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3 Years of LOVE. and Counting

It is crazy to think that Vertical Church, Atlanta, is celebrating our 3-year anniversary. If you are new to my story, I along with my wife started a church in the statistically worse part of our city where a large collection college campuses exists (my wife and I graduated from these colleges). It was ridiculous to think that we would establish this local assembly in the midst of college students and the urban poor and that it would actually work. At the time, it felt like equal parts faith and stupidity. All we knew was that God was leading us, and that was enough.

I had spent years dreaming about planting a church in the West End/Vine City area of Atlanta.  I remember being in the community and noticing an old man struggling to get down the street. Looking at his face I felt like I could see all of the hardship and pain that he’d ever experience. I could not stop the tears from falling as I said aloud, “I am coming”.  Not that I, by myself am anything, but I fully believe that when I come, God is with me! I believe that was the moment I became the local pastor (even though it was years before we launched).

We started by serving in the community! That was the first public thing we’d done. It seemed appropriate. The community doesn’t necessarily need more churches in buildings, but more churches that will serve. Service is a verb, it’s what we do, not what we attend. Our area has been a “project” for so many including Christians, only to ultimately let them down.  If we were going to have impact, we would have to change how people saw church. So, we would be known for how we showed love to others. We started a movement called LOVE.

We have been consistently serving like we have lost our minds! It is because we look at what lengths Jesus went through to demonstrate his love. If we are going to follow his example, we should do the same. LOVE. is not a project. It is a movement! In 3-years we have done over 6,000 hours of service, we have distributed over 5,000 meals; we have given 4,000 books to a local school. Add to that, our work to fight sex trafficking, our back to school event (one of the largest in the city), our work with the homeless population, and our ongoing investments in church planting. We have been apart of community revitalization efforts – thinking, praying and giving voice. It’s clear to see we have been busy.  We have even invited other churches to join us in loving the overlooked, ignored, and forgotten.

We have become a vital part of the community. One local leader said, “I don’t know how we made before you arrived”. Another one said from the stage at one of our events, “Vertical Church loves us!” That is what LOVE. means! It doesn’t just mean something to us, but it means something to our community.

Yes, we have hit the 3-year mark. Most experts agree that it is a major milestone in the life of a church. It means that we are establish, that we have a much higher chance of making it over the long haul. We still have some challenges, like our finances. Even though we have a team that gives consistently, the amount they give is limited to their limited means. We will probably have to raise funds for the next 5 to 7 years. But, it is so worth it! I have found that it is easy for people to invest in our church because it’s easy to see our LOVE. in action.

It’s our Anniversary! I couldn’t be prouder as a pastor, and more honored to be a member of Vertical Church.

If you would like to join in the worthwhile work go to http://www.verticalatl.com/giving/

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