Mercy’s Next Chapter in a Gospel Awakening in Charlotte

Mercy’s Next Chapter in a Gospel Awakening in Charlotte

by Spence Shelton

“A gospel awakening here in Charlotte that gets carried to the ends of the earth.” That has been our vision since we planted Mercy Church in the fall of 2015. Charlotte is a city filled with church buildings, yet those buildings and the gospel they once heralded, are fading into the cultural background.

We intentionally used the term gospel “awakening” because we knew that a true movement of God would involve sleepy churches dotting the Charlotte landscape roaring back to life by reaching people in their neighborhoods once again.

Our Story

Mercy initially planted in a senior citizen activity center (you can plant a church anywhere!) and we still rent that facility each weekend. It’s been a great spot and we truly are grateful for it.

That said, our church outgrew this space about nine months into renting it, and for the past one and a half years, all of our teams, led by the best church family on earth, have done a pretty remarkable job making room for people each weekend. In the meantime, our Facility Search team, tasked with finding a bigger home we can grow into, has discovered the incredibly competitive market of Charlotte commercial real estate.

I’m going to fast forward to about two months ago, skipping over a great deal of work the Lord has done in the hearts and minds of our elders and in our church. I got a call one morning from our Facility Search team lead that we lost a bid on the property we were most excited about. I hung up the phone and audibly yelled at God something like, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?” About ninety minutes later, I got a call from the transition team leader at Candlewyck Baptist Church. CBC had been declining for about twenty years and had reached a crossroads as a church. For the past eighteen months, a transition pastor had challenged them to do whatever it would take to reach the next generation with the gospel. So this leader approached me with the rather unconventional, bold idea of Candlewyck joining Mercy Church.

As we talked it was clear their leaders understood this would mean ending their ministry as Candlewyck, gifting their facility and assets to Mercy, and then their members going through the Mercy membership process. And their collective response to that notion was “we want to reach people and this is our way to do that.” Friends you have to understand what a massive leap of faith this is for them. One I feel deeply honored to shepherd in the days ahead. 

Their membership voted on April 22 by an overwhelming majority to move ahead with this step. They held their last service on April 29, and this past Sunday, May 6, we welcomed them into our worship service. We had a beautiful member meeting after our services where Mercy members gathered around these folks and prayed over them, thanking God for their faith and asking for more faith in the days ahead.

Where We Are Going

We told everyone on Sunday that we intend to turn the Candlewyck facility into our weekly ministry hub. Our staff will office there and we will hold trainings, worship nights, and other events there as well. What an answer to prayer to have this facility for mid-week ministry!

That said, the facility is too small to hold our weekend worship gatherings. If Mercy moved everyone there, we would be at max capacity even if we doubled our number of worship services. To make such a move would be a selfish one, not a missional one. And our first call is not to comfort, but to missional sacrifice. We want to increase our capacity to reach people and see the awakening we’ve been praying for, not simply give ourselves an easier facility to worship in.

Therefore, our elders have decided the best way to leverage this gift the Lord has given us will be, beginning this fall, to hold weekend worship services at both this facility (7200 Providence Rd) and at our current mobile facility (1050 Devore Lane).

More details on those worship services to follow at our member meeting on June 7th.

In the meantime, our Facility Search team will move ahead looking for a location that will allow us to move out of our mobile space into a more permanent home. While we never set out to be in two locations, the elders believe, in unison, that this is the direction the Lord is leading us into the next season.

Now, I’d like to make a request of you:

1. Pray for a gospel awakening. Not just at Mercy Church, but throughout our city, that gets carried to the ends of the earth. Our church has always been about one name, Jesus, getting carried to the lost. We believe this step is a step of faith to that end. Pray God blesses us to that end.

2. Join us! We are taking a GIANT leap as a young church. One we believe the Lord is calling us to, but we are not blind to the obstacles in front of us. So if you’ve been attending for a while, step off the sidelines and get in the game. Discipleship is all about taking the next step and maybe your next step is stepping onto this launch team! Every ministry team will need to multiply this summer. If you don’t have a church, come join us and help launch this new effort. If you are graduating college and moving to Charlotte, I am unashamedly recruiting you right now to get in on this launch. What an opportunity to give yourself to reaching people alongside a team of others. Reach out to Pastor Scott Urbanek and tell him you want to know more.

In many ways, I feel the surge of excitement that we felt three summers ago as we prepared to launch Mercy Church. We are once again taking a giant leap of faith. Once again the awakening calls us out of comfort and into joyful sacrifice in so many ways. Two weeks ago we saw many people baptized in each worship service. I believe this step of trust in God’s provision will allow us to see many more souls awakened to the love of Christ in the days ahead!