One of my favorite stories about being one church in multiple locations happened in Lake Mary just a few weeks ago. It was one of our final Sundays at Lake Mary High School and I was hanging out in the lobby talking and enjoying the morning. I was getting ready to walk in to the auditorium for the first worship song and I saw a young woman with her baby girl at the First Time Families desk. She looked vaguely familiar from across the room and I had a couple of minutes, so I decided to walk over and welcome them. I’m so glad that I did because it turned out to be Ashley.
Ashley was a Herndon 6 p.m. regular when I first met her. She attended with friends of mine who served with the high school student ministry, The Edge, and she expressed an interest in being a student ministry volunteer (I was leading that ministry at the time). During the process of training, we all shared our stories and got to know each other pretty well over a short period of time. It turned out that it wasn’t the right time of life for her to commit to volunteering, but it was a great way to get to know several of the people that I worshipped with every week. I would continue to see her and keep up with her life but, as I moved into the role of Lake Mary Campus Minister, I ended up seeing her and the group less.
That Sunday morning when I saw her in the Lobby, we caught up for a minute as our incredible Base Camp team showed Ashley and her daughter to the appropriate classroom. The story she shared made it so clear why we have one church in multiple locations. Ashley woke up on Sunday and decided to go to the park with her daughter. Church had fallen out of her routine as she had her first daughter and moved to a new side of town. They lived in Lake Mary and wanted to visit a new park they had found on Google Maps. She started to drive to the park and the directions took her down Longwood Lake Mary Road at 10:55 a.m. on Sunday.
As she was driving down the road, she saw the Summit signs out on the street with our service times of 9 and 11 a.m. Ashley had known we had a campus in Lake Mary, but it wasn’t really on her radar until that morning. She said she couldn’t quite believe it, but she turned the car around and pulled into the parking lot and walked in. Minutes later we were catching up. She saw a familiar face and walked in to church for the first time in a long time. We talked after service and she said “it felt like coming home.” She still isn’t sure why she drove down that road at that time or why she turned the car around, but she knows it wasn’t an accident.
If Summit hadn’t decided to take a big risk and go multi-site, building expressions in other parts of town, Ashley wouldn’t have had the opportunity re-engage with God that morning. Her story is just one of many that can never be the same because Summit was willing to be one church in multiple locations.