And So Our Story Begins...1
"And so it begins..."
Well, actually, God has thought about the birth of Gateway Bible Church for a long time...even before the creation of the world...but it is now time for His church to formalize and be included among the many.
Our story is both unique and common.
It is unique in the way that God brought a core group of people together to pray for God's wisdom in July of 2009 during a time of searching and uncertainty for all. As we met God made it clear that He wanted us to partner together in a weekly Bible Study where He would guide and shape us through his Word, in particular the book of Ezra. We were all amazed at how relevant, penetrating, convicting and comforting this often neglected book of the Bible was to us as well as how much we loved one another and truly enjoyed our fellowship in Christ.
Further times of prayer, worship, leaning on God's wisdom and "what if" conversations took place and the consideration of starting a church was brought out and discussed freely. This was an exciting time of leaning on God and delighting in the possibilities He was bringing to our attention and prayerful anticipation.
God answered clearly when Rod was asked to serve as the Part-Time Interim Pastor at the Evangelical Free Church in Oakland (EFCO). EFCO had asked NorthCreek Church in Walnut Creek to oversee a replant at their facility and Rod was asked to be the transitional pastor to ultimately bring in the new pastor. So from November of 2009 to March of 2010 many in the Bible Study joined Rod and helped, worshiped and served with the remnant people of EFCO until the transition took place.
In early March the new Higher Ground Church launched and Rev. Billie Dempsey was installed as the Pastor. We all rejoiced with them and stepped away with a new conviction that God was calling us to start a new church that would reach the communities along the 580 corridor (San Leandro, Castro Valley, Hayward, San Ramon, Dublin & Pleasanton).
Although we were all eager to meet on Sunday Mornings we took our time to truly understand the necessary mile-markers of establishing a new church: Leadership, Organization, Location, Financing, etc. We established a "core group" of about 16 people who all committed to partnering together, using their gifts and investing their time for the establishing of this new church.
Who would we be? What do we believe? What should be our philosphy of ministry? Questioins like this became our priority and we sought to establish a name, a mission/vision statement, a set of core convictions, a doctrinal statement, a set of bylaws and ministry approach/plan. Meetings, meetings & more meetings. Prayer, discussion, bible study, discussion, prayer, etc. were common realities of these early meetings. Along the way we realized that a group of men from the Core Group needed to be meeting regularly and take on the leadership responsibilities as well as finalizing some of our documents or directions. To that end we established the "GateKeepers" who now serve in this role.
After much prayer and God's provision, on May 1st of 2010, we began to gather at Creekside Middle School for a season of learning, development and experimentation with anticipation of a church launch in August. We took in our new surroundings, got comfortable with meeting together on Sunday mornings and worked through the Marks of a Healthy church (Mark Dever's 9-Marks with a couple more of our own). We offically called Rod Phillips to be our Teaching Pastor and continued to work hard at working out the kinks as well as developing the structure and formation of our new church. In mid summer we reevaluated our anticipated August launch and felt that we needed to be patient in order to have key milestones reached before an official launch. So, we determined that September 18th would be a good time, giving us ample time to accomplish some key goals.
Friends, all we can say is that God is good. He has been with us all along the way opening doors, guiding us and knitting us together for this purpose. We certainly don't deserve His gracious provision and we are humbled by the great responsibility we have at overseeing and being a part of His glorious church.
So, our story is, in one sense, a unique story, with specific people and specific direction and answer to prayer. Yet, we realize that our story is common as so many of God's people have gone through their own unique circumstances with God to establish churches around the World.
To that end, we want to "gorify God by building a community of believers who are actively committed to knowing, applying and proclaiming the Word of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
Would you please do the following:
1. Pray for us - We know that so many reading this are faithfully serving in healthy churches and are rejoicing with us that God is establishing another light in the East Bay. We covet your partnership through prayer. The Bay Area is the mission field and we have a hard task before us, yet we realize that our Sovereign God is already at work preparing the hearts of His children.
2. Visit us - If you attend another faithful church it is not our desire to draw you away, but we would love to have you come and share in God's blessing being unfolded at Gateway Bible Church. It would be an encouragement to us and we want God's people rejoice over His goodness with us.
3. Join us - If you are not attending church, are asking quesitons about God, considering what it means to be a Christian then we invite you to attend and join our church family. We would love to help you come face to face with God and His Gospel and encourage you in your walk with God. If you are attending an anemic church and are in need of a robust Gospel and teaching ministry we invite you to come and to join us. It is our desire to grow God's people through the faithful preaching and teaching of God's word.