Whoa. This last Sunday Oak Life Church “sprouted”. That’s what we’re calling it because we’ve been playing with the language and imagery of an oak tree that starts small, but over time grows deeper and deeper roots and wider and wider branches.
This has been an incredible journey for me personally. In fact, incredible is an understatement. If I’m honest, there aren’t any words I can use to sum up this adventure. Sunday was the culmination of 4+ years of dreaming, talking, listening, praying, planning, working, not-sleeping, stressing and surrendering.
God has met me and us every step of the way.
The path that got us here is something I couldn’t have orchestrated or thought of myself. So much of what is going on is outside of my control- from our name, to our values, to the people who are a part of our community that 14 months ago I didn’t know existed- some of whom have moved here to be a part of this, to our venue, to the people leading in different ways, to the multiple churches who for some reason trusted me to lead a church plant effort- so much has happened- so much to be thankful for and in mays ways so much stuff that it’s hard for me to even comprehend.
God has opened up doors and started friendships here in Oakland. He has allowed us to be in some small way a part of what He is doing here. I don’t understand it and I’m certainly not worthy of it, but something is happening.
Father, help me get out of your way. Make us more and more yours. Help me be found faithful to all that you’ve entrusted into our care.
Statistically, church plants are really hard to pull off and a majority end up stopping within 5 years. So far, we’re incredibly blessed with so much support we don’t deserve- and all of the factors that would reveal our trajectory as a church plant community are looking really, really positive.
Northland Village Church in LA has been an incredible community of friendship for us. Nick Warnes in particular has been a tremendous encouragement and friend to me, even though he’s a tigers fan. They’ve helped us get grants, prayed for us probably more than we’ve been praying for ourselves, and committed themselves to being in this with us. I’m so grateful for our time at NVC and hope Oak Life can be like them in many ways.
CrossWinds Church in Dublin has been ridiculously good to us. They’ve put me on staff, offering me the resources to dedicate my time to getting this church started. They’ve offered us people who might come from CrossWinds to be a part of Oak Life, something that churches don’t normally do. Chris Coli has been a mentor, support, and encouragement to me as a young pastor. He’s already stood by me in some tough situations. I’m not sure why CrossWinds bought into us as much as they did, but if it wasn’t for their support Oak Life would not exist.
Alie has been such a good friend and wife to me in this. I’m sure I’ve been at many times pre-occupied with Oak Life, but she’s extended so much grace to me that I get emotional thinking about it. All the while, she’s been faithful to her own ministry calling as a nurse, a vocation that is especially important, beautiful, exhausting, dirty, and needed.
I’m not sure how this all happened. Looking back on this season, I can trace all the steps that got us here, but I still find myself rubbing my eyes in disbelief. A church has been and is forming- we actually launched a church. People are getting connected to community and to God. It’s kind of crazy.
God- this is yours. Let us be a people of your love, grace, and transformation.
To be really honest, I’m both filled with excitement and fear. I’m excited for us to grow. For lives to be changed. For God to move. But I’m also scared. I’m scared to let people down. I’m scared that I’m inadequate to lead a church. I’m scared that my own sin will harm the health of our community. I feel Paul when he writes that in his weakness, Christ is strong.
Lord, I am weak. I don’t know how to lead a church. I’m young. I’m sinful. I’m so in need of your grace. Lord, make me yours. That you’re glory and love would burst through me and us. That people would encounter your love that loves us without conditions. The love of Christ on the cross, that bleeds and endures all for us. The love of the empty tomb that overcomes all the shit of this world and our hearts. Father, be who you are. We surrender. I surrender. Your will, your kingdom, your resurrection, your mercy, your hope, your grace, your love.