Around Easter of that 2019, we moved out of our first 5twelve venue – The Etter-Harbin Alumni Center at UT – to our new home at the FED. When we’d been looking for a venue to hold our church as we launched in 2018, the FED had another church using that space on Sundays. In the spring of 2019, just when we were looking for a new venue, the other church had moved on, and the space opened up for us.
Now, almost exactly two years later, we have moved out of the FED into another venue – a WeWork space that was initially designed as a performance and streaming venue. This venue had been sitting vacant for some time; God had had it reserved for us before we even dreamed of moving there.
In August of 2019, I posted about the beginning of a new series called Planted: Flourishing in Life. In fact, that was the first blog post I ever wrote at 5twelve. My next post was “Where You are Planted Matters.” The conclusion of that post said, “May we focus less on the circumstances in which we are planted than we do on the One who has planted us and given us all that we need. May we flourish and bear much fruit…”
I’ve been contemplating all the miracles God has done since the Kriel family moved to the US. Our church was planted with about 100 people, which is already a miraculous number. When we’ve been so short of money that we were about to miss payroll, God provided the funds we needed. When we’ve needed a venue more suited to us, God provided a new place. When we needed better technology to help with our streaming capability during the COVID social distancing era, God provided a large one-time gift, designated for technology. Now that we’re emerging from the COVID era into a more hybrid streaming and socially-distanced-in-person model, we have a new venue ideally suited to that setup.
I could go on and on. One of the biggest miracles I’ve seen is the rapid deepening of relationships within our church during a time when we’ve been forced to remain socially distanced. I’ve also seen spiritual growth within the hearts of people we’ve touched, even people who only visited or stayed a little while.
When you look back on all God has done in the life of 5twelve, you can see that God has given us just what we need, right when we need it, but not a moment before. Why does God do this? Why does He wait until we’re crying out, “Where ARE You?” I think God is teaching us to persevere in hope; He is stretching our faith. Consider this passage from the book of Romans:
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.Romans 5:3-5, ESV
We’re told that God knows what we need even before we ask. So why does He wait until we’re crying out in near-desperation? Well, if we had everything we needed before we were crying out, how would we know that these were miracles? Why would we believe that these were answers to prayer?
Any goal-oriented business, project, or effort has some way to evaluate success. Where I work, we issue a monthly business update to our employees. It contains revenue; profit; staff turnover; billable staff hours; kudos for employees who have received certifications, awards, or compliments from clients; posters and papers presented at conferences; and a host of other information. I read the whole thing every month because it feels good to celebrate success, and I’m interested in how the company is doing.
If that monthly update were solely focused on the financial growth or setbacks, or if it highlighted only employee turnover and billability, I doubt I’d look forward to it the way I do. Not only that, but in months when the financial numbers aren’t looking great, or months when our staff losses outstripped our hiring rate, my impression of how we’re doing as a company would be pretty grim.
As a church plant, I think we sometimes can have too narrow a focus when we’re evaluating success. 5twelve was planted to reach the city of Austin, especially the “hole of the donut” (downtown Austin). We tend to evaluate success by number of conversions, donations, or members. If we were to write a monthly update that solely focused on these measures, we would likely have had a desperately grim view of the success of our church plant at several points in our short history. But when we focus on all the things God has done in and through 5twelve, our “monthly update” is a true success story.
Our vision is “to hear people telling stories of Jesus changing lives through them.” Do you have such a story? I could tell several stories of Jesus changing my life through the people of 5twelve. I could tell several more stories about spiritual conversations I’ve been equipped for through 5twelve, and I believe each of these conversations was a seed planted by God in the heart of the person I was talking to. I believe those conversations will bear fruit. I’ve had friends who are non-believers begin asking for prayer for themselves, their friends, and their families. I’ve had people tell me they were touched by my blog posts, church talks, and testimony. I have grown closer to God and more able to hear His voice. My confidence in the Lord and His direction for my life has exploded in the past three years, and every person I know well at 5twelve has similar stories.
When we were in need, God did miraculous things. When we tell our stories, we see those miracles and the fulfillment of God’s vision for us. Do we need to continue to reach out to our city? Absolutely. But do we have so much to celebrate? Yes, absolutely.
Since the beginning, 5twelve leadership has prayed for a venue in the heart of the city. Now that we’ve been spiritually prepared to enter this “donut hole” God promised, we are there. May we make good on our promise to the Lord, as he has been faithfully fulfilling His promises to us.
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.2 Corinthians 2:14-17, ESV
Do you have a story of life change? We would love to hear it. Let us hear how God is transforming your life and the lives of those around you through the power of Christ. Drop us a line at [email protected] or submit a form using the button below! We’ll get in touch and work with you to share your story.