The Birth of a Church

This has been a special Sunday: a Send-Off Sunday. We had the privilege of commissioning two brand-new pastors for a team of ten brand-new church planters trusting God to start a brand-new H2O Church at Youngstown State University with the start of the 2022-23 school year. It’s kind of felt like a celebration for the birth of a church. Honestly, though, it might be more accurate to say that it felt like a wedding, a christening, and a graduation all together!

It felt especially special to recognize some genuine “Homegrown Heroes” who expanding the influence of the church in Northeast Ohio. All but one of the adults on our YSU Team were Kent State University students. And some of them even became Christians at H2O Kent!

Megan, Gillian, Griffin, AJ, Jana, Brooke, Halle, and Daniel have played essential leadership roles for our church here in Kent. They’ve built deep friendships in our community. And two of the couples have even started having children born in Kent (Josie and Lottie).

Still: they are moving to Youngstown to establish a new church for the 11,000 students at Youngstown State University. So we tried our best to commend them, commission them for this transition.

YSU Team Send-Off Sunday

We played a special tribute video. I got to share some of the biblical framework for how God has called us all to be disciple-makers. Then, our church’s Leadership Team ordained A.J. and Daniel as the Leadership Team for the new church plant. We also provided the new pastors with space to share some reflections with our congregation. And if their first public remarks as pastors are any indication, they are going to be outstanding shepherds for the new flock in Youngstown!

After we finished the ordination process for A.J. and Daniel, we introduced the entire team heading to Youngstown. We offered a few more words of exhortation. And then we laid hands on them and spent some time praying for them.

YSU Team Send-Off Sunday

I’m so proud of each and every one of these people. It was an honor to be a part of commissioning them.

YSU Team Send-Off Sunday

After singing some closing songs of worship together, we transitioned to a picnic outside. The weather cooperated beautifully with our plans. So we all got to soak up the sunshine, enjoy each other’s company, and celebrate the birth of a new church with food, gifts, and words of encouragement.

YSU Team Send-Off Sunday

During the Open Microphone story-telling time, one student talked about the way that she got involved with H2O in part because of the way that Griffin went out of his way to talk with her at a picnic table back in August. She spoke of future outreach opportunities in Youngstown and said, “I hope you’ll meet more people in parks and stuff.” And I know they are eager to do just that.

YSU Team Send-Off Sunday

Later, another student referenced the general sense of civic responsibility for one to leave things better than one found it. Then she looked at Brooke and added, “You left me better than you found me.” Next, she expanded her encouragement to the rest of the team, “You left this place better than you found it.” And I couldn’t agree more.

When we were finished with all our festivities at Bowman Hall, I was wiped out: physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Still, I’m so glad we took time to observe this occasion. All of the ceremony, all of the prayer, all of the pictures, all of the stories… It was a lot. But this is at the heart of why we’re doing what we’re doing. So, here’s to the birth of a new church in Youngstown! Here’s to the brave men, women, and children stepping out in faith! And here’s to a continued process of walking by faith to see God’s Kingdom come and God’s will be done in Northeast Ohio, as it is in heaven.

This entry was posted in Church, Family, God, H2O Kent, Health, Leadership, Ministry, Ohio, Prayer, Preaching, The Bible, Transition. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.