I sat on the stage in the empty sanctuary. It was late at night. I remembered the first conversation I had—a decade or so ago—inviting a man to be the first person to join the launch team for a church without a name. He politely declined. I remembered the first life group where a dozen strangers quickly become family. I remember our first worship experience during a rainstorm at Russell Middle School.
I was filled with gratitude for the people who have made The Water’s Edge what it is today. For the middle school teacher who has invited dozens of people over the years. For the high school girl who gives a tenth of her part-time income to fund our ministry. For the family who gave a hundred thousand dollars to our building fund. For every volunteer who has ever held a crying baby, served a donut, tore-down our stage, welcomed a guest, traveled to Uganda, mentored a student, delivered a meal, led a small group, and swept a dusty floor. For everybody who has prayed. For the people who have worn our yellow t-shirt and loved our city.
Then I thought about March 18th. The first day this big, empty room will be full of people. Some will be people who were at Russell Middle School ten years ago. Some will be people who are curious what a new church looks like—there aren’t too many of them these days. Some will have seen a sign or read an Instagram post or received a post card and are at least partly interested in giving church another try.
I prayed in the silent room. It was a simple prayer because simple was all I had. That the steel building with a functional layout and a quirky finish on 25 acres of farmland would become a holy, sacred place where God does absolutely amazing things. That strangers and hurting people and people new to the area and new parents and people going through transition in life and people trying to get past their past and people looking for meaning and people looking for a place to belong will walk through our really big doors and be welcomed by the church and embraced by God.
Jesus says in a few different places the Kingdom of God is like a party. He not only makes it perfectly clear that his standards for the guest list are as low as low gets—he lets us know that we, every last one of us, are the reason for the party.
I prayed once more before I got up from the polished concrete floor that the reflection visible at The Water’s Edge will be the Kingdom of God. A big party where anybody is welcome and anybody means everybody. A party where God does what only God can do and people respond with actions of compassion, generosity, forgiveness, and faith.
So welcome to the party! You make it bigger and you make it better.