In the days leading up to our 15 year anniversary as a church, I spent a lot of time looking through pictures that we have on our shared drive at the office. The goal was to try and catch some moments that would help tell the story of where we’ve been and what the Lord has done through the years. I think it is safe to say, we have thousands of pictures on the shared drive, and for every one that I put in the album (view it here), I could’ve put 5 others as well (a Facebook album with 1,000+ pictures is a bit much). So many moments that I’m grateful were captured and chronicled through the years.
As I looked through the pictures, here was my overwhelming emotion. Gratitude and thankfulness. Specifically, in these areas…
I am grateful that my identity is in Christ and not in what I do.
15 years ago, I never thought I’d be a pastor, let alone a pastor at Crosspoint. Heather and I felt called to start the church, but not to pastor it. ‘What I do’ can slip so easily into being the base of ‘Who I am.’ So many times through the years, ministry and what I did for a job, became my identity and therefore, idolatry. When that occurs, it leads to a mindset that seeks its joy and worth in external circumstances (i.e.: people’s praise/criticism, numbers, public perception, etc.), rather than Christ. And those are sands that shift. I’m grateful that the Lord has lovingly exposed that temptation in my heart and reminded me continually to be anchored to who I am in Him.
I am grateful for my wife.
Heather and I had been married 4.5 years when we sensed the Lord’s call to start a church in our hometown. The vision and work of Crosspoint has been a dominant factor for 80% of our married years. And no lie or social media fakeness, our marriage has never been stronger or more joy-filled. My wife is my best friend and my closest co-laborer in the work of the Gospel. She is my counselor and my coach. Over 15 years of church life, we’ve gone through mountain tops and valleys both in ministry and marriage, and the Lord has been faithful to deepen our joy, love, and humility in all of it.
I am grateful for my kids and the Lord’s work in them.
At this point in our kids’ lives, Crosspoint is the one church they have known. They were 4 and 2 when we began in 2003. We have a lot of pictures of them on the shared drive (due in large part to their mom being behind the camera often times). Heather and I are so thankful for how the Lord has used His local church to encourage and shape our kids’ hearts and lives. So many faithful teachers, leaders, and friends through the years. I’ve had the joy of baptizing both our kids at Crosspoint, and even the greater joy of watching them continue growing in their faith and making it their own. We are thankful they call Crosspoint home and family, not because they have to, but because they want to. Because it is their church family as much as their parents’ church family.
I am grateful for the launch team.
A loving, gracious, compelled, energetic, visionary, faithful launch team. Pastor Jeff, Angie and their family loved people so well as the church was beginning and growing. The Bock’s and Johnson’s both got married the same year we launched in 2003, and yet jumped in with all 8 feet. The Leman’s, Wiegand’s, and Smith’s met in our living room long before Sunday mornings began, in order to pray and dream. Families like the Smeltzer’s, Williamson’s, and Gold’s felt called and have been faithfully serving in a variety of ways since we launched. There were others as well. Believers in Christ willing to step out of comfort zones and walk by faith. I’m forever thankful.
I am grateful that the Lord has been actively redeeming and sanctifying lives since day one.
The baptism pictures through the years were some of my favorites. Baptism is not salvation nor the end step of a believer’s journey. Baptism is a next step of obedience and a public declaration of a person’s faith in Christ. But looking through many of the baptism pictures, I was reminded of not only that day, but the days and years that followed. A young child, named Anna, getting baptized at the storefront, now faithfully following Jesus as a 20-something, and investing into our student ministry. A couple, named Luke and Sarah, who got baptized at the Middle School, now faithfully raising and discipling three children and growing in their faith. A young husband, Brad, going public at the new building, now faithfully seeking to love his wife like Christ loves the church. A young man, named Jon, getting baptized at Crosspoint in 2012, meeting his future wife, getting married in 2014, and now serving as our Student Pastor. And the list goes on. More stories than I can include on one blog post.
One of the great joys of going long-term in a church family, is to see the Lord’s transforming grace, faithfully shape a person’s heart and life over the years. May we never cease to be amazed and humbled at His work in the lives of others, including our own.
I am grateful for the brothers and sisters the Lord brought to Crosspoint for a particular season
Being in one church for 15 years, you personally witness the turnover that occurs in the people. For instance, in a stretch of 5 years (2012-2017), over 100 people who called Crosspoint home moved away to live elsewhere in the nation. Looking through pictures, I was reminded how I missed those households and yet I was filled with gratitude that they were at Crosspoint for a season. I’d rather miss them, than to have never known them or been in community with them. And every church also experiences people who leave to connect to another local church. While there is pain in the departure of people (no matter the circumstances), my overwhelming feeling in looking at pictures was that of gratitude. I’m thankful for the believers who, while they called Crosspoint home, engaged in serving, leading, giving, growing, loving and life in the local church. I pray that their season at Crosspoint was full of evidences of His faithfulness and work, and that they are continuing to engage in life in His family, wherever the Lord has them.
I am grateful the Lord has called believers to live as brothers and sisters with one another.
Romans 12 tells us that as members of God’s family, we’ll rejoice with one another, and we’ll mourn with one another. Life in the church is not either/or, but both/and. After 15 years, we’ve done both. We’ve grieved the passing of loved ones we dearly miss. We’ve rejoiced at the births, adoptions, and weddings. We’ve mourned the effects of sin in a person’s life and their unrepentant hearts. We celebrated at the hearts that repent and turn back toward the Lord and His goodness and grace. We’ve pressed into prayer in both the seasons of doubt, suffering and waiting, and in the seasons of victory and blessing.
The longer we go, the more I appreciate the New Testament picture of the church being a family. A family that has been brought together by the Son, and is cared for by the Father, and empowered by the Spirit. A family that loves one another, forgives one another, seeks unity with one another, bears one another’s burdens, spurs one another one, comforts one another, speaks truth to one another, confesses sin to one another, and on and on. I’m grateful for the Crosspoint family that our family gets to be a part of. Finally…
I am grateful that the Lord is not finished yet.
He has commissioned us to go and make disciples and that mission doesn’t change nor end this side of Heaven. There are people yet to be reached with the Good News. We all have family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and others in our lives that we are praying for and seeking to be an ambassador for Christ to. There are leaders to be raised up, missionaries to be sent out, churches to be planted, and a next generation that needs to be reached and prepared. There are marriages that need restored and strengthened, believers who need to be equipped, and brothers and sisters who need encouraged, comforted, and taught.
And what we know from looking backward, not just at 15 years at Crosspoint, but more importantly at the whole of Scripture. What we know is that the Lord has been, is presently, and will be faithful to His people. To generation after generation.
May we be found faithful as we follow Him! And may our worship of Him only grow as we reflect on His faithfulness.