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 “We should have a baby.”

I remember when my wife first spoke those words to me shortly after we were married. The way she tells the story, I was less than enthusiastic about that thought. I didn’t think it was the right time. I didn’t think we had enough money. I didn’t think we knew enough to be ready. Then our sister-in-law had a baby and invited us to visit in the hospital. Our niece was adorable and perfect, as newborn babies usually are. On the drive home from visiting them, I spoke something aloud that I had not anticipated feeling:

“I think we should have a baby. We won’t be more ready by waiting.”

I thought of this moment as I thought about our church launch this week. The same baby fears from years ago could prevent us from launching today. Is it the right time to launch a church? Can we afford to launch a church? Are we ready for this launch? I also thought of the opposites of these questions: Is there ever a right time? Can we afford to not launch the church? Are we ever truly ready? As I considered these questions, a solid voice came to my mind:

“Now is definitely the right time to launch The Life Center.”

I believe that statement with all my heart. We have done so much praying and seeking God in this last season that has left me with no doubts at all. God is in this! Let me offer three reasons now is the right time to launch The Life Center.

Timing

The world just experienced a drastic disruption in the way it works. COVID changed the world irrevocably. Things are different now. People are relying on their online shopping options more than ever. Some find that group gatherings are still a little weird to attend. Distrust for institutions has skyrocketed. Loneliness and isolation too have grown astronomically. This has been a season of immense change to our cultural norms.

The church must determine what it will do with these changes. Like many other seasons in history, the church is at a crossroads. We have two options: 1) Attempt to do things the same way we did them before COVID hit, or 2) Pivot in a big way to better reach the new world we are in.

If you have been looking at church statistics over the last decade or more, you probably already know that the way the church worked before COVID wasn’t working. At all. To rush back to the same faulty patterns from 2019 and earlier is to ensure the death of the church. The church must pivot, rebrand, and reassess how it does everything. Normally, this would be extremely difficult for a church to do. It takes time and resources, but more importantly it requires that the members of the church actually desire to pivot. After all, they came before because they liked what the church did before.

For a church to make the necessary changes to reach the world in 2022 and beyond, the church must intentionally choose to put her own preferences aside for the sake of the mission. Many people are not willing to do that. They do not want to sacrifice their current church approaches in order to reach the lost.

But a church launch gets to do whatever it wants.

We get to start from scratch, with a group dedicated to starting fresh, and decide what God is calling us to be in this next season. COVID changes in the world have lined up with our church’s changes right now; we have a brand new beginning as the world also has a new beginning, like a lion about to awaken from its slumber.

As we decide who we are called to be, we do so at a perfect time: a time of renewal and rebirth in the church and the world. This isn’t even to mention the season of rebirth currently happening within our denomination. Not every church gets a chance to start fresh. We do!

Mission

Everyone is called to something. I believe that Goshen First Church and The Life Center have callings from God too, as collective bodies of Christ. However, the bodies we have are very different. The gifts are different, the hearts are different, and even the worldview is different. We unite around our love for Christ, but the missions we have been given have had the church attempting to run in two directions for years now.

The Life Center has unique gifts, talents, and callings to the community of Goshen and the world. To flourish in our uniqueness to the fullest, launching is the best decision we can make. An organization cannot have two missions, just as your body cannot physically go in two directions at once. For some time, The Life Center has desired to go in one direction while Goshen First Church has desired another. To attempt to do both would be to do neither 100% effectively. In launching, we can be “us” to the very fullest without regards to what others are doing.

Of course, the fun part of this launch is figuring out who exactly we are as a church. As we launch out as The Life Center, we will progressively zero in on the calling of God upon our church body together and we will do so unashamedly. With your prayers and your help, we will figure out our calling and live it together.

Readiness

The Life Center has existed under the leadership for First UMC for 26 years. Put simply, we are ready. I know, that seems redundant with the timing points, but this is an important reason. The Life Center is ready to launch. We’ve built up to this point for years. We have been slowly getting the right leadership in place, the right staff to drive the mission, and the right hearts ready for this time.

We are ready!