What an Answer to Prayer!
We’re excited for the next stage of our church and we need your help. I was approved on March 6, 2022 to be the teaching pastor and to work as a co-pastor with Don Schwing to lead GraceWay Bible Church. But this isn’t just about me. This is an answer to our prayers. Maybe you remember last year I suggested that we should pray for a million dollars. God did more than that. He gave us a whole building! We have prayed for a worship team. God is giving us that too!
Yes, we’ve enjoyed the Barn. It’s quaint and a joy to worship in such a beautiful environment. But the work required for us to meet at the Barn is huge. And some people just won’t come to our church because we meet in a Barn. I love kids but the number of families who feel like they can come to the Barn is small. I feel sad when I see people want to be discipled and learn but the Barn just doesn’t work for them. Cindy said this about her Sunday School class, “I love the Barn but I feel sorry for the kids, each with a blanket and clipboard. It will be nice to teach them in a real classroom.”
Calvary Chapel has some unique gifts. GraceWay Bible Church has different gifts. Both churches have the same core values and mission – to disciple believers and to spread the gospel message to those who do not yet know Jesus. I believe God has called us together for his strategic purpose.
So, we are now in the process of transition.
It’s hard to know what terminology to use to describe this process. I use the term “merger” but let me be clear here. This isn’t like a business merger. This is two churches combining. Each person must decide for themselves to come to GraceWay. I believe it’s a great fit for us as a church and I hope that you will make the decision to come with us over to GraceWay. I don’t want the term “merger” to imply that we have more authority in this process than we do. We are joining with GraceWay and we don’t want them to feel like we’re coming in and taking over. We’re not. We are servants and we will come in and serve together with them. It will be one church, not two.
I’m sure you’re wondering what my role will be. I’ll be the Teaching Pastor and will be working as a co-pastor with Pastor Don Schwing who is the Executive Pastor. I already love his heart. When we first met he said to me, “Here’s the list of all the things we as pastors would do. You can choose what you want to do and I’ll do the rest.” That says a lot about Don’s gracious attitude.
Of course, we’ll work together to divide up responsibilities, but I’ll be the one teaching each Sunday morning.
We aren’t going to GraceWay as just attenders or visitors. We’re going in to serve. On the first day, we need children’s workers to help work with kids and people to greet families as they arrive. We need greeters and ushers. They’re looking forward to having additional workers for God’s Kingdom. They have so much to offer. I’m sure that there is a special place just for you.
For a church that’s bounced around a lot, I’m sure this will feel good. We will finally have a home.
I can hardly wait for you to meet Pastor Don Schwing. He is eager to meet you as well. Here’s a short video where he and I talk a bit about GraceWay.
This is exciting. I know you have a lot of questions. I’ve created some FAQ items below. Please ask me more if you’d like.
I’m excited to see what God is going to do in this next stage of our church life.
1. When will this happen?
We are currently in the planning stage. We have several ways to help Calvary people learn about GraceWay and see how they might find their special place. We’re planning our first Sunday at GraceWay to be May 1, 2022. On that Sunday morning I’ll begin teaching a new series in the book of Nehemiah. On that evening, there will be a special Installation Service for me and welcome for all Calvary Chapel people.
The Sunday before that, on April 24, 2022, we’ll have a special service at the Barn. We’ll share testimonies of how God has worked in our lives during our time together and enjoy together the things we’ll especially remember about the Barn. I’m sure many, like me, would say that the Barn will always have a special place in my heart. You won’t want to miss this Sunday.
2. What about John?
I have given John Burlaga the offer to assist us in the process of transition and get paid for two months following the first Sunday at GraceWay. Then we’re not quite sure what will happen. I believe in John and would like to continue to invest in him. We may create some kind of internship or some other way for him to continue his training with me and serve the church. We don’t know for sure. This is all in transition right now and it’s not quite clear at this time. Feel free to talk to John and Hannah about this process and support and pray for them as well.
3. How can we learn more about GraceWay?
I know that many of our people already participate in some of the ministries of GraceWay, but if you’d like to learn more you can visit them at www.gracewaybc.org. We will integrate our men’s and women’s ministries with theirs along with our prayer team, and a host of other things that we do.
4. What about my giving?
We are grateful for people who give to Calvary Chapel Living Hope. We are hoping that you will continue to give to Calvary for two months after the merger Sunday because we will have ongoing expenses that need to be addressed. After that your tithes and offerings can go directly to GraceWay. More specifics on this will follow. You will receive a giving receipt from Calvary at the end of the year as well as one from GraceWay.
5. Do I have to come to GraceWay?
Although we are going as a church, each person must make their own individual decision. Change is sometimes hard. In this case it shouldn’t be too difficult. But all making the change together can make it a lot easier. My goal is to help you feel comfortable. Yes, there are always differences in churches and Calvary Chapel has a unique personality. I’m hoping you might consider the benefits and look for ways to serve the Lord with me at GraceWay.
6. Is membership at GraceWay required to serve?
No. Anyone can serve in any ministry without becoming a member. You just can’t become an elder or deacon and you can’t vote. The reason one becomes a member of any church is because they want to make a statement that this is my church. We hope regardless of the formal membership process that you will embrace the new church as your church.