I’m going to a new church, and here’s why.
First, let me say, it’s not because I’m mad at anybody, and no one has hurt my feelings. I love our preacher and my life group teachers and I learn so much from them. There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to go. In fact, early last year I thought I may need to leave my church for a different reason, and I begged God not to let me lose my church. He answered that prayer in surprising ways, by one, bringing me into a fellowship that was a safe alternative for a time and showing me that He will take care of me and will provide another church family if that becomes necessary. And two, I received wise counsel, that if God sends us to another church He doesn’t force us out but rather calls or leads us out and to the next place.
All of that was going on in me an entire year before I ever heard of Refuge church, I believe preparing me to be ready to be called out of my church home and into Refuge.
So, let me tell you a little about Refuge. Refuge is a new church start that is the dream and vision of several men and couples at my current church home. It’s going to meet in a school, so therefore has portable equipment that will be used each week to transform a school cafeteria into a worship center and the school gymnasium into a kids’ worship center and preschool area.
These guys simply want a church where people who may not feel comfortable going to a “traditional” church can feel safe and welcome and loved, not judged or looked at funny. They want a church that connects people to Jesus, a church that focuses less on “religion” and what it looks like on the outside to be a believer, and focuses more on relationship and being a believer from the inside out.
Refuge pastor, Jason, was one of my first Sunday School/life group teachers when I first came to Flint River Baptist seven years ago. He and his wife were fairly newly married; they had no kids, and he had a career in PR. In the time since I’ve met them, they’ve added three adorable children to their family, and I’ve seen Jason go public about God calling him to ministry, go through seminary, serve as both the children’s and youth pastor at our church, and now start Refuge. It’s been fun to watch.
About nine months ago, when I first heard mention of this new church that Jason and others were starting, my interest was piqued so I decided then to watch what went on with it and pray about what my involvement might be. I went to an interest meeting back in the spring, and at that time felt called to serve at the church in a temporary capacity — maybe six months to a year — just to help them get started.
In late summer they started having weekly training meetings and a few field trips to other church starts to formulate how we are going to “do church” and what kind of culture are we going to have. Excitement started to build, and even the boys were contributing to the discussions of what the new church would be like. Jason asked about ways we could make baptism a celebration and Finn suggested confetti. He also suggested to Jason that we have Bibles for people who forget theirs. Before I realized it I had, in my heart, started to take some ownership — buy-in — into Refuge, and felt that this may not be a temporary thing, like I had thought, after all.
So catching you up to now, we’ve trained on how to set up the equipment and the stage and the children’s area, and we’ve had several practice days during which time the others who are starting this church have started to feel like family.
Right now it’s exciting, albeit long and sweaty work setting up and taking down church. We meet at 8, and this past week we were done with take-down a little before 1. My muscles ached from moving school lunchroom tables out of the cafeteria when we got there and then back into place before we left. I felt like I needed a shower and a nap (I took both), but it was also a good feeling because I believe in the potential for Refuge to do and be a great thing. They tell me the excitement will wear off after a while, like with anything new, so I pray now for renewed commitment when that happens.
Our first official worship service is this Sunday, and if you’re in my geographical area of Huntsville, AL, I invite you to come. We meet at Providence Elementary School, at 10:30 a.m. Check out www.findrefugehere.com for more info.