I sit down this Monday morning to write a brief commentary on the events of this past weekend and to be honest with you I’m overwhelmed with emotion. This past weekend, May 13-May 15, 2011 marked the birth of something that I believe is going to have a global impact. The Grand Opening service of the Bridge Church in North Olmsted, Ohio was held yesterday May 15, 2011 with 80 in attendance, around 40 of which were first time guests. The other 40 were made up of people that have visited once or twice before and people that got on board with the Bridge during the team building phase. The Bridge Church is now an official force to be reckoned with and we have a huge vision. Our vision does not stop with reaching the western suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, but with reaching the entire metro area and having our local assembly also aid in the global cause of Christ through missions and outreach.
Our team building phase started in September 2010 with our Foundations classes where we graduated the first 16 official members of the Bridge Church. Phase two of team building was from November 2010 to May 8, 2011 where we held “practice” or some would say “preview” services to build our base, start our BridgeKidz ministry, and develop a functioning, quality Worship Band.
Friday night, (Friday the 13th), started our weekend with a bang. We did a “Gas buy down/full service fill up”. With everyone feeling the pain at the pump, we decided to go completely nontraditional with our outreach. Much of what we do at the Bridge definitely doesn’t follow any preprinted play book with the exception of the Bible, so why go the traditional route with outreach? One of our main goals, visions, and missions is to serve our community. We want to be a church of influence in our community. We want people to recognize our name, cause, and vision so that they know where to go when they are looking for a true experience with God. We are on a quest to be an “early church” church. The early church didn’t “play” church, they were the church. They went from house to house and to the marketplace and to where the people were at far more than they met in the temple. So, on May 13th, we partnered with a local gas station to pay $.10 a gallon for everyone, giving them a discount on gas, pump their gas for them, wash their windows, and aid them in any other services that they desired. Pastor and I worked countless hours setting up this event and this entire weekend and it paid off. After sending out 22 press releases to every radio and television station and local newspaper, based on an additional news tip from that night, Fox 8 News Cleveland came and featured our event on the 10 PM Friday night news. In fact, we were one of the teaser/headline stories. We have several other high profile MAD ministries (Making a Difference) events coming up including the Relay for Life where Pastor Jonathan will be sharing a sermon with the crowd that’s there to support stamping out cancer. Only God can get credit for setting the stage for the Bridge Church like he has. We are now poised to really put ourselves out in the community, serve this area, and lead people to a fulfilling relationship with God.
Pastor Jonathan has had a vision for over 10 years to plant churches in a metro area and a bulk of those years Cleveland was the target God put on his heart. The Cleveland Metro Area is very different from other parts of Ohio. It has a rich cultural and ethnic heritage that many mid-western cities do not have. Cleveland is also not at all like the heartland when it comes to religion. A majority of the Cleveland metro area is far from God or has never known God. It is definitely not a Bible belt place. There are over 48 different languages regularly spoken in the Cleveland area and our suburb of Cleveland, North Olmsted, is home to the largest Muslim population in Ohio. All of these factors combined make up the reasons why we absolutely love it here. Cleveland has historically gotten a bad rap, and rightfully so. The politics here are corrupt, the mob ties are huge, the job market is in constant turmoil, and the winters are long and brutal. Even with all of those factors working against it, the Cleveland metro area is home to 2.9 million resilient, culturally diverse, home team loving people that all need to know God. The Bridge Church, for lack of better phrasing, wants to make Jesus famous throughout the region and be a location where people can find life in Christ. The religious traditions that exist here are dying. The old, enormous church edifices that bear the cross and house the steeples are boarded up and lifeless. The Catholic Church is closing locations on an almost weekly basis and the light of religion grows dimmer. The Bridge Church is opening at the perfect time for the light of true relationship with Christ and true life change with Jesus to be made available to those who are spiritually hungry. The Bridge Church is a place for those that want to make a difference in their neighborhoods, communities, suburbs, city, region, state, country, and world. We will not have church, we will be the church.
God gave us a glimpse of what can and will be yesterday. There was an excitement and expectancy in the air. Our connect team was showing the community that we really are the friendly, all inclusive church they are looking for. Our BridgeKidz ministry ministered to a wide range of children in an engaging way. Our worship band was on their “go”. The presence of God was strong and Pastor Jonathan delivered a relevant, engaging sermon. Our service ended with a rendition of “You’ve stolen my heart” by Leeland and you could feel God doing what only He can do in that room.
Our season of team building, our season of fasting and prayer, our season of hard, focused work, and our season of wondering how in the world all of this was going to happen brought us one step closer to our destiny. We look forward to continued, methodical, sustained growth both of the number of people that attend the Bridge Church and of the individual relationships with God that people in our church have. We have a lot of ground left to still cover to see the vision that God has for our church. Please pray that God gives us a semi-permanent (lease) location or a permanent location and that God sends us strong leaders that desire to serve in ministry. We have many ministries that we would like to launch at the Bridge Church that just need the vision, manpower, and passion of a leader. We are still in extreme infancy and that makes us delicate. We need to continually nurture and care for this gift that God has given us and feed it correctly so that one day it can birth more churches from its womb.
Congratulations Bridge Church. You are 1 day old. The best is yet to come.