Before and after stories can be very inspiring. Above, you see the before and after pictures from RiverStone Christian Church, which launched on Sunday in Oregon, IL. The picture on the left was a part of a virtual prayer walk on Ignite’s website. We put the prayer walk up to encourage people to pray that God would fill up the auditorium of the church with new people on March 20. As you can see from the picture on the right, God answered these prayers!! (There were 132 people in attendance on the opening day, the auditorium was filled.)
Darla and I (along with the rest of Ignite’s staff) attended the grand opening. What a great day it was! Newcomers were welcomed by friendly people, there was anticipation in the air that could be felt and the sound of many voices talking filled the church before the service began. I walked several people down to where the children were taught (RiverKids) and greeted others as they came through the doors. The music was good, the message (featuring the Prodigal Son) hit the mark and we remembered the sacrifice of Jesus during a time of communion. I especially appreciated watching people on the way out of the service as first time attenders expressed gratitude for a new church in town and told me they would return.
There is something special about the birth of a church! I have been privileged to be a part of almost 30 new churches in the past 15 years and I can honestly say that this feeling never grows old. I know that this church will bring Jesus to Oregon and Ogle County. I know that lives will be changed because this church was started. I know that this church will have a positive impact on the town and region as it pours out light and living water.
I am thankful for a church (First Christian in Oregon) who decided it was time to leave a legacy for those who were unreached in the area. (The church being filled with people brought tears to the eyes of several from the old church.) I am thankful for Craig and Sarah Arnold who came to Oregon to plant RiverStone. I am thankful to be a part of an organization that is willing to step outside where we normally go to start something new that will bring Jesus to people.
What a wonderful day Sunday was! Like Craig told his launch team last week, “Sunday is not the finish line of the race, the race officially starts on Sunday.” I am praying that RiverStone runs the course ahead with strength, vigor and perseverance.