I love reflections. The image of yourself staring back at you, analyzing the details of where you’ve been and who you’ve become. Some details are pleasant, of course, if you like what you see. Sometimes the new wrinkle or the new perception reveal age and maturity and growth. The adventure of life is a process. We experience seasons of joy, seasons of sorrow, seasons that hurry along rapidly and seasons that slow to a desperate crawl. People come and go. Some stay. Change happens. We change, things change, our minds change, our hearts change. A reflection reveals all of this.
The adventure that we started on September 20, 2015 has been far from easy, but its been incredibly rewarding. In a way, we knew exactly what we were getting ourselves into, but also, had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. The challenges that awaited us at every corner and every crossroad further fueled our passion to persevere. I mean, that’s what we do, right? Persevere?
We planted a church. Organically, biblically, prayerfully, thoughtfully and prayerfully (did I say that already?) What were we thinking? That answer is actually sort’ve simple. 86.1. Yeah, 86.1. No, that’s not a local radio station. That’s the percentage of people in the Greater Cincinnati area who AREN’T affiliated with an evangelical congregation. This is hard to believe, right? But we left our career, left our home, moved to a different state, abandoned common reason to begin a journey that over 90% of people who begin, fail. Is that hard to believe, too?
We planted a church? Three different meeting locations: an apartment, a school, a theater. What’s next? That’s the beauty of church planting. There is always a NEXT. The next location, the next outreach, the next family, the next journey. I remember praying for the people that God would reach through our church. The best part of reflection is that I can now put faces and names to the people I prayed for before I ever met them. I can put a face to the name, Kate Sanders who was the first person Jesus saved on a Sunday morning in the Valley. I can put a face to the name, Quanesha Jackson who Jesus saved on Easter Sunday, and then Quand’ai Jackson who He saved three months later. The best day I’ve ever experienced was when I got to baptize both of them as they publicly declared the saving work of Christ in their life.
We planted a church! The Valley Church, to be exact. I love Valley’s. Mountains get all of the attention, the Valley is where you find life. The plants, the streams, the vines, the animals. Its vibrant, its busy, its challenging, its life. Real life. And that’s what we do together, real life. We love, we learn, we grow. That’s what life looks like in the Valley. Never perfect, never easy, always moving and never quitting.
When I reflect on the first year of the life of The Valley Church, some details are pleasant, of course, if you like what you see. Sometimes the new wrinkle or the new perception reveal age and maturity and growth. The adventure of The Valley is a process. We’ve experienced seasons of joy, seasons of sorrow, seasons that hurry along rapidly and seasons that slow to a desperate crawl. People come and go. Some stay. Change happens. We change, things change, our minds change, our hearts change. This reflection has revealed all of this.