“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:3-6).
I’m really looking forward to Sunday, January 15, 2017, as we celebrate two full years of weekly services at Church Experience in Palm Harbor, Fla. The best is yet to come and I can’t wait to see what God will do next!”
These first two years have been so amazing and favored by the Lord! Beginning with a bold vision God was kind to give to our family, and later to a few people huddled in our apartment living room. The big picture is now so inspiring: hundreds attending and growing in their relationship with God, dozens of kids from the next generation being served weekly, 138 baptized, Life Groups unleashed all over the community to serve and help people grow with God and connect with each other, hundreds of personal commitments to Jesus Christ, over 300 adults who’ve attended First Class and been taught our growth steps to help them grow closer to God, well over 2,000 pounds of food collected for those in need (and 160 pairs of shoes), dozens of God-honoring leaders being equipped to lead in the future, and so much more. However, the words of stories we hear have been the most impacting.
“Your (message) has made me hopeful again . . . it was truly powerful for me. I’m set up with a Life Group tomorrow night. I’m really excited to be able to get more involved . . . I feel excited and happy for the first time in months . . . thank you.”
“It has changed so much for me already; it’s made my marriage better and just my overall attitude much better. It means so much to me.”
“Church Experience was my reason I started going to church.”
“Couldn’t avoid tears in my eyes.”
“Due to a series of bad things that happened to me in my 20s, I gave up on church and believing in a higher power until recently. This was 50 years ago. Church Experience is wonderful and slowly beginning to help me come back.”
“Until now I haven’t always been big on attending church because I never felt like I understood it. Since I have been going to Church Experience, I can tell how much more of a positive and happier mindset I have. I look forward to Sunday mornings now . . . “
On December 11, we baptized 10 more people outside the public high school we meet at (which is pretty amazing itself). One of the guys I baptized said that Church Experience is the first church he has ever attended. He was on drugs several months ago and is radically changing his life with God’s help! He has been so committed that he and his child take the bus to Church Experience when his friend cannot bring them. God is transforming his life and you can hear it in his voice when you talk to him. He is already working on a future effort to offer free haircuts to local kids in need. God is transforming lives and it is transforming our community. I’m more convinced than ever that Jesus Christ is the greatest and only hope for our world.
Please continue to pray for us as we approach our second anniversary! As a church plant, we’re striving to reach the many thousands of spiritually lost people all around the high school we meet at, growing up new believers, raising up needed leaders, working tirelessly at setting up and breaking down each Sunday (using two old U-Haul trucks packed full), starting groups, serving the community, and pressing on through the natural ups and downs of being new and in a rented space.
Church planting has been the hardest, but most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done in ministry. I’m so happy we are not alone in this battle. Your faithful prayers and financial generosity toward God and what he is doing are helping more people experience life in Jesus Christ. Thank you so much!