It has been the second most impactful thing in my life—being part of the group that started CedarCreek Church in the late fall of 1994. I had only been a Christian since February of that year, but Lee Powell invited me to be part of a group that wanted to plant a new church. I’m not sure I even knew what that meant! But we began to meet and pray. Our main question was, “What would it look like for us to be the kind of church God intends for the world?”
On large sheets of paper, we began brainstorming what a new testament church should, could, and maybe would look like. We could shape it however the Lord led us—and based on our hopes and past experience, that’s what we set out to do. We had no money except for what the 25+ of us could put together among ourselves. Our attempts to raise significant donations were unsuccessful. We finally received a contribution for $2000 from an organization that one of the pastors, Steve Hutmacher, belonged to, and we had to decide what would be our best return on that endowment.
“Not Your Mother’s Church”
That was the advertisement we came up with. It was with extreme nervousness and a huge sense of adventure that we put up billboards and sent our mailers to the 43615 zip code. Under Lee Powell’s direction, and since then Ben Snyder’s leadership, we’ve tried hard not to be your mother’s church!
We have pushed conventional church values, and we have always been faithful to the message of the gospel: Jesus loves you! You matter to him!
How have we promoted that message?
Through advertising, casual dress environments, church partnerships, and contemporary worship music. By sending trucks full of supplies to areas damaged by natural disasters, planting and supporting satellite churches in communities here and around the world, and by helping single mothers with car maintenance. By celebrating Christmas Eve services with music from Trans-Siberian Orchestra or a trashcan rendition of “Little Drummer Boy,” and having Easter services featuring “the thief.” And, yes, even by hosting Group “Happy Hours,” unveiling the S*X series, and the April Fool’s campus beer production. We will do anything short of sin to reach people who are far from God! This has been a theme in our church’s story.
First Jesus, and then the apostle Paul, used stories and illustrations that people outside the church could relate to. They did this in order to establish the common ground upon which they could proclaim the Good News: Jesus sacrificed himself to bring us back into a right relationship with God.
Jesus always used stories and illustrations like these when speaking to the crowds. In fact, he never spoke to them without using such parables.
1 Corinthians 9:22-23
22 … I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. 23 I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.
Lee taught us that the church wasn’t about us. The tight-knit group that had met together for nine months, praying and dreaming about the plan God had for our church, met together for one last time, October 1, 1995. Lee told us that what we experienced during that time—the love, the closeness, the community—would never be the same. I mourn that to this day because it was sweet, it was wholeness, it was agape love that we felt for each other. But it was the sacrifice we were willing to make, because God had called us to be the local church. We believed, and still believe, that the local church is the hope of the world!
Who knew? God did! He invites you! Join us!
Have you felt the call of God in your life? How have you responded? Will you go?
When you feel God speak to you about what your next step should be, listen and put a plan in motion to do it! Talk to your life group or a trusted Christian friend about what you feel God has placed on your heart. Enlist their help to plan your next step and to hold you accountable for it.
Heavenly Father, words cannot describe how grateful I am that you invited me to be a part of this church! I continue to pray that you invite other people to feel this call and to make a commitment to serve you in the local church. Use us, Lord, to invite people into this life-changing adventure! Amen.
This post was written by Lauri White. Lauri is one of the 25 people that God used to start CedarCreek in the Fall of 1995, and was on staff until 2013. Lauri loves Jesus, and loves helping people, especially women, live out of the truth about who we are in Christ. She and her husband Mike live in Oregon, but now spend winter months in Florida near daughter Kelda and her family.
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