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.” 

Leading V. Managing part 2

So this managing v. leading thing. When it hit me, my mind went to the restaurant industry. I have a few friends that are servers in different establishments and I recall having conversations about managers of the restaurant. That’s what they do…they manage the protocol set from corporate and follow it as close as possible. They manage the sets of procedures that need to be done for the day and make sure that the protocol is followed. Now I understand that not all places may not operate like this, but I speak in generalizations. But also isn’t in the name? M-A-N-A-G-E-R Continue reading “Leading V. Managing part 2”

Never at ease (I’m still working at it)

Well my posting has be sporadic at best. A lot going on in life, at church and most of all in me. I’ll admit it, I am (was) a professional Christian. I have been walking with God (whole heartedly) for a decade now and most of that….most of it has been smooth sailing. Now we have had some rough times…contract not renewed for a job, car stolen, rejected for a ministry position I loved all in a matter of weeks. Oh and while my wife was very pregnant with our first born.

Trials, hardships, tests…however you want to label them, we all go through them. I’ve been through them, so while the process of planting revive church I knew…I knew that individually we would go through trials, hardships, test, etc. and as a church as a whole the same. I knew this. I did, I read church planting blogs, read church planting books, talked to church planters in the area. They all said, “It’s hard, real hard.”

So these trials, tests, hardships that have come thus far haven’t been a surprise. We haven’t been blindsided by any of it, but the reality of it is still hard, and one would think that through my experience one would think I would be able to handle this.

WRONG!!!!

In all my life experience, bible study, praying and relationship with God. I am not…honestly. Since the launch of Revive Church my life (personally) has been this cycle of hills and valleys. Wins and losses. Gratitude and regret and I hate it. It’s like being in this constant state of motion and emotion. 

But in all of this…I (we) can’t stop. While up until now this is the hardest thing we have ever tried. All of it…the triumphs, the crying, the worrying, the planning, the praying…all of it. We know that in the end.

IT’S WORTH IT.