A story, a building, and a new beginning

Posted: December 19, 2013 in Uncategorized

I am a member of Mars Hill Church in Huntington Beach but live in Riverside. The church is about an hour drive and 45 miles away from my home. It is a far drive but I am certain that this is the church Jesus has called me to be part of. I have been there since the church launched 2 1/2 years ago and Jesus has been faithful in confirming that I am right where I am supposed to be over and over again.

Jesus was faithful in gathering a group of people at Mars Hill Church who all live in the Riverside area. We have been meeting as a community group for about 18 months and it has been so life giving. I can remember when the closest community group to my home was all the way in Fullerton and it was so difficult to be in community and really known by anyone. I thank God everyday for all of the people he has placed in my life and allowed me to live in community with. They have spoken into my life more times than I can count, they have given me great advice on singleness and dating, I have gleaned things from their marriages that have changed my life, and I have watched them parent their children with grace and love. Needless to say, the community that Jesus has put into my life has been one of the greatest gifts Jesus has ever given to me.

Our community has gotten to the point where we no longer fit in a living room and have been in need of a new location to meet. Another struggle we have had is the difficulty of being on mission where we live when our church is so far away. How can we be faithful to the mission Jesus has given to us in the bible, while living 45 miles away? As a community we began to pray and ask The Lord to give us direction and a vision for what we are to do.

Jesus gave us a vision that was huge and to be honest I don’t see how it can possible happen. Jesus put it in our hearts that we should be in downtown Riverside so that we could be in the community that we live in. Our prayer was that it would be a place that we would have opportunities to meet the people that work, live and hang out downtown. We want to build relationships with the business owners, be a blessing to them, and pray that their businesses flourish. We pray it would be a place where we could make disciples, train up new leaders, and send them out to plant new groups. Our biggest prayer is that people would meet Jesus.

Two weeks ago The Lord put it on my heart that it was time to go seek out a new location. I got to downtown Riverside at about 8 o’clock in the morning and spent the next 9 hours walking around praying for businesses, praying for people, talking with business owners, and seeking out a location for our group to meet. It was late in the day and I had no luck finding a location and was ready to give up for the day. I found myself joyful and not discouraged, but really wishing I had found a location. Just as I began to walk back to my truck I saw a building that I hadn’t gone inside of yet so I figured I would at least check it out.

The building is a huge 3 story 100 year old brick building where they rent out spaces for anything from art shows to quinceaneras. I knew it would be an expensive place to rent but it would be a perfect location. I went inside and talked to the property manager and as soon as I told him what I was looking for he jumped right up and told me he has the perfect space. The space is perfect! It is right on the corner with huge windows that open out to the street. We would have our own private entrance. But I knew we wouldn’t be able to afford it. Sure enough he told me the cost and there was no way we could afford it. I mean I was actually looking for a place for free! The rent was literally more than most peoples car payments. My heart literally dropped because I knew this space was perfect. He then proceeded to tell me that he would make me an awesome deal because he really wanted to give the space to us. Lets just say that he offered me the space at a small fraction of the normal cost! I couldn’t believe it!

Over the next two weeks I prayed everyday for the building. Then after talking it over with the other leaders in the Riverside group and our Pastor we agreed that the building is perfect and we were given the green light. I went back to the property on Tuesday to make sure the space was still available and it was! I started talking with the property manager and he was so excited I came back. Come to find out he and the owner of the building had been talking about how they wished a Christian group would rent out a space in the building. Apparently there are several different groups that use the building of all different religions, there is a gym in the basement, tenants live in studios upstairs, and tons of artists use the building for all kinds of different things. Well the management would love to see community and relationships between all the different people that use the building, which is the very thing we had been praying for! Then he offers to let us use their chairs, tables, kitchen, bottled water, and anything else they have for free! I just couldn’t believe all this was happening. Just as I was leaving the manager told me that he felt this was all meant to be, I agreed it was an answered prayer, and I pray he meets Jesus and sees that it was an answered prayer and not a great coincidence.

On Tuesday I signed a 6 month lease for our new building! It is located in the Life and Arts building on the corner of University and Lime. It is 1 block from the Mission Inn and 1 block from Main Street where there are plenty of places to eat and get coffee. We are on the second floor right in the corner space. Check out the pics at the bottom of this post. The address is 3485 University ave in Riverside. Everyone is welcome including kiddos. We will be meeting on Tuesday nights at 6:30 started in January. Typically we have a discussion about Sundays sermon and have time for prayer, but thats definitely not all we do. Its really whatever the Spirit leads us to do which could be a night of prayer, a night of worship, a discussion about who knows what, or going downtown and having dinner together. If you have any questions feel free to contact me about anything. Here is a brief explanation of what a community group is.

The easiest way I’ve found to describe what a community group is starts by sharing first what it isn’t.

1. We aren’t a Bible study. We love the Bible. We will study the Bible. We will share Scripture with each other and live by the Word. But a Bible Study is not what we are ultimately about.

2. We aren’t a fellowship group. We love to hang out as you can tell from the meal that we just shared. But fellowship is not what we are ultimately about.

3. We aren’t a care group. We care about each other. We will help each other walk through difficult times. We will counsel and love each other. But a care group is not what we are ultimately about.

4.  We aren’t a small group. This isn’t a logistical group designed so you can have “large” church on Sunday and attend “small” church during the week. It is nice to have a smaller group of people to connect with when being part of a large church like Mars Hill. But a small group is not what we are ultimately about.

So what are we about? We are here for Jesus. This group is a family that is centered around and focused on Jesus. We find our identities in Jesus. We worship Jesus with our all of our lives. We live in community around Jesus, and we are on mission to share the gospel of Jesus.

Therefore, we will ask hard questions of each other, love each other, laugh with each other, and push each other to be closer to Jesus. A community group is a family that is all about Jesus.

Please join me in prayer. Pray we build relationships with the people in the building. Pray we would build relationships with the nearby relationships. Pray that this would be a location where people meet Jesus and become disciples of Jesus.

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