Why Chambersburg? Why DOVE? Why us? Why are there so many broken people in our city who are not connected to Jesus or His church?
Not only do these questions demand answers but also demand prayer, passion and perseverance.
In November 2003, God unexpectedly dropped an idea in our hearts that He wanted us to plant a church in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. Chambersburg is a great place to live with good people. It has a growing economy and plenty of healthy churches to attend . . . and yet that still small voice continued to whisper Chambersburg, unchurched, church plant to our hearts.
Throughout the winter and spring of 2004, we journeyed through the second semester of the DOVE Leadership and Ministry School. One Saturday in February we exited the building after listening to Merle Smucker from Gap, Pennsylvania share his church planting story. Jen and I sat in our Honda Accord in the Newport DOVE parking lot, looked at each other, and simultaneously said, “That is what we are called to do!” That day, the question changed from “why us,” to “why not us?”
Needless to say, the call we received that day was just the beginning. It is a call that we continue to remember and lean on eleven years later, as we travel through the proverbial blood, sweat, tears and joys of church planting.
Several months after graduation, we began a mentoring relationship with Allen and Lucinda Dise. They prayed for us, encouraged us, challenged us and held us accountable to things that Holy Spirit had placed ,in our hearts. Allen and Lucinda helped us begin a relationship with the Newport DOVE congregation, which they pastored, and our family began to travel ninety minutes two times per month, so that we could be loved by the people of that congregation.
During the summer of 2004, we began neighborhood picnics in our backyard with the intention of inviting our unchurched neighbors. During these evenings, we ate together, shared a devotional and prayed for each other. This was no small feat, since the majority of these people did not have a dynamic relationship with Jesus.
These biweekly gatherings consisted of 25 to 40 people and continued through early fall. When the weather turned colder, we moved these picnics to a local church building. Big mistake—only about one-third of the people traveled with us, and we lost most of our youth. Tragically, we began to call ourselves PLAYERS which stood for Purpose Loving Yeshua to Equip and Release Servants—probably a little too confusing of an attempt to be relevant to our culture.
Winter 2004/2005 was filled with new beginnings and painful loss when our friend and intercessor, Lucinda Dise, passed away. Jen and I purchased a new home consisting of three apartments, which we moved into in early February. God confirmed the transition to the new house one weekend in March, by sending someone to live next to us, who later joined the leadership of the church. That same weekend, Jen took the lady in the other apartment to a retreat where she met Jesus. The church plant was taking baby steps. The following Easter 2005, we began weekly meetings at Network Ministries, located in the heart of the community where we were called.
Beginning in June 2005, several young people, together with Jen and I began Tuesday night prayer gatherings on our front porch to intercede for our city. That summer became known as “The Summer on the Porch” and was the delivery room in which the church was birthed. These prayer and worship times quickly became the highlight of our week and would last two to four hours, sometimes followed by a walk to a local convenience store for a “shmuffin” after midnight. The Holy Spirit fell, and we met Jesus in powerful and tangible ways during those nights of prayer.
One night we were asking Jesus for a new name for our church. We wanted the name to clearly reflect our hearts. Our hearts desired that everything we did—work, worship and play—be a response to our relationship with Jesus. Someone mentioned the word overflow. Instantaneously, we knew the Holy Spirit had named us. We began calling ourselves Overflow Ministries, reflecting our desire that everything we say and do be an “overflow” of our relationship with Jesus.
God began to align hearts, and out of this group of young people came our first leadership team, as we began the tedious process of creating a wineskin to contain the vision and dreams that God had placed within our hearts. Newport DOVE commissioned us out as an official DOVE church plant in November of 2006.
Eight years later, we stand in awe of what Jesus has done! We marvel at how He has taken a farmer and a homemaker from Chambersburg, to begin a work that is impacting a city and beginning to impact nations.
Read Chapter 11. No casual Christian life for us here