Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Final Goodbye to the Ridge Church Site

Hey! I just wanted to make a final post on the Ridge Church blog/website, and this is it.

Baby #2, Chloe, Emily and I will be moving to Charlotte on June 25, 2010 where I will be the new Student Pastor at LifePointe Christian Church. It's a five-year old church plant, and it will be a very challenging role for me. I would expect no less of the Lord! ;)

We are very excited about the new path that God has laid out for us, and ready to start serving in a new area of a town we loved living in!

This will never change the love that we have for the Ridge Church folks, those who supported us through prayer and finances while we planted The Ridge, and the fine staff of OneLife Church in Powell, who welcomed us with open arms. We care about you all and will miss each of you.

Please pray for us, and if God so leads you, consider financially supporting us in our 1/2 salary, 1/2 fundraised monetary situation in Charlotte. (You can learn more about all that in my personal blog, kevinlayne.blogspot.com.) I'm calling it "Life in the Fast Layne," but of course Emily thinks that's lame. The name of the blog is subject to change...

One final note: This blog will continue to exist as long as blogger lets it. I am planning to keep it as a record of our church plant, and my church planting thoughts and efforts, even before Ridge Church started meeting. To that end, I've imported my original blog posts from a couple years ago, so all the church planting stuff is on one blog. Doesn't mean a ton to most people, but it's a big deal for me... Feel free to read anything you want!

Until we see you again, God bless you and keep you!


"New Baby" Layne's first picture...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Final Ridge Church Financial Update

Hey! I hope you all are having a great 2010! It has been a wild ride for Emily and me (and Chloe!) the last few months. That's life I guess!

I mentioned in my last post that I would have at least one more blog entry here to discuss the final financials of Ridge Church. I can say that winding down a church's bank accounts takes a little time! However, we're done, the bank statement says "$0" and we have the final info to share with you here. Our totals below include all the finances we shared at any time from The Ridge with missions organizations, missionaries, church planters, and church planting organizations.

Church Planting: $5,157.00 (The Axis Church in Nashville; Journey Church of the Highlands in Boone, NC; and the Acts29 Network in Seattle)

Regional Missions: $1,204.00 (Jimmie Hodges Ministries to the people of Appalachia)

Local Missions: $843.00 (Fountain City Ministry Center here in Knoxville)

International Missions: $56.10 (special offering from Ridge Church folks for persecuted Pakistani Christ-followers)

The total of all of this giving is $7,260.10! That's not too bad for a little church plant! I have to say, I am filled with excitement when I think back to the generosity of our Ridge Church folks and the way you all shared with others and kept your focus on God's Kingdom expansion, instead of on yourselves and your own comfort! Great job! I am proud of you (in a good way!) and will always have fond memories of our church plant together.

Thank you once again for allowing me to lead you as your church planter and lead pastor for a time. I pray that God would continue to use you in obedience wherever you go as you keep placing your faith in Him and keeping your eyes on Jesus and His harvest fields--those who don't have a relationship with Christ and desperately need one!

Again, have a great 2010! If you'd like to contact us, just email us at kevandem@yahoo.com.

For Jesus,


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ridge Church Update for October

Hey, everyone! It's been a few weeks since my last blog update. I wanted make sure you know what's been going on with Ridge Church and also Kevin and Emily (and Chloe!).

First, God has been so gracious to us; we have much to thank Him for.
  • Our former Ridge Church folks have the best hearts! They have done a great job of humbly joining the OneLife Church team. Many of our former Ridge Church people are serving at OneLife, most in the children's ministry area of the new church. That's great for the former Ridge Church folks, because everyone is finding a place to serve God and others. It's great for OneLife too, because they've had more children than they anticipated this early in the life of the church and needed our great volunteers. Awesome fit between Ridge Church and OneLife. That's a God thing!
  • OneLife has seen 6 people commit themselves to being Christ-followers already! That's an awesome thing for a church that's only had 5 public Sunday worship services. Also, OneLife continues to grow each Sunday in numbers. This is a blessing from God, as people who are not connected to God by a relationship with Christ are inviting others who do not know God. This is great!
  • We are currently in the process of finalizing the "winding down" of our Ridge Church financial situation. We will be giving some monetary gifts to some important people: Ken and Christy Garrison, the owners of Panache Hair and Body where Ridge Church met on Sundays; Andy Hughes and Journey Church of the Highlands in Boone, North Carolina; and Jeremy Rose and The Axis Church in Nashville, Tennessee. More information will be available soon on our final financial stats. I think it's important and cool to see a tally of how much of God's money Ridge Church folks sent back to church planters and missionaries! New Churches and Serving Others were two very important values at Ridge Church. We are going to live out those values all the way through to completion. Those financial numbers will be available soon here on the blog.
  • If you'd like to keep up with what's going on with me and Emily, here's a link to our latest prayer letter to our prayer team and financial partners. Feel free to check it out. If you have any questions about supporting our ongoing fundraising as we trust God to provide for our financial needs while I am a volunteer staff member at OneLife Church, email me!
Thank you all so much for reading the blog over the last 15 months... I have one more post, at least, that I will put up soon. Have a great night.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Ridge Church Update

Hey! Sunday was the first day of Ridge Church folks going to OneLife Church. I have to admit, this week has been a little weird for me.

Last Sunday, Emily and I shared with you all that Ridge Church would be folding into OneLife. It was our prayer (Emily and me) that everyone would see a couple things in this decision.
  • First, we wanted people to know that Emily and I came back to Knoxville after 10 years of ministry in other places because God told us to and we plan to stay as long as He wants us to. We have been committed to and remain committed to God's plan for this city. We love Knox Vegas, we love the people here, and we want to see the Gospel of Jesus Christ bear great fruit and transform this place one life at a time.

  • Second, we wanted people to know that Emily and I are committed to church planting. The Core Values of Ridge Church were Truth, Grace & Faith, Community, Serving Others, New Churches, and Fun. It just so happens, OneLife is all about those values and that shows that this is a great place for our people.

  • Third, we believe that the Church (big "C", meaning all Christians throughout time and place) is Jesus's bride, as spoken about in Scripture. (This isn't creepy, it is a way of sharing just how much God loves us and how important we are to Him.) That means that God is the leader of the church (little "c", meaning individual churches everywhere). The Bible teaches that we are all one body as the worldwide Church, and we should answer to God. That means that if God wants to connect 2 churches (local manifestations of the worldwide Church) and make one, He has the right to do that. In many cases, as in ours, we can see the wisdom in it. In some cases, churches really need to combine, but we resist it, for whatever reason. I think church connections should occur more often, but that's another discussion! Anyway, we want to exhibit humility in our commitment to Christ. God is in charge here, and we know that we are obeying God and advancing the Kingdom of God by folding into OneLife. That's enough said right there. Any personal ambitions we have must be subordinated to the goal of getting the Gospel out to other folks.

  • Fourth, by folding into OneLife, Ridge Church will cease to exist, but how we do this part is almost as important as how we started. Even during this transitional time, we have a great opportunity to share Jesus with folks. When people ask, "Why are you doing this?" you can tell them that God said for us to, we are all part of God's body, He can do more when we team up, we want to obey God... All of these reasons are true and any one of them is a great answer! But one thing you won't tell them (because it's not true!) is that we "failed" or God let us down, or there was "sin in the camp" (there's not) or that we gave up or that we didn't want to share the Gospel with other people. We are folding into OneLife so that we can accomplish the mission God gave us His way, as part of a team of people leaning on each other and God. That's simple and good! No "church splits" or "personality clashes" or "differences of opinion" or whatever other excuses people give for not living out the Christ-following life in harmony with other believers. Nope, we are making a healthy move to honor God; we're moving as one small healthy church plant into fellowship with another healthy church plant. It's a great example to those who don't follow Christ, and also a great example to churches out there that constantly fight and bicker over stuff.
In the end, God wins through what we are doing! I want you all to see that and believe that. I do. I love you all and pray that you will continue to explore what God has for you, be willing to try new and challenging things for Jesus, and obey with all your hearts!

By the way, God does move in weird ways! Last Sunday, all I knew was that I would show up at OneLife this Sunday and pitch in however I could. Today, I'm a part-time staff member, continuing to raise financial support so that God can use the gifts and talents I have to support the OneLife staff team. I'm honored and humbled and excited about what He has in store, all at the same time. For those who are supporting us financially, thanks so much! We will continue to rely on you so that we can serve in Knoxville. More info on how supporting us works out will be available soon.

See you this Sunday at OneLife! 11 a.m. at Powell High School... If you have questions or want to get involved (since that's part of my job!) email me!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Letter We Sent to Our Prayer Partners

I didn't know exactly what to write here, so I'm posting the letter we sent to our many prayer partners. Here goes...

This prayer letter began when I asked Emily to help me with it... I have had a tough emotional ride of late. Just so all of you know that God uses Emily all the time to speak with, to, and even for me sometimes... - Kevin

After a very difficult yet very blessed 15 months, God has led us to join forces with another church plant in the Knoxville area. We have had quite a bit of time to pray, think, and talk with others about this, and we have come to a simple conclusion. We believe God led us to plant Ridge Church as a part of His sovereign plan. We have seen people who had given up on church become interested and involved again. Others had a renewed excitement about God and some were introduced to a God they had never met before, one that was not concerned with the rules and legalism that is so prevalent in this area. All of these things would not have happened if God hadn’t sent us here with the intent to plant. For whatever reason God has seen fit to greatly bless our efforts, protect us from any type of unhealthy, negative or “bad” situation, yet at the same time draw Ridge Church as we now know it to a close. This has been a very crazy time and we have sought very wise counsel and prayer from our outside advisory board, other pastors and other godly men and women.

In church planting, you never know what's going to happen... It's always a risk and success in God's eyes is not always the same as success in our eyes. Based on a ton of Scripture I've read lately, God sees human success as equal to obedience to Him. We have seen the next step God wants us to take and rather that fight for “our” plans and our own personal ambitions, we believe God wants us to obey His leading, continue serving in Knoxville as missionaries, and join the team of this new church plant. We have a network of well over a hundred “unchurched” people that we are still in contact with, still are interested in what we've been talking to them about (God), but will also take more time to be willing to check out God or understand what a relationship with Christ is.

We shared this information with our core group Sunday morning at our Prayer Gathering and were not sure what to expect. God gave me the words to say and had already prepared the people's hearts. They were sad on the one hand but excited about the future as well. Church plant core group members are typically risk-takers themselves. God has really blessed us with them and we are so thankful that this move will bring glory to Him.

Obviously, we have some massive prayer requests. First, that God will continue to give us wisdom and sensitivity as we draw our time as a Ridge Church body to a close. We want to honor those who support us financially and through prayer and ask that you continue in your support. Our work here is far from done and we plan to continue serving as missionaries in this area. Sadly, in the “Bible Belt” so many people think they know God but are just going through the motions. Then there are those that are so “righteous” they have made it incredibly hard for other committed Christ-followers to reach non-believers.

Second, pray for this transition time for God’s people. They will be walking into a new environment and a larger group. This will be exciting for some and difficult for others.

Thirdly, pray for Emily and me. It is hard to not struggle with the “success syndrome.” Pray we remember all that God has done and the amazing ways He has used us instead of focusing on what could be perceived by others as a failure. Please pray that He would guide us on the next phase of our church planting and missionary journey here in Knoxville.

A few weeks ago Emily and I went on a walk to pray in a local park. There was a really nice paved path around the entire park that we walked in silence as we were there to be quiet and seek God. When we neared the end of the paved path, there was a little beaten-down dirt path that took us off the paved path, but it was clearly a path. Most people would pass it by but we, of course, had to check it out. Emily noticed it first, quickly stepped onto it, and I noticed and followed her. It was beautiful and ran along the creek. Along the way we were poked by some thorns, but Emily saw where it ended up and we returned to the main paved path. I asked her where the dirt path led and she said, “It joins back up with the main path.”

A realization hit both of us like a ton of bricks: We are THOSE people. We are the people who will always get off the smooth, easy, well-traveled path, in search of those hidden treasures that require getting your arms and ankles scraped along the way. In the end, God brings us back to the smooth path. Some would say we’re the dumb people who don’t know how to follow directions. But we look back and know that we follow the dirt paths in life because of how God has wired us. He uses that wiring to accomplish His greater purpose in our lives. God has created us all differently and each one of us is a special and wonderful creation of His.

So, we are now continuing on the path God gave us over a year ago, planting a new church in Knoxville. We remain focused on missions, service, and evangelism, driven by the desire to reach this community for Christ, throwing aside anything that hinders us in that pursuit. We pray that you would continue to support us in this effort! We will continue to keep you updated.

We love you all!

Kevin and Emily

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Sick Kid...

Well, Chloe got sick again this week! It's been several months since she's been under the weather, but this weekend has reminded us of just how often kids catch bugs. Emily took her to the doctor on Friday, and she got a shot of antibiotics and a prescription. It's a blessing that she started having a fever on Friday instead of before the long weekend... Especially for Mommy and Daddy!

Everyone who's been a parent has experienced sick kids and the stresses that they cause you... If you haven't been a parent, then you've been the sick kid! (I think we all have done that one!)

In our current Bible teaching series, we're talking about "Things I've learned from Chloe." Last Sunday, we discussed how I've learned some things about God and prayer from our daughter. The first thing I've learned: we need to pray BOLDLY and PERSISTENTLY. Babies have both of those things down... When they need something, they make sure you are aware of it. Jesus' teaching in Luke 11:5-8 shows us that we should communicate in similar ways to babies when we pray about our needs! God wants us to seek Him with boldness and persistence. How often do we fail to do that? Alot, in my case at least. The challenge: approach the "throne of grace" with boldness and persistence when you pray!

This Sunday, we'll be worshiping with the folks at the Catalyst service at Central Baptist Church of Fountain City. Snacks are available at 10:10, and worship starts at 10:30. Emily and I will be there for snacks... But Chloe is going to sit this one out with Grandma Sue to be on the safe side. See you there!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Good Weekend

Yep, it was a good weekend... I had to work Saturday, but I talked to a couple of good friends, too. First, I talked to my friend and a former missionary with us in West Virginia, Malcolm. Malcolm lives in Ohio now... If you'd like to pray for something, you can pray for his part-time job situation and also pray for his wife Emily to find a new job. She and "my Emily" are good friends!

Later, I talked to my friend Andy Hughes, another Acts29 church planting buddy. Andy is the pastor of Journey Church of the Highlands in Boone, NC. The Ridge supports Andy, his family, and his church financially with 5% of our tithes and offerings... This is part of our commitment to one of our six core values: New Churches! Many of you got to meet Andy when he drove here one Sunday this spring to share about his family and their church plant in Western North Carolina. His church has a new website in the works... Check it out!

Today was a good day, too! I attended the second "preview service" of One Life Church with Emily, Chloe, and Becca Thiele, our children's ministry intern. Becca just got back for the fall semester at Johnson Bible College and is excited about being back and working with our kids! She'll be back in action on Sunday, August 30th at 10 a.m. at our next Ridge Church Worship Gathering at Panache Hair and Body in Fountain City. We'll again be having child care for kids age 0-5... Make sure to say "hey" to her!

Later on, Emily and I met some new friends for coffee at Starbuck's in Powell. It was cool... They just moved back to Knox Vegas from North Carolina (alot like us) and we have alot of things in common. That's cool... New friends are great! Chloe got tired on us at Starbuck's, but all in all, she did pretty good! She's such a "big girl."

If you'd like to pray for us this week, feel free to! Emily, Chlo Chlo and I are heading to Indianapolis, Indiana for a denominational church planter assessment Monday morning. We have been invited for some free training by a leader in that denomination... We'll be back on Saturday and look forward to seeing you Sunday!