"This Church Must Die"

Posted on August 26, 2016

In the midst of a recent decluttering exercise at our home, I found something, a marker of a pivotal day in my life. It was in a non-descript folder marked “Church” hiding in a storage bin full of old tax returns, bank statements and empty file folders. I couldn’t believe it had survived almost 25 years and at least six apartment and home moves (especially when you consider I have a wife who likes to declutter!).
The reminder I found was the bulletin from the first service at Grace Church on September 8, 1991. As a young, single guy a year out of college, I had no idea that the day would be a turning point in my life and shift the trajectory of everything from my church experience to my marital status to my vocation.
By the end of that first service, I knew something unusual was going on…God was moving in some unique ways. For example, Dave’s first sermon that day was titled This Church Must Die. Who begins a new church talking about death? But that call to follow Jesus and lay down our lives captured my imagination. It became a frame for everything that followed. I’ve gone back to this message and reflected again and again on the commitment we made as a church and individuals that weekend. And it resulted in multiple significant shifts in my own life as I sought to live it out:
  • Going to Russia for a year in 1993 with a team from Grace Church as part of the CoMission to share the gospel in the public school system. 
  • Eventually leaving the corporate world and coming on staff at Grace in 1999. 
  • Becoming the campus pastor of Grace Church-- Fishers and helping launch the Fishers campus in 2013. 
Every significant change had an element of dying to it as I left the known and allowed God to bring new life in ways that surprised me. But none has been more dramatic and more exciting than my transition into the campus pastor for Fishers. Not only has God stretched me and my faith but I’ve been given the privilege of a front-row seat watching God breathe new life into people who were far from Him:
  • A mom whose five-year-old son prompted her to start attending Grace when he began asking her spiritual questions she couldn’t answer.
  • A young family who never attended church regularly, brought by friends and now one of their young sons reminds them “God is the most important thing!” 
God has been incredibly faithful to work in our midst. I’m not sure what the next 25 years will bring but I am confident if we continue to live by that first sermon preached at Grace Church, the Holy Spirit will lead us to places we could never imagine. 

The program from the first Sunday of Grace. 

Picture at the top is Kevin and Suzy shortly after their engagement in St. Petersburg, Russia, 1994