By Troy McMahon
I was sitting on a park bench at Ozark Christian College, next to the young woman who would soon become my bride, when I made the decision. I was going to live a life without regrets.
I had just attended the National Youth Leaders Conference where I heard Tony Campolo speak. He shared some statistics about people in their 90s. When asked what they would do differently in their lives if they had to do it all over again, three themes emerged. First, they would take more risks; second, they would reflect more; and third, they would do more things that would live on after they died.
I was 21 years old at the time, and I pictured myself as a 90-year-old man. I did not want to be afraid of taking risks, and I wanted to leave a legacy. I summed this up in my head: a life without regrets. At the time I had no idea where this would take me. I was about to graduate from college with a degree in engineering—poised for a successful and lucrative career. After 10 years as an engineer, God redirected me and I began living a dream I didn’t even know I had.
CALLED TO MINISTRY
While I was attending Community Christian Church in Naperville, outside Chicago (www.communitychristian.org), my friend and pastor Dave Ferguson invited me to change careers and begin work in vocational ministry as campus pastor for the church’s first multisite location. I remembered my commitment to living a life without regrets, and answered yes, knowing I could always return to engineering if this “church thing” didn’t work out.
I soon discovered I was ruined. I would never return to the marketplace. Ministry coursed through my veins, and my love for lost people continued to get me up in the morning and keep me awake at night.
After 11 years of working at Community Christian Church (and loving every minute of it, I might add), God gave me another opportunity to be a risk-taker. The 2007 North American Christian Convention in Kansas City would focus on church planting. Rather then just talking about it, NACC planners decided to do it. As a result of the convention, a brand-new church would be planted in Kansas City . . . my hometown.
CALLED TO CHURCH PLANTING
After months of praying, I was sure God was calling me to this work. My family, along with about 20 other people, moved to Kansas City, and on March 2, 2008, Restore Community Church was born. God brought some amazing leaders early in our journey. We built a launch team of about 80 adults and children who were ready to serve. And on our first Sunday we were blown away with 423 people in attendance.
I know numbers don’t tell the whole story, but each number represents the life of someone taking steps toward God. Soon after we began weekly services, I got this e-mail from a young man named Travis:
I moved to Kansas City about six months ago and have been searching for a new church home. I had received several mailings from your church, listened to the first three of your sermons online, and finally decided to come to a service on Easter, and that compelled me to return today. Today’s service was very enlightening and encouraging. It’s exactly what I need at this point in my life. I think this church is where God wants me to be. I feel really comfortable here, like being home. And that is a great feeling!
Soon after Travis came to Restore, he decided to be baptized. Here is what he wrote in his testimony:
For the longest time I had been fearful of baptism, always feeling inadequate or less than perfect. But what I have learned and believe is that I’ll never be perfect, I’ll always have faults, and I shouldn’t let these faults keep me from following Christ’s example. I also realize that if I truly believe in the power of God, he will help me get past my old self. It may not be an immediate process, but with his strength I will overcome. So I submit myself to him this day, realizing fully the commitment I am making, asking him to put to death my sins, and raise me as a new man, just as he raised Christ.
Travis is not alone. Twenty-four others have taken the step to be baptized in the first six months of Restore Community Church.
LIVING A DREAM
How is this happening? God, of course. He has been blessing our efforts to serve him, and we are grateful and full of faith as we see him at work. We launched seven small groups before we began weekend services. Those seven groups have now become 13. We completed 20 outreach events before launch and today have logged more than 40 events designed to serve our community.
But all that being said, one of the most essential things for Restore has been partnerships. Without valuable partners, Restore would not be what it is today. The NewThing Network (www.newthing.org) has played a huge role in coaching us and providing resources for our mission. We also received valuable coaching and accountability from Church Planting Solutions (www.churchplanting4me.com).
We were blown away by the financial support of churches both nearby in Kansas City, such as Legacy Christian Church and Cedar Ridge Christian Church, and far away, like 242 Community Church in Brighton, Michigan, and New Life Christian Church in Centreville, Virginia, and huge support from Rocky Mountain Christian Church in Niwot, Colorado. Financial resources and intangible support also came from organizations like Stadia (www.stadia.cc/home.asp) and The Heartland Project (www.theheartlandproject.org).
Regrets? Thanks to a moment on a park bench 22 years ago, I have very little to regret. I am living the dream of doing everything I can every day to help people find their way back to God.
Troy McMahon is lead pastor with Restore Community Church, Kansas City, Missouri.