A Growing Community
Leading up to Grace Church's 25th Anniversary, we are counting down the days by posting 25 blog posts in 25 days by 25 authors (well, 24. Dave wrote twice). The post below is one of these posts. Need tickets to the 25th Anniversary celebration at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on September 11, 2016? Get tickets here: gracechurch.us/25.
BY MARISSA CRAWFORD, GRACE CHURCH BLOOMINGTON
Some of my very first life memories are from the first days of Grace Community Church, affectionately called “the warehouse days.” Those memories include running with friends and siblings through the hamster tunnel that connected two buildings, walking the beautiful wooded trail to the overflow parking lot, and watching people get baptized in a blow-up pool filled with cold hose water.
When I was about a year old, my family, along with several hundred other people, took a leap of faith and left the familiarity of Faith Missionary Church to start a new church. We really did not know what we were doing, but we trusted that God did and that He would be faithful in what he had called us to as a church.
As my husband and I now enter our own time of launching out and starting a church in Bloomington, I catch myself reflecting often on Grace’s “warehouse days”. I have to admit that after experiencing the beautiful yet painful process of planting and growing a church, I never imagined I would be involved in planting another one. As they say, God works in mysterious ways.
With Grace Church Bloomington in full planning mode and only a few months out from launch (hopefully), I find myself overwhelmed with passion for what God has for us. Planting a new church will more than likely involve baptizing people in cold hose water and gathering in rented space like the “warehouse days”, but it also means so much more than that too.
It means getting the opportunity to welcome people into authentic community that have never experienced true community before. It means getting to open up our homes and lives to usher in God’s kingdom in ways we cannot yet imagine. It means doing life with people and staying in the room with them during the messiness of life. It means walking with people as they experience God’s grace, love and freedom for the first time.
Research over these past several years has shown that church plants have a distinctly unique and effective way of reaching people that have never stepped foot in a church before. As we dive head first into building a healthy church this fall, our top priority is offering community to the people directly around us in Bloomington that need to know they are loved by God. Although we don’t know what this exactly looks like outside of lots of meals, game nights, block parties and long conversations, we trust that God is still faithful just like he was 25 years ago.
With our first child’s due date only days away*, I can’t wait to raise him in the “warehouse days” of Grace Church Bloomington. I can’t wait for him to get to learn first hand what true community is as the church grows, and to grow up watching God’s faithfulness with us.
We know that planting a church is, painful, messy and full of unknowns, but all of that is what creates the beautiful tapestry we know as the Church.
* Marissa and her husband Jon welcomed little baby Atticus Dennis Crawford to the world on July 22. Both mom and baby are doing well!
Jon and Marissa at their new home in Bloomington.