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Nine Years for North Creek!

stacynewell —  September 24, 2015 — 1 Comment

Today is our 9th anniversary since the day we launched North Creek Church.

I can remember sitting in a conference in my early 20’s feeling so sorry for pastors who “had to” start churches. It looked like an awful lot of toiling and sweat.  It is, by the way.  Now, here I sit, nine years in to a startup church and I feel so blessed to have been a part of something so spectacular!  Strange how the tables so often turn in our lives.

In honor of year nine, here are nine things I’m grateful for along the journey:

  1. I’m grateful for changed  lives.  I love the stories of Jesus changing people and if you have the time, I can tell them to you through laughs and tears.  I love to tell them because each life is living proof that God is still working in our world.  As I walk through the halls on Sunday, the stories flood through me like a river as I lay eyes on each beautiful face.
  2. I’m grateful for the people who have committed for the long haul.  There is so much richness in my life due to the fact that we have chosen to plant our feet in one church with other people who choose to do the same.  You’ll never find the perfect church.  You’ll never find one that is easy to be at all the time.  You’ll never find one that is free of ups and downs.  But if you will commit to people for the journey, you will find satisfaction that you never knew existed.
  3. I’m grateful for the growth in my own life.  I’m a better person because God has used this church plant to refine me in some excruciatingly humble ways as well as some moments of His glory that were even more humbling to be a part of.  I am so different now than nine years ago, it is difficult to comprehend.
  4. I’m grateful for our “Church Plant Kids”.  We had the privilege of starting this church on the backs of a small fleet of children.  Now those same toddlers and kids are teenagers and adults.  They are incredible….really incredible kids with solid morals and good heads on their shoulders.  I give the credit to Jesus and to the partnership in ministry they have had with us.  Church and Jesus have always been a wild adventure for them to partake in…not a boring spectator sport to stop in at.  Honestly, going mobile at this season is an opportunity for some of you.  If I had young kids, I’d seriously sign up for the set up team, drag their cute diapered butts to church at the crack of dawn, and let them serve alongside some great men and women.
  5. I’m grateful for a flexible church.  North Creek gets some award for riding this roller coaster with grace and joy.  We’ve been in a school, we moved to a bar, we bought a building, we merged with a church, we’ve been multisite, we adopted a  [rocking awesome] Deaf Church, our youth ministry meets in another church, and now we are selling everything and moving back into a school….next adventure is yet to be determined!  But each step was with great purpose to pursue what God has birthed in our hearts.  A church that sees only the mission of Christ and not the address is a church that is unstoppable.
  6. I’m grateful for faithful givers.  It takes guts to give away 10%+ of your income every month to a church plant.  After all, most church plants don’t make it past the first couple of years.  Yet, we have a multitude of people who faithfully trust God with their resources every month and it allows us to keep moving forward.  I am grateful for the faithful who believed in us early on and still believe today.
  7. I’m grateful for prayer warriors.  Mountains move when the righteous pray.  We lean heavily into the prayer warriors and they have our ears.  Listening to the critics will birth in you confusion, but listening to the intercessors will confirm in your heart what God is speaking to you.  The maturity of our church is dependent on how many people will commit to seeking God in prayer.
  8. I’m grateful for our Leadership Team.  We have said often that we would not do this alone.  Our team is our greatest joy as we link arm in arm and face the challenges that go with leading a church.  What a fun journey to take with such a talented and strong-willed team!  I frequently say that my job is to chase cats as they all dream and go forth in a beautiful mixture of independence and unity.  We are blessed.  So blessed.
  9. I’m grateful for the Holy Spirit.  The gift of the Holy Spirit in our lives is a mighty one.  I am so thankful for His power in our weakness and His wisdom in our humanity.  There is no way to charge forward into the future without His presence.

Here’s to another nine years.  It’s impossible to imagine all that God can do through the next season of North Creek.  Greater things are yet to come!  Thanks for coming with us!

Pictures from nine years ago.  I’m sure I missed some people, but hopefully you’ll recognize some familiar faces!

 

 

 

While that title won’t fit on Twitter feeds, it sums up the journey that we have been on as a church in the last six years.  Last Sunday marked our one year anniversary of the day our church plant merged with a turnaround church to become a multisite church.  The amount of risk in any one of those words is enormous, yet we are thrilled with the outcome at this pivotal point in our story!

I thought I would share some of the harder lessons we learned on an adventure that we would never have scripted.

1.  Our Vancouver campus (original site) unexpectedly bore extreme weight in the merge.  We went in thinking that Battle Ground would take the most energy to assimilate into the North Creek structure.  What we didn’t take into accurate account is that pulling 35+ strong leaders out of a church of 200 would cause all systems to be reevaluated and restructured.  Now, a year later, we have grown back to our original numbers and filled in the gaps with new amazing leaders.  It is multiplying at it’s best, but the process was daunting at times because we were faced with rebuilding two churches at the same time.  Battle Ground, on the other hand, had 35+ new leaders dropped into about 40 people that we merged with.  Together they hit the ground running with new help and new direction.

2.  The word “Merge” is not an accurate word for two churches creating two campuses of one church.  In hindsight I think a better word would have assisted the process, but we still haven’t come up with a word that sums it all up!  The dictionary defines “Merge” as: to combine, blend, or unite gradually so as to blur the individuality or individual identity of: They voted to merge the two branch offices into a single unit.  It was never intended by either party to gradually blur the individuality of our churches.  Battle Ground had been in a turnaround for a few years and was looking to redefine it’s DNA.  Vancouver was looking to expand it’s DNA.  The word “merge” gave off the impression that we were taking bits and pieces of DNA to create a new baby.  Our terminology had to be defined at every turn, which created a lot of extra weight.

3.  We ripped the Band-aid off so fast I’m not sure people even had time to gasp in pain (myself included!).  At the request of the leadership and board of the church we merged with, we moved fast…really fast.  Within 35 days of meeting the people of Maple Grove, the church was painted and decorated end to end, the leadership team was nearly completely different, every system was different, and together we launched the first public service with thousands of advertisements.  That wasn’t our original intention.  In our initial thoughts, we planned a much slower approach.  Although there were some difficult parts of this strategy, in hindsight, I think doing things so fast actually helped give clarity.  There was no question about how we were going to do things in the future…the future was staring everybody in the face…at both campuses simultaneously!  That being said, it felt like a whirlwind for the first six months and took a great deal of adjusting to for our leadership team and congregation.

Those are just some of the little bumps along the way, but I do want to reiterate that we LOVED this journey and still do.  It has been fun watching all of the chess pieces move as God directs and guides His people.  I think the bottom line lesson is that in anything that God asks you to do, you’ll find difficult parts or you’ll look back and think about how you might have done it differently.  However, it should never stop you from walking forward in what He has asked you to do!