Restoration is celebrating its 8th birthday this Sunday. Yes, 8th birthday! I can’t believe how quickly time has passed and as I reflect on the our life together as a church family I am flooded with so many emotions.
I can’t even begin to count the number of lives that Restoration has touched during these 8 years. We’ve seen God bring people back into relationship with him through the ministry of the church. We’ve seen people come to know Christ in deep, transformational ways. We’ve seen countless answered prayers. We’ve seen physical healing and freedom from the bondage of addiction. We’ve seen young believers grow into mature saints in Christ.
We’ve also made an impact on our community by supporting and volunteering at local ministries, like Network and Gateway of Grace. We’ve ministered to those who have come to this country as strangers with nothing and have seen them become like family. We were surprised to find our work with refugees in Dallas mentioned in a national publication and pray that we have inspired others to also welcome refugees in the name of Jesus. We’ve are continuing to support missionaries responding to the refugee crisis in Germany and have been amazed to see ordinary Texans become advocates for people in dire situations all around the world.
We’ve been generous with our resources and loved our brothers and sisters in Christ all around the world. We’ve supported and sent out a local church planter. And next year we will send out a second church planter to begin a new church in McKinney. We’ve helped others see and answer their calling to ordained ministry and have walked them through that process.
We’ve baptized both young and old into the family of God and have welcomed many into the Anglican tradition. We’ve grown organically through several baby booms and we’ve grown through outreach as friends invite friends to worship with us. We’ve responded to the fastest growing part of our congregation by hiring a children’s director who is guiding our children through meaningful, age-appropriate spiritual formation. We’ve been praying for opportunities to minister to the UTD student population and now we are starting to see God open doors for us.
Over these 8 years we’ve learned so much about our identity as a church and where God is calling us. We’ve withstood the pressure of becoming something that we are not while fine-tuning our mission to join God in the restoration of all things, in our life, church, and city. But even with all of the amazing things God is doing in and through Restoration, it’s still hard for me to reckon with the fact that we are only celebrating our 8th birthday. I stand in amazement at it all and I feel like that Restoration should be turning 18 rather than 8.
However, there are also times I become frustrated and wonder why our congregation isn’t larger. Why don’t we have a church building or a larger staff to assist with all the amazing work being done? Through all this, I’ve learned the dangers of letting others define success for you. As I’ve prepared for my sermon this Sunday I’ve had the words of the Apostle Paul running through my mind. In Philippians 3 he writes of his accomplishments, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”
For the Apostle Paul, no personal accomplishment or failure surpassed knowing Jesus and being transformed by his grace. Paul’s ministry was marked by visible success and failure and yet he rested secure by identifying with Christ in his death and resurrection. At Restoration, we are not a church of programs or events. We are church of people who are knit together in Christ, finding our identity in the cross and empty tomb. We are successful when we join God in the transformation of our lives in Christ, faithfully lov an imperfect church, and generously seek the God’s best for the world around us.
As Restoration enters another year of ministry I ask you to whole-heartedly join us in our mission. God is forming our church family for all that he has planned for us and you are an essential part. I believe that he will add to our numbers and open doors for ministry. I believe that he will meet our needs out of his abundant resources and we will hear more stories of healing and transformation. And God will use the people of Restoration to accomplish all these things.