What Does a Church’s Birthday Look Like?

In June of 2021, my husband, an Anglican priest, and I left a church where we had served for decades to answer the call to plant a church. Stepping out and into a new season felt like jumping onto a fast-moving train, not knowing the destination. We were leaving behind close friends and a supportive team with no idea where we were going.

The first stop on our brand-new journey was Katy, Texas, just over an hour from our home in Conroe. The Gathering (a church that will soon meet in Richmond) welcomed us with open arms, and we spent ten months there learning so much. The Lord blessed us there with time spent with my niece and nephew and their sweet families. My husband and I racked up many hours on the road praying, listening to podcasts, and talking during our 4-5 hour commute each week for services and small group meetings.

In God’s fantastic way, He surprised us one Sunday afternoon as we went to deliver a meal to a family who had just welcomed their third child. This sweet minister’s wife welcomed my husband and me into her home, and we sat and visited for a few minutes while the newborn slept, and her older kiddos watched a video in another room. Tucked into this conversation, we found a massive surprise. She and her husband had also been discerning a call to church planting. So not only were they praying about church planting, they both felt a clear call to Conroe and planned to move there soon.

We sensed a call to plant a church in Conroe ten years earlier. However, after receiving the initial message, the Lord closed that door and moved us into a different season of ministry in a neighboring area. It was a dream we had both released and almost forgotten about until that Sunday afternoon.

One week later, we sat in a restaurant and began to dream together about planting a church with this family in Conroe. Not only did we share a passion for planting, but we also shared a passion for Mexican food. Clearly, this is a vital sign of the ability to work together well! As we looked at a map of the area, we discovered we shared a passion for the same part of town.

Sometimes the Holy Spirit moves into a place or a situation, and suddenly everything changes. On the first Pentecost Sunday, the disciples must have also felt the shift from uncertainty and doubt to clarity and purpose. A fresh wave of the Holy Spirit gave them the ability to communicate the Gospel in new ways to build up those early church plants. The shared experience bonded them.

Years from now, we will say the same about our church planting adventure because it began with a divinely orchestrated visit with a fellow minister’s family. One Holy Spirit-inspired conversation led to a cascade of God’s provision even to this day. Some people call Pentecost the church’s birthday because that event led to the birth of so many churches all around the world. It is very exciting to witness this church’s birthday from a front-row seat.

Our fledgling church in Conroe has been meeting now as house churches for months, and we are looking to begin hosting preview services very soon. We now have an official name, All Saints Anglican. We even have a ministry partner, Compassion United, providing us with a Sunday morning meeting space. Only God could have done all this! Psalm 68 provides a great way to thank the Lord for all He is doing in this season. (We examined the first half of this Psalm last week on the blog.) https://antheakotlan.com/2022/06/01/what-happened-on-pentecost/

19 Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation.  Selah 
20 Our God is a God of salvation, and to God, the Lord, belong deliverances from death. 
21 But God will strike the heads of his enemies, the hairy crown of him who walks in his guilty ways. 
22 The Lord said, "I will bring them back from Bashan, I will bring them back from the depths of the sea, 
23 that you may strike your feet in their blood, that the tongues of your dogs may have their portion from the foe." 
24 Your procession is seen, O God, the procession of my God, my King, into the sanctuary—  
25 the singers in front, the musicians last, between them virgins playing tambourines: 
26 "Bless God in the great congregation, the Lord, O you who are of Israel's fountain!" 
27 There is Benjamin, the least of them, in the lead, the princes of Judah in their throng, the princes of Zebulun, the princes of Naphtali.  
(Psalm 68:19-27 ESV)

Verses 19, 20, 21, and 22 speak of God as the one who rescues and saves. He is also an advocate who will defend his people from their enemies. Finally, verses 25 and 26 underline the need to come together, share testimonies of God’s actions, and sing praises. God designed us for corporate worship, and we gain strength from being together in His presence. This truth spurs us on in our church planting journey.

From time to time, I miss out on attending in-person church services. These verses serve as a great reminder to me to prioritize gathering with fellow believers. Being able to participate in church online for medical reasons is one thing, but settling into the pattern of passive participation might cause me to miss out on being part of the body of Christ.  

28 Summon your power, O God, the power, O God, by which you have worked for us. 
29 Because of your temple at Jerusalem kings shall bear gifts to you. 
30 Rebuke the beasts that dwell among the reeds, the herd of bulls with the calves of the peoples. Trample underfoot those who lust after tribute; scatter the peoples who delight in war. 
31 Nobles shall come from Egypt; Cush shall hasten to stretch out her hands to God. 
32 O kingdoms of the Earth, sing to God; sing praises to the Lord, Selah 
33 to him who rides in the heavens, the ancient heavens; behold, he sends out his voice, his mighty voice. 
34 Ascribe power to God, whose majesty is over Israel, and whose power is in the skies. 
35 Awesome is God from his sanctuary; the God of Israel—he is the one who gives power and strength to his people. 
Blessed be God! 
(Psalm 68:28-35 ESV)

Verses 31 and 32 prophesy about the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit reversed the Tower of Babel curse. Hearing the Gospel in each person’s mother tongue initiates a praise response. The final three verses of the Psalm continue the theme of praise. God’s power is acknowledged, as is the power He shares to give strength to His people.  

When the Holy Spirit fills God’s people, resurrection power flows forth. Vibrant growth and supernatural strength follow. Hopelessness and desperation depart as abundance flows forth. Holy Spirit continues His work even to this very day, and we have seen so much evidence of that in our church planting journey.

Prayer

Thank you, God, for Your supernatural power revealed at Pentecost and how you send fresh waves of the Holy Spirit to transform us every day. We long to be in step with Your Spirit.   Thank you for all you are doing to provide for our church plant. Guide All Saints Conroe to continue to seek You, Lord. Give us eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to draw near the Holy Spirit’s movements. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

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