The Journey Story - from pastor jonie's perspective

In September of 2012, PJ and I embarked on an open-ended journey that personally scared us both to death. I had been a Student Pastor for close to 25 years… living, breathing and dreaming about changing the lives of students and the world. I believed I would pastor students for the rest of my life. I never wanted to grow up and become a "real” pastor. After all, students are really fun and God had given me a true gift to speak to students. Now, all of a sudden, God was asking me to change my direction and my focus and do something different. He was asking me to trust Him at an entirely new level. He was giving me a new dream!

One day during my prayer time I felt God ask,

"Do you trust Me?"

My response was, "Sure God, I trust you. Why?" 

"No, do you REALLY trust me?"

"Look, I've always trusted You. I'm not going to back down now, so wassup?"

I was not prepared for what I heard next. God broke it down for me and said, "Listen closely, I want you to start a brand new church and I want you to start it in your home town or Waller, Texas."

To be honest, I was completely and utterly devastated, to say the least. First of all, I never even wanted to be a lead pastor. Second, another church in Waller didn’t even make sense! There were tons of churches here, why not ask us to start one where there were none? I’m pretty sure the church planting experts would say, “DON’T DO IT! The demographics are all wrong and blah, blah, blah.” I was terrified as I heard the words slip through my lips, "Okay God, I trust you. If that's what you want, that's what I'll do."

From that point, PJ and I began to talk, dream, pray, cry, plan, pray, pray and pray some more. Down deep in our hearts, we wanted to start a church that would be different, not better, just different! We wanted to reach people who were far from God, people who wouldn't even think of going to church, people who didn't even like church! I remember saying to PJ at one point, "I have no interest in taking people from other churches. I want God to transform the lives of people who would never go to church anywhere else! I want to bring Kingdom change to the world! I want God to do something so amazing that we are left with our mouths just hanging open! I want to affect spiritual change in Waller and the world!"

During those early days of sleepless nights God soon began to unfold a small team of people to begin the journey with us. When we finally decided to pull the trigger, we started meeting with this team of friends to talk about what this church would look like. What it would feel like, what our mission would be, what our purpose would be…what our name would be.

We didn't really know what we were doing, but we discovered we wanted to "love God, grow together and serve people." We wanted to authentically worship God. We wanted to create an atmosphere that was inviting and modern, but mostly full of Jesus. We wanted to create an atmosphere where everyone was welcome, needed, and changed. We wanted everything we did to be completed with excellence, not perfection, but excellence! Our goal was not to be labeled seeker sensitive, seeker insensitive, or any of the “man-made” tags churches seem to live under. We just want to love Jesus, journey with people, and make Him known. We finally decided, after much thought and prayer, to call this journey, The Journey Church.

On Easter Sunday, September 9, 2012, The Journey Church launched its first weekly service! We had planned, worked and prayed our guts out. This first service was held at Schultz Junior High School, and that would be our home for the next “undetermined” amount of years. 

As the launch morning arrived there was a distinct buzz in the air. Nerves were on edge, but our excitement fueled the fire as we rushed around to finish last minute details. As everything began to come together… signs were placed in strategic places, all eight of the staff had parked in the front parking lot, greeters were in place, Journey Kids was set up, and the worship room was ready with sound, chairs, communion stations and café. Everyone was so excited! We had done everything we knew to do. We felt prepared and ready but didn’t have a clue what to expect. Would 2 people show up or would 200?

Launch time finally came and people began to arrive, then more arrived, then more and more! I remember thinking, “God, where are all these people coming from?” I remember praying, “Lord, You are so good to us. Thank you for sending so many people.” God was so good to us that day as we ended up with 179 people for our very first service. You may or may not know this but, many times God exceeds all your expectations!

From that day until now, there have been many sleepless nights. There have been many times when I was angry, hurt, disappointed, let down and frustrated. Other times I have been filled with joy, excitement, and enthusiasm and so encouraged I could hardly contain myself. God has transformed lives, just like we asked Him to do. There are people at TJC who are recovering alcoholics, clean drug addicts, former porn addicts, bikers, middle-income families, high-income families, teenagers and children. Marriages have been saved and families restored. People are starting to tithe and even give extra! Men who have never been involved in church with their wives are now, not only attending, but also serving in the church and leading their families like never before! People are honest, real, open and nonjudgmental. Some still use “colorful language” which might be offensive to many church people. It’s not un-common to hear someone say, “Jonie, that was a damn good message today.”  However, I would rather someone be excited about Jesus and use some questionable language than someone have perfect "Church Vernacular" and be angry, bitter, gossipy, a complainer, self-righteous, cold or indifferent in their heart. We are all on a Journey together and we’re thankful people are attending, listening, loving God, growing together and serving people.

God is working and moving in and through TJC and we are so blessed to be a part of this amazing journey!

God is far from being finished with any of us because our journey is just beginning. We are living day by day, trusting Him every step of the way. It’s an old school saying but it’s still so true, “I don’t know what tomorrow holds but I know who holds tomorrow.” We don’t know what God will be doing with TJC in five years but we trust Him and know it will be good. Will we have property or a building? We don’t know, but what we do know is, we don’t need property to validate our purpose. We will continue to love God, grow together and serve people, wherever we are. We don’t need a building to have church because we believe we ARE the church! {However, we would love to have a “spot” to call home. To create an atmosphere of love and hope where people want to be, offer it for community events, and serve people through every opportunity God sends our way.} However, not having a “spot” doesn’t stop us from serving right where we are! Years ago someone said, “Where you are, that’s where you are!” So, we will bloom where we are planted!

You might be asking what this means for you. God is not finished with TJC and He is not finished with YOU. You play a huge part in the life and future of our church. If you have a dream, if God speaks to you or even if you "think" God spoke to you, my encouragement is... Say, "YES!!! Yes Jesus I trust you! I will do whatever you ask me to do! If that's what you want, that's what I'll do." You don't have to understand it all. It doesn't even have to make sense. Just say yes. Yes Jesus, I'll go, I'll give, I'll serve... You fill in the blank. Trust me, when you step out and trust Him, it will be the most amazing journey of your life.

Whoever you are, wherever you are in your journey of life, we would love to connect with you at The Journey Church. As the lead pastor, I want you to know; your attendance matters, your worship matters, your giving matters, your service matters… YOU matter! 

I look forward to meeting you, worshipping with you, growing with you and serving with you. This will be the most amazing journey of your life. It’s not enough to have a dream. Get up, get out and get going… Love God, Grow Together & Serve People! Discover what God has in store for you on this amazing journey!