Today marks the 7th anniversary of MainStreet Covenant Church’s first weekly worship service. I thought this an appropriate occasion to announce the completion of a commemorative book I’ve produced that details the journey.
As you probably know, I love history, and therefore I love probing origins. Any appreciator of the past quickly becomes an appreciator of those who kept good records of events. During the first days of starting MainStreet, I undertook a history project that landed me in the basement archives of the historic First Covenant Church (or the Swedish Tabernacle) in Minneapolis, digging through boxes and scanning documents for a website honoring Covenant pioneer pastor Erik August Skogsbergh. Check it out here.
In 2012, to help celebrate the City of Mound’s Centennial, I spent hours at the Westonka Historical Society researching the beginnings of each Mound area church. I loved every second of it! However, the records were rather sparse and very general in their telling of each church’s origins. You get key dates, founders names, and photos of buildings being erected. There’s very little of the “soul” of the people or the pastor detectable. So, I decided I would do a huge favor for anyone who might be interested in MainStreet’s beginnings a century from now!
I’m talking a bulky 407 page book filled with stories of trials and triumphs, blog posts detailing progress, testimonies of lives impacted, key milestone moments, pastoral reflections, and (God help me!) over 50 pages of my own private journal detailing the emotional rollercoaster I’ve been on along the way. Like MainStreet’s culture itself, the book is honest, real and largely about the people who make up this unique church.A
I have no idea if anyone will be interested in reading it. The entire project feels a bit self-indulgent to me (especially the private journal part). Maybe I’ll just print one copy to keep on the shelf in the MainStreet library for people to flip through occasionally. However, my hope is that these pages bring glory to God as they bear witness to what can happen when a young couple says ‘Yes’ to a God-sized Dream and stumbles upon other ordinary people willing to place their trust in the God who “calls into existence things that don’t yet exist” (Rom. 4:17).
Appropriately, Mike Fox wrote a beautiful foreword to the book. I wanted to share it with you today as we celebrate our 7th anniversary. If you are interested in a copy of this book, please email me.
FOREWORD BY MIKE FOX
When most people think of “church”, they think of a building – four walls, a steeple, stained glass. They may also think of the organization – the leadership, the staff, the Sunday school, the choir. Or they might think of the services offered within those four walls – worship, prayer, education, daycare, free meals.
As you read through this book, you will quickly discover that MainStreet Beginnings is not about the building or the processes or the services. You will find, page after page, chapter after chapter, that this book is about people – broken people looking for healing; lonely people looking for family; lost people looking meaning; gifted people looking for a place to serve; faithful people laboring to bring to life God’s vision for Mound Westonka.
This is the way it should be. The Bible is the story of the relationship between God the Creator and His creation. It would be extremely difficult to write a book that extolled the virtues of our God – His goodness, His providence, His love—without the concrete examples of how He has provided for us and how He has loved us.
The story of MainStreet is part of that larger story, a story that started 1000s of years ago when the creator of the universe breathed life into Humans and declared them “good.” The story of MainStreet would be dry and lifeless if it were only about the church building. No, the story of MainStreet, starting with the vision in 2005 right up to the present, can only be told through the church’s relationship with the people of the Mound Westonka area.
For the God who created the universe out of nothing, starting a church is easy. For us humans, building a church out of nothing is hard work. Without God this adventure called MainStreet would’ve been doomed to failure. Decision after decision made no logical sense from the world’s point of view.
- Most church plants fail without the support of another church. The decision to start a church without the support of a partner church was foolish.
- College students are stereotypically unreliable. The decision to begin the church using a handful of students from a nearby college was crazy.
- Many churches find that a garage sale is a great way to earn a little extra cash for a special project. The decision to have a “free” garage sale where everything was given away was senseless.
- Churches, just like businesses, operate within the restraints of a budget. The decision to lease a storefront and spend 10s of thousands of dollars to remodel the interior when our weekly offering couldn’t even cover our regular expenses was irresponsible.
- Sadly, churches are not very good at collaborating with churches of different denominations. The decision to lead many of the local churches to join with Mainstreet in a collaborative, community wide service project, was unusual to say the least.
Each of these decisions and many, many other similar decisions, were, by the world’s standards, foolish, but in the Kingdom of God living by faith, trusting Him for money, food, workers, and all other necessary things is the standard.
Planting a church is not easy. There will be moments of fear, doubt, betrayal, and anger, but there will also be moments of pride, satisfaction, and joy. With God’s help, we are capable of wonderful, impossible things.
The lesson we can take from MainStreet Beginnings is to listen for that still, small voice and, no matter how crazy, take that first, scary step into the unknown, then leave the results in God’s hands. Our God is faithful. Trust Him and you will be forever changed. Enjoy!
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