My wife and I have been looking for a church in the area for the last several months (we moved from Waco in July). To make that long story short, we are still searching. I really think we might have found something at Restoration just from glancing at the website materials (we’ve also visited Christ Church). Anyway, I was wondering if the Wednesday night event would be the sort of thing a first-time visitor ought to show up for, or if it would be better to wait til Sunday?
I am really eager to connect and figure out if this is the place God has for us…November 9, 2009
That’s the email I sent ten years ago. Emily and I had been in town for about four months. We were young fools. Emily had just gotten her first ‘grown-up’ job. I was headed into grad school. We’d bought a house. Now we were just waiting for life to start.
In Waco, we’d been attending church steadily, even when we didn’t feel like it. The church we’d found was fine, but most of the young people were college kids. We were in a weird demographic. I was also in a strange place with my own faith. I was still ruminating on all those Bible and theology classes from college and growing more and more critical of the church. I felt like a snobby spectator, not a disciple.
Now that we were in North Dallas, Emily and I resolved to find a place we could call home. We talked a lot about what mattered to us in a church. A lot of it was superficial, a lot of it was important, but the one thing that resonated with both of us: we wanted to go somewhere where we could plug in, where we could serve. Both of us had been in church long enough that it wasn’t much use to us as a consumer product. We’d seen all the episodes. We’d tried everything on the menu.
By chance, I found out about a plucky church plant over in Addison. Emily and I grew up in a big church with lots of programs—what would a small church be like?
Looking online, I saw that there was a Wednesday night meeting scheduled that week. I found an email address and sent off that note. Some guy named Jed responded: “Thanks so much for your email. It would be great to have you join us Wednesday night. You should get a feel for our heart and passion for life and ministry at the meeting and have a chance to connect with others as well.”
Many of you have heard me tell this part of the story, but let me be clear again: that meeting was in no way an appropriate setting for first-time visitors. Emily and I walked into that bar(!) on Wednesday and there were maybe eight people—the core founders of the church—sitting in a circle of chairs, talking about what the church would be about. Jed’s lucky we didn’t immediately turn around and head for another bar.
But we didn’t. And as the evening unfolded, we saw why God (and Jed) had led us to be there. We heard from other people who had been part of bigger churches and were eager to be a part of a family. We heard from a couple who had helped plant other churches and saw it as their ministry to nurture this new flock. And we heard Jed and Stacy tell their story and share their heart. They wanted a church that didn’t just talk about the gospel, they wanted a church that was in on it. A church that would embody the mission of Jesus in everything it did.
That email I sent ten years ago, that meeting Emily and I sat in, those were moments steeped in earnest wrestling with difficult questions: Where is God calling us right now? What will it look like to follow? How do we live this out together?
Ten years later, I’m thankful that Restoration is still a place that wrestles. Heaven knows we aren’t perfect—we haven’t gotten this whole church thing figured out. Each week, we are asking those questions again, discovering answers in one another’s lives, and in our encounters with our risen Lord.
My story with Restoration started with a question. I’m glad that we are still asking.