What a weekend for Mercy Church! I wanted to take a second and share with you what made it such a great weekend and why I think it will be catalytic for the coming months. So, here are 5 signs from Easter of a bright future for Mercy Church:
- There were many non-Christians in attendance Easter Sunday – I had the privilege to meet a Muslim man after our first service Easter Sunday who came with one of our Mercy Members. He was one of several who I know were in the room that self-identify as non-Christian. We want to be a church where our community can investigate the claims of Christianity safely, without fear of judgment, and I’m so encouraged it already feels that way. I know of many mercy members whose friends/neighbors/family came easter Sunday at their invite. I believe our weekends should always be welcoming to people from all walks of life and Easter Sunday highlighted Mercy Church is indeed that kind of home. That spirit of hospitality carried over the next several years together will yield great evangelistic fruit in our city. I’ve seen it happen before and believe it will happen here!
- New Christians were baptized! – Ever since I became a pastor 10 years ago, I’ve had the privilege to be involved in baptisms on Easter Sunday. And I am praying like crazy that God would allow that to be the case every year until I die. Watching people proclaim their full faith in Jesus for their salvation is so energizing to my own faith and to my role in God’s mission! Mercy, do you realize we’ve baptized 25 people in 6 months!!!! LET’S KEEP IT GOING! 50 by year 1 is our goal and I’m buckling down and praying it will happen. Considering all the names we’ve been praying for as a church, that would be a relatively small thing for God to do. Join me in this prayer!
- Good Friday was marked by repentance and worship – I’ve talked to about 20 people one on one who have said something like “Good Friday at Mercy was one of the greatest worship experiences I’ve ever been a part of.” 100% credit goes to our worship arts team led by our Worship Director Charlie King. The amount of musical talent we have for a new church is what some would call an “embarrassment of riches.” (We are already singing songs written by our people!) Friday night we got before God as a family and dealt with the weight of the cross. The freedom we have from our sin because of what happened in Christ’s trial and on the cross wasn’t just words for us, it was the door to worship. There weren’t many dry eyes in the face of the glory of the cross Friday night. Prayers of confession & intercession were vocalized all over the room and it was beautiful. I believe if God’s church is to be effective in its mission, it must first let the gospel work on its own heart. That’s what happened Friday in the Mercy family. I love that we are building an authentic culture of come as you are worship that is not afraid to live out what we are proclaiming to others.
- Sunday was our most diverse Sunday yet as a church! – One of our core values is that the church is designed by God to be multicultural. What an important time in history for the American Church to show how the gospel creates deeper unity among races than anything else can claim to! By no means are we where we need to be as a church in cultural diversity, but we continue to take steps together. The diversity I saw Sunday sparked a fresh reminder in my heart and mind to ask God to give us fruit in this area. The other great thing is, we have are seeing a really incredible amount of generational diversity in our church! We have people in every age range from single digits to 70s in our church. I love that our church really does feel like it has a family gathering each weekend!
- Sunday was our largest attendance ever for Mercy Church. Listen, we are not big on numbers so we don’t often talk about them, but make no mistake we are HUGE on the stories those numbers represent. And Sunday we had 340 people in attendance! Now, Easter Sunday was, of course, a high moment and I don’t think this Sunday will see the same number. But I don’t think it will be long. We continue to reach more people and those people continue to stick to Mercy! I keep thinking back on baptisms from Sunday morning and when one girl was getting baptized pastor John said, “Her whole community group is in the front row!” and they started cheering! Right then I thought, “Ok, her faith is going to grow from here. Look at the community God has given her!” Numbers are stories. And I’m praying like crazy for more stories of God’s faithfulness to be a part of the big story God is just beginning to write here at Mercy Church.
Listen, I know we have plenty to work on as a church. So, don’t hear me say things are perfect around here. We’ve got our warts. But I see Mercy like I see so many buildings going up around Charlotte. The foundation is being set and some of the frame is going up. We are far from finished but the foundation we are building on is strong indeed. It truly is an honor for Courtney and I to serve with such incredible people. If we humble ourselves and keep the glory of God as our driving aim, I do believe God can use us for his glory in big ways here in the coming years. May our best days for the fame of Jesus in Charlotte be just ahead of us Mercy Church!