Dividing to Multiply Beauty

Last Spring Emma and I bought a bank-owned property “as-is.”  Those two words, “as is” must have been very important to our bank because they made us sign about 15 separate “as is” documents. After “as is” document #10, we got a little nervous about what was waiting for us.

The landscaping was “as is,” that’s for sure. My girls were brimming with ideas. But when they got to the flowerbeds, well, let’s just say the flower beds were suffering from perennial neglect.  Emma put out the word, and two friends who love beauty and who love to grow things said they would love to loan us their green thumbs and help. For them help meant making a mess. They called it “dividing,” though digging seemed a more apt description. Gardeners reading this know that these friends were practicing “tough love” – providing space for cramped roots to grow.

It was a lot of work. Theydug them up, moved them to the spot we busted in the sod with a sod buster and a temperamental tiller, and dug them in. It also looked painful. Throughout the process, the plants drooped. I’ve heard you should talk to plants, but if plants talked back, I am almost certain I heard these say, “Why did you do this? We loved it where we were!” One of Emma’s friends assured us, “It will take a little time, but they will do wonderfully here.”

On October 6, Calvary got to see first-hand what it is like to multiply by dividing, as a half dozen Calvary families were transplanted to a freshly cultivated setting downtown. I know the words “dividing” or “splitting” are bad words when it comes to churches. Who wants to be a part of a church that splits? Well, we do, if the reason for splitting is to spread beauty to another location for the enjoyment of other people. The difference is in the purpose.

Some people look at their church and say, “It’s beautiful, let’s enjoy it!” Others see the same church and say, “It’s beautiful, let’s share it!” Again, the difference is in purpose. As with our plants, dividing or splitting is a lot of work. The Gathering Church flows out of almost a year of prayer and planning and training within its core. In the case of several core families, they have literally had to uproot from another location to plant themselves in Rochester. And we should not be surprised if we see a little drooping. In time as we stay the course, God will restore the roots, helping them to flourish and giving us room to grow, too!

Has it worked? Yes, in both our flowerbed and our church. Consider these two transplant families, Mark and Barb Fisher, and Adrian and Melissa Dingley. Mark and Barb have been very active in various ministries at Calvary. Barb has helped run the library for many years, but now that she is leaving three separate women stepped up to fill the gap. See, remove one plantand three sprout up! Space was created and now a bouquet of flowers fills the same space. Mark used to create the missions board that features our missionaries and partnerships. When Mark stepped out, another family stepped in to take this on as their sweet spot. Adrian resigned from our Leadership Board to provide key leadership for The Gathering, and Kevin Zemanek re-enlisted to take his place.
God’s transplanted beauty is blessing lives through The Gathering Church. How does The Gathering multiply beauty? An out-of-town Mayo patient hears the worship service in the Holiday Inn Ballroom, enters and is sustained. A man studies the Scripture with Mark Fisher and trusts Christ. Then he is baptized, along with another new believer, in the Holiday Inn pool down the hall.
But you may say, “What does gardening have to do with doing church?” Well, after all, this whole God-and-us-story thing did start in a garden. Jesus answers that by saying He is the Vine and we are the branches and that we are appointed to go and bear much fruit that will last – beautiful fruit that comes as we make room for growth and multiply beauty by taking the hard and messy steps of multiplying by dividing.
Calvary has prayed and talked about a church plant for over 10 years. This fall, we are thankful God has helped us to now have a perennial problem. He has multiplied beauty and brought immediate fruit through transplanting.

Getting on the “same page” and staying there doesn’t just happen: it takes time and work. Getting on the “same page” with God is crucial. We can easily assume that we are, but that is very different from knowing that we are. How does one get on the “same page” with God? I believe a big part of the answer is prayer, time on your face asking for God to move. There are so many instances of God moving as His people pray and humbly seek His will.

In June, we had a special time in a concert of prayer. We prayed for our nation, our church, this community, broken families, the unborn, and many other needs.  The Leadership Board has been setting aside one meeting each month to seek God’s face; to hear from Him about what He wants for Calvary. These men pray for our pastors, for the many ministries at Calvary, and for other needs in our body. We spend time processing central issues that face us as a church – we spend time getting on the “same page.”

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