How do you start a church if you don’t have any people?
If I was starting a FAQ page (which really wouldn’t be a bad idea) this question would be near the very top. I think every single person I know (no exaggeration there ;-)) has asked me this question. I’ve asked myself this question. How do you start a church with no people? To be honest, before we made the big move I was actually pretty hung up on this question. The answer has come to me in two forms: the short story and the longer story.
The Short Story
One night I went for a very serious walk with God. Our conversation (please read in an extremely hyper-panicky voice) went like this:
“God, we don’t have any people. We have two people. We have me, Kris… and Anastasia. We have two and half. That’s it.”
“Hi God, remember what I just prayed two seconds ago? It’s still true. We still don’t have any people.”
“God, how are we supposed to start a church without any people?”
“God…hey God. God. God. God. God. WE DON’T HAVE ANY PEOPLE.”
(Think of the word pester. I was absolutely pestering God… On repeat.)
At that moment I suddenly became of aware of a song that was playing on my iPod, the words being,
“Peace be still, peace be still
Please be still
And know that I am God
And know that I am God.”
I felt those words begin to calm my spirit, and, as I began to (mentally) wind back down, I heard God’s quiet voice say, “I will bring you people.”
Then I walked home. I felt so much peace that, by the time I got home, I had forgotten about the whole thing – which probably sounds totally weird – but that’s how much the worry had been removed from my mind. It never even occurred to me to share the conversation with Kris.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks later and Kris and I were in the car when he turned to me and said, “I felt like God told me a couple of days ago that he is going to bring people to our church.”
Say whaaaaaa? Boom shakalaka, boom shakalaka. I love when that happens!
The Short story: God said he was going to bring us people.
The Longer Story
This one is a little bit more fun to tell
The second day after the big move I was praying again because when you just give up your great job, your lovely community and move to the land of unknown with no paying job and the task of starting a church… you tend to pray a lot. I was starting to feel fearful, wondering what the heck we were doing. I *gently* reminded God, “WE DON’T HAVE ANY PEOPLE.” During that prayer time, God brought to mind the name and face of a person I had met once a year-and-a-half prior in a preaching class. (She lived in the town we moved to, but I had not spoken with her since that class…which was approximately a year and a half before we knew we were leaving California.) While praying I immediately felt I was supposed to contact her and made a mental note to do so. That afternoon I was laying on the couch when my doorbell rang. My mom answered the door, and I heard, “Hi, my name is Debbie. I’m not sure if Randi will remember me, but we were in a preaching class together…” This was the person God told me to contact that morning! I flew off the couch and loudly proclaimed, “Debbie! Hi! I was supposed to call you!” She told me she had been driving by and just felt like she was supposed to stop in.
*Side note* She was also the person who had faithfully prayed for 18 months straight for a new church to rise up in this area. She had been given a word from God that he would raise up a church spontaneously and she held on to this word and fiercely prayed.
Mark and Carol
We had agreed to this move, sure that it was where God wanted us, before we knew that it was in the very place I had grown up. So, despite some people thinking we were making the move to be with family, we were under no illusions that any of my family members would be joining us, which was okay.
My parents had attended their current church for over 22 years- it was a place they invested in, were active in and were 100% supportive of. They had seen the church through five lead pastors and several leadership changes. (Often during these times of change, people leave. My parents’ always remained faithful.) This church was the place our family grew up. It was our second home. My parents had various leadership responsibilities in the church, joined and led several small groups, developed deep relationships, and had many shared experiences with the people in these groups. Consequently, these people became life-long friends. Why would I expect my parents to leave this church? They would be giving up so much: the people and the place they love, the form of church they were used to, having a pastor who wasn’t their daughter and son-in-law. Yet, one day, after weeks of prayer, they sat on our couch and said, “Yeah, we’re joining.”
Kris and Jessica
My sister-in-law simply walked into our house one day and said something along the lines of, “We’re joining you guys. We’re your first members.”
I said, “Really??”
She said, “Yeah, I told you that before,” and flashed then me a peace sign. (You have to know my sister-in-law to really picture this.
The thing was, she had mentioned it before. I just never took her seriously because at that point we had no plan, no vision and really had never spent much time with Kris and Jessica. (Kris and I had lived far apart for the last 12 years and he and Jessica had only married the year before.)
Jessica’s words filled my spirit with so much love and confidence. We had people, and they were on board.
Nick and Andrea
In October (2015) our little group held our first meeting. We decided it would be a prayer meeting, and we would simply ask God for direction concerning this church he desired to start. We called our Superintendents (bosses/really amazing, awesome people and friends) and invited them to be a part of this first meeting. They told us they had a couple of visitors staying with them (Nick and Andrea – Nick was a pastor with one of the churches in our denomination, and Andrea worked for the denomination’s conference in that area) and would bring them along. When we met Nick and Andrea that night it felt like we had been friends with them forever. As they left they said the words, “Take care…” which basically meant to me, “See ya never.” When everybody was gone, I turned to Kris and said, “I would never, ever ask them to give up everything to join us, but how amazing would it be if they did?!?”
Long story short, over the next few months we would get together with them a few different times. Each time they would talk to us about what God was doing in their lives (which sounded so similar to what God was doing in our lives), and then they would remind us that God was not calling them to join us but that they did believe God was calling them to something. After each meeting, Kris and I would privately reiterate to each other how amazing it would be if they would join our church. Fast forward to a couple of more months later and we got a FB message that said (in gist), “You know we are moving to Toledo, right?”
And just like that, with those seven people whom God literally brought to us, Every Day Church was born. The exciting part is that it hasn’t stopped with just those people. There are so many more stories and so many more stories in the making. At this time I don’t feel like this is really the place to share those stories because they are real people on real journeys and did not ask to be made public in my blog. (Neither did anybody else, but I did send out a courtesy text asking everybody if it was okay. 🙂 ) I will say this though, God has been exceedingly faithful in his promise to bring people to us, and we are excited to see what happens next.
The Longer Story: God actually brought people.
To read more about Every Day Church you can check out my other blog posts here.