A View from the Passenger's Seat

By Dave Collins, lead pastor, LifePoint Church
LifePoint Church

The most unusual conversations I’ve had about our church plant have been in fire engines or police cars.

Just one year ago, after a few years incubating as a multisite, LifePoint Church launched. At the same time, the Lord opened doors for me to become a chaplain for our township public safety department. Each week during our pre-launch phase, I found myself dealing with publicity, details and outreach strategy, while simultaneously getting uniforms, badges, protocols and access to secure buildings for public safety.

As our church launched, I found myself beginning weekly ride-alongs with police or fire personnel and spending time with 911 operators in the dispatch office. My role is to encourage, listen, support and offer whatever wisdom God provides. Almost every time I ride I am asked for an update about how the church is doing. Riding in a fire truck is a little like heading down the highway while sitting inside a double-wide modular house, so the conversations sometimes feel a bit unusual. On one of my first trips the firefighter next to me said, “Tell me about your church.” And just like that I had a chance to share about God’s work at LifePoint.

Public Safety chaplaincy is simply representing Christ in daily life as officers and firefighters serve, and it means being available for moments of crisis–like the time when the wife of one the police officers had a medical crisis. I found out by text and just decided to head to the hospital to see if I could help.

I didn’t know the officer or his family very well, but I knew that since he was a cop, if he didn’t want me there, he’d have no hesitation telling me. As it turned out, my arrival coincided with the doctor’s final consult, and the news was not good. I was able to pray with the officer and his family in that moment.

God intervened, and his wife not only made it out of surgery, but had a miraculous recovery that even surprised her doctors. I don’t think I would have been able to respond the way I did to him if I hadn’t been in a “take action immediately” mode as a church planter. Later, in a follow-up conversation, the officer described to me his experience of drawing near to God in his moment of crisis and his change of heart towards belief in God.         

As a church planting pastor, my time with the police, fire and dispatch staff pictures much of what I’ve experienced in planting and growing a church: sowing seeds of awareness, being ready with the good news of Christ and waiting for God to give the growth.

This past year we’ve seen conversions, baptisms and spiritual growth. We’ve also had bad news, crises of various kinds and challenges that could be overwhelming. But God has sustained us in ways that have been surprising (even to me) and drawn me closer to himself. As I close out the first year of life as lead pastor of new church plant, I’ve realized all the police, dispatch and firefighters in my township know about our church. And some are making efforts to attend.

And all I did was put on “the uniform” of Christ, wear the badge of my secure identity in him and take advantage of the full access to God’s power while I sit as a passenger on the ultimate ride-along with Christ.

Dave Collins (pictured left) is church planter/leader pastor of LifePoint Church, in Ann Arbor, Michigan

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This blog first appeared on Converge MidAmerica
    Point - September 2018

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