John A. Sarkett has written a thrilling book called EXTRAORDINARY COMEBACKS. It is a collection of 201 inspiring stories of courage, triumph, and success. In the book he tells the stories of hundreds of people who came back from defeat and tragedy and pain because they had the courage to try one more time. There is, however, one comeback story that does not appear in Starkett’s book but is none the less worth noting. It is the comeback story of New Venture Christian Church.
New Venture is about six and a half years old. Her history has been one of ups and downs. The entire year of 2010 was pretty much a downer. It couldn’t get much more down than it was during most of last year. It was the year when we lost about 40% of our church. For whatever the reason, there were several families that just decided that they no longer wanted to be a part of the mission, vision and family of NV. So they exited. It was so disappointing at times during the year that there were those who even suggested we consider backing it in and closing our doors. 2010 was an extremely difficult year.
However, there were those who still believed in the vision, mission and family of NV and were determined to move forward in spite of the challenges. And there were huge challenges. They believed that God was bigger and greater than any of them and that God had bigger and greater plans for the NV church body. So we pushed forward with all our hope in the Lord. And when I say, all our hope in the Lord, I mean all our hope in the Lord. He was our only lifeline. And we have not been disappointed.
Six months later NV is not the church she used to be. We are not the dejected, discouraged group of adventurers caught in the doldrums of what to do and where to go that we were for a season of our existence. We are alive and well. NV is a thriving church family once again, stronger than we have ever been before because of what God has done and what He has brought us through.
Our Sunday gathering are up almost 50% over our low point of 2010. We are already averaging more per week in attendance than we did the entire year of 2010. Our offerings are also averaging more than our yearly average for the last year. Our Connecting With God class, that is an indicator of health in the body, is once again offered on a regular basis. People are again talking about and giving serious consideration to giving their life to Christ and following Him in baptism. Many, many people are inviting friends to our gathering with excitement. First time visitors are in our services every week. So many signs of life and vitality fill the NV church body.
This is not to say that everything is great. We have lots of work to do to, some of which is restoring what we used to know, other is developing what is still needed for a health church family. And we are in no way serving and reaching our community as God desires and designed this church to do. Not to mention, the expansion of a world view that reaches far beyond our current vision. We have lots of work to do.
But we are healthy and moving in the right direction, all of which is a loud and victorious proclamation that God has taken what we were just a few months ago and worked a remarkable and glorious turn around. He is good. He is our comeback miracle worker. He is our hope, now and forever.