itsasetupThis weekend, Awaken Church celebrates 6 years of amazingly fruitful ministry. It’s been a wild ride to say the least! As we move into year 7, I can only speculate and pray about the things that lie ahead. But I know this for sure: it has always been a setup (and will always be) for God to receive the maximum amount of glory through our story. 

As I type this on Saturday afternoon, 6 years ago today, we were preparing for Awaken’s first-ever Saturday night church service. After years of prayer, months of planning, a cross-country move, and 3 weeks of working till 1am to convert a run-down office space into a church building, we were stoked. It was dark and rainy outside, but our spirits were high. My 9-month pregnant wife led us in worship and I preached a message from Romans 13 called, “Are You Awake?”. That night, as Awaken Church was officially born, we got to pray with 1 lady to be born again. We were off to an incredible start already!

3 months later, we endured our first of many deployments in this military community, as almost every male who had attended Awaken was shipped off by the Army to fight overseas. Awaken felt like a women’s ministry for a couple months, but we kept going strong. 7 months in, we were forced to start over after losing everything in a flood that wiped out 144 businesses in the Riverside District of Clarksville. We temporarily relocated, renovated, and relaunched 2 months later. Little did we know that those 2 months of renovation would just be a little taste of the next 5 years of Awaken Church. Since the flood, Awaken hasn’t gone longer than a few months without adding service times or square footage…and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

A couple months ago, as I was praying for God’s provision for the the expansion and renovation plans we’d be rolling out soon, it hit me: our story is a setup for God’s glory

  • A group of 5 city-slickers with no military background had moved across the country into a military town in the South.
  • We didn’t launch big – we began with some local outreaches in neighborhood parks, as we grilled burgers and shared the Gospel with people.
  • Our first contract was on an old tanning salon (Tropical Tanz) that was about 1,000 square feet (thank God that fell through).
  • Our first worship space was nothing impressive, and the info table was covered with a bed sheet because we didn’t want to spend money on a tablecloth. (We should have at least ironed it.)
  • The church owned less after the flood than we had brought to Clarksville.

And now, only 6 years into church planting, we’ve gone from 1,000 square feet of rented space to owning an entire shopping center with 3 buildings totaling 32,000 square feet, sitting on 5.5 acres! What?! Yeah, that’s crazy! Not only that, but the space we now own happens to be the space that we once lost everything in 5 years ago!

The only explanation I can come up with is the only explanation I ever want to have: God did this. It’s His Church and He builds it in His own unconventional ways.

Why does He do it this way? I could list many possibilities, but I know this for sure: so that He can receive the maximum amount of glory. It’s our story, but it’s for His glory.

We recently launched a new series through the book of Colossians called CRUX: All Through Him, All For Him. This weekend as we celebrate 6 years of ministry, I will teach the pivotal text of the book: Colossians 1:13-18. The gist of the text is this: everything that has ever been made was made by Jesus, through Jesus, for Jesus and in Jesus. Everything we do is for Jesus. The title of my message this weekend is what I want the war cry of our church to always be: “JESUS! JESUS! ONLY JESUS!”

It was all a setup. And by God’s grace, He will continue to stack the odds against us so that He can intervene and receive all the glory for our story.

When you find yourself in an impossible situation, take heart. Impossible situations require divine intervention. It’s in our weakness that God’s strength is made known.