So what was it that God used to draw us to the Gaylord E-Free Church (GEFC) in Gaylord, Michigan? Actually, there were many things that God used to give us peace that this was where He was directing us. Let me give the three that topped the list.
First, GEFC is very "outward focused." It is a church that has reached out to its community on a regular basis and appears to have a real heart to reach people for Christ. Most churches "say" that they want to reach people for Christ. It was important for us to find a church that really does. I believe we have in GEFC.
Second, GFEC has a tremendous reputation in the community. You can credit their current Senior Pastor, Jim Mathis, for this. He has worked hard for 24 years to connect GEFC with the community and has been very successful at it. We purposefully talked to many people in Gaylord who did not attend GEFC and asked them their thoughts on the church. I kid you not when I say that every person we spoke with simply raved about what GEFC means to the community. This is not the case with many churches. Sadly, it seems that most churches either have a bad reputation in their community or no reputation at all (meaning that they could close the doors of their church today and the community wouldn't even notice let alone be impacted by it).
Third, we were very much attracted to the community feel of Gaylord. Those who live there love it there. It's a great town and we very much look forward to making it our home and to becoming involved in the community.
So these things and many others brought us to the night of the congregational vote last Sunday. Laura and I drove down to Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA so we could be with our kids and together as a family when "the call" came. We were in our hotel room Sunday night when the chairman of the Elder Board called. He asked if Laura and the kids were with me. He then asked me to put my phone on speaker as the congregation had something they wanted us all to hear. If you know me - you know I am not "techy" at all. I had never put my phone on speaker before and I fumbled for what seemed like a lifetime before I had to admit to him that I didn't know how to put my phone on speaker (talk about starting your ministry with a dose of humility!)!
Anyway, he told me that I could just pass on the message to them. With that I heard the congregation break out in applause and cheers to show their support and excitement. It was a great moment for our family. After the call we had a special time of prayer together as a family before we started calling and texting our friends and family with the good news. Gaylord, here we come!
By the way - I now know how to turn my cell phone's speaker on now!