I preached last Sabbath in Arise. It’s a brand new YA church in Potomac Conference, under the leadership of Pr. Jose Esposito who is the Hispanic Coordinator, with Pr. Feliciano also involved in providing pastoral leadership. Here are some observations, and hope for the future of our denomination. If you spend 5 minutes around me, you will sense that my passion to seek and save this generation is very clear. Being that the case, I was really looking forward to spending a Sabbath of my vacation with them.
1. They are small, but committed. The core group is around 35 (over 100 were present Sabbath) which is very small. Yet, that does not dampen their enthusiasm. Their pastor has 3 other congregations, which means the local leadership has to step up, (a great thing!). The experience that I have had (around 5 now) with these churches, is that it takes a while for it to build up. There is no 0-60 in under 60 days. That being the case, the leadership must be extremely committed, and clear that it’s going to take a while, and that’s OK. As I look at other churches in this category (mainly YA) like Mosaic, I remember the years of struggle before the growth happens. ARISE is one among around 20 churches of the same kind nationwide that have started in the last 10 years, where there were none before. This brings me hope.
2. A sense of mission is clear.Some of the churches, even young adult churches, when they are planted are focused on having a great worship and little more. But successful churches, are both attractional AND missional.They might use different methods, but the mission remains clear. One leader told me about how they are trying to go after kids that have left the church, while at the same time doing outreach in their community with people that have little or no church background. They build up the body, and seek the lost.
3. They are for, not against. Many churches (too many to count) are started because of what they are against. They are against worldliness, against traditions, against Jesuit infiltration, against too many rules. The conversations I had today, were all about what they were for. They are for reaching the ones that have left. They are for reaching their community. They are for evangelism. They are for meaningful worship. They are for commitment for God. They are for providing a safe place.
Will you join me in praying for ARISE? Here is the facebook page and website. Drop them a line. Keep them in your prayers. Join them if you can.
Isaiah 60:1 “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.