Eastside Church Story
In Nehemiah 6:3, Nehemiah is recording as saying the following over and over, “I am carrying on a great work and I cannot come down.”
It’s his response to those who were trying to stop him from rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. It was his great work.
In early 2008, I was listening to a podcast and a pastor was preaching on this text and challenged the listeners/church to consider the question, “what is our great work? What is it that we can not stop for any reason?”
I was convicted and began a time of prayer for several months, what is my great work? What has God called me to do?
Several months later I was meeting with my supervising pastor on a Tuesday morning and somehow church planting came into our conversation, to make a long story short, that Friday afternoon, I found myself in my office, on my knees in tears praying, opening and committing myself to the clear vision that God had placed on my heart.
The initial process and discernment was slow. Natalie and I spent time praying, talking and beginning to read, think and imagine was all that happened. Since that time everything I read, hear and experience seems to further clarify the vision God has placed on our hearts. We began meeting new folks outside the church in our regular routines who were searching for a church, disenfranchised with the church or non-believers.
So after a year of prayer, ideas and discernment with the blessing of my former congregation’s leadership team, in March 2009 we visited a church in FL seeking a clear sign. After a wonderful and what seemed overwhelming time, God blessed and honored our request with a clear Yes; I want you to move forward with church planting.
We came back excited and energized and the questions changed from if, to how? I continued to meet frequently with my former supervising pastor to ask questions. After a time of discernment, it seemed best to all of us that we pursued this vision on our own. Their openness and honesty throughout the entire process was a huge blessing to me!
We then came to the how stage of the journey. We placed our dreaming on hold for several months leading up to our churches national convention to focus on our roles there. In July we found ourselves wondering how we would begin. I considered applying for a job elsewhere, my college degree is in education, but had I even been able to get a job, I would have begun on August 12th and stepped down abruptly from our youth. So after prayer and discernment we decided Natalie would apply for the one teaching job left in our county’s school system. We place a huge fleece solely in God’s hands. On Saturday July 18th Natalie applied for the last job in the county, on Wednesday she was called for an interview, on Thursday she was offered the job and on Friday she signed some papers in the morning and we left for vacation! God not only gave us a sign, but incredible clarity.
On August 12, 2009 I began my new role as full-time childcare provider for our kids, half-time youth pastor and the beginning stages of a church planter.
It has been a whirlwind ever since. Our vision is for the east side of Harrisonburg which continues to grow with homes, businesses and new schools.
Our vision has 4 parts:
- We will be radically Christ Centered in our theology, preaching and teaching.
- We will be service oriented, just as God told his people before exile to seek the welfare of the city, we too, will challenge all to discover their call and serve Harrisonburg.
- We will be mission minded. I believe that when you preach Christ on Sunday and live that way Monday through Saturday, people will be attracted and at that point all members, not just the pastors will share the good news of Christ boldly.
- As we serve Harrisonburg we will strive to reflect the cultural make up of our city.