The church is a gift from God. It is His means of carrying out the mission of redeeming the world to himself. Jesus came to do God's mission, and he commissioned us to continue it, and the vehicle he gave us to do it in is the church.
The church was born in God's heart before it was ever born in man's. But God chooses to bring about his work in the world through his followers, and his promise was that He would build it. But he would do it through the faithfulness of his disciples.
Take a look back with us to what God chose to begin through one man's faithfulnessn that continues to be grown and built through the faithfulness of the many that God is gathering around His purposes for His glory.
The Birth of a Vision
LifePoint was birthed within the heart of Pastor Lane nearly ten years before it was planted. Lane and Christin had only been married for 14 months when they moved to Fort Worth, Texas and heard about church planting, but God began calling him to this work even then. Little did he know at that time that church planting was only a seed that would take years to mature.
In March 2003 while serving on a church staff, God began stirring Pastor Lane’s heart to pray once again about planting a church. On his way home from work, his mother called and asked, “When are you going to plant a church?” The very next week his mother-in- law called and asked the same question. God opened his eyes to see the people in his new neighborhood—lost and hurting neighbors with no church reaching out to them. God spoke very directly to Pastor Lane and shaped a vision for what could reach these people.
Pastor Lane and Christin prayed and sought God; they initiated a 30-day season of prayer and contacted family and close friends to pray with them. In the closing days of this time, Pastor Lane received a letter of encouragement from his grandparents—words of great wisdom and consolation. The letter included a quote from Pastor George W. Truett that confirmed God’s direction for church planting:
"To find the will of God is the greatest discovery. To know the will of God is the greatest knowledge. To do the will of God is the greatest achievement."
The Shape of Vision
Both confident that God was calling them to plant a church, Pastor Lane and Christin started recruiting leaders and core group members.
During the winter of 2003, Pastor Lane and Christin moved forward in planning, organizing, and meeting people. While working with his current church, he held vision meetings so people could learn more about this church plant, and in March 2004 Pastor Lane began holding weekly meetings for those interested in launching LifePoint Church. During those meetings, Pastor Lane taught, cast vision, and prayed with them as God drew in more people, revealed their strengths, and positioned them in strategic roles. As the core group grew, so did the excitement of all God was doing. While the core group met weekly, LifePoint’s leaders continued their search for a facility, which proved to be an ever-increasing challenge. They identified a potential building, but its owner was only interested in selling—not leasing—and LifePoint did not have the money to make the purchase. But a few weeks later, the owner contacted Pastor Lane and offered to lease the facility with the future option to buy—important details only God could have provided.
In mid-June 2004, they signed the lease on the 8,000+ square-foot facility, and on July 3, 40-plus volunteers began remodeling by gutting the building of everything except the exterior walls (and the signature Swiss cottage in the community room that eventually served as the office and prayer room).
Remodeling a facility at this stage in a church plant is insane, which is probably why many church plants don’t begin with such projects. But God was leading, and soon their $100,000 remodeling project (plus a new parking lot) was underway. Money was coming in from fundraising efforts and core group participants, but not of this magnitude. Faith was the active decision maker every day. After interviews with eight other bank loan officers, they received a $100,000 loan from the ninth officer five minutes into the interview. In August, they received a three-week stop-work order from the city, so the launch date was moved back one month to October. After the initial building inspection, $30,000 of costs were added to the project for safety and they were allowed three weeks of temporary occupancy for their first services.
LifePoint’s first service—fondly known as Launch Day—was October 3, 2004, and two hundred attended that first service: 197 people plus God the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit. Initial attendance dropped as expected, but not for long. LifePoint experienced a 43% increase in attendance over the first eighteen months and 20%+ over the following two years.
After the first service, contagious excitement and warm hospitality fused to create a magnetic fellowship of people who shared the gospel with others; invited their friends, family, and co-workers to LifePoint; and continued to be faithful to God’s work there. The gospel was working in powerful ways among his people and LifePoint was blessed immeasurably! Radical changes were taking place in people’s lives, marriages, and families.
Faithfulness Grows Vision
In May 2005, LifePoint began the process of growing the leadership when Pastor Lane taught on biblical eldership. Several men entered a year-long process of discerning God’s will for their lives and for LifePoint; after ten months of prayer, study, and private and public examination, five more men were installed as elders during a service of worship, prayer, preaching of the Word, foot-washing, and the laying on of hands.
God blessed LifePoint and they paid the original $100,000 loan for remodeling within five months. Little did they know that God had more provisions just around the corner. First, they purchased their present building exactly one year to the day after signing its lease and, because they had predetermined a purchase price at the lease signing one year earlier, there was zero out-of-pocket expenses. Second, they leased a modular unit in October 2005 to increase space for the ever-growing children’s ministry. Third, a new plot of real estate went on the market in November 2005. Pastor Lane had eyed it since April 2003 but knew the owners had no interest in selling it. Even so, he often took a few close friends there to dream and pray, “Lord, if there is one place you would give to plant this church, make it this hillside.”
Two-and-a-half years later, a for-sale sign appeared on the property and God once again answered prayers. In March 2006, LifePoint purchased 17 acres for future site development and for establishing LifePoint’s missional headquarters.
For two years the church worked to pay the debt of the land with special offerings and regular committed giving. During this time, they were able to pay over two-thirds of the total purchase amount of the land. As growth continued in the old facility, the Elders sensed the time to move forward with relocation plans to the new site. They called the church to pray and several meetings were held to discuss next steps. The summer of 2008 was spent preparing for LifePoint’s first capital campaign. Choosing not to hire professionals to come in, a select group of elders were trained to organize the campaign utilizing the people of the church. In the fall of 2008 the first capital campaign, City on a Hill, was held through focused prayer devotionals, vision meetings with all members and regular attenders, and the church discussing what this next step would require. The church had always been faithful to give generously, but a new level of commitment was being sought from everyone.
A celebration was held on the new site to celebrate the fourth anniversary of the church and to culminate the campaign with worship, baptisms, testimony, and a catered meal. The next Sunday, October 12, was commitment day when all pledges were to be submitted. One significant factor that helps to understand the context of all that was going on is that on Thursday, October 9, the stock market fell its greatest amount since the Great Depression. The economy was not moving in the right direction, but God was. Over $480,000 above regular tithes and offerings were committed toward the campaign with $100,000 being given in a first-fruit offering.
Following the campaign, the process of relocation began. Creative Ink Architects was contracted to lead the initial part of the project and design the facility. Larry Snyder Company, Inc., was contracted to be the General Contractor and lead the site excavation and building process. These two companies proved to be invaluable for the church as this project was very large. The total project was over $2 million dollars, including the infill for the new facility. Tests were done to prepare the land throughout the spring and in May of 2009 construction began.
While construction revealed more outward signs of growth for LifePoint—along with a continued numerical growth—God was not slowing with the spiritual growth of his people. People continued to show signs of spiritual growth including salvation of adults and children, a greater level of sacrifice in serving to meet the demands of a growing congregation, a continued desire to serve in the city, a developing leadership and a spirit of humility, unity, and peace among the people.
As 2009 drew to a close, plans to relocate continued to culminate, waiting for moving day. Beset by weather and scheduling issues, the first day in the new facility remained on hold. The year 2010 was shaping up to be the most significant year in the life of this young church.
As 2010 dawned, the Elders were poised to lead the church in steps of faith as they believed the Lord was revealing. Plans were made to add a third full-time pastoral staff. One from among their own had wrestled with the call for several years and sensed it was the right time in his heart. The elders agreed. In February the Elders presented Christ Bryant to the church body as the new Community Pastor. This was no small step for LifePoint. Budget demands were looming with the new facility and adding another full-time staff person meant an even greater demand. But the spiritual life of the church was flourishing and this step was not perceived as a burden, but rather an act of faithful obedience. There was a great spirit of unity among the people as well as an excitement in experiencing God grow the church spiritually.
By March of 2010, plans to move were in place. Leadership meetings were held in the new facility to give people a thorough introduction to the new space. It would prove to be a larger shift than anyone first anticipated. Acclimating to a larger space required more of everything: people, time, resources, and energy. The first Sunday in the new facility was March 28. There was no shortage of problems to address, but what an incredible day. The very next week was Easter, which saw an attendance that was 25% higher than the highest attendance ever in the life of the church. The spring continued to be a great season for LifePoint as the Lord continued to grow his church in every way.
In the last six years, Ozark has ignited with a holy resonation of God’s glory. John 21:25 says, “Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” Amen! This is certainly true of LifePoint’s story; the best is yet to come!
God has strongly established LifePoint and now he is leading her to build a city on a hill. The light of God’s glory will not be hidden as the power of Christ’s gospel radically changes lives.