprised to hear that South Florida is one of the most un-churched/de-churched areas in our nation. (see articles below)
So what’s happening now?
Well, the desire is to plant in early 2018, maybe to have interest or vision/value meetings in the summer or fall of 2017, to build a leadership team. So that means right now we’re just praying and asking the Lord to do this. We need the Lord to build the house so we don’t labor in vain. We’re going to hopefully take a year or so, to learn and grow from other men and departments at Calvary Ftl. I’m also meeting with other church planters right now and just praying over the vision of this church.
If you want to know what to pray for, here are a few things: Our family/marriage – that’s my first ministry, Location (we’re praying about Deerfield/Creek area, but are open to what the Lord reveals), for God to raise up called leaders and a team to help with this plant, to reach people who don’t know about the love of Jesus or maybe have given up on the church, for funding/fundraising we have a goal in mind over the next year, and always for His will to be done.
I officially say good bye to HSM on November 30th/December 3rd, on Wednesday night after service.
Lastly, the night I told the students we were leaving, I was able to share this message with them, and I want to share it with you because it really is my heart. It’s never been about the messenger but always about the Message. The messenger is always changing, but the Message never does, and the message we preach is Jesus. He’s the Message. He’s the one it’s all about, and it’s a privilege to do this with Him and for Him and by Him.
I’m sure there will be more updates to come, but we wanted to take the time to fill you in, to say thank you, and to say our God is so good.
My heart longs to see Jesus lifted up and to draw all men and women to Himself.
(See #11, 35 in this article) http://cities.barna.org/barna-cities-the-top-churchless-metro-areas/
(See #19, 20 in this article) http://cities.barna.org/the-most-post-christian-cities-in-america/
The message we announced to the students we were leaving: http://josiahgraves.com/podcast/called-commissioned-church-planting-announcement-jeremiah-11-10/