Being The Church In Lexington
Tony Cecil, Lexington Campus Pastor
In late 2007, I was about to enter my seventh year of serving as the pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Glasgow, KY. However, after sensing God leading me toward planting a church in Central Kentucky, I resigned and moved my family back to our hometown of Winchester, KY. Soon after my family’s transition, I began to visit new and growing churches in the area. Having served in one place for the previous seven years, I wanted to see what other churches were doing in terms of gospel-centered ministry. During this period of personal observation I learned many useful practices and ideas in terms of how to start/lead a church. That’s not to say that everything I observed should be considered good ministry practice. Much of what I learned could be classified under the heading “What Not To Do.” But typically each time I attended a new church, I picked up something I deemed useful to me as I took steps toward planting in Lexington.
Now you have to understand, I had been a pastor in a rural community for the previous seven years. In terms of vision, the type of church I felt called to plant only existed in my head. I had listened to numerous podcasts and sermons by successful church planters. These provided me with a ton of information and motivation that kindled my desire to plant a new church. But honestly, I had never been in a church that epitomized the type of church I felt called to plant.
Then in April of 2009 I walked through the doors of The Factory. Looking back I like to say that everything I witnessed on my visits to other churches taught me what to do/not do in building a church. As I sat through my first worship gathering at TPCC, however, I soon realized that I was gathered with a group of people committed to BEING the church.
So many churches get downright obsessed in building a church. Due to the difficulty and hard work required to plant a church, this is somewhat understandable. Financial resources are usually limited. Willing servants are typically few and approaching burnout. Each day brings with it obstacles/problems that threaten a new church’s livelihood and existence. If leaders are not careful, all their time gets spent “keeping the ship afloat” so to speak. Churches pour all their resources and energy in simply surviving and existing. It’s a very natural phenomenon. Thus, what becomes established in their mindsets over time is the urgency in building a church.
What I saw at TPCC, however, was an intentional effort to foster a mindset of BEING the church for the sake of the gospel. One way I observed this was through an aggressive approach to church planting. Discussion of an upcoming plant in Indianapolis (and later Savannah) along with the Church Planting Residency program demonstrated that TPCC was not seeking to hoard money and/or leaders in building a church in Frankfort. Right alongside this was a commitment to preach solid Biblical truth instead of motivational/leadership talks designed to build morale and raise funds. Honestly, in all the churches I visited throughout Central Kentucky, TPCC was the only church that demonstrated a commitment to preaching Biblical Truth through expositional preaching through a book of the Bible (Luke).
I heard repeated intentional calls from leaders to “Go Be the church!” This was done in far more than just a final charge at the end of each worship service. I heard this message in future plans (Venue 328), sermon series (“Don’t Go to Church”) and even in how TPCC members often described themselves (Church in a factory). I can’t tell you how HUGE it was for my family to hear constantly the distinction between the church and the building in which you resided. After a while, I found the desire in my heart to be a part of what TPCC was doing rather than taking my family and seeking to plant another church elsewhere.
When the discussion with the elders began about planting an additional site in Lexington, we came to realize that God had brought my family to TPCC for this very reason. And now as we stand on the verge of launching ThePOINTinLEX, I’m absolutely pumped about BEING the church in Lexington. We are still seeking a place to gather in Lexington. We are not sure if we will be the church in a factory, church in a school, church in a warehouse or church in another church’s building. Wherever we land in terms of a place to gather, we go there with the same strong commitment to BEING the church by serving Lexington for the sake of the Gospel.