So I thought I'd end with three posts, but here's another good one I needed to share.
Last Thursday night, I went to an open house for Trinity Family Midtown. The open house was a chance for this missional community to share about their new initiatives and to share testimonies of people who have come to Christ through this ministry. It was an incredible evening. While listening to one of the stories, I had a tear or two come to my eye, thinking about how just over 7 years ago, we started TFC in order to reach people far from the church and God. While a ministry to reach the LGBT community centered in midtown KC wasn't on my radar in 2004, a single-minded focus to do whatever it takes to reach people turned off to God and the church was certainly in the forefront of my mind. So while TFC is no longer in Gardner and I'm no longer the pastor, the church is still reaching people for Christ. And they're doing it in a way that almost no other church in the denomination is doing.
My old DS, Jeren Rowell was at the open house and I got to enjoy the moment with him. I told him of a story I'd just heard the day before about a Nazarene pastor who tried to start a similar ministry in the urban center of a city but because he couldn't make it fit into the Nazarene box that his DS wanted, he was forced to start it as a non-denominational church. After that decision, the DS stripped him of his credentials (the pastor regained them through the Methodist Church) and the church began to do great things and reach people for Jesus. I thanked Jeren for having a Kingdom vision that is much broader than just a single denomination and being the type of leader who supports new and unique ministries.
I also told Jeren that TFC Midtown is set up the way I was trying to move TFC Gardner toward, but just wasn't able to do so. The church is lead by several volunteer pastors, is very low on programming and very high on community and is finding new ways to serve the poor of the surrounding area. While I'm really proud that TFC became what I was hoping it would be, I feel a bit disappointed that I wasn't the one able to take it there. But as Jeren said, "that's just the way it goes sometimes."
Finally, I kept giving props to Brian Hupe that entire evening. Brian, Sara Armstrong and Bill Melvold (TFC Gardner's last church board) all deserve some serious recognition for having the boldness and foresight to vote to start the Midtown campus. It was a bold move because 1) TFC Gardner was losing people fairly quickly and 2) It was a unique ministry that no other church was doing. It was so unique that we had some people leave TFC because they couldn't reconcile a ministry that reached the LGBT community through love and compassion and not judgment and condemnation. I honestly believe that the leadership decisions of that church board will continue to have a Kingdom impact in ways that won't be fully known in this life.
And the legacy continues...