A Church Beyond the Launch Party

By: Matteo Mortelliti, Pastoral Leader at the180

After our engagement Bethany and I did what every young-and-in-love couple does: prepare for the wedding day. It's a party, a celebration, but in reality, it's just the beginning.

The truth is, we all like parties, and so did Jesus, but let’s face it, we often prefer celebrating “eternal love” than actually committing to it. We like the idea of being “all in” but when we are confronted by the cost and countless hours of work and disagreements, we wonder about why we were interested in the first place. The wedding industry generates an estimated 50 billion dollars a year, and sadly, statistics indicate that the divorce industry is almost as big.

The church planting season can be a lot like planning a wedding. For those who are part of our church family, you know that the180 recently celebrated its historical launch. Bethany and I, having been part of another plant, experienced how easy it is to fall in with love the idea of being part of a new church. When the novelty and excitement wears off, the discipline required to grow together in community becomes critical. In the same way, many people followed Jesus because of his miracles, but when he called to something more, they walked away (John 6:60-68).

At the180, we believe that our next chapter will require a renewed commitment to loving Jesus and loving others in new and creative ways. Our desire to grow as his disciples and to be transformed by the Scriptures and the work of his Spirit remains at the heart of how much we will be able to do.

The deeper question is: do you want the same thing?

There is something special about a wedding day. It’s sacred, it’s beautiful, mysterious, and points to Jesus’ unending relationship to his church. All weddings are exciting and fun, but being "all in" for marriage takes time, work, and lots of patience. The truth is that is you can’t fully prepare for the marriage in the way we often expect. There is no Pinterest board on forgiveness and self-control. There is no equivalent of a wedding planner who can show you the best way to practice respectful communication when your wife leaves her shoes by the door or when a disagreement about your finances emerges. This maturity is developed only the context of a learning - a recurring theme of ours at the180 as we have been growing over the past few months.

The180, as a new church, is excited to invite people into our next chapter. While we continue to prepare, we all must be ready to learn to deal with new challenges and exciting next steps ahead. But, perhaps most importantly, we must be ready to leave our romantic view of a perfect church behind.

While some of the novelty might fade, we are eager for the next season and what that means for the many who will encounter Jesus for the very first time and for those of us who know that following Jesus as disciples is so much more than just coming to a party.

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Hope you can join us as we begin a new sermon series, Unfinished Story: How God Redeems our Regrets, THIS Sunday, September 25.