Over Easter weekend, I had the opportunity to capture this gorgeous family! My friend, Shanley, and her husband and son went to church with us in Ocala - but she's originally from Jacksonville and was in town to visit both sides of their family. It was the perfect opportunity to bring both families together for a beautiful session at one of my favorite locations in Jacksonville! Here's a few of my favorites from the day.
... but you can't take the building out of the Church!
Next weekend, on January 29th, we OFFICIALLY launch the North campus of Chets Creek Church, which we lovingly refer to as "Chets North." But good news - you don't even have to wait until then! You can join us tomorrow, January 22nd, at 10:30am for church if you want to!
Nine months ago, my husband (Josh) and I moved to Jacksonville to join the mission of seeing God build His church on the Northside of Jacksonville. We sensed that He was already at work in the hearts and lives of people all around the community and felt a call to be a part of continuing to spread the love and saving power of Jesus Christ!
But, this whole process of moving, preparing and launching a new church has caused a great deal of work to be done in my own heart. For starters, God had to completely wreck my view of what "church" was all about and tear down the walls of pride that were slowly making residence in my heart. The walls of pride that said church must look a certain way, take place in a specific environment and that it was mostly about my spiritual growth. Those walls? Completely shattered by the end of this nine month long journey of preparing for a church plant in a school, with limited technology (although we have been blessed and equipped with more than we could ask for!) that takes longer to set up for than actually take part in.
Here's the thing I've had to come to grips with - the church isn't about me. If it was, then I would have a hard time when it let me down. Sure, as believers, we make up "the Church." But the Church exists for so much more. It exists to be the literal, hands and feet, eyes and ears, arms and legs of Jesus. We are the body of Christ.
I think the enemy's greatest tactic in our culture today is to try and keep the "Church" in a building. He wants us to believe that our mission is a rocking, Sunday morning church service. Or an awesome, community-building life group. Or even volunteering our time, giving our money or using our talents to serve a local congregation.
And those are all great things that every church should strive for! But we can have all of that and still not be fulfilling the greatest mission of the church - to make disciples of all nations, by sharing the love and gospel of Jesus Christ.
And to think, there was a time when I thought church was just attending a service. Worshiping God together. With music that everyone enjoyed and preaching that always challenged and convicted the heart. And if someone didn't like the way one place did "church," they could always go down the road and find another (or start one themselves!)
At least, that's what my experience shaped me to believe.
But in leading us to start a new church, God has completely wrecked that view. Church is a people. It is people you commit to. People you choose to willingly sacrifice for. People you serve together with. People you don't always look like. That's why Paul wrote that we are one body, with many different parts.
Josh and I are just a part of the body of Chets North. Which is just a part of the body of Chets Creek Church. Which is just a part of the body of the global Church. All parts are needed. And based on Scripture, the ones we think are least important are most necessary.
We are planting a church in a growing part of Jacksonville, where there are truthfully not enough churches to reach the people living there. My husband went to a church planters meeting recently that pointed out that even if every church building in Jacksonville completely filled every seat - there would still not be enough churches to reach everyone.
That's why we are launching a new opportunity to join together as a body of believers. To be a part of the bigger picture of reaching the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ! I am thankful for the work God has done in my own heart, laying the foundation of what the mission and existence of the church is really all about. There's a great quote by Rick Warren that says, "Focus on building people, before you build a steeple." And while a building would be nice one day, we know the true building is already taking place.