One Year Ago

IMG_0877Exactly one year ago today, a group of people got together at Summit’s Chapel Hill Campus to talk about planting a church in DC.  It was the first public step we took on the road to planting Restoration City Church.

I remember walking into that day with absolutely no clue what was going to happen.  I wasn’t a 100% sure anyone was actually going to show up.  And I really wasn’t sure how many would be interested by the time we were done!

One year later, I love scanning this photo and seeing how God has knit people who were total strangers a year ago into a church meeting weekly in DC.  It’s been an amazing ride that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.  But if I could go back in time and talk to myself a year ago, I know what I would say:

  • Get Over Yourself.  Jesus is the One who builds His church (Mt. 16:18).  Sure, vision, strategy and leadership matter but the success of Restoration City Church has little to do with me and everything to do with Jesus.  A year ago, I was worried about being impressive.  Today I would much rather have people impressed with Jesus.
  • Stop Worrying.  One, it doesn’t accomplish anything (Mt. 6:25-34).  Two, Jesus is faithful. (Deut. 7:9)  It’s so strange that we all think the God who has never once dropped the ball might just start with us.  If God calls you to do something, He’ll get you where you need to go.  A year ago I didn’t know what the road ahead looked like and it freaked me out.  Today, I have no more clarity about the road, just more confidence in the One who leads us.
  • Have Fun.  Don’t get me wrong – this last year was great!  Laura and I have so many good memories of our time at Summit and in NC.  But sometimes I don’t fully enjoy this moment because I’m so focused on the next.  I keep thinking about tomorrow and missing out on today.  Honestly, I don’t know that I’ve made much progress on this one!  But I know the ability to slow down and present is a really big deal.

If God is leading you into a new season, take a deep breath, relax, trust Him and enjoy the ride.  It really is an amazing thing to walk through life with the Living God.  RCC is one small example of His power, His faithfulness and His mercy.

Slacker Church

131015_marine_corps_marathon_ap_328After two incredible Sundays at Restoration City, we’re not meeting this week.  Seriously.  We aren’t having a corporate worship service this Sunday.

What in the world would compel us to abandon logic, common sense, church planting best practices and rational expectations?  Simple – the Marine Corps Marathon.  Thirty thousand people will be running the 39th Annual Marine Corps Marathon this Sunday.  And they’ll all be passing right through Crystal City.  Huge crowds will line the course.  And Crystal City is hosting a festival to coincide with the race.  So, you couldn’t get to our little theater if you tried.

When we figured all of this out a few months ago, we felt like we had three options:

1.  Hold a service no one could attend.  Bummer.

2.  Move our services to a different location for the week.  Possible.

3.  Not meet and go serve and engage our community.  Risky.

I honestly believe God has given us this weekend to clarify the kind of church we are becoming.  It just didn’t make sense to me to move our services because tens of thousands of people who don’t know the gospel are going to be in our backyard.  That’s craziness!  We want to be in Crystal City this Sunday to serve, to meet people and to participate in the life of the neighborhood God has called us to reach.

So, we’re not meeting on Sunday.  We’re serving instead.  This is the kind of church we want to be – engaged in our community and fighting for the good of our city.

This isn’t a Sunday off.  It’s a Sunday on mission.  We would love to have you join us!  For more information, visit Restoration City’s website: http://restorationcitydc.com/mcm/

Water skiing & Church Planting

As we get ready to launch Restoration City this Sunday, I keep thinking back to a conversation I had with a friend.  We were having lunch one day and he was telling me about the ministry he was helping lead.  As we were talking, he asked me if I had ever seen the chewing gum commercial with a guy barefoot water skiing behind a boat.

I vaguely remembered it but he had to fill me in on the details.  Basically, the commercial starts with a guy (by the way, it might have been twins…we never could agree on that!) standing on a dock in water skis.  The idea was the boat would gently pull him into the water for a quiet ride around the lake.  Instead, the captain hit the throttle a little hard, ripped the guy out of his skis and took him on a wild, barefoot ride around the lake.

That’s how my friend described his ministry – a wild, barefoot ride powered by the Holy Spirit.

He felt like God was dragging them on an amazing adventure, they could barely hold on but they were in love with all He was doing.  I wanted that so badly in my life.  I was tired of feeling like I was trying to water ski behind a rowboat that I was also responsible for rowing.  I knew my friend was on to something and I wanted the same in my life.

That was one of many conversations God used to encourage me down the road of church planting.  Years later, we’re standing on the dock ready to see where God is going to take us.

I don’t know what our ride will look like.  But I do know our hope in planting this church isn’t in our logo, our strategy, our team, our resources, our website, our location, our merit, our talent or anything else.  Our hope is in the power of God, the promises of God and the faithfulness of God.

If He doesn’t do the work, we’re in trouble.  We can’t power the boat.  We don’t even know which direction to steer it half the time.  But we can hold on, trust Him and go where He tells us to go and do it in the power He provides.

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.”(Ps. 127:1)  

Father, build your house.  Advance the gospel.  Bear fruit.  Transform lives.  Use us for the glory of Christ and the good of our city.

Restoration City September Update

We’re only 40 days away from the public launch of Restoration City Church.

On Sunday, October 12th,  we will be celebrating all Jesus has done on the improbable journey of bringing this church to life.  One year ago, Laura and I had just started a church planting residency with The Summit in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.  We knew God was calling us to plant a new church in DC and we knew He would be faithful to all of His promises.  Other than that, it was a pretty blank slate.

What God has written on that slate has been stunning.  He’s raised up a launch team that now exceeds 60 people.  Our four Community Groups are approaching capacity and we’re making plans to launch more this fall.  Ministry teams are coming to life, people are being reached in our community and we’re looking forward to celebrating our first baptisms as a church on September 14th, four weeks before our launch!

For all of that, I truly believe the best is yet to come.

Sunday, October 12th is going to be a huge celebration of God’s faithfulness in bringing this church to life.  We will be meeting at 10a.m. in The Synetic Theater, located in the Crystal City area of Arlington, Va.  The theater, which will be home for Restoration City’s weekly gatherings, is in an incredibly strategic location less than a block from the Crystal City Metro.

These next 40 days are a time of preparation and anticipation for our team as we prepare for our public launch.  If you would like to join us in that, we would love your support.  The single most important thing you could do is pray that RCC will make much of Jesus in our city.  You might also want to make plans to join us on October 12th.  Finally, we would be grateful if God leads you to support Restoration City financially.  We’re trusting God to provide the nearly $30,000 in start-up costs we’re anticipating in the next two months and would love your help in meeting that goal.  If you would like to contribute, you can do so online.

As our launch draws near, we’re mindful that October 12th isn’t the completion of everything God is going to write on the slate of RCC.  Quite the opposite – it’s the beginning of Him writing the story of what He will accomplish though this church in our nation’s capital.

For regular updates up to and through the launch, make sure you visit www.restorationcitydc.com.

For Restoration In DC,

John McGowan