Reaching our town in Pennsylvania, USA
By Doug Lehman
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 they 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 Global Leadership & 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 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 Newport Church, 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.
The Unchurched Gather
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 twenty-five to forty people and continued through early fall. When the weather turned colder, we moved the picnics into a local church building. Big mistake—only about one-third of the people moved 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—an attempt to be relevant that was instead confusing.
Winter 2004/2005 was filled with new beginnings and painful loss when Lucinda Dise, our friend and intercessor, 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. That Easter, 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.
Our New Name
One night we were asking Jesus for a new name for our church. We wanted the name to clearly reflect our hearts. We desired that everything we did—work, worship, and play—would 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 would be an overflow of our relationship with Jesus.
God began to align hearts. 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 God had placed within our hearts. Newport Church commissioned us out as an official DOVE church plant in November of 2006.
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.
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Doug and his wife, Jen, planted Overflow Community Church in 2006 where Doug continues to serve as lead elder. He is also the apostolic team leader for DOVE International’s growing network of churches in South Central Asia. Doug enjoys coaching basketball, spending time with his family, starting new ventures, and creating opportunities for others to fulfill their potential in Christ.