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We Love Our Church So Why Are We Leaving?

Church is not a Building

“This is our time on the history line of God. This is it. What will we do with the one deep exhale of God on this earth? For we are but a vapor and we have to make it count. We’re on. Direct us, Lord, and get us on our feet.” –Beth Moore

 

Our time with Summit seems too important, too intertwined with our lives, to settle for a simple goodbye.

Summit Church Upstate in Greenville SC has been our church home for almost seven years. From the get-go, Jason and Kyle welcomed us warmly, loved us deeply, and challenged us through biblical teaching. We developed friendships that will not be deterred by a change in address because the Church isn’t defined by brick and mortar. We are the Church and wherever we go, we take with us their love and influence.

Stop to consider the reasons why you love your church. Write them down. It's good for the soul. Click To Tweet

 

 

Let’s see if some of your reasons resonate with mine.

 

An Inclusive Mindset

 

During our services, we prayed for churches across the world but we also prayed for those across the street. In fact, the teaching team at Summit never shied away from building up other churches in our area because they recognized⏤and reminded us⏤that we’re on the same team. We’re not competition. This is a foreign concept in some churches today, many of which are dying.

 

Teaching Team

 

When we first began visiting Summit, we sat under Jason Malone and Kyle Estepp’s teaching. Jason’s well-timed zingers made us laugh one minute and be contemplative the next while Kyle’s tender delivery of the Word melted the hardest of hearts. A few years ago we helped a new Summit campus get started. We discovered more lasting friendships and another engaging and solid pastor, Nathan Forrest. We miss them so much!

 

Behind-the-Scenes

 

I was delighted and honored to serve on the staff communications team for almost two years. What I saw behind-the-scenes was exactly what we all saw on Sunday mornings and every day in between. Not perfection, nor the desire to be, but rather, authentic Christ-followers with a robust faith who desire to share the gospel with every man, woman, and child.

 

People Family

 

There’s not enough space to share the many reasons why I love our church family. Deep relationships deepened and new friendships were forged. We enjoyed serving alongside them in the music and hospitality ministries. And in a very real way, we still will, wherever we land.

 

I hope it’s obvious as to how much we love Summit Upstate. So why are we leaving?

 

Well, we moved almost an hour away from our home campus and while there is another campus closer to us, it’s still thirty minutes away. In the big scheme of things I suppose that’s not terribly far but after months of prayer, we sense the need and desire to serve our little community at the foot of Glassy Mountain. If there’s a need, we’ll be close enough to deliver a meal before it gets cold and who knows? We might actually bump into someone we go to church with at the only grocery store within 20 minutes or the best restaurant around, The Hungry Drover (and I don’t say that just because they carry my books!) *wink*

 

Leaving a church is never easy, especially one you love, but we have Summit’s blessings (which came as no surprise) and we look forward to seeing where God will lead us.

“We’re on. Direct us, Lord, and get us on our feet.” –Beth Moore

 

What’s one thing you most love about your church? It matters!

 

Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Partnering, Not Competing

 by Cathy Baker

{ Day 14   }

Would you consider yourself a competitive person? See if any of these five signs show up on your radar, compliments of Story Pick:

1. You get super crazy when you’re about to lose a game. 
2. When you are on the treadmill at the gym you have to go faster than the person next to you. 
3. When you lose, you take it personal. 
4. You fake congratulate your opponent (if he/she beats you.)
5. Your competition doesn’t have an age…kids to the elderly, bring ’em on!

Who needs “Team Gwen” shirts? (The Voice)

It’s fun watching our children compete in sports and competition certainly offers many life lessons hard knocks along the way. Sometimes, though, this competitive spirit can trickle into our churches. If names were stitched on the back of jerseys, some might read:

Dunker 
Sprinkler
Confessor or
Shouter, just to name a few. 

A competitive spirit can even occur in churches who are very similar. 

It’s for this reason (and many more) that I’m grateful to be part of a church that believes in partnering rather than competing. A few tangible ways this philosophy is fleshed out at Summit Upstate:

  • Our pastors/elders often pray for other churches within our community on Sunday mornings.
  • Summit blesses other nearby churches financially on a regular basis. 
  • We are encouraged to pray for the churches passed on our way to Summit on Sunday mornings.

As one of our lead pastors, Jason Malone, points out: one local church won’t reach a city.

Personally, I’m also trying to become more intentional about lifting up Gospel-driven churches if they’re criticized in my presence. I can’t say that’s something I’ve always done, unfortunately, but now I try to find what a church is doing right, knowing they will reach people our church never will, and vice versa. We’re all on the same team!

Staying in Step with the Spirit: Some of us are hands, some are feet—but we’re all one Body in Christ Jesus. When we move as the Body was designed to, we can’t help but stay in step with the Holy Spirit, bringing much glory to God. 

Heavenly Father, may our churches stand firm in truth with our fingers wide open, releasing any spirit of competitiveness in order that we might embrace the blessing of partnership instead. None of us, Lord. All of You. 

#Write31Days past posts:

{ Day 1 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Our Senses
{ Day 2 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Less Clutter 
{ Day 3 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Healthy Relationships 
{ Day 4 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via God’s Creation
{ Sunday }
{ Day 6 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Specific Prayer 
{ Day 7 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs
{ Day 8 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via A Soul Search (with guest Ginger Harrington)
{ Day 9 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Vulnerability 
{ Day 10 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via God’s Creation, Wk. 2
{ Day 11 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via A Moonlit Sunroof
{ Sunday }
{ Day 13 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via A Wild Goose Chase

When A Pinch Spells Love

Mr. Rice was a close friend of my grandparents and the local elementary school principal way back when. He’d often stop by their home for a quick visit, to the delight of my grandparents. My reaction as a seven year-old, however, was quite different. I’d make a run for the bathroom, lock the door, and sit on the edge of my grandparent’s pink tub until I heard his old pick-up crank. He was as nice as they come, but he had a habit of pinching my cheeks so hard they’d leave marks on my face for minutes. His pinches spelled P. A. I. N. and I wanted no part of them. 

Yesterday morning, I turned the radio off, peeled back the roof and talked with the Lord on my way to church. At one point, when asking for forgiveness, the word “lazy” spilled from my lips. It caught me off guard. So much so that I proceeded to say “Well, I don’t know if that’s the right word or not, Lord. I hope it’s not.” 

Fast forward about an hour. 

Our pastor, Jason, was speaking PREACHIN’ on discipleship. It was the best sermon I’ve ever heard on the subject and we’re only in our first week of the series! At one point, when sharing why some lack the transformation desired in their lives, he asked Could it be that you’re simply lazy? (I can’t quote it verbatim because I was too busy thanking the Holy Spirit for making it perfectly clear that I HAVE been lazy in certain areas of my walk with the Lord.) It’s not something I wanted confirmed, but I desperately needed a pinch of clarity and conviction. 

Like Mr. Rice, the Holy Spirit’s pinches can unleash a sharp pain. Not physically, but spiritually. His pinch, however, always spells L.O.V.E.—even when it hurts—for His pinches also leave a mark. An indelible mark. The mark of Christ. 

For the Lord disciplines the one he loves…
Hebrews 12:6
The gospel is not opposed to effort [spiritual disciplines, serving, etc.] but it is opposed to earning
-From today’s sermon

Will You Finish Well?

Finishing well was yesterday’s topic during Jason’s sermon (which you’ll want to listen to here when posted mid-week.) Later that afternoon at lifegroup, we were asked to share the name of someone we know who finished well. Almost everyone in the room mentioned a grandparent. It was a vivid reminder to those of us who are grandparents (and those who will be in the future) of how important it is to finish our walk well—strong—to the glory of God. 

Our decisions today have the potential to impact not only our children, but our grandchildren, and generations to come. Some we will never know. 

I thank God for the grandparents He gave me. Each of them finished well and their example spurs me on to do the same.  

To God be the glory.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, 
I have kept the faith. 
2 Timothy 4:7

Who comes to mind when you think of someone who finished well? 

 


DAY 15: SUNRISE

God’s wonder meets all humanity at dawn, but we often sleep through it unaware. This morning set your alarm to awake before sunrise. You can check online to find out what time the sun will poke its head above the horizon where you live. Before you nod off to sleep, ask God to reveal himself to you in a meaningful way in the morning. As you awake and watch, pay attention to the first shafts of light. Observe the softness of dawn, the hues of the sun’s first rays, the illumination and beauty all around you. Lamentations 3:22-23 says the Sunrise Maker’s loving-kindness “is new every morning.” 

Spend some time reflecting on how God has displayed this truth not just in the sunrise but throughout your life. Let the wonder of God’s creation break through your soul like the morning’s first rays. And don’t forget to thank God for meeting you this morning. 

-Margaret Feinburg, Wonderstruck

True Marks of A Disciple

Sunday Snippets from Mark 8 
  • Our discipleship in Jesus Christ is essential to others coming to know Jesus. 
  • There is nothing passive about being a disciple of Jesus. 
  • Discipleship isn’t about taking a class. The cost of following Jesus: Your life. The reward of following Jesus: True life. 

Verses 34-38, Jesus says:

Deny yourself. Do we believe our issues are more important than others? Do we deny ourselves anything for the glory of God or do we bow to the god of self-centeredness?

Take up your cross. Jesus asks Are you willing to say you’re with Me? It’s in My death that you’ll find true life. 

Follow Me. Keep following me…daily. If you want to follow Me, your life will be about investing in the lives of others. Is the beauty of what God has done for you in Jesus leading you to lead a life less self-centered? 

The above snippets come nowhere close to doing Jason Malone’s sermon justice but is there one particular snippet that resonates with you this Monday morning? 

To listen to Sunday’s sermon (3/10) in its entirety, please visit Summit online.

 

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