It was just about six years ago that Megan and I loaded everything we owned into our 2001 Honda Accord and a small trailer in a parking garage in Los Angeles.
We had spent the previous few years preparing and now it was time to make the long trek back to Lincoln, Nebraska. Our goal? To be a part of unleashing a movement of God’s grace in the city of Lincoln. We had no idea all that would entail (and we still don’t) but we did know one thing: it would start with the planting of a church.
We were in over our heads. Looking back, this was even more true than we realized then. We had no idea just how much we didn’t know. All we knew was there was work to be done in the city, there were new expressions of Jesus’ church to be birthed, and we were called to step into the need, even if in just a small way.
It’s hard to believe it was six years ago that we arrived back in Lincoln. In some ways it feels like yesterday. In other ways it feels like a lifetime ago. A lot has happened over the past several years. It has been an incredible ride. It’s been hard. At times it’s been excruciatingly hard, but it has been worth every second.
This past week I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on the journey God has had us on over the past decade or so. There have been many times when we had no earthly idea of what God was up to. There have been times when we felt abandoned. There have been others when God was so close it seemed we were swimming in his presence. But if there is one constant, however, it has been God’s faithfulness through it all.
Even when we are painfully unfaithful, He never stops being faithful. Even when we give up on Him, He never gives up on us. Even when we rebel and walk away, He never stops pursuing us. Even when we are dealing with the consequences of our sin, He is relentless in working a plan to use it for our good and His glory.
This is my story. This is our story. This is the story of Mosaic.
This past Sunday our little faith community turned five years old. It’s pretty amazing to think about all we’ve seen God do in and through us in that time. Of course, we aren’t huge by any means. There are a number of churches in our city who dwarf us numerically. But I believe God has used our relatively small community to have a significant impact in our short history.
I know I have a number of friends who have rooted for us, prayed for us, and invested in us along the way who read what I share here. So I thought it’d be fun to share with you some of the things we celebrated together as a church this week:
I’m not sure exactly where the statistic comes from but I’ve read it in so many places I’m just going to assume it’s true. The stat is that 80% of church plants fail within their first five years. So look mom, we made it! Laugh if you will, but there have been seasons when making it was not a given. Many church planters will attest to the feeling that there are some days when you wonder whether you’ll have to shut the whole thing down next week. By God’s grace, our doors and arms remain open.
If you rewound the clock back just five and a half years, the entire Mosaic community consisted of less than a dozen people in a living room. We looked more like a cult than a church. Fast forward the clock and this Sunday we gathered across three worship services in multiple locations in our city to celebrate what God has done. That’s pretty cool.
At Mosaic we are really passionate about the gospel of grace. This past week I hopped online to see how far reaching that message has been. I was amazed to see our messages have been listened to over 60,000 times in countries all over the world. Then it dawned on me that doesn’t include the videos of our messages. When I hopped on Vimeo I was blown away to see our videoes have been keyed up over 156,000 times! One soldier I spoke with recently told me his entire unit was tuning in while they served together in Afghanistan. As someone who wants to see the message of the gospel heard everywhere, I get pretty excited about that.
One of the things I love most about our community is their increasing commitment to live generously. It seems every time we put a need in front of our people they rise to the occasion and joyfully I might add! In addition to all of the initiatives (which we’ve failed to count) and small acts of compassion our community is constantly engaging in, this Sunday we also celebrated that over the past five years we’ve been able to give away over $100,000 to help plant new churches all over the U.S. and to meet tangible needs in our city.
At Mosaic we are pretty passionate about church multiplication. If we show all of our cards, we want to see various expressions of Jesus’ church planted all over our city. This is why we so excited about some of the new churches that have been planted in Lincoln the past few years, great churches like Mercy City, Jacob’s Well, and 2 Pillars Northeast who launched just this past weekend! Last year we were able to invest $45,000 in local church multiplication. A big part of this included being able to personally plant a new church body in north Lincoln, something that sadly less than 3% of U.S. churches ever do.
6. Life Change.
In the end, this is what it’s all about for us. The thing that makes it all worth it is seeing God change lives. There is nothing like seeing someone who didn’t formerly believe or count themselves to be religious bump into the living resurrected Jesus for the first time. I used to be almost as surprised as they were when it happened, but not anymore. Over the past few years we have had the great privilege of getting to be a part of hundreds of stories like this. Some of those people are now leading worship teams and ministries and even preparing to plant churches. Man, for me, that’s what it’s all about. This is the work that keeps me in the game.
Please me hear when I say I do not share these things to try to make a big deal of myself. There is a small army of faithful, generous and talented people who make Mosaic what it is. They are the real heroes. Shoot, if you only knew half of the mistakes, missteps, bad ideas and bad decisions I’ve made in our short history as a church you’d know this to be true.
I share this to celebrate what God has done in our midst, to thank those of you who have supported and prayed for us along the way, and to encourage those who find themselves in smaller churches and those who are thinking about possibly planting one day. I am convinced more than ever that it doesn’t take a big church with a big staff and a big building and a big budget to have a BIG impact. Every follower of Jesus, every church no matter the size can make an impact for the kingdom. And that begins with a simple commitment to be a disciple who makes disciples right where you are.
That’s what we did Sunday. And I am convinced that if every believer and church would commit to just do that, we would indeed change the world one life at a time.