Ten years ago, a church of six people was planted in the Benton Harbor and St. Joseph, Michigan, area. Today, Overflow Church is a flourishing, multi-cultural church that has birthed many ministers and ministries. Overflow Church began through a clear calling to “seek the Shalom of the city” (Jeremiah 29:7, paraphased) and a humble heart that chose to prayerfully listen to God and the local community.
My wife, Cindy, and I planted Overflow in 2007 through a Bible study and a backyard outreach to a local housing project. God’s faithfulness has encouraged us through a roller coaster ride of planting a multicultural church in a racially and economically impoverished community.
Ministry is messy, and Overflow Church has been no exception. We have faced hardships, hostility and burnout more times than I can count. Yet we have also experienced God’s grace and goodness through the mess.
Each time we thought we could not go further, God provided. The stories of his miraculous provision through his people (time, talent and treasure) are endless. There were so many that by our third year, we adopted the phrase “his story and his glory” as an axiom and rally cry. That is the spirit in which the book Go Now and Be the Church was written which recounts our transformative journey.
Overflow Church in 2018 is a diverse church in a historically polarized region. We have been blessed to baptize more than 400 people over the years and have thriving discipleship ministries through our Connect Groups, a Celebrate Recovery ministry and our partnership with Young Life, to name a few. We have been blessed to seek and join God where he was already at work.
A direct result of listening to the community in the early years and joining God in his work was our launch into community development with Mosaic CCDA (Christian Community Development Association) in 2008-09. This outreach has grown from a group of kingdom-minded churches into a powerful non-profit ministry in our region that is transforming lives in the marketplace. Mosaic CCDA runs four social enterprises that provide gateways to opportunity with job training for more than 100 Jobs for Life program graduates annually. Mosaic has also been able to leverage collaborations across private, social and government sectors in ways that are reconstructing our region and creating new relational networks.
I could not have imagined all that God had planned (Ephesians 3:20-21) for Overflow Church 10 years ago. It has been a painful journey that, at times, has required more faith and sacrifice than I can recount. But it has been so rich as God has shaped and re-shaped us and our ministry.
I can say that my passion is greater than ever because it has been refined throughout the past decade by the challenges and renewed by the celebrations of God’s goodness and faithfulness.
Each week, we close our gatherings by saying together, “May we journey together this week, passionately following Jesus and joyfully serving others. Go now and be the church.”
I pray nothing will keep you from launching out into the unknown with God to make a lasting difference in your community. If God is calling you to plant a church, plant. Go now, today, and be the church.