I feel like I just gave my daughter's hand in marriage. Its been 8 months since we started the Santa Monica Gathering. God has gathered a good, gifted, tight knit group of people whom we've come to love deeply. He has met with many of them profoundly.
Our question has been, "What is the most viable way forward for this community to become a church?" After all, there's a limit to how much we can do traveling an hour across the city every second Sunday night to meet with them.
Enter Ger Jones, a vicar from Holy Trinity Brompton, the London church which produced Alpha. God has led him to plant a church here, and we crossed paths in remarkable ways. There has been a quick knitting of hearts. Their new church plant, Vintage, has a similar vision to gather an authentic community around the centrality of the Gospel, with a strong Word and Spirit convergence. They are well resourced but have really needed a core of people to partner with them.
Over the last three months we've spoken and prayed about a merging of our people with Ger's vision. This has been bittersweet. We love these people dearly. Although we will continue to partner with them, we are persuaded that the most viable way for this group to gain real gospel traction in their city is to join Ger and become the engine room of Vintage.
Last night was an unexpected evening of honor and affection towards the Southlands team who labored with great love these last 8 months. I am deeply grateful to them too. Its been an honor to serve alongside people of such quality as the Santiago, Ramirez, Ed Meyer, the Lamonts and others from Southlands, who have given their hearts and hands to establish this community.
Amidst the joy and celebration of the evening, it was clear to me as a father to this community, that the young bride was already looking to her new groom, longing for her honeymoon. This is good. A father needs to know how to step out of the way at his daughters wedding, otherwise he may forfeit an ongoing role in the new couples life. A father needs to celebrate at times like these with a lump in his throat.
One can not afford to become sentimentally driven in matters of the kingdom. One must ask, "What is best for the bride?" After all, these are not our people. They are God's people for God's purposes. It is already clear that they are beginning to burn with the passion and vision which Ger and Lizzie carry to make a profound gospel impression upon Santa Monica.
From God's perspective, a church has been planted. Jesus has established a lamp stand which, I trust, will burn hot and bright until He returns. This, in every way then, is a Kingdom win.