I’m Going to Tell You the Story of a Church
I am going to tell you a story.
It’s a story about a church.
This church is a collection of individuals representing the myriad walks of life from the varied and diverse religious landscape that America has become. That’s important to note because we never set out to be a denomination or tribe with a particular affiliation.
In fact, our initial leadership team consisted of Presbyterians, Methodists, Episcopalians, Pentecostals, to name but a few. And, while we didn’t set out to affiliate with a distinct tribe, we did begin with an unmistakable thumbprint.
That thumbprint is Spiritual Formation.
Spiritual Formation and a Case for Contemplative Christianity
This beautiful congregation began with the hope of becoming a Contemplatively Christ-centered collection of believers. We started with a desire – deep within – to rediscover the soul of discipleship.
This desire stoked our sense that something was missing in modern-day discipleship and church practice. This desire birthed a vision.
A vision of God’s diverse and vastly different people coming together as a vibrant collection of Christ-followers. More than that, a vision of those who long to contemplatively seek and see His Kingdom in our midst.
We quickly realized that our vision was somewhat of an anomaly in the vast wasteland that has become the professionalized and performance-oriented modern-day church experience.
Resistance and Reliance
This vision was met – early on – by opposition from some and confusion from others. Melissa and I were often asked why we would leave a growing urban-area church – effectively reaching her community – to start a church with a vision that seemed to disregard the city completely.
We actually sensed (from some) that forming a Contemplatively Christ-centered church, with an emphasis on soul-care and spiritual formation, was unattractive and/or confusing.
Others considered it risky business for me, as someone who doesn’t fit the church planter’s profile, to attempt planting a church in the first place. And, when poised against the church’s focus on nickels, numbers, and noses, we too wondered if we’d ever make it past year one.
Truthfully, our metrics were different from the start.
Most churches are consumed with the vision for growing their numbers by being bigger, moving faster, doing more, and trying harder.
We began with the mirror-opposite vision.
Ours was and is (in some ways) a vision of staying smaller, moving slower, and doing less. This inverted vision fuels our desire to reach the languishing yet longing-for-more disciple. Those believers who are exhausted and overrun by church life and practice. Those disciples who are unable to muster the strength to help themselves, much less reach a world in need.
Churning, Churning, Churning
With these feelings churning in our guts, Melissa and I resigned from a beautiful and growing ministry in Apopka, Fl. We left in the fall of 2010. After shepherding our dear congregation through the Christmas season, we returned to Melissa’s hometown of Vero Beach, FL on December 29th of 2010.
We ministered in Vero in the late 90s. As such, we were hopeful that we’d find others like us. We longed to partner with a like-minded group of God’s people. People who had a feeling that something was amiss with modern-day discipleship practices. To draw from the Matrix, others who had “a splinter in their mind, driving them mad,” that something wasn’t quite right.
Thankfully, we discovered a few such folks who were ready for something new.
With a gathering of about twenty – three people, in the living room of one of our founding families, we launched Pillar Community Church on January 2, 2011.
An Adventurous Journey Within
The adventure we began then is an adventure that continues now, to this day.
It’s an adventure tethered to a vision stemming from a yearning to experience more of Christ in and among us. An adventure to find and form a community who share the hope of cultivating vibrant, life-giving, and well-cared-for souls. It’s a vision for rediscovering the adventurous joy of the journey within.
It’s a vision for nurturing the interior life of the disciple. We believe that as we cultivate the interior world, the exterior world will benefit from the Light and Life we discover deep within.
That’s why I call it a “Contemplatively Christ-Centered” focus on soul-care and spiritual formation.
It’s a story of a church.
It’s a story I am going to tell over the next few weeks, as we celebrate our seventh year in existence.
Disrupting to Renew!
I’d Love to Hear from You