When Vision Meets Reality
In 2009, my friend and co-laborer in the Gospel, Scott, and I met together to begin planning the launch of Stone's Throw Church. There were many difficult issues to work out. We began meeting with a core group of people who wanted to help launch this new church in Middletown. Our wives, prayed with us and supported us in this mission. Soon, Pat and Stu, men who would become some of our first Ruling Elders, were on board to help us launch this church. So many gave up so much to help Stone's Throw Church launch. Many are still with us and others have gone on to other ministry or other areas in the world. Tonight, I saw what happens when vision becomes reality. 

One of our driving forces in our vision was to begin a church that relied heavily on small groups of people doing life and mission together - Community Groups. We knew that our weekly worship gathering would be of utmost importance and that real relationships among brothers and sisters in Christ was equally important. It was our hope and dream that our Sunday gatherings would be an outpouring of what God was doing in the Community Group and that our Community Groups would be set fire with the Word of God because of the Sunday gathering. We desired that there would be a strong bond and connection between our worship gathering and small group scattering. 

Since the very beginning, Scott has spent countless hours training men to lead groups in Gospel based mission as they do life together. We have not, and will not give up on this vision. These men and women have given up their homes on a weekly basis, given up hours to counsel and love, and sacrificed much because they believe Gospel-based relationships are crucial to doing life well. Though we do it imperfectly, our church cares for one another, we do what we can to meet needs, and we break each other's legs when we need to in order to keep one another from sinning or losing faith. Community is one of our core values at this church. 

Another driving force in our vision was that we wanted to be a stone's throw away from the community in which we were planting just as Jesus was a stone's throw away from his disciples the night before he went to the Cross (as Luke shares with us in detail in his gospel account). We always had the idea of purchasing land and building a church building that would be in the middle of where each of us is doing life - a town church if you will. 

Since 2009, the men on our current day Building Team have labored in obedience to God to see this part of the vision through. They have led boldly with strength and courage through good times and bad times. Paul, Jake, Kevin and Pat have given up much in order to help lead this church into the next phase of Gospel mission and legacy. 

There were other driving forces of equal importance as we planted this church, but tonight, I was given the blessing to see what happens when a vision meets reality. Our Building Team met with the various Community Groups of our church and we shared our hearts with them as they shared their hearts with us. These meetings became less about the details of a project and more about encouragement and a retelling of various stories of grace of how good our God is. 

As the Lead Pastor of Stone's Throw Church I have had many moments where my heart was overflowing with great joy - tonight was one of those nights. As I was watching and listening I realized that I was seeing what we envisioned so long ago right before my eyes. God is getting it done. He is building, by His Spirit and Word, a community that is compelled by the Gospel to build the Kingdom of Christ. There are lifelong friendships. New marriages. Babies everywhere, Single people who are doing great things for Jesus. The older have led the younger well. There are just too many blessings to list and yet I think we should try. 

Tonight, I will go before God and just give Him thanks. God, thank you for the Gospel-community you are building in this church. Thank you for giving us the land and bringing us to this point. Thank you for being faithful. Thank you for the Community Group leaders and teachers, the hosts, and the brothers and sisters who have committed to love one another well because they have been loved with an everlasting love. Give us the strength and courage to be obedient to your call as we move forward. Amen. 
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