Seeking the Lord
In January of 2005 a group of us were at a retreat where we were quite desperately seeking the Lord for His leading and shaping. Many of us were serving churches like the church in Cleveland, the church in Ann Arbor, etc. (currently our close sister churches) by serving their youth. We prayed and confessed much to the Lord during our time. The Lord revealed to us, our own spiritual barrenness and inability to connect average people around us to the living Christ who had so drastically changed our lives.
The Lord led us to change — to evaluate our Christian lives, our personal commitments, and the commitment of the church as we saw it in the New Testament. Through Bible study and serious consideration before the Lord we came to realize that the work of the church is to express a testimony of the wonders of Christ in at least three ways: first, to preach the gospel; second, to strengthen people’s lives through an inward, vibrant, ongoing experience with Christ in them; and third, to build up believers so that they could be equipped to serve God in the church and for the world.
Through a long series of discussions and prayers and the blessings of our sister churches, the Lord opened every door for a group of 17 of us to begin a gospel outreach here in Cleveland Heights. With help from Gospel Odyssey, a college group that invests about a week each summer in different areas spreading the gospel, we conducted 700 door-to-door surveys of Cleveland Heights residents and found about 150 people who filled out contact cards indicating some interest in a new church. We began meeting on Sunday mornings on August 12, 2005 at the Alcazar Hotel, here in Cleveland Heights. Each week after our first meeting our Sunday attendance numbers decreased. After about a month, we realized the Lord was showing us something: the gospel is not easy.
The Lord led us in a couple of ways during those first few months. First, we realized from the surveys that Cleveland Heights residents felt the most important thing in a church was teaching from the Word of God — the Bible. The Lord had already put hunger in the people here. This encouraged us to continue to preach the Word in every setting and in every way, which is what the Lord had committed to us from the beginning. Second, we realized that we must go out to meet people rather than simply wait for them to come. We began to go and we haven’t stopped going.
In the end, a church grows because Jesus is working in individual hearts and adding them together. Person by person, name by name, baptism by baptism, the Lord has worked in the hearts and lives of people. This is the basis of church.
Growing in Cleveland Heights, Spreading to Other Communities
In October of 2005 we moved our Sunday gathering to the India Community Center in Cedar Fairmount. In December of 2015 we purchased that building, 12412 Cedar road, where we still meet today. Since that beginning, some of us have gone on to plant plant Mayfield Heights Church. We look to the Lord that others would go out from us to plant more churches.
We are so thankful that we’ve been able to witness the Lord’s move in many hearts here in Cleveland Heights since 2005. We’ve seen the Lord move in college students at Case and CIM, in young professionals, in the older community, in the Black, White, and Asian communities. He has built us into a close family where we know one another and where we strive to explore the Word and practice the church life together. The three principles that the Lord gave us at the beginning are still with us today. We look to the Lord for further growth and impact on our city.