For those of you who’ve asked how Ryan is doing, above is the message he gave this past Sunday and below is the letter he sent to Advance Church last week. I hope you can see clearly in both that Jesus’ anchor still very much holds.
After much prayer and deliberation (with help from our denomination and the many members of Advance Church), the Advance leadership has made the decision to close the church’s doors on August 23, 2015.
Please know that this decision has not been made hastily. Numerous possibilities, options, and plans have been considered and put under advisement. We have researched what it would look like to see the church continue into the fall months and beyond. But, given our current circumstances and financial reality, we realize the best and healthiest decision is for Advance to finish strong, celebrating all that God has done and looking forward to what He will do next.
This certainly wasn’t the plan we envisioned when we started Advance 4 1/2 years ago; however, I have never been more confident in knowing that God’s plan for Advance remains in tact. I realize now that He established Advance for a time and that He is now mobilizing those who have been impacted by its ministry to continue living intentionally with Jesus where ever he sends them next.
As I have wrestled with my own emotions and conclusions about this decision, I have continuously been reminded of two truths. The first comes from Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 and says, “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest.” God orchestrated the beginning of Advance and is now orchestrating its final days, and I will always be grateful for the opportunity he has given me to be a part of it.
Second, I have held tightly to the promise that comes to us in Romans 8:28. Paul writes “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” This passage brings the greatest hope to our situation. While we will grieve the loss of our church, we can rest assured that He will work even this together for His good and ours.
In the end, I hope Advance will live on, not just as the name of a church, but as a group of people committed to living by its very definition. We are Advancers—of God’s kingdom, of God’s Gospel, of God’s grace—and we will keep at it, trusting that the God who called us here calls us still.
My family and I cannot thank you enough for being a part of this with us. We consider it an absolute privilege to have led and pastored Advance since 2011.
I would love for you to join us the next three Sundays as we celebrate all that God has done in and through Advance and look forward with hope.
With a grateful heart,
Pastor Ryan Lunceford