This weekend, our church will mark its 25th anniversary. On the first Sunday of October in 1992, Mecklenburg Community Church held its first service. On that day, a tropical storm hit the Carolinas. At five minutes before the service time, no one but the volunteers were there.
Five minutes later?
One hundred and twelve wet, beautiful people showed up.
Through the strength of my leadership and communication skills, we were at 56 by the third week.
But then we began to grow.
Now, 25 years later, we have more than 10,000 active attenders across five campuses. And for all 25 of those years, I’ve had the privilege of being the church’s pastor.
There is much I will celebrate with this milestone:
- All four of my children love Jesus and the church, and are all in vocational ministry. This is (sadly) rare for “pks” (pastor’s kids).
- My wife, Susan, and I are still married and very much committed and in love—33 years and counting. No one will ever know how much of Meck is because of her. #honor
- 70% of our church’s growth over the entire run has come from the previously unchurched. This is unheard of, but it’s true. We would have been SO much bigger if we had switched our mission toward the already convinced. But we didn’t and I am so glad.
- I once heard someone say that the real clout of a church planter is when there are no stories they do not know. I know all the stories—good and bad, heartening and painful. And knowing them is a part of who I am.
- I heard another person say that after two decades of leadership, if a scandal were to come out, it would have come out. So let’s hope that means I’ve kept at least a modicum of integrity.
- I’ve been given the gift of seeing third generation fruit, so people who came to Christ in Meck’s earliest days who had children come to Christ who, in turn, now have had children who are being led to Christ. That is beyond sweet.
- I continue to feel that the primary gifting of a good senior pastor is that of “fathering.” My basic gift of “fathering” has been kept vibrant year after year, not just with my own children, but now with staff and staff kids and… well… to all who will accept it.
- And, of course, the fact that the one church God led me to plant is the one I continue to lead after a quarter of a century.
This weekend we will celebrate the mission, we will celebrate the thousands who have burst through the waters of baptism, we will celebrate God’s ridiculous faithfulness, and how—time and again—He is just that good.
If Meck has touched your life in any way and you are physically able, I hope you will join us this weekend.
James Emery White
About the Author
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book, Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World, is available on Amazon. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.