The following is an email that I sent to our church plant mailing list. I've heard from some of you who aren't on the list but wanted to have this update, so I'm posting it here, too. I know others will end up getting this twice -- first from the church mailing list, and now if you're on my personal blog mailing list. Really sorry for the redundancy. It won't be a problem very soon, once we get a basic website up and running for the church plant. In the meantime, thanks for your patience! And if you want to sign up for the church mailing list, just head here: http://eepurl.com/bVbh3j
I’ve had the first chapter of Genesis on my mind lately. It’s the story of God creating the heavens and the earth. By the end of the creation story, God and the world are in harmony, men and women bear the image of God, and every kind of life is flourishing. As rabbis and priests and pastors and scholars and everyday saints and curious believers have reflected on this story, many have agreed: this isn’t just something that happened. It’s something that happens. It’s a pattern that repeats itself whenever we discover God in our midst, creating something.
This story is on my mind because I think it’s a picture of what God wants to do through our church.
Early in the story, the earth is formless and void. Other translations use the word chaos. There’s all this energy and raw material that God has to sift and sort to achieve what He’s going for. And that’s where we stand. The chaos isn’t a bad thing; in fact, it’s beautiful because of the potential in it. There’s all this energy and raw material — dreams and prayers that people have for a new church in South Bend, empty spaces in the city that are waiting to be filled — and we’re moving into a season of sifting and sorting to discover what God is going for.
Our first gatherings will happen in April. These informal meetings will give us a chance to dream and pray together about this new church. I’ll have dates and locations nailed down very soon, and as soon as I do, you’ll be the first to know. I know a lot of you are looking forward to that opportunity to learn more about our new church. The conversation we’ll have on those nights will help you discern whether this is something you’ll want to give yourselves to, and whether God is leading you in that direction.
Some of you, though, are already clear. You’ve been asking about how you can help, and you’ve been asking about when you’ll be able to start giving. If that’s you, I wanted you to know that we’re all set up for that. A few important details:
- we've incorporated as a church, so your donations are tax deductible
- we've assembled a board that is empowered to exercise financial oversight and to which I'm accountable
- we're working with a firm out of Indianapolis made up of lawyers and CPAs who specialize in church matters. They've given us expert counsel through the process of setting up the church and will keep working with us
- all online giving is processed by Stripe and tracked by Planning Center Online. Both companies have strong records of security and dependability
To give online, just follow this link: http://southbendcitychurch.churchcenteronline.com/giving
To write a check, just make it out to South Bend City Church and mail it to P.O. Box 1578, South Bend, IN 46634
Please pray for our church, our city, our growing core team, and for me. In the next few months we’ll make some crucial decisions that will set a trajectory for this new church. We want to be in tune with God so that we can collaborate with Him in this beautiful, creative work.
I can't wait to get together with you in April!