When Alicia and I arrived in Louisville, there were two big concerns we had. One was finding jobs, which the Lord quickly provided. The other was finding a local body of believers to worship, learn, fellowship, and serve with. We knew that would take a little longer. The local church is very important to us, because we believe it is very important to God. We believe that to faithfully follow Jesus Christ, you must be involved with a local body of believers. We wanted to take our time and be prayerful about our decision knowing that this would be where we will be plugged in at for at least 4 years, maybe more. We didn't just want to find any old place to attend. So it was an important decision, but after 8 weeks and 6 churches, we have found a church home! I want to clarify though that we don't 'go' to church, but we are the church. In the New Testament, the church is a people, not a place.
We visited Auburndale, Clifton, Third Avenue, 9th and O, Sojourn, and Immanuel. All of these are very healthy churches. They all are led by a plurality of elders (not sure about 9th and O), committed to expository preaching, and reformed theology. It was great to have so many good options, which was new for us. We hated feeling like consumers visiting these churches, but in sense you have to when they are all bible-centered.
We both felt like Sojourn was the best option for us. It is an Acts 29 church plant that just in the last year obtained a building, which they are not in yet. They got a 3 story building which will include the likes of a bigger sanctuary, gym, art classes, music venue, and art gallery with the sole purpose of being salt and light in the community. It started as an art gallery in the Highlands, which is a very artsy part of town, so the atmosphere at Sojourn is one that appreciates and seeks to redeem the arts. Some un-informed people will slap them with the name 'emergent' just because you can wear T-shirts, have tattoos, and because you are given the option of wine at communion (since we all know Jesus used Welch's). But the pastor teaches verse by verse through the bible and believes it. It is a very Scripture-centered church, which is probably why they don't make a big deal about wine and dress but nevertheless I will get off the box.
We love the philosophy of ministry there. That is really why we decided on Sojourn. A few things that I really appreciate are: the functional centrality of the gospel in the life of the believer is emphasized every week. This is great! Tell me about Christ and my need for Him every week. I constantly need to be reminded of His sufficiency. "Because you are accepted in God's sight because of what Christ has done, do these things." Very much like Tim Keller's philosophy. They have already planted 2 more churches, and seek to do more. Their theology is reformed. They are missional, meaning that they see themselves as missionaries everywhere they go. The nature of the church is a 'sent group of people' to Louisville and the nations. They are led by a plurality of elders. The worship teams are very gifted, and the lyrics are God-exalting. Community is very much a priority. They love the city they are in. Communion every week. Sermons are not soft, but hard, and very practical, not just running commentaries. There is more but this post is getting too long. Anyway, we are very excited about our new home. May the Lord use us as he sees fit, and use his church to stretch and strengthen us. Here are their passions:
THE BIBLE - Because immersing our lives in the Story of the Bible is the best way to hear the voice of God.
THE GOSPEL - Because the gospel changes everything. It is not merely the A,B,C's of Christianity. It's the A to Z.
LOVING LOUISVILLE - Because we're a church in the city, for the city.
BEING CREATIVE - Because God created us in His image to make and celebrate works of beauty and truth.
EMPOWERING LEADERSHIP - Because equipping and releasing the body of Christ to do the work of Christ is what it's all about.
BOLD LOVE - Because real relationships are messy.
SIMPLE STRUCTURES - Because doing church should never get in the way of being the church.