Over a year ago, when Tony and I first went public with our decision to move from Seattle to Kenosha to help Pastor Dave Nelson start a church in his home town, a couple of our friends, Matt & Emily, asked if they could take us to dinner. It was great to see them and catch up, they asked a lot of questions about our decision. Then, the real reason they wanted to hang out came forward… They, too, were in the midst of deciding to move back to their home town, Lawrence, Kansas, to launch a new church. Tony and I were beyond thrilled!
While we were leaving in just a few short weeks, their plan was a little further out. In the book of Proverbs (19:2) it says, “It is not good to have zeal without knowledge nor to be hasty and miss the way.” It’s one of those verses I get stuck in my head when I’m trying to make a decision and I thought it was smart that their plan was a year out.
That year is up. EastLake Community Church in Lawrence, KS just had their very first service this past weekend on October 11th. EastLake Lawrence, just like Great Lakes, is a church plant from EastLake near Seattle with a focus on reaching people who don't like going to church. They play loud music and have short services and open their doors to anyone who wants to kick the tires of Christianity.
Tony and I had the privilege of making the trip to help and brought with us a team of 11 others as Great Lakes Church first mission trip! A couple of months ago, when the idea of the trip occurred to us, we knew we wanted to send a team of like minded people down to help out... remembering how hectic our first preview was, we knew that this was going to be a big moment for EastLake and that they could take all the help they could get. Our team was AWESOME! Most of us worked in the Kids areas, so those people never got to even see the service. I love the servant hearts of the people from Kenosha, and this team of people only reinforced that mindset. We helped as their new equipment came in Saturday night with a practice setup (which became the official Sunday morning setup) and had a semi-impromptu worship night. We were also able to take a little time to ourselves and just be with and share meals with each other... getting to know each other better in an "away from Sunday morning" way.
We had an incredible time being a part of what God is doing in yet another part of the country – launching a church whose goal is to reach people in Lawrence who have no interest in God or church, people who have been burned by past church experiences, people who struggle to be who God created them to be in the confines of traditional religion. It only reinforced for us why we moved to Wisconsin in the first place and refreshed our vision for this community.
All in all, it was a great weekend. About 130 were there for this first preview service, including kids and volunteers. That's a phenomenal start, and if the opportunity arises again to participate in helping a church launch, you can bet that Great Lakes will be there to help out.
Special thanks to the GLC team for taking time off of work, paying their own way there and back, working hard with big smiles, and being a constant blessing to their hosts and those they encountered in Lawrence:
Nate & Emily Fell
Devonee & Addyson Harshburger
Hoover, Mary, Andy, & Marky Mercado
Tyler & Mary Sweeney