Our Story (so far – March 2018 version)
In the Spring of 2013, God pulled together about twenty people from five different churches. We had several things in common. Many of us had been inspired by followers of Jesus we’d met on mission trips. We earnestly desired to see Christ change lives and renew our city. We had heard that God was doing that in other places through groups called missional communities. And we were willing to try. We met for a season and organized our life together around worship, prayer, fellowship, and mission. This temporary micro-church was a “trial missional community”. We learned a lot about ourselves, our neighbors, and how to (and how not to) be a missional community. We discovered strength in community, how to be more natural and public with our faith, more courageous in prayer, more adventurous in service, and how good God is.
After our season together, about half who’d been with us returned to participation home churches. But the experience had a deep impact: we still valued our connections to traditional local churches, but we could not return to church as usual. Several of us committed to journeying together and formed First Coast Missional Communities – which we now call LoveFirst Coast. We gathered for prayer and discipleship, invested in each other, and looked for opportunities to bless our neighbors and serve in our city. Over time, the administrative load became light and others stepped into leadership. This enabled our pastor to be “bi-vocational”, working a full-time day job while helping to lead the church.
We began developing rhythms of doing life together around fellowship, worship, discipleship and mission. Sundays, many of us engaged in, and even joined, local congregations, intent on being a blessing. During the week, we served. Some of us served together. We gathered weekly in “huddles” to learn tools and skills for discipleship, to encourage one another, to pray, and to “spur one another on to love and good deeds.” (Heb 10:25). Once a month, we gathered for worship.
Our huddles have become incubators for mission. As a group, we see ourselves as sent. This has led to ministry happening across our city, in our workplaces, and even around the world. We have ministries in three hospitals, on a college campus, in two elementary schools, on the Navy base, in three construction firms, with Young Life, Young Lives, numerous churches, with refugees, and “wherever we find ourselves.”
We have developed some traditions: retreats, prayer services, home gatherings, and a Good Friday sunrise worship gathering. And then there are the “organic activities”: neighborhood parties, game nights, prayer walks, going to movies, sports events, and just getting together. At most gatherings, there is good food, good coffee, and celebration of being together. In short, it is a lot like following Jesus with an extended family. And we’re a family that welcomes new family members.
We are a small group. We are keenly aware of being redeemed, forgiven, blessed, and healed through the love, grace and mercy of God! And with joy we can continue to report that what God has been doing for us we are seeing God do through us. We exist to Love the people across the First Coast of Florida.