HOW IT ALL BEGAN
When my wife and I were called by God to plant a church, our desire was to plant a church for those who would never step foot into a church. We wanted to create an environment that was friendly, welcoming, and a place where people can belong. We wanted to also reach out to those who had felt abandoned by the church. We knew that there were plenty of people out there who had been a part of a church at one time, yet because of the circumstances of life, they found themselves without a church to call their home.
We started this journey in the spring of 2018. It started with us as a couple praying, planning, and preparing for what would be in store. In the fall of 2018, we finally let the world know of our desire to step out in faith and start a new church here in the city of Houston. For a whole year, we plowed the fields preparing and planning. We held interest meetings, vision nights, prayer nights, Bible studies. We fundraised, and God provided in ways like never before. For half a year, it was only six of us that met every week dreaming of what would become this church we have now.
On Sunday, September 29, 2019, nearly one year ago, we began VIVE Houston with two services in both English and Spanish with a team of eventually 16 people. And although some team members have transitioned in that time, God has been faithful and has brought us new families along the way. Never would I have imagined the people that are a part of our church today. I’m proud to say that God has brought the right people to this church for this appropriate time.
When I think of several of our families’ stories, I recall the various journeys that it took for people to get here. For some, this is their first church that they have taken a serious commitment to be a part of. For others, they had not attended church in awhile, but were eager to try church again — a new church plant offered an opportunity for a fresh start. And yet others, felt a strong call of God to come be a part of something new. Ultimately, I can only attribute the Holy Spirit’s role in bringing this family together.
There is a high level of engagement at VIVE Church. Although we are small, I can proudly say that almost everyone who calls this church home is committed to the overall mission of the church and is engaged in some shape or form. I pray that as we grow, let us never lack people who are hungry for God and willing to do whatever to introduce people to Him.
However, this year has not gone without its moments. As we all know, COVID-19 came and has been a part of our life for most of this year. It hasn’t been a comfortable journey. In fact, as your pastor, I would be the first to admit I’ve even had my moments of discouragement and frustration, but at the same time, moments of celebration. We have all known countless people in our extended family that have had to go through hell and back because of this illness. Unfortunately, some are no longer with us today. Though the long-lasting effects of COVID-19 are still yet to be shown, I am happy to say that all six people diagnosed with COVID-19 in our church have been healed in Jesus’ name! In addition, several of our family members that have gone through COVID-19 are also currently home and back to normal.
Never would I have imagined that in the first year of our church, half of that would have been spent online. However, our team has worked hard over the past several months to make the best of it. In fact, since COVID-19 began back in March, our Facebook page has been viewed by over 382,137 people with over 69,000 minutes viewed, with an increase of over 880 followers online. In the past 90 days alone, we have had over 824 downloads on our podcast with people listening from all over the United States, Germany, China, Mexico, Panama, Argentina, and more. I am grateful for the team that week after week, even amongst COVID scares and abrupt changes of plans, they have served to make these online services possible. In fact, there is a new church plant in Georgia, who will be starting online services this fall, who will be using our pre-recorded worship team for their livestream.
All this being said, It brings me joy to say that this Sunday, after a period of six months, we will be back to having services in person once again. Our goal is to continue touching the world through digital media and provide a safe experience in person.
However, none of this could have been done without your financial support and the support of many other friends, churches, businesses, and organizations who provided financially.
On behalf of the VIVE Family, we want to say thank you for your generous support over the past year. To those who have been faithful with your tithes and your offerings and to those who have gone above and beyond, thank you so much for all that you are doing.
As we begin to reflect on what God has done over the past year, we can’t help but think about God’s faithfulness. Here are a few highlights of what we were able to accomplish through your support.
- We have supported several families in our community with financial resources during this economic crisis. From paying utility bills to providing groceries to single mothers, to assisting our disadvantaged youth in our community, our desire is to reach the needs of our community.
- We have been able to consistently support 7 missionaries across 7 different countries.
- We have been able to partner monthly with FREE International, an organization that works to end human trafficking in the United States.
- We have been able to partner monthly with Compact Highlands Maternity Home, a Christ-centered ministry dedicated to bringing hope and healing to women facing unplanned pregnancies and services to families looking to expand through adoption.
- Through our partnership with Church Multiplication Network, we have invested in future church plants throughout the country.
- Through Speed the Light’s partnership with WorldServe International, we have been able to assist with the construction of water wells in Kenya, Africa, in order to provide cleaning drinking water to people in villages.
- At the outset of COVID-19, we were able to partner up with missionaries and local churches in Guatemala in order to sponsor meal packages for families in need due to the pandemic.
- In the aftermath of Hurricane Laura, we partnered with Convoy of Hope to provide disaster relief to people who have been affected.
- As we work to become a church that reaches people online, we have been able to invest and upgrade our video and audio equipment to provide a better online experience, as well as provide video support for funerals, local businesses, and other churches in our community.
- I’m proud to announce today that since our church’s existence, $10,000 has been given to the cause of missions around the world and even in the United States.
Let’s take a moment and praise God for this! If you have questions about anything related to finances, feel free to email us at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As we thank God for all that He has been able to, I want us to challenge ourselves to do more in this upcoming year than ever before. I want us to imagine what would happen if every single person who calls this church home would be faithful in their giving. Not only that, but who would be eager enough to go above and beyond just so that people’s lives could be changed through the ministry of VIVE Houston. Imagine how many more people in our community we can reach. Imagine how much more we can give to missions, and imagine what future we can build for the next generation.
Ultimately God is the provider of all things, and our trust is in Him for what the future holds. However, let us dare to dream big and be willing to be obedient and sacrifice when God tells us to do so! We pray that money nor the lack of money be an obstacle to letting us continue working toward future plans.
As we finish out 2020 and we dream toward 2021, here are a few things that I am personally dreaming for God to do.
- As we anxiously await returning back to the YMCA, I want to continue preparing a place for people to come to meet Jesus. I personally am dreaming of tremendous growth in the latter half of this year. People who found us online during this pandemic will come, and every statistic of low church attendance will be shattered in Jesus’ name.
- I am praying for salvations, rededications, and for people to be baptized in water, boldly declaring that Jesus set them free. As people join our church, our goals are clear: go through Growth Track, join a VIVE Group, and get involved.
- Although attendance is not the only measure of success for a church, I would like to see us get to a place where at the YMCA, we “flip the room,” meaning we have reached the capacity of using only one side of the gym and we have to use the entire gym in both of our services. The barometer for this would be once we reach a consistent 80-100 in both of our services. I am believing we can reach that level before the end of 2021.
- Our community is still an untapped well ready to sprout. The zip code of 77009, which includes the neighborhoods of Northside and the Heights, is dear to my heart. Although the vast majority of us do not live directly in this neighborhood, I pray that we could fall in love with this rapidly growing and changing area. I pray for leaders in our church to come up with fresh ideas to reach this community that God has placed us in. I pray for divine collaborations with other organizations, businesses, and ministries in order to reach this community.
- Our online engagement will continue to grow. We will use every platform that we can in our power. From Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, etc., people will call this church their home despite not even living here in Houston. More half of all visitors that have come to our church can be attributed to finding us online. We will continue to invest in this area and expanding our reach through these means.
- We have seen VIVE Groups go from in-person to all-digital. Even our kids have their own Zoom Group. I would like to explore the possibilities of growing and expanding into more groups and offering more options. I am praying for more leaders to step up and lead groups of all kinds. Pretty soon, you might even be leading a group of people that you disciple each week. Over the next year, Bible Engagement and Biblical literacy will be our priority, ensuring people grasp the authority of Scripture.
- I have approximately 24 more sermons in Mark to go, and by mid-2021, should be wrapped up with the Book of Mark on Sundays. I pray that Sunday’s messages have been challenging, convicting, and encouraging to you and your family. I am currently praying about what direction to go in next.
As we approach our one-year anniversary celebration on September 27, let us celebrate what God has done, yet let us continue dreaming about what is to come. The Word for that day that God has laid on my heart is this: “We’ve Only Just Begun.”
Lastly, I leave you with this. My prayer is for VIVE Houston to be a place filled with people who are passionate for God to move. In fact, I pray that each and every single one of us will be so desperate for God that literally nothing else matters. I pray for every one of you that God continues to use us to “fan the flame” of revival everywhere. It’s time to “Revive the City. Revive the World.”