It's been several years since the church plant in South Philly began, so we caught up with Jeff, the Lead Pastor, to hear about how God has been at work in Christ Church.
How long has it been since Christ Church's first Sunday together? We were sent out from Sovereign Grace Church in Marlton on March 2, 2014. We met as a church plant team in a home for about a year and then had our first public service on March 22, 2015.
How has Christ Church been received by the community in South Philly? I think a comment I recently received from our neighborhood civic association President sums it up best. When he found out that we were about to celebrate our two year anniversary, he said, "You've only been here for two years? It feels way longer than that! But in a really good way!" The reception we have had from the community can only be explained as a supernatural act of God. We've been asked to start a Bible study in
the local public high school, I was asked to serve on the neighborhood board, we have had a couple write-ups in our neighborhood's blog and town paper, and I've been given multiple opportunities to talk about our church at neighborhood gatherings. Through our efforts to simply be good neighbors by building relationships with those on our blocks, serving to make our neighborhood a better place and being present at every major gathering, God has poured out incredible opportunities. We are really excited to see how He is going to continue to reap a harvest from the many seeds that He is letting us sow.
What is something encouraging that has happened recently at Christ Church? It is hard to pick just one! There are just so many miracles that we see taking place on a regular basis. However, none get me more excited than seeing someone go from spiritual death to life. Most recently, I am watching this transformation take place in the life of Jun. Jun came to Philadelphia from China so that he could get his master's degree in social work. Before coming here, he had never heard the gospel or even met a Christian before. God knows who Jun is though and so He had Jun take an internship at a non-profit and work directly with a member of Christ Church. Through that relationship Jun started coming out to Christ Church and has been faithfully attending for the past 5 months. We have started to get together regularly to discuss his many questions about Christianity. This past week he shared with me a very profound dream that he recently had where he felt that God was teaching him what love really means. I was able to help him interpret that dream through the truth of scripture and ended our time praying for Jun to be able to surrender his life to Christ.
What are some ways that God has been working in your heart through leading Christ Church? God has been teaching me a lot about the importance of just being faithful and trusting Him with the results.
In a small church it can be very tempting to be focused on the number of people that we are getting to our Sunday services (you know exactly who is there and who is not) and our finances (every dollar really counts). However, Jesus never cared about those things. His ministry was based on pouring His life into specific people, caring for the marginalized and those that were very far from God. I don't want to be above my Lord, but follow His example and seek to build our church ministry upon meeting people, one person at a time, right where they are at. God is teaching me that as I am faithful to lead this church on that mission, He will take care of providing for our needs and bringing about growth.
How can we be praying for Christ Church? I just rolled out to our church five things that I want us to be praying about every week at our Sunday service. I'd love to have you join us in praying for these things!
1. Discipleship - New disciples made - Existing disciples matured - Mission of discipleship multiplied through churches being planted from us
2. Diversity - The more diverse we are the more we reflect the true unity that Christ brings and experience the beauty of His reconciling work which doesn't just make us right with God, but also with one another.
3. Defenseless - God’s heart is for justice that wrongs would be put to right - God’s heart is for mercy that compassion would be shown to those in need
4. Desperate - Jesus welcomed desperate sinners and met them where they were at. As the body of Christ we want to do this too.