Since announcing the Ware Family is planting a church called Lifehouse in Newport News in 2017, people have asked why we are calling it Lifehouse.
The short answer is: We are a part of the Lifehouse Church Network.
The long answer is the reason for this blog. So, please let me explain why we are calling our church Lifehouse….
After I graduated high school in 2001 (Lord Jesus, I’m getting old!), I took a gap year to figure out what I wanted to do. After much prayer, I decided to attend a ministry training program called Masters Commission. The easy decision would've been to attend the Masters Commission at my church in Hampton, VA, but I wanted to get away from home and grow up a little.
While serving as a youth leader at my church, I met a guy who was starting a new Masters Commission program in Hagerstown, MD. I had never heard of Hagerstown before, but for some reason, I felt led to pursue enrollment there. After filling out the application and going through the interview process, I didn’t feel at peace with the decision. However, I played the fleece card with God and said: God, if you want me to go here, give me a sign. And I believe He did.
The next day at church, my friend’s mom, who I consider a second mom, handed me an envelope and said she felt God told her to give it to me. There was a check for $1,500 in it and she told me to put towards whatever the next step was. That was the sign I needed. Hagerstown, HERE I COME!
When I arrived in Hagerstown for Masters Commission, there were 4 students... total. Being familiar with other Masters Commission programs, I knew this was extremely low enrollment. However, I believed God wanted me there, so I determined to give it everything I had. My first year in the program came and went. I grew a lot and still believed I had made the right decision, so I decided to come back for a second year.
During my second year, I was a part of a practicum where I was assigned to a church planter named Patrick Grach. The church I was at in Hagerstown was planting a new church in a different part of the city, and Patrick Grach was going to lead it. They assigned me and four other college students to help him. We worked alongside Patrick as he was at the beginning stages of the church; so much so, we were asking and answering foundational questions like:
What kind of church should this be?
What are we going to name it?
How will we take up the offering?
How should we do evangelism?
It was a blast to work alongside Patrick during this process, and as I look back, it sparked a desire inside of me to one day plant a church.
One day in particular, Patrick asked our team, what would be a good name for a church? I blurted out my first thought: What about Lifehouse?! Patrick’s face lit up with a Whoa, that’s a great idea... look and said he really liked it. A few months later, The Lifehouse was launched by Patrick.
Fast forward 13 years to 2016. During this time, Lifehouse Church in Hagerstown has grown to more than 1,800 in weekly attendance at their two campuses. In addition, Patrick started the Lifehouse Church Network to plant churches and train church planters.
When Kristen and I decided to pursue the call to plant a church, the first place I turned to was Patrick and The Lifehouse Network. We talked, prayed, and planned. Now, here we are - Lifehouse Newport News launches on September 17, 2017.
When I set off for Hagerstown in 2002, I had no idea I would help a church plant that would eventually help me plant my church... That I would name my church 13 years before I would plant it, and through Lifehouse, hopefully plant hundreds of more church in the US and beyond.
There is a lot more to this story I didn’t share, so if you’re interested, I’d love to sit down with you over coffee (my treat) and share the whole story. It truly is a God-story I am honored to be a part of and it shows when God calls you to do something, go somewhere, or help someone out, just do it. You never know what it could possibly set in motion.
If you’d like to grab coffee and hear the full story, shoot me an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.