In 2002 I was seated in a $16-million-dollar custom made church building surrounded by two thousand worshipers yet something vital, something quintessential seemed absent. In 2004 I was seated in a converted United Reformed Church, surrounded by three hundred worshipers, and it, that quintessential something, was undeniably present. What was it, what was this ‘something’ absent in what could be considered a church leader’s oasis, and yet so very present in this old building on Station Road, Sidcup? Apostolic impetus: the overarching sense pervading the worship and fellowship of this gathered group that we were caught up in so much more than this local congregation. I was alive, I knew I was in the midst of a people who understood that God’s kingdom was advancing mysteriously and that the local church was God’s hub for this advance.
I told my wife to be, Kiralie, that if we were to get married we would stick close to this people and see where God’s leading would take us. Four years later were standing with heads bowed as we received the apostolic blessing to lead the Eldership Team at what would become Christ First Watford. Now we were entrusted with the responsibility to serve a people, to be a blessing to a town if possible, but the sense of apostolic impetus was like an ever present breeze, sometimes powerfully whipping across our face, other times a gentle whisper barely, but certainly, whispering through the air. Life lessons learned, mini LJs born and incorporated into this mission, six formative years.
Summer 2013 and the Leigh-Jones family is sitting with friends in Arlington Texas and conversations arise, feelings are shared and the whisper ever present evokes a questioning response, “Here Lord?” which, for me at least, was followed by a swift, “Surely not!” Upon reflection, our now being a part of Commission, joined up with my wife’s hope to do ministry in this part of the world, mixed in with the prophetic charge declared over us as a family of churches to “Go West,” one can see how God was working. After a conversation with Guy Miller while walking along the beach in Bournemouth in July, and a sense of God’s “Yes” to us giving this a go we began what would be a 2-year journey to make Fort Worth, Texas our home and the place where we would plant Commission’s first church “in the West.”
So here we are eighteen months in and six months away from the plant kicking off for real (March 2017) and our whole lives feel as if they’ve been shaped by that quintessential something so undeniably present twelve years ago in Sidcup. Not easy, but man what an adventure! An adventure our kids know they are absorbed in: an adventure together.
Our faith is inspired, our hopes are confirmed, our fears, anxieties, even dreaded whispers shared with a whole family of people who are part of this adventure together.
We’re not alone, He is with us, the Commission family is with us: and we’re planting a church in Fort Worth, America’s fastest growing city over 500 000 people. Hopeful.
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If this story inspired you, and you feel like church planting might be something God has in store for your life, you might be interested in our upcoming 'Good to Go' event. Click here for more information.