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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!

 

The Link Between Creativity and Sabbath Rest



by Cathy Baker

Not so long ago I sensed the Holy Spirit gently reaching for the key to my ignition as I earnestly spun my creative wheels in the mud of my own making. Every extra moment was spent working on blog posts and other writing projects, especially on Sunday afternoons. After all, what’s more relaxing than stressing over content?

I don’t know about you, but one way I detect that God’s power has been kidnapped, if you will, by that of the fleshly sort is that I become exhausted—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Working hard is a good thing. Overdoing it for all the wrong reasons is not. 

Image by Pixabay // Hans

For me, it always comes back to the question of WHY I write, or do anything else, quite frankly. When I remember that my whole purpose in writing, teaching, speaking, creating, etc. is to bring God glory, a rest envelopes me much like the shade from a sprawling oak on a hot summer day.

 “God is more concerned about our integrity than our personal success.”
-Arleen Jennings, Created to Be Creative

If it’s been awhile since you’ve answered the question of WHY you are doing what you’re doing, perhaps today is that day. It has a way of cutting through all the excuses, the when-will-my-day-come questions and getting straight to the heart of the matter.

My refusing to rest, especially on a day God provides for exactly that, was a form of pride. Yes, it was a painful realization but I thank God for it. Now, I set aside Sunday afternoons for true rest (and yes, that includes a NASCAR race!) When I’m tempted to start the next blog post or project (which I do enjoy!) I recognize that God set the pattern for rest. He chose to rest one day of the week, who am I to do otherwise?

“You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by your will they exist and were created.” Revelation 4:11

Your turn. What’s one indicator that flesh has kidnapped the Spirit’s control in your life? 

❉ One of our teaching pastors, Kyle Estepp, recently talked on Sabbath Rest. It was by far the best sermon either Brian or myself have ever heard on the subject. If you would like to listen, visit Summit’s site here.

Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Specific Prayers

by Cathy Baker
{ Day 6 }

What specific things are we praying for these days?Whether last
minute cries for help, a laundry list of needs, or an unexplainable
groaning from within—God hears the prayers of His people. 
But add
specificity, and we’re given an opportunity to witness our God’s
awe-inspiring attention to detail in action. 
 
One
of those moments came for me this week while peering out our window,
curled up in my prayer chair. I was sharing with the Lord how I’d not
sensed His presence as much in recent weeks, even though I was confident
He was there—whether I felt it or not. Nevertheless, like any daughter
desiring to feel closer to her Father, I made a simple but heartfelt
request: “Pappa, I just want to know You’re near.”

Before
catching my next breath, a brief but blustery gust of wind swept
through the trees closest to my window pane—without disturbing another
tree in my yard.

 

To some, a ten-second gust of wind would simply appear as our season’s
signature. To me, however, it was a specific answer to prayer—a Father
reminding His daughter that through His Holy Spirit He is always a
breath away.
Staying in step with the Holy Spirit: Just as good communication promotes closer and richer relationships, the same is true in our relationship with God. A dialogue consists of a conversational exchange between two people. If you’re like me, you’re well versed in the asking part, but a little rusty when it comes to watching and listening for God’s answers. When we do, however, He is faithful to make Himself known to us for He is a personal God longing to converse with you and me. 

Heavenly Father, I thank You that Your presence in our life isn’t dependent upon whether we feel like You’re near or not. Today, as we seek to draw nearer to You through Your Holy Spirit, help us to pray specifically, trust fully, watch expectantly, and praise You quickly. 

What specific answers will you be watching and listening for this week? If you feel comfortable sharing in the comment section, I’d love to join you in that prayer. Otherwise, can you share how God has personally revealed Himself to you lately? 

Prayer is not monologue, but dialogue. Gods voice in response to mine is its most essential part. ~ Andrew Murray
(Last Sunday, one of our pastors at Summit Upstate, Kyle Estepp, mentioned the wind in relation to the Holy Spirit. It reminded me of the above post from 2011. Because it stays in step with our October series I decided to slightly tweak it and re-post.)
#Write31Days:

One of God’s Greatest Gifts: Repentance

 

Guess it goes without saying that our granddaughter is rarely in the background, and for good reason!

On those rare occasions, however, when she realizes we’re not tuned in to her every word it doesn’t take long for her attention-antenna to intercept with two words that snap me back into full attention mode: Meeee-me! Meeee-me! (i.e. Grammy)  

You would be hard-pressed to find words that so quickly melt this heart but I was reminded of another one during yesterday’s sermon on discipleship: repentance. Yes, it can be painful and heart wrenching but it is a powerful and magnificent gift made possible by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. 

As children of God, our attention antenna need never rise because His Word assures us that we never escape His notice. When we call out to our Father, He leans in to hear His children and stands ready to forgive and cleanse those who desire to turn away from their sin. It’s not about getting our act together or becoming more religious, for both come up empty—but it is about becoming humble and real on an ongoing basis before a living, loving, active, and holy God who desires His best for His children. 

“The mark of a true disciple is joyful and regular acceptance of 
God’s gracious gift of repentance.” -Kyle Estepp

(The
purpose of this blog is to share snippets of life and truth along the
way. To listen to our sermon series on discipleship and this week’s
sermon on repentance, please visit Summit’s site. It should be posted by Wednesday.)

For Everything There is A Season

Have I mentioned lately how much I love and appreciate Summit Church — the pastors, their families, the elders, life group leaders (Kevin and Carolyn), etc.? Brian and I are very blessed to be a part of this church family. One blessing we’ve discovered since joining Summit is one we never expected to find and that is the ability to “do life” again with friends from a former church — but that’s exactly what’s happened — and continues to happen!

This particular blessing kicked into high gear Sunday morning when Sue Johnson and her husband, Paul, visited Summit for the first time. I’d not seen them since we left our former church in 2008. It was a sweet reunion on many levels.

As the service began, I smiled as I noticed Sue sitting next to Susan B. and waving at Jared G. in the sound booth. Both Susan and Jared were also members of our former church and are now current members at Summit.

Watching everyone wave and exchange hugs after a four year separation immediately transported me back to the time when the four of us (Sue, Susan, Jared, and myself) served together on the design team, alongside the teaching and worship pastors. For years, we gathered weekly in Steve’s office to pray, “design”, and execute upcoming teaching series in creative and meaningful ways. It was the highlight of my week. 

So, yes, I smiled on the outside at the sight of my friends together again. On the inside, however, was a twinge of pain as I recalled “what used to be.” 

But before the twinge had the opportunity to become a full-fledged ache, God reminded me of how He is using those past experiences to benefit His purposes in and through my life today.

Sadness turned into gratitude.
And gratitude melted into praise. 

For everything there is a season.  

For everything there is a season, 
and a time for every matter under heaven. 
Ecclesiastes 3:1
Tiny House on the Hill

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