A few months from now, I believe we are going to look back on this day and see it as one of the most pivotal and defining days in the life of our church. The reasons are more profound than just what's on the surface. Let's talk about what is easy to celebrate first.
Today, we launched our third physical campus - PCC's Riverside Campus - in Fork Union. This campus has a reach into parts of three counties: Fluvanna, Buckingham and Cumberland. It was a vision we first caught two years ago, and confirmation that God has been in it is as visible as the full parking lot and standing-room-only auditorium that was filled beyond capacity today. This campus was the buzz of the community and I think people are calling their friends and family tonight, telling them they have to come next week. I heard about someone eating lunch in Dillwyn in Buckingham County (which is 20 miles from Riverside). He said PCC was all the talk of the place. The official tally today was that 238 people came to church at our new campus, including 36 kids!
And we had strong attendance at our Westchester and Powhatan Campuses, too, as well as online. There were lots of new families at every campus, and I've gotten reports of many fantastic conversations with people who needed a church just like ours. I personally talked with many people today who said, "We've been waiting for this church to come." Wow!
But, as I said, the profound truth of this day goes far beyond the numbers and it goes even beyond the great conversations and the new families. When we launched in Powhatan eleven years ago, we had no idea what we were doing. We fumbled our way along, and God honored our faithfulness, but we were clueless.
By the time we launched our Westchester Campus three years ago, we knew how to do church...but we didn't know how to do multi-site church. So we found ourselves - yet again - stumbling our way through cluelessness. God honored our faithfulness, but it was only the sheer will of our Westchester Core Team that made that campus a success. Westchester was our multi-site learning campus. The folks there were determined that I and others on our staff were going to learn how to do multi-site church well. They endured a lot of our mistakes, and they patiently, lovingly coached us to success.
Because of the grit, tenacity and patience of our Westchester folks, today at Riverside was almost indescribable. When I walked into the auditorium at Riverside today, I thought to myself, "This is as good a campus launch as any big church anywhere!" I'm not kidding...the lighting was incredible. The sound was awesome. The chairs had been set up just perfectly. The signage was stellar. The kids rooms were fantastic. From early in the day, it was obvious that we had our act together - from the parking lot to the atrium to the coffee to the Bibles to the welcome bags to PCC Kids to the worship in the big room.
When Chauncey stood on the platform, taking the mantle as the Campus Pastor, I marveled at his words - which I did not coach or review in advance. He said, "If you are here from another church, we're glad you're here. But you're not why we're here. We're here for your brother. For your sister. For your children. For your neighbor and for your co-worker. We're here for people who don't go to church." I couldn't have written it better myself. Reaching people who don't go to church is what we do!
Today it was obvious: We've learned how to do church in an excellent and God-honoring way that is comfortable for the unchurched person. That isn't to say we have it all figured out or that we have nothing to learn. It IS to say that - through the pain of trial and error, and the endurance and patience of a lot of people - PCC is acting like an experienced church movement now. We're acting like a seasoned multi-campus church. We are One Church in Multiple Locations!
I believe that today is the day PCC's impact became exponential. I think the next 16 months will see a huge wave of people coming to church - at all of our campuses - and I believe we're about to make history again, as God does a new miracle through us. I believe that we're about to experience a new harvest for the Kingdom.
So to all of our folks who poured out blood, sweat, tears, time and a ton of money to make Riverside happen - I just can't thank you enough. It was a great day and we're off to a great start and God is going to do a great thing.
And to every PCC'er at every campus: Hold on to your hats, because I believe that God is about to do something that will blow our minds and blow the doors off of our church!