A Church for Matt
Every now and then God reminds me of the importance of church planting. Matt D. walked into our church in 2007, with hair in a pony tail, cutoff blue jean shorts, not a few tattoos, and a lot of baggage from his fair share of reckless living and sin’s consequences. I watched as God worked in Matt’s life and remember well the afternoon that he shared with me that he knew he needed God and that he wanted to make Christ the boss of his life. A few weeks later he was baptized in a similar pair of cutoff blue jean shorts, demonstrating to the world his new life in Christ. What we didn’t know at that time, was that cancer cells were slowly taking over Matt’s body and would lead to illness and death just six months later.
Rewind back six months – How would your church respond this Sunday if a guy like Matt walked in?
This question is one I will think about every week now for a couple of reasons:
First, as the “founding pastor” of Hope Church, I’m one of the few that remember our church not existing and recognize the huge gap that is now filled because of the sacrifices that we have made over the last six years to start a church that has gone from a living room to a fire station to a hardware store to a restaurant/bar/truck stop, where God intersected Matt with a body of believers that believed he could be changed through Christ.
Second, the moment I got word that Matt had passed away I was overwhelmed by the thought that God’s grace had rescued him from sin just in the nick of time and Hope Church was His instrument of grace in Matt’s life. What if we had not been here? What if we would have chided Matt for his appearance and drove him away? God may have used other means to secure Matt’s place in the kingdom, but I’m thankful that our obedience in the face of the uncertainty, the humiliation, the sweat, the tears, the sacrifices that come with church planting got us caught up in God’s great drama of reconciling Matt to himself (2 Corinthians 5:19-21).
Father, I pray that this happens over and over again at Hope Church. I pray that our churches can drop personal preferences, prejudices, pride or whatever and find ourselves caught up in your work in our world. I pray for more wild spirits that will take the risks and the pain to start churches that will be your instruments of grace in the lives of all kinds of people. I thank You that I’ll be able to see Matt again and with joy retell this story of Your amazing grace that rescued him.