Funny thing happened on the way to church…(part 4)

So we had the people, a place of our own, the rent was cheaper…YAY!!!

Not so fast.

After a great first Sunday afternoon service there was a down turn in attendance. So we stuck it out, we thought it was great, shoot, you could still sleep late and catch a late lunch, go to service and then dinner. However that wasn’t the case. It’s interesting how people can have something instilled in their mind and nothing can change it.

Water is wet, sky is blue, Church is on Sunday mornings and not on Sunday afternoons….hmmmm

We were in a pickle, this was a known risk, but man were we wrong. Here we go again trying to fix/figure something out.

Back to prayer!

So close to the end of 2012 we talked to Pastor Josh and told him our predicament to see if we could figure something out so we could also meet Sunday mornings.

It was during this time as well where Pastor Josh and I were talking about how crazy 2012 had been for both of us how we were looking forward to 2013. We both discussed that we felt something NEEDED TO CHANGE with both our congregations. We felt a change coming, what that change was we didn’t know, but change was coming and if you know humans we don’t like change.

Ealry 2013 and we figured out a way to meet in the mornings as a church and just before the super bowl too…talk about a close one. 🙂

It was also in January of 2013 where during our weekly meetings that a conversion came up, now I can’t divulge all the info of that meeting but I can tell you the main was this…

WHAT IF OUR TWO CHURCH BODIES CAME TOGETHER AND MERGED INTO ONE?

COULD WE BE BETTER TOGETHER?

A non-denominational 1.5 years old church plant and a 50+ year old denominational church? could we come together? could we became a family community? could we really do this? Is this your will God? Could we be better together?

The conversation opened up to board our church boards thus propelling Revive Church Austin and Austin Grace Church into this dance to see could this really happen?

There were vocal opposition against this for various reasons I will not type, but trust me, it wasn’t fun.

We started this dance slow…imagine if you will two awkward 6th graders standing 3 feet away from each other and just turning circles on the dance floor.

That was us.

week to week, day to day I would go back and forth…

“Yes we could so do this!”

to

“Oh my God what have we done?!”

and the words came back to me…

“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Funny thing happened on the way to church…(part 3)

So there we are…needing a miracle, needing something to happen, but nothing was happening. Nothing felt right, it was either too small, too expensive…too something. We had to move it was going against everything we were about. We didn’t plant a church just to fund a church. We planted a church to give back to the community, and staying at the school did not let us do that.

In comes in Pastor Josh Allday, he is the pastor that emailed me in late 2011, the peace and chicken grease pastor from across the street. The guy is cool, he short like me, bald like me and has a cool, there is a calm disposition about him (not like me). The church he pastors had/has multiple organizations meeting there. It’s really cool, there is a home school group, a spanish church and a 7th day Adventists church that all meeting on different days and times.

So one day I met pastor Josh at the church building to check it out. It’s a huge building! Two sanctuaries, many rooms and a gym. So as we are walking around we end up in the gym talking and I am thinking to myself…”we could totally meet in this gym”

So the conversation began to see if it would be possible for us to meet in the gym. We laughed cause if we could make work it would be such an eclectic body of believers. It almost starts like a joke, stop me if you heard it before…

“So a denominational church, a spanish church, a 7th day Adventist and a non-denominational church walk into a bar”

Haven’t heard it? No? Me neither

We made it happen, we gave concession to meet in the afternoons so there wouldn’t be a huge mess on Sunday mornings with 3 churches meeting at one time. Plus we thought “hey that’s something different, people complain church is too early, now they don’t have an excuse, they could just come to our service, plus its Austin, we do things different.”

So in the summer of 2012 our awesome partners of Revive Church donated enough funds to renovate 3 rooms in the gym area. It was going to be great, now we didn’t have to wake up real early and convert a high school gym into a church…being a mobile church is tough! So the thought of not having to do that was so so so so so so so great!

We were ready…

New location

New time

Renovated rooms

“Finally” I thought, “We got this new space, which is way cheaper than the school, which will cause us to do more in the community, we have the people, and a space to call our own without having to unload and pack up on a Sunday.”

Of course, things never goes as you think they should…they never do, there are always the challenges that we face in life. It’s these challenges that mold you to who you are.

So a new set of challenges occurred again, so by now this just get frustrating.

I remember preaching a message about storms in life. There are 3 types of people

1) those that are in a storm

2) those that just got out of a storm

3) those that are about to head into a storm

That was us

And the word came back to me…

“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

 

Funny thing happened on the way to church…(part 2)

What was going on?

What did we do wrong?

What are we going to do?

December of 2011 was the hardest and lowest time in the Ortiz’s home. We had one month, one month for something to happen. In desperation we picked up a special offering to push us to January. We prayed, and prayed and prayed.

During this time I received an email from the pastor from the church across the street from where we met (we met in a HS cafeteria). It was a nice “welcome to the area” email and an offer to grab some coffee, the email ended with a “peace, and chicken grease.” I knew I was going to like this guy. 

I have to say I am so proud of our small church during this time. Even though we were having a hard time financially we still gave back to the community. On Christmas day a small band of use packed up some back packs filled with basic toiletries and other stuff and headed downtown to hand them out to the homeless. I love the GIVING nature of our church. It was awesome. 

The offering went well, it gave us some funds to operate through January. Not only that, more people started to visit, and those that visited stayed, and those that stayed, started to give.

2012 was off to a good start…

Numbers were steady, maybe we were past the trials? Maybe?

We just couldn’t get traction. It was frustrating. Leading is way more difficult than following. So we kept on keeping on.

During the next few months of 2012 I began to strike up a good friendship with that pastor from across the street. We would meet for coffee, talk shop, talk family, talk life. It was so good to have that friendship during that time. 

In the late spring I was meeting with the staff person who handled the church finances and the conversation went like this…

Me: how are we doing?

She: Well, we can pay rent and the bills…and thats it

Me: That’s not good

Yes, finances were up, but all we could do was pay the rent (which was expensive) and bills that we owed. We weren’t being the “life giving” church we wanted to be. All we were doing was have a service on Sundays to take up an offering to pay the rent. We had to find a new place to meet fast!

We weren’t being good stewards of the finances so we began to look for other location in the central austin area. We searched, and search. NOTHING!

We thought about maybe moving more to the North Austin, maybe even Round Rock, but every time that came up, it didn’t feel right.

We needed to stay in the central area…but where?

We needed to move from the high school…but how?

So here we were…again, needing a miracle 

and the words came back to me…

“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” 

Funny thing happened on the way to church (part 1)…

1st blog post in months…there I said it, now let’s move on.

You ever had this vision? Like you know you were supposed to do this thing…whatever it was, you had to do it. Anyone?

In steps the Ortiz family.

In 2010, we felt a tug, a pull, a leading to step down as student pastors in San Angelo and move to Austin, TX to plant a church. So in February of 2011 it happened. We loaded up the U-haul and trekked our way to Austin. The next  months were fast and furious. We learned everything on the fly, from becoming a reg. 501c3 non-profit, gathering a launch team, raising funds, promoting the start of the new church, finding a location to have service…did I mention we had NO IDEA WHAT WE WERE DOING?

During those months I held onto Joshua 1:9 “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Then it happened…the launch of Revive Church Austin in September of 2011.

I can not explain the feeling after our first service. After all the months of praying, training, raising money, all the walking placing door hangers, water bottles…we did it. With the hard hard work of a lot of people and the tremendous grace of God, Revive Church Austin was birthed.

Little did I know everything that we had gone through up until that point would be the easiest part. Over the next few months we would be tested as church plant. How do you ask? Let me briefly tell you some of what occurred:

1) our third or fourth service (I can’t remember cause I blocked it out of my memory), NO ONE SHOWED UP. It was only the launch team…yeah can not say that “it felt great”

2) I was in the hospital for a few days cause I was bleeding internally and didn’t know it. I need two blood transfusions to help me out…and let me say, I now know why vampires like blood. muuuuaaaaaah!!!

3) We started to run out of finances. We weren’t being dumb and spending money, money wasn’t coming in. The facility we met in was awesome, but way way expensive. We took a risk and during the first few months that risk looked dumb! We had until December, if our giving didn’t go up we were done for. You can imagine how this weighed heavy with the thought “Ok great you loser. You plant a church in September and you fold in December, that has to be a record or something.

4) During this time we looked at our first time guests cards, the numbers were depressing. In the first few months of Revive Church Austin we had 85 visitors. Wanna know how many we retained? 2, yup 1 and 2…that’s it.

How could this be happening, what were we doing wrong, was this a mistake? God, you gotta do something! Don’t you know one couple moved from Lubbock? And what about the two couples that moved from San Angelo? Or the couple that moved from Jarrell and stepped down from a ministry position at a different church to join us.

God what are you doing?

and the words came back to me

“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” 

Monday Mind Dump

  • I have checked the weather more in Destin than I have in Austin. Vacation on the brain
  • As I speak, it is crazy raining. Praying this helps the surrounding lakes
  • Sunday’s service was straight up awesome
  • There was a sweet anointing on the worship
  • Pastor Anthony’s message was great
  • Our kids have been to 3 VBS’s this summer
  • Life is precious, don’t waste it on things that don’t matter
  • So many things coming up with Revive and beyond that it kinda takes my breath away
  • Leadership is hard