SPRING HILL PLANT
I love church. I love house church, church plants, underground church, big church, inner-city church, and rural country church. When’s the last time you were in church and everyone sensed the moving of the Spirit was happening right then? There is nothing better! This is the biggest thing on earth! There is no other business more important to Jesus than the changing, morphing, growing expressiveness of His Bride. I experienced that tonight with our church.
I want to thank those who gave, dreamed and worked in obedience long before I was in service at GCC to make tonight a reality! Glory be to God! Here is the play by play of one church and how we walked through communicating the process of a Multi-Site Campus becoming an autonomous church!
On January 22nd, a meeting was held at the GCC Spring Hill Campus to discuss the details concerning the desire of that body of believers to become an autonomous church. The elders of GCC and a Spring Hill appointed Transition Team gathered last night to seek the Lord and clarity in preparation for tonight’s Spring Hill Congregational Meeting.
I would point all of us to Paul’s words for Church governance in Titus 1:5;
“The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you.”
The very thing that Paul instructed to be accomplished in Crete is EXACTLY what is happening in Spring Hill! This might not be the exact vision that has always been in place by GCC leadership for the Spring Hill location but is clearly not out of bounds according to Paul’s instructions. Paul continues his thoughts on Church governance by instructing what kind of men are to be called into the overseer position in Titus 1:6-9;
“An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.”
The Elders of GCC met with the following Elder Candidates last night:
These men have been called to Biblical Eldership by Campus Pastor Al Squitieri and the Spring Hill Transition Team: Robert and Irene Nieman, Kaylene Squitieri, Tom Richards, Lee Lopez, John Murphy, Craig Bias, Ted Warren, and Herb Steffey.
A word of encouragement I would give to our church at this point comes from Paul in the very next sentences. The same attacks have been used against the Bride of Christ since the start of the church. We are called in this very text to ‘silence them.’ There are no new problems in the church. The old ones usually work just fine to trip us up! Let’s have our guard on during this time of the Lord’s moving. It is clear that what is happening in Spring Hill is not against what God set as guidelines for churches to follow. So let there by none of the types of disruptiveness that is described by Paul in the early church in Titus 1:10-11;
“For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach . . .”
These scriptures were shared tonight, Wednesday, January 23rd, at our congregational gathering in Spring Hill. The following bullet points lay out some information concerning questions people may have as we move forward in working together to transition to ‘plant’ Spring Hill successfully.
- We desire to bring Clarity and Continuity of New Testament Church Fellowship
- There is no reason to worry about the day-to-day and weekly operation of what God is doing in the church. We are walking closely to ensure that programming happens in every area of the church at a high level of quality.
- The Generations Christian Church Trinity Eldership endorses this new direction and body of Elders.
- We believe that the desire to be an independent church, functioning with a distinct culture and DNA that honors Christ, is an acceptable desire and we support the hope of a good many in the Spring Hill family to see this happen. This is the third meeting in over two months. The first was before Christmas. Pastor Johnny and some of our GCC Elders attended a large congregational meeting to simply listen. Two more open meetings have happened in an orderly fashion to include the full heart of Spring Hill in this decision.
- We endorse the decision to continue exploration into the additional 5,000 square feet adjacent to current facility for immediate church needs.
- The Elders of this new body have met and discussed the most prudent decision for Spring Hill. At this time, they do not want to take on any debt for the land.
- GCC desires to continue all our efforts to bless the work in Spring Hill.
- Our new goal is to gift a portion of this land free of debt to Spring Hill and still position GCC to continue a Multi-Site strategy in the future. To do this, we will begin to explore options that allow us to sell portions of the land to pay for the part that Spring Hill needs for the future site and also repay the $850,000 expenditure made by GCC in 2018 in acquiring this land.
- We are asking for your patience and grace as we work out many details. We will take as long as is needed to honor the Lord and follow the example of Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves”.
We want to promote everyone to be ‘all in’ for Spring Hill, in deep prayer and true encouragement. We will endorse a campaign for Spring Hill’s future. Many at GCC have sacrificially given to the see the gospel proclaimed. Those Kingdom investments are growing and will produce fruit for the Glory of Jesus. Long before I arrived at GCC, the mission was to ‘connect people to Christ.’ That central idea still compels us in every decision we make. This mission will continue in Spring Hill. We encourage everyone to be in prayer for our new sister congregation!
There’s a missing verse in your bible. No, seriously, studying online one day in Matthew chapter 17, I noticed that a verse number skipped! Let me explain, I was reading verse 20, and then verse 22 began. “Where did verse 21 go?” I wondered. I went to another website thinking that it was just a mistake.
Nope. The second web site skipped verse 21 also.
I know how to count. This is the most studied and essential book in world. How do two websites BOTH skip verse 21? I was going old school. I went for my preaching Bible, and this is where it got bizarre. . . NOT THERE! Why would they skip a verse? It was just missing. I bet it is missing from your Bible too . . . Check it. (Don’t read the footnote for a clue to our fun mystery!) I will wait. Go to Matthew 17 and start reading in verse 20.
It’s missing. The chances are excellent that it’s missing! (There is a SMALL chance that in the Bible you are reading it’s NOT missing; keep reading.) I want to tell you about this missing verse, but first, can I tell you a story?
“Do you sell Alcohol in your store?” said the voice on the phone before I could say a word. I thought it was someone like the famous central Indiana radio comic, Roy D. Mercer, who would prank call businesses. The voice that the cranky old caller used was so brash, direct, and goofy sounding that I seriously thought I was being pranked.
You’ve got to know the setting of where the call came in and the way the conversation continued to play out to fully understand what was running through my head! It was my first college job, and I don’t know how I landed it as a freshman! I worked in the center of campus at Cincinnati Christian College Bookstore. It was a bustling corridor for everyone coming and going to class. We sold Coca Cola, CD’s (when you used to buy music on disks), and all the books required for a Seminary education. It was just a great place to work in the middle of all the social interaction on campus, and I loved it. How did my crazy uncle Larry hear that I got this job, get the number, and catch me at the front desk to prank call me already?
“Do you sell tobacco products at your store?” came the voice firing back at me before I could even get an answer out to the first question.
Pressing in with my questions I asked, “Is this Kevin calling from the dorm?” I didn’t think Kevin could fake such an angry old guy’s voice without breaking character at all. “You must be looking for another store, sir,” I said to try and end the conversation. I was representing the single undergrad position on staff as the assistant to the bookstore manager, Darrin Bennet, and just in case this wasn’t a buddy from the dorms I had to hold some form of decorum.
At this point, I began to think that I was dealing with some confused old guy and so I had decided to shut the dead-end conversation down with my final words, “We don’t sell things like that here sir, we have a student policy against both of those substances!”
Well, the hook was set, and I was on the other line. It wasn’t the first time this routine phone call had been made. I still didn’t know it yet, but I might as well have been reading a script because I was being led masterfully so far to the triumphant moment he worked so hard for. His barking questions about our stock of tobacco and alcohol products pivoted, to the clinching line he couldn’t wait to land on me “why don’t you sell alcohol and tobacco?” he demanded to know. The pause before his final zinger line was perfectly timed in the way that only a person who had delivered such a line many times before. So, he perfectly laid it out there . . . Wait for it . . .
“You might as well sell alcohol and tobacco because you sell versions of the Bible besides The King James, don’t you!!”
A mix between:
Shock – that I fell for it.
Laughter – that he tricked me with such practiced skill and intentionality.
Anger – that people thought so legalistically about everything in this story!
This happened. He didn’t wait for a rebuttal. His work was finished. The prepared lesson had been given to the new pupil, and then he hung up on me. I walked back to Darrin, mouth still open and said, “you’re not going to believe the phone call I just got! A guy asked me if we sold Alcohol . . .”
“You heard from Rodger,” said Darrin as matter-as-fact as I had ever heard anyone say anything before. Darrin didn’t even look up at me. Honestly, I was elated at Darrin’s non-surprised response to such a crazy caller! “If that’s a normal day then this is going to be a great job,” I thought to myself.
It was. Until Darrin fired me because I was, in his words, “getting married and ready for a weekend ministry.” Thanks, Darrin. I missed you, but you were right.
I puzzled over that phone call for years. How could one get so zealous over the King James translation being the only credible version of the Bible that they would compare it, in their mind to other harmful substances? There were moments in seminary when the professor would note translation differences between versions of the Bible, but I couldn’t list 10 for you that meant SOO much to me that I would escalate the conversation to an argument or a test of fellowship!
Let’s go back to the mystery missing verse.
Back to the missing verse:
It helps to know the backstory with what is going on in the verses around our ‘missing scripture’ In Matthew 17, Jesus has an encounter with casting out a demon. The apostles tried and couldn’t; Jesus saw that a crowd was gathering, and he quickly helped them rid the demon from the boy. The apostles want to know why they were not able to cast this demon out, but Jesus did. They asked him later in private what the difference was. This is where the missing verse comes up. It’s always good to know the larger story of what is going on around the verses we read.
- What was going on in the verse before the mystery missing verse?
- The disciples were doing ministry with Jesus, and He had given them this authority in Matthew 10:1 Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them the authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.
- Jesus noted that the situation was a specific ‘kind’ of a demon that needs ‘prayer’ to cast him out. If this verse doesn’t freak you out just a little bit, then reread it. There are levels of power in demons, and some need extra spiritual weapons to defeat it.
- The same story is recorded for us in Mark’s gospel too. Mark 9:28-29
So, what IS the missing verse?? Well, if you happen to have a King James version of the Bible, you can read what many of the earliest Matthew 17:21 scrolls say, “Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”
Is your Bible missing the words, “and fasting”? Wouldn’t that be important Demon advice? Jesus says, this kind is hard, you APOSTLES couldn’t do it because you didn’t pray and something else . . . What was it? I would stick around and listen to the second important thing needed to beat demons!!!
I am NOT a King James ONLY guy. Our church uses NIV on the screens, and I actually hold and personally use ESV or NASB. After looking at the manuscript evidence available for keeping this portion of scripture, I agree that enough evidence is there to keep the words of Christ as saying “AND FASTING.” The research on this is fascinating if you want to dig in for yourself. But there is a more significant point for our church in all of this!
I want to invite you to something deeply spiritual. I encourage you to the spiritual discipline of fasting. Fasting has a deep history in the Bible:
- King David, a man after God’s own heart, fasted so often he often looked sickly
- Esther chapter 4 records a moment where the entire nation of Israel fasts for three days asking God to deliver them.
- Jesus started His miracle after His period of fasting in Matthew chapter 3 for 40 days and 40 nights
- Matthew 9:15 Jesus tells some of John’s followers why His followers are NOT fasting. Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.”
There are many places for you to do some research on the health aspects of fasting and more biblical context. Here is one link I would suggest as a starting place if you feel called by God to participate in a fast:
- Fasting can be a bring breakthrough.
- Fasting can help release spiritual bondage.
- Fasting can open our eyes to the new things God wants to do in our lives.
- Fasting stretches our spiritual muscles.
- Jesus Fasted.
- The early church fasted.
- We need to pray AND FAST!
Join me in praying for
- God’s vision for our church
- Unity in our leadership and body
- God’s provision
- A spiritual awakening in Tampa
- That Jesus’ name would be lifted high in our church and community