Part of our process in launching The Bridge involves a series of monthly ‘preview’ celebrations. We’re hoping these monthly gatherings help build momentum while setting the tone for what will be once things are officially up-and-running. They also help to figure out what connects well and what doesn’t work so well given the culture and context of Penn Hills.
Yesterday, we had our first monthly celebration–our very first public worship gathering, and it was a phenomenal experience. Thanks to those of you who were praying for us before and during the gathering; we know that it is God’s Spirit who is doing the real work in Penn Hills and that he honors the prayers of his people. We had a pretty healthy crowd of just over 50 (not bad for a first-go on a Steelers’ Home-Game Sunday!), but of the greatest points of excitement for us is that we’re beginning to see the answer to our prayer for a multiethnic, multicultural local church. When your launch team is made up of a group of anglos from Western Pennsylvania, it can be difficult to help people see that though we may not look multiethnic or multicultural yet, we are. It was awesome to see a great deal of diversity in our gathering yesterday.
Reflecting on what happened yesterday got me thinking about our future, as well. Even though I know that The Bridge won’t stay in ‘church plant mode’ forever, there are a couple things I hope we never lose from these early days:
- The sense–inherently part of a ‘preview’ service–that we haven’t ‘arrived’ yet: we’re moving toward something greater.
- A culture of change: Elements of this month’s celebration, timing, and order may never happen the same way again–and that’s okay because we’re attempting a variety of things to connect with those far from God, help people get to know Jesus better, and send followers of Christ out to live as Jesus.
- Permission to fail: as mentioned above, we’re experimenting to see what works, connects, communicates, and builds the Kingdom of Christ; the beauty of ‘experimentation’ is the freedom to fail at something but keep pressing on.
- The safety to dream big: the more I journey, the more convinced I am that God calls us to dream big, as long as they are his dreams and not our own fabrications. The dreams we have for what God can use The Bridge to do in Pittsburgh and the world are. huge. At least to us. And in these early stages it is still ‘safe’ to cast gigantic vision and grow in excitement about how ginormous our God is and what he can do, even with broken vessels like us.