A Cleveland Possibility?

Matt Evans

Posted February 17, 2019
Posted in:

Recently, we were approached by a church in Cleveland, Tennessee about the possibility of their congregation becoming a campus of Rock Bridge. The Cleveland Church made this request after much prayer, visits to our weekend services, and conversations within their leadership team. We are humbled and honored by their request and thank God that people see His work among us.

At an Elder retreat last Saturday, our elders agreed that we should begin an “assessment” period to determine whether this “Cleveland possibility” would be a wise, faith-based, Kingdom-seeking opportunity for RBCC in this season. The analogy of the early stages of dating comes to mind. This is where we are. I would like to invite you to pray into this.

To help shape your praying and how we are considering this, I offer the following thoughts:

1) Our values should always guide and inform what we say yes and no to.

As a church, we cannot and are not called to do everything. Our 5 values help us remember why we exist and how we pursue the glory of God in our context. So we are asking the following questions:

  • Is this a Kingdom-opportunity more than just a Rock Bridge one?
  • What barriers exist in Cleveland? Is this an opportunity to build (or strengthen) a bridge that people from all walks of life can use to connect to Christ and His body?
  • Can we become one with this group of believers in Cleveland?
  • What would it take to break the huddle and implement effective and excellent expressions of Rock Bridge ministry, community, and H.O.P.E. initiatives in Cleveland?

2) Short-term rushing can lead to long-term bondage.

The story of Abraham “making” Ishmael with his handmaid versus waiting for Isaac comes to mind (see Genesis 16). We want to wait for and pursue what God has promised and not rush to make something happen. What does this wait look like?

  • First, we resist the urge to set a date or a deadline for ourselves (or God). We’re resolving to wait actively in prayer and discernment and to be indifferent to anything but God’s will. We only want what He wants and when He is pleased to give it.
  • Second, we heed God’s warning in Psalm 106:13 (CSB): “They soon forgot his works and would not wait for His counsel.”
  • Third, we realize that God’s wisdom never comes through our fleshly pioneering, impulses, or scheming, but rather through purity, gentleness, reasonableness, and steadfastness (James 3:13-17).

3) We recognize God steers moving ships.

God guided the first church to mission opportunities when they resolved to wait for Him in worship, prayer, and fasting (Acts 1 and Acts 13). God guided Paul into Macedonia after keeping him out of Asia (Acts 16:6-10). In each case, the commitment of the believers was the same—to obey God, pursue the Great Commission relentlessly, and depend on the Holy Spirit for guidance and power.

We understand from Scripture that the greatest thing we can do is to be the type of church that God can guide … the kind of people that God can take deeper and farther into Himself and His mission in the world … the kind of people that God can interrupt, surprise, and redirect … the kind of people who fear doing anything apart from God.

May our prayer be that of Moses:

 If Your presence does not go,” Moses responded to Him, “don’t make us go up from here. How will it be known that I and Your people have found favor with You unless you go with us? I and Your people will be distinguished by this from all the other people on the face of the earth.

{Exodus 33:15-16, CSB}