I have been so encouraged by the conversations occurring around and next steps that people have taken throughout the Money. Sex. Power. series. I want to share a story about a new friend of mine that I feel like encapsulates so much about what has been happening in this season.
I met her shortly after we started a new Connect group that formed through the “You are Here” speaker series for singles in January. She started coming to the Lake Mary campus and the first day she was there, several of our regular attendees came up and asked if I met her and if I could help her get in a Connect group. So I invited her to this new group and I attended the first meeting as well. I could immediately tell that God was doing some amazing work in and through her life.
I ended up inviting her over for dinner with my wife, Rachael, and our kids (and surprisingly she agreed to, even with three little ones running around!). We had a great time getting to know each other and sharing our stories. I got to find out that church, and Christianity in general, were fairly new things in her life. It was so great to be able to share encouragement, as well as the reality of how hard it can be at times.
The moment it all came together was the following Sunday. One of our Teaching Ministers, Zach Van Dyke, was preaching his first week of the sex portion of the series. I was excited that we were talking about this as a church, as well as a bit anxious to see what God would stir up in the midst.
Right after the service ended, our new friend came over to talk to Rachael. This was a big deal to me right away. Rachael is awesome, but she doesn’t always get to share in as much of the adult portion of church in this season of life. With three kids under six, someone is usually sick, and she often serves in Base Camp and BCL. So to have our new friend come talk to Rachael— to know she was a safe place, and that Rachael knew her story— was incredible. I love that God was using my family in what He was up to.
She shared with Rachael two incredible things that were not not necessarily intended as direct challenges coming out of Zach’s sermon, but God, as He does, showed up in an unexpected way. First, she told her the sermon reaffirmed her commitment to wait for God’s best for sex in marriage. The second was that she was interested in getting baptized.
I love that God stirred in her heart a desire for His best, as well as the next step of being baptized into God’s family. He used the end of Zach’s sermon, and his communion set-up about what Jesus did on the cross, to encourage her to take this next step.
This lenten season has been a chance to reflect on three areas that most often compete with our affection and devotion to God. I have heard so many stories of Connect groups pausing and talking about these subjects. I have had good—and sometimes hard— conversations with individuals who are in the midst of seeing God move in these areas. I have heard conversations between people in the Lobby after service talking about things we don’t always feel comfortable talking about at church but, when properly directed, can bring us closer to God. This has been a season that I believe will be a marker in many people’s journey when they look back and see what God has done in their life.
God is doing big things and I’m so glad that we are willing to tackle tough issues with the hope of God’s truth in our lives. Thanks for being a church that is willing to be challenged so that God can continue to do His work!
O.J. Aldrich is the Lake Mary Campus Minister. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions for him, would like details on how to get connected here at Summit, or even if you're just curious how you too can join him and Rachael for dinner sometime!