24 May 2010
A Reflection On Ten Years At CCJ
Our church, the Christian Church of Jasper, turned 10 this past weekend. Shannon and I have been attending there for 9 of the 10 years of its existence. We moved to Indiana in November 2000 and started visiting churches shortly thereafter. We first visited CCJ in January 2001 at the Jasper 8 Theaters. There were probably 20 people, at most, in a theater that seated 300 or so. It was, to say the least, a weird, and not completely comfortable, experience. As we rode away in our little Chevrolet Cavalier two-door car, Shannon stated that she wanted to keep going there. I don't remember my exact response but it was something along the lines of "not so much." To be honest, all of the churches we had attended were more or less "dead" spiritually, in my opinion and CCJ was not that different than the others in terms of how it felt to me, spiritually. So, we attended another church for a few months and came to a philosophical impasse with the denomination (of the church we had been visiting) in our minds.
So, after I saw an ad in The Herald, that listed CCJ as non-denominational, we decided to give it another shot. We began attending regularly in the summer of 2001 and we heard that the church was buying a building (which was a huge plus for me). We had to get out a map to find this Cathy Lane place and we attended the first service in August 2001 at "the warehouse."
It wasn't long before I approached Darrel Land, the minister at CCJ, and told him I played guitar and could help out with music if he wanted (we were basically singing along with live worship CDs — THAT was weird). I just wanted to play guitar and that's what I did for a while. When a few people left, I admitted that I had sung in high school and agreed to step up to the microphone. One thing led to another and, before I knew it, I was the unofficial worship leader at a church. Things then progressed and, here I sit today, as the Pastor of Music & Communications at CCJ.
Things haven't always been perfect and I have been frustrated numerous times (as I'm sure people have been frustrated with me). But, I have little doubt that God's plan was for me to be here doing this. To be honest, I still feel like a stranger in a strange land. My culture and heritage is a more responsive culture and heritage. People sang, people responded to music. Here, people don't. It's just the way it is. I've had to learn how to adapt and understand this culture and it's still a learning process.
However, I love the people here ... even when I think it's nuts that we still live here. I have so many memories of this place. It's the only church my kids have ever known. The people, especially in the early days when we struggled just to get by, were more than gracious to us, they were our family. Our early small group was just plain awesome. We grew so much and had such close relationships. You can never go back, but it was fantastic in so many ways. Those days felt more like what I imagine the early church was like than anything I have ever experienced. But, time moves forward as it is usually does and things change.
I told Shannon the other day that it feels like we've gone to a half-dozen different churches by just being along for the ride in this one. We've grown from 20 to 80 to 150 to 250 to 420 to 535 to 650 to 850 (with the mega-church-sized Easters of the past two years — 1,200-plus this year). And the funny thing is, when we first started going, I liked it because it was small.
There are too many memories to write down, but here are a few (not everyone will understand these):
Plastic electronic drums, church on a float, oil stains, meetings about ladders and computers and copiers and everything else under the sun, Jason's 'I'm for Pantera' story, Candy's shank story, 18:20, koinonia, the Splash corner, Close Encounters with 12 people, firsts in the new building, lasts in the old building, Jim becoming a Christian (something I never thought would happen), church discipline on a few, broken strings, feedback ('sonofa ...'), Friend Day, praying and God sending Kurt, "That's Chevy Van right there," Paula, Holly, Ron, Jeff, Angie, Tina, Tammy, Mike, Paul, Bethany, Tammie, Kurt, Bethany, Chris, Phil, Andrew, Drew, Chelseay and the others who played music with me and put up with me, 99 Days, outside gigs, parade floats, "Spirit in the Sky," writing songs, Lincoln Amphitheatre with about 2 people watching, One in Christ when I said "where are my CCJ people at" and hearing the cheer, so many good discussions I can't even count and much, much more.
God determines the times and places in which we live and I truly believe he sent us here to be a part of CCJ. We will be here until He moves us and if that ever happens, I will look back with joy on the years we were at CCJ.
"Greater things are yet to come and greater things are still to be done."
at 9:38 AM