There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven – A time to give birth and a time to die;A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted….He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men. ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1,2,11
As a Church Planter, I have experienced some unusual things along the way. But none of the Church Planting books I read prepared me for today. Today I helped UNPLANT a church.
It was almost 2 years ago when our congregation (Plumb Line Community Church) began renting space on Henry Ruff Street. We had been meeting at the local YMCA. But the scheduling there became complicated and we needed to find a new location to gather for worship. So I started calling all of the churches in the area to see if we could rent space.
After many calls, we found a church that was holding their regular worship on Sundays at 2:00 pm. So we wondered if we might rent space at 11:00 AM. I know right? How crazy is that??
The people of Nativity United Church of Christ were and still are a wonderful congregation of God’s people. But, as happens to all congregations at some point, they had started to shrink in size. Some left, some became home-bound, and some went home to the Lord. And their numbers dwindled. Then, a year or more ago, their pastor left and they asked if I would lead their worship.
In December 2011, I began preaching for the people of Nativity UCC. So every Sunday for 18 months I have preached to a Nazarene New Start at 11:00 AM & a UCC aging congregation at 1:00 PM. One very contemporary, evangelical congregation. And one very traditional, reformed congregation. But all of them God’s people. All of them in need of a Savior, a Healer, a Counselor, a loving Heavenly Father.
Today, I preached my last sermon for Nativity UCC. They celebrated 57 years as a faith community. And tomorrow, they will sign papers to sell the facility to another congregation. They have been faithful to the Gospel and faithful to the Kingdom of God. They continue to be children of God tomorrow even though they no longer wear the badge of Nativity.
And their legacy will live on. It lives on in the lives of the people transformed by the Gospel. They ones who came to faith in Christ because of them. It will live on through the generous donations made to the local non-profit community organizations. And it will live on through Plumb Line Community Church. PLCC is the “other congregation” who will be purchasing their facility.
We will continue to worship at two gathering times. 11:00 AM contemporary worship and 1:00 PM traditional worship. And we will continue to advance the Kingdom of God in this community.
Today we said “Good-Bye” to a 57 year old faith community. Tomorrow we say “Hello” as they step across the threshold of a new faith community. But, together, we are doing God’s work from now until the Lord calls us all home.
Nativity UCC hear the words of your Heavenly Father, “Well done, My good and faithful servants. Well done!”
Keep fighting the good fight of faith!