Just under four years ago I received a text on a Saturday afternoon, “Andrea, I came to hook up the trailers to the van to get ready for tomorrow morning. And I have arrived to find that the trailers have been broken into and a lot of our stuff has been stolen.”
I thought he was kidding . . . wouldn’t it be fun to play a little joke on me on a Saturday?
He wasn’t kidding. Upon arriving in the parking lot at Williamson’s Chapel a team of folks and I found that 90% of our sound equipment was stolen along with various other items. It was going to total around $40,000.
The timing could not have been more ironic.
We were caught in a quandary.
The next morning was supposed to be the first time we were going to “Break Out of the Huddle” and go give money away! We were going to give all West people cash and encourage them to go “Wish someone a GREAT day!”
“Should we still go and give away over $1500 when we know we are going to have to incur costs to replace our equipment?”
This was the decision I pondered as I KNEW we didn’t have the money or resources to make that happen, even with insurance funds.”
But even as I pondered the question, I knew there was no decision to be made.
It was made for us . . . the first day we came into existence.
From day one of the idea of West, we talked about being missional.
It sounded really good and sexy in vernacular . . . but putting our money where our mouths were was QUITE a bit more challenging, especially being faced with real $$$ signs.
Yet there was no choice.
We all knew we had no choice but to proceed.
West was not about “things.”
West existed to give itself away.
From day one West has remembered to think of others first, ourselves second. We’ve sought to exist to grow in our journeys with God as we existed to give ourselves away.
Five years later we stand at a critical juncture.
We’ve grown roots in not being a normal “church.”
We have fun and yet grow in our faith.
We welcome anyone and everyone – even rubber chickens.
And we still exist to give ourselves away.
You proved that so generously this past week with the Ugandan offering.
In just 3 – 4 days you SO GENEROUSLY gave OVER $5,000.
You also brought back your grocery bags full of food for the students of Third Creek.
And you stayed after worship on a holiday weekend to do things for the Habitat for Humanity workers, and many other missional partners.
Back to four years ago – the Sunday after our trailers were vandalized, I was so nervous my mouth did the “no saliva thing.”
Some friends of mine beyond the West community wanted me to be angry. “How could someone steal from a church?”
Others expressed to me how “sad” they were. “How tragic that someone would resort to stealing from God.”
Yet, there was really no room for anger or sadness . . . we had work to do. It was time to go and give ourselves away.
Even in my “rook-i-ness” I knew that would be a defining moment in our history.
We could stumble and stall or we could persevere.
Then and now – we persevere(d).
There is no road map for what we are doing. But we are following Jesus.
We are getting ready to embark in partnerships that truly do bring diversity.
Beginning in October we are going to totally do away with a yearly church budget and allow you to designate ALL of your giving. (That is unheard of in church world).
We are staffing in bizarre ways so that over the next year we can ultimately have enough staff so that we can multiply while providing valuable missional opportunities for our children, youth, and young adults (along with us other adults!)
Sunday we will reveal what is ahead.
It is our hope to provide you with your own risky opportunities to step in new pathways in your faith.
For it is when we step onto these paths that we learn to cling and grow in our faith.
I am grateful beyond words for the past six years of my ministry journey (including the launch year).
To look back now and realize what all we have walked through, I know we have the foundation to continue to walk forward and do bold, new things.
I can’t wait to see you on Sunday! Either digitally or in person!
Thanks for being a part of West . . .
P.S. Even with losing ALL that STUFF . . . we never missed a beat financially. We ended up somehow having enough in the budget to replace it all . . . even before the insurance reimbursement came! So when I find myself afraid of the future or uncertain of paths we take . . . I stop to remember. God’s got this, even in the worst of situations. I can’t wait to see what the next five years brings!