Happy New Year! This is the last time I’m going to say that. We are 10 days into 2019 after a busy holiday season… which means I am back to blogging after a short hiatus.
The last time I wrote, I mentioned that we are experiencing breakthrough with our church planting vision. Today, I’m going to attempt to fill you in on what is happening, so that you can be praying with us. I will spend the next few weeks talking about church planting and then I will switch gears to discuss two more expansion initiatives that we believe The Holy Spirit is breathing on.
For nearly 5 years, we have been praying about this idea of multiplication. Our early conversations centered around if we would rather have a handful of people driving here from Oelwein or Toledo or Eldora for example, or if we would we rather have a thriving church like what we have here at HVC in each of these communities.
That was an easy question to answer, and since we are part of a church planting movement, it’s even more of a no-brainer.
When we began casting the vision around seeing more Vineyard churches planted in Northeast Iowa, Oelwein specifically was one of the towns that we knew God had big plans for.
So much has happened over the last 5 years in Oelwein. Lots of little seeds have been planted. Through times of times of prayer and discussion and meetings there, God has revealed his heart for this little community in a powerful way.
The goal of our early meetings in Oelwein were to begin building relationships. They felt much like a small group in that worship, prayer and relationship building were the key elements of these gatherings.
As these meetings happened, we were also praying that a person or couple would emerge who would take leadership over this vision. This did not happen and the number of meetings began to become less frequent as we started making preparations to move out of our building on Greenhill and into the building that we currently minister out of.
Through this season of transition, all was quiet, in the fact that no meetings were taking place in Oelwein. Prayer and discussions were happening behind the scenes, but no boots were on the ground. Through this season though, we knew God was aligning things for the future. We could feel it!
After we settled in to our new building we began talking and praying again about what we saw on the horizon in the area of church planting. During this time, God highlighted two people in our minds who we saw as potentially playing a key role in this vision.
This is where Jake and Julie Shepard arrive in the story. For those of you who do not know Jake and Julie, they are awesome! They love Jesus with all of their hearts and are sold out for the kingdom. They also lead our Celebrate Recovery Ministry.
Over the past few years, Jake and Julie have been sensing a call from the Holy Spirit to plant a church. When we caught wind of this, we knew we needed to start spending more time with them to get a better sense of where this calling might be leading them towards.
We decided to send them to Oelwein on a few scouting trips. After a few trips, it became very evident to us and to them that Oelwein was a fit. Julie has said on multiple occasions that Oelwein feels like home and that every time they are there, it is difficult to leave. As a church planter, this is so important.
We can’t see the future, but Jake and Julie even through some challenging circumstances over the past few months, feel like their mandate is to continue to move forward in this call.
It is awesome to see how God is working through their obedience and service. Next week, I’ll share more about what Jake and Julie are up to and what our next steps are as we come around them and the team their team as a church family. Stay tuned!