My Favorite Sunday Ever

Well, it finally happened! After 2 years of God stirring up Curtis and Amanda and spooning them onto the same ministry page and after six months of praying and planning with a core group of believers, Bayou City Fellowship blew open its doors last Sunday, September 11th. On so many levels, it was the Sunday of my life…and, just so you know, I’ve loved me some Sundays. You’ve got no hater here. Ink can’t convey what growing up in the church meant to a child who’d come from early victimization and was all but paralyzed by fear and insecurity. I know my story is not everyone’s but, for me, church was a safe place. A happy place. A lively place even long before the days of praise bands and raised hands. It was there in that small circle of Sunday school chairs in Arkadelphia, Arkansas that I met the love of my life. It was there that I memorized my first Bible verses and, there, my head plunged beneath the waters of baptism at the ripe old age of nine.

If I’m counting them right, I’ve belonged to about 6 or 7 churches in my 54 years and most of those changes were necessary because of moves. I can’t say that a single one of them was intolerable. If you’ve been around the LPM blog very long, you may know how dearly I loved HFBC and what tears I shed in saying goodbye to the church where I’d worshipped for almost 30 years. At first the sense of lostness was palpable. Then, suddenly, as I crouched with other believers way out on that limb, in the throes of desperate prayer, and complete dependence on God for this infant church, it was like quart of Red Bull started coursing through my veins. People would ask from time to time, “Are you guys scared?” Well, alive is more like it. Alive and AWAKE.

It’s been one of the most exciting things I’ve ever been part of. Many of you who have been involved in church plants have said the same thing. I guess one reason is because it’s just so out there. History can’t make it float. Heritage can’t make it float. Habit can’t make it float. Only Jesus can make it float. If He does not shine His face upon us, we will fizzle out like a year-old sparkler on the 4th of July. The other big thing from a personal standpoint, making it so exhilarating is the band of new relationships. How often does somebody make 50 new friends without getting on Facebook? I know at least 20 children’s names and they know mine. OK. So I have candy in my purse. Is that against anybody’s religion??

Sunday two weeks ago, we had our BCF dress rehearsal. Everybody on the core team has at least one job to do so we got there early and into our places. (The first wave at 7:00 AM. The second wave at 8:30. That’s my wave. Service begins at 10:00.) I’m on the host team so we mostly practiced welcoming each other at dress rehearsal and we taste-tested the coffee at our makeshift coffee bar. Other teams were practically as busy at dress rehearsal as they’d be on opening day. The utility team and the children’s team require the most hands on deck because they have to set up and tear down every week. God graced us lavishly with space to rent at Houston Christian High School (Beltway 8, close to Hammerly – a gorgeous school and a great one). So, on these Sundays, halls and gyms transform into children’s areas with bright primary colors, songs, sounds of laughter, and stories about a great big God and a Savior who could walk on water. A Man who could take one boy’s lunch and feed thousands. Someone who said, “Don’t hold back those children from me! They’re what the Kingdom of God is all about!” We feel like God gave us one of the most gifted couples in our entire area to head up our children’s ministry. I pray for Dustin and Cassi second in line only to Curtis and Amanda. I wondered if they’d be overwhelmed on opening Sunday but their team was prepared, all the children welcomed and well cared for, and I saw nothing but smiles as I picked up Jackson and Annabeth.

Oops. I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ll back up and give you a short run-down of our first Sunday from the pitifully biased point of view of Blonder Than She Pays To Be:

I got there a few minutes behind schedule because I’d asked special grace from the pastor’s wife. Saturday’s simulcast in Lubbock made for a pretty late Saturday night so, by the time I got to the church, everything was already in high gear. This was the scene at the welcome center for the children. As you can see, we were getting a few things ironed out before our guests arrived.

We met for prayer in the gym and, after our pastor asked us to get in small groups and agree in focused intercession, one of our team members also requested that we gather around Curtis, lay hands on him and call out to God in his behalf. It was such a powerful time that I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. I could get tears in my eyes just thinking about it. At this point, you realize that we didn’t even know for certain that anybody else was coming. We were “in the presence of the God in whom [we] believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.” (Romans 4:17 ESV)

After prayer, we all scurried to our places. Mine last Sunday was beside those at the front door to the chapel. I will work in the children’s area pretty regularly but, when I’m in big church, I get to be on the team that welcomes people. I always wanted to be on the welcoming committee at HFBC so I’m ecstatic about my new job. I get to serve in this capacity as long as I don’t clog up an aisle or a door so I intend to stay light on my feet on Sundays and move from place to place. (I have promised Curtis and Amanda that I will not let BCF become a place for signing books or taking pictures. I just want to be a fellow church-servant so badly. On our first Sunday, that’s exactly what I got to be! A good sign indeed.)

I wish you could have seen the host team and I staring through the glass doors for signs of guests. Sure enough, by 9:30 they were coming. To say that we tripped over one another to welcome people is an understatement. Mind you, we’d been planning this moment for 6 months. It might be safe to say that there were some among the host team who were willing to elbow others to get to the guests first.  I’ll not mention any names but, if I remember right, I think her initials were BM.

Side note: Someone who will remain nameless but is related to me had brought donuts for the team to dress rehearsal the week before and I couldn’t eat one because of a bread-fast I was observing for the simulcast. I could not WAIT to sink my teeth into a warm Shipley’s on our opening morning and, lo and behold, no one brought any. I said to my son-in-law Colin, “I’m starving for a donut.” (A sick exaggeration, of course.) He said, “I don’t have a donut but I do have some peanut M&M’s. Would that do?” In a pinch, YES!

At the exact moment I threw a handful in my mouth, our first guest walked through the door. Not to be outdone, I flew over there, chewing as fast as I could, and greeted her with great enthusiasm and with tiny chips of brilliant red, blue, and green lodged between the opening teeth of my lifelong overbite. In hindsight, I wish I’d waited. I saw a piece of peanut on her shoulder after I hugged her. I wanted to swat it off but I was afraid she’d think that I thought she had dry scalp. It was a lose-lose. Another of our team members was equally enthusiastic. She showed us later how she’d nearly wrapped herself like a pretzel around the first guest she got to greet. (Don’t be scared to visit. If we can’t bring ourselves to settle down some over the next few weeks, we overzealous ones are prepared to take medication. Or have it forced upon us. Maybe we could wear a relaxation patch of some kind.)

Then I looked inside the chapel – still about 25 minutes before the service – and spied two women from the back with really cute gray hair. I descended upon them like a seagull dive-bombing a surf. We are hoping to no end that God will build BCF into a multigenerational body of believers so gray was one of our favorite colors last Sunday. If we don’t turn out with many senior adults, I’ll pray about letting my hair go its natural color. And I feel utterly certain that God will say no.

Their names were Irma and Joanne. I’m talking about the two women in the chapel. Stay with me here. And, are you ready for this? They are SIESTAS. Yep. Siestas. They live in Houston and knew about Bayou City Fellowship through our blog. In fact, I do not doubt they are reading this right now. Hi, Irma! Hi, Joanne! I loved meeting you both! Are you coming back this Sunday? Huh? Huh? I, of course, asked them if they’d be coming to our SSMT celebration but Irma said she’d found so many verses to be a bit daunting. I bet many of you can relate. But I told her the same thing I’m telling you: it’s not too late! Choose a psalm with 20 verses and get busy!

Back to BCF. The host team got the chance to welcome many people on Sunday. We think we had about 500 in all, counting the children. We were ecstatic. It was the perfect size for our first Sunday because we had a room full of worshippers without being overwhelmed. Our praise to God knows no bounds. Our whole family was involved. I wish I could see your faces when I tell you that Melissa manned the coffee bar. She did a splendid job, but when she ran out of half and half, you’d have thought we were on the edge of Armageddon. The Texas Pecan coffee was other-worldly in my opinion but she quipped, “WITH NO HALF AND HALF???” I agreed. It was unheard of. I just adore her. No one on earth is like her. Colin, Melissa’s man, was extremely busy because he is on the utility team, setting up and tearing down. (She is, too, by the way.) During the service, Colin passed one of the offering plates and, honestly, if I loved him more, I’d throw my back out. I would not trade him for anything on the planet. Melissa sat on one side of our hard-working pastor’s wife. (Don’t get me going on the pastor’s wife. It will put me over the edge. She is taking her place right beside her man and I am so impressed with God through her that I hardly know how to handle it. I have begun to call her First Lady. She has failed to acknowledge the honorific, however.) My older sister, Gay, sat on Amanda’s other side. It is a picture that will be engraved on my mind as long as I have memory.  I sat on the other side of my sister and Keith sat next to me. And his handsome twenty-two year old nephew sat next to him. And it’s very likely that any unattached young woman within five years of him wished she were sitting hitherto.

And, Curtis?

Well, Girlfriend. Curtis preached.

I do mean Curtis PREACHED.

And I got a word.

And many of us rededicated our lives. I’m not being facetious. I really did. 54 is no time to shove everything over to the young. They need you to stick with them. And, oh, Lord, have mercy, I NEED THEM.  I’ve hardly known what to do with myself since giving up Sunday school. I have a new job at church now: it’s called Whatever. I’ll rock babies. I’ll tell stories to children. I’ll welcome guests. I’ll help Melissa with the coffee. I’ll pass the offering plate (and probably try to peek in it). Whatever. I’m in.

Because I love church life. Even in all its imperfections and missteps. Even with its questionable reputation. Even though, at best, it can only point to Jesus and feign to replace Him. God used it to scoop me up when I was freefalling into an abyss. God used it to light a torch in me for missions and for the lifelong study of Scripture. God used it to teach me how to take a messy stab at teaching. God used it to show me how to love and to be loved. God used it to teach me how to forgive and feel forgiven.

Infinitely more than that, Jesus loves the Church. The big One. The one we’re only a speck on the face of. We – a people crouched on a tiny new dot on the Kingdom globe – want to take our place, shoulder to shoulder, with all the others who lift the Name of Jesus sky-high for any eye to see.

We want to take our place next to you.

And, if you happen to find yourself shoulder to shoulder with me, you might check your person for a rogue piece of peanut M&M. I’m a hugger, you know.



364 Responses to “My Favorite Sunday Ever”

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  1. 301
    Bobbie says:

    How awesome to read this, my husband and I have been part of several church plants…including one that started in our living room and is going strong now in its own building. It is fun building on the core and seeing how God is knitting people together! Have fun and enjoy the journey!!

  2. 302
    Jennifer says:

    What a blessing! And I do want to say, that church also saved me!! I grew up knowing nothing but broken marriages and broken families as many people do today. However, my mother raised me and my sisters in church from the time we were born. Like yours, there was no praise music or lifted hands, but there was God (which is all we need ;). I grew up very close to some families that based their lives on God’s word and lived it out. It taught me not only is a biblical marriage possible, but how to obtain & maintain it. So I’m pleased to say that today, I’ve been married to my Godly man for 10 years, we have 2 beautiful children and I need to stop rambling!!

    Thanks for the post!

  3. 303
    Jessica says:

    Thank you for sharing such a beautiful experience of Church planting. My husband and I are in the midst of church planting preparation right now. We are launching on March 4, 2012 in TN. I have been praying for you all and excited to hear all the great things happening. Reading your blog got me excited about our launch day and getting to see our team reach out to the community. So blessed to hear you say I have a new job now and it’s called Whatever…I’m in. We’re praying that our launch team gets that attitude…and they are getting there. Thank you so much! God Bless you and your entire family.

  4. 304
    Melissa says:

    Thanks so much for the inside look at your favorite Sunday. I am so excited for you and with you. I read it with tears in my eyes, may God bless!

  5. 305
    Meg says:

    It boggles the mind that you can open a new church and have 500 people show up. In NH that would be a mega-church! I’m amazed and excited for you. (plural you; I think you would say “y’all”?!) Do you think your new church could toss up a prayer for northeast new england, the “least religious” part of the U.S.?! As you like to say, you wouldn’t waste a prayer on us! May your next Sunday be glorious and I will pray for all the “half-and-half” details to be fufilled so you can all fix your eyes on Jesus as He comes through the word Curtis will bring through the Word!

  6. 306
    lisa says:

    Thanks for the reminder of how rewarding it is to be a “willing helper” in Gods Church!

    Blessings to all!

  7. 307
    Debbie says:

    Loved this post…have been praying for you all. A great reminder of what is so great about the Body…even M&M’s “)

  8. 308
    Stacey says:

    I bet just getting to be a “regular” church goer and not having all the attention on you was a HUGE blessing! I pray you have many, many more days of getting to enjoy church like the rest of us (like you used to as a kid). We missing seeing your smiling face in our little section at HFBC but at the same time we are thrilled for you and your family.

  9. 309

    Mrs. Beth, I just have to tell you this. I am reading this from a frazzled work desk today, full of school 🙂 As I got to the part about Curtis preaching I heard “We welcome You with praise! We welcome You with praise! Almighty God of love, be welcome in this place!” by Chris Tomlin coming through my computer’s speakers.
    Praying God feels welcomed in His new house of praise!
    Much love.

  10. 310
    Christine says:

    Praise the Lord!! You cannot begin to know how encouraging this report is to my heart!!

    (Living in the middle of nowhere, waiting patiently on the Lord to make His vision known. He has planted the desire to love and serve His Church deep inside and sometimes I feel like I am going explode if He doesn’t give me an outlet to pour it out on, quick!)

    Ps. 27:14 “Wait for and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord!”

  11. 311
    Karen says:

    Amen xo

  12. 312
    Cassi says:

    You have not wasted one prayer on Dustin (Capt. D) and I. We are so grateful for your prayers and willingness to serve. Siestas, what she didn’t mention was how she came and found me to say that she was ready in a moments notice to come help in the kids ministry on our very first day. Our new church is blessed with a great group of servants that love Jesus like I have never seen.

  13. 313
    Lisa says:

    Whewww, what a glorious day! Tears of joy for you and yours…..a greatly needed Monday morning laugh over the M&M chip! To hear you tell that story reminded me of a time I had done something similiar — and you helped me laugh and forget the stress I had about it!!

    You are hiliarious!! God love you!

    GOD, is good all the time
    All the time, GOD is good!

  14. 314
    pam b says:

    I pray God’s richest and fullest blessings on this fellowship of believers. How exciting and wonderful!!!

  15. 315
    Valerie says:

    That’s so awesome! I loved reading all about the first Sunday. What a blessing for your entire family to be serving in this new ministry.

    I’m a preacher’s kid. I’ve been so blessed to have my dad as my pastor my whole life. He’s almost 78 and is still senior pastor at our church. My mom is 80 and has been the most wonderful example of a pastor’s wife that anyone would ever find. I will keep Curtis & Amanda,your family, and the BCF staff & congregation in my prayers. I’m gonna visit the Sunday after the Scripture Memorization Event. 🙂 I want a hug & you can leave anything on me you’d like.

    We are starting the “Believing God” study tonight at my church. We have 56 signed up! Thanks for all you do! Our ladies love, love, love you!!!

  16. 316

    How many churches can say they started out with 500?! Amazing. I’d be coming if I lived closer. One of these days, I’ll be visiting! I just cracked up over the peanut on the lady’s shirt. I once saw my spit land on my friend’s french fries … I saw it/ she saw it … we rolled with laughter, and she is one of my very best friends today! I guess spit is the “tie that binds” (I looked up that phrase and found it comes from an old hymn! Who’d a thunk it?!). I adore you all … God bless you all. And have a blast with God!

  17. 317
    Kit Farrell says:

    I read your post with tears in my eyes, at God’s faithfulness to you and to your whole family. Yes, I know that there have been tough times, as with any family and as with any calling, BUT GOD continues to heal, save, restore and bowl us over with His awesome power. Your excitement at all that God is doing just leaps off the page and envelops us all. I live in New York as do two of my daughters and we are all coming to Maryland in two weeks to hear you speak, along with my other daughter, who is flying in from Colorado. My other daughter just had her fourth baby and is not able to be with us and we will miss her so. We are all so excited to be with each other and to sit under your teaching. Thank you for being who you are, honest, transparent and open which allows us all to be the same.

  18. 318
    Lindsey says:

    What a wonderful update! God be praised for this new work. I am keeping you all in my prayers and am so encouraged by what God is doing! xo

  19. 319
    meredith says:

    I love, love, love this post. I pray God’s hand on all of it and all those involved! Exciting!

  20. 320
    Rhonda Wilmore says:

    Hi Beth – I’ve been getting your Siesta’s emails for a while now, but haven’t joined in the Bible verse memorizations. Is it too late for me to join you? I’m learning some verses with my daughter, who is 8, and goes to a Christian school. It really helps me – even though I’m supposed to be helping her learn them 🙂
    I’m so glad your 1st Sunday was so extraordinary! God is really working and moving and it’s great to see. May God continue to bless you, your family and all our Church families through His presence! Love you girlfriend!

  21. 321
    Cathie Byers says:

    AMEN!! I hope you guys are exploding out the doors before you know it!! Nothing like the refreshing feeling of being in God’s house with other brothers and “siestas” in Christ!!

  22. 322
    Lora Osburn says:

    Tears. God bumps. I am so excited for you all. It thrills me to hear how much you love BCF. I love my church too!

  23. 323
    Susan Murphy says:

    Praise the Lord! Congratulations! Praying for ya’ll!

  24. 324
    Tammy G says:

    “Whatever I’m in”!! I like that. That is what being apart of God’s family either locally or corporately should be. Each of us willing to say, I’ll do whatever, I’m in! Thanks for sharing your excitement.

  25. 325
    Mary says:

    Dear Beth,

    I am SOOOOOOO very proud of you! Not just anyone will leave their church of 30 years to start over with a church that needs to be “recreated” week in and week out!!

    My husband has been the lead pastor for two church plants … and it is no small undertaking … but such a rewarding journey!! We have been in the “set up/tear down” mode for 16 of our 20 years of marriage and ministry!! But I wouldn’t have it any other way!!

    I wasn’t sure my estimation of you could rise any higher … but as I told our Bible study group this morning (we are studying The Patriarchs) … you just took your sweet self up several notches with this church planting endeavor!!

    I LOVE church planters … they are such a special group of people! I’m so very glad you have joined your beautiful children on this adventure of a lifetime!! And I’m so glad you had your best day at church … that’s just how it should be!!!

    I’ll agree with Melissa though … you can’t run out of 1/2 & 1/2 … that’s just wrong! :o)

    May God continue to bless you all as you reach your area with the amazingly good news that the God of the Universe is madly in love with them!!!

  26. 326
    Shelly E says:

    I devoured this post like it was the last thing left to eat on the planet. I loved reading all about BCF’s first Sunday and you made me feel like I was there. I have remembered you all in my prayers and tweeted Amanda that I prayed for her and Curtis as soon as my eyes opened that Sunday morning.

    May Bayou City Fellowship leave a mark on Houston and change it forever. May God pour out His favor on every person that walks through its doors to hear the Gospel. And may Curtis, Amanda and your entire family know that you have the love and support and prayers of fellow believers the world over.

    I hope I can visit it the weekend I fly down there for the SSMT celebration. It would be such an honor.

    Thank you for telling us all about it. It choked me up and also made me giggle. That’s just so like you, Beth! 😉

  27. 327
    Angela says:

    May God continue to bless, BCF! He blessed it before it came to be 🙂

    Angela, Mansfield, TX

  28. 328
    Joni White says:

    What a delightful article to read and laugh with. Once again, Beth, thank you for sharing life. So excited for your family, pray for the exceeding abunantly above for your new church BCF, when HIS presence shows up you don’t even need the half and half, HE will be making all WHOLE. My precious father in law recently went to be with the Lord at 90yo and my face has been downcast, but reading this blog, which I rarely do, joy flooded my soul, with the work of the LORD. May your office be in prayer for a new adventure I will embark, at my church, yes, of course, one of your studies (I’ve done them all it seems at various church groups in my area, love the diversity of women’s faith and wisdom) I will facilitate “He Is”, one I have not done. Oh may the LORD, transform us all from glory to gory as we open our heart to HIM. My pastor’s wife told me she ordered it a couple weeks ago. Living in grace and mercy…..Joni (ps love your description of church in your artice….your words reflect my very own experience, could we be spiritual sisters?!!!does not matter, there is work to be done.

  29. 329
    Tiffany Morse says:

    Beautiful Moore, Jones and Fitzpatrick families,

    I am beside myself with delight! I don’t make myself known a whole lot in the comment world, but I cannot contain myself on this post…

    Amanda, seriously, I am so excited for your new “baby” you and P.Curt walking in obedience into these unknown waters, trusting Him, stepping into leadership, precious! I dreamed the night before y’all opened your doors for the first public service that I was there and I was so blessed the Lord allowed that! I really did wish I could have been there, but boy oh boy was I there in spirit and prayer…I am rejoicing with you, you are beautiful inside and out.

    Melissa, that you can be sitting beside your sister as she is stepping into this season is priceless! I have a fresh and new found relationship with my sister, I cannot imagine the years y’all have you must rejoice with her like no one can…I will take this opportunity to let YOU know that I am cheering you on as you are nose to the grindstone in your studies…it is from a distance for sure, but I hope to learn some from you in the process…I esteem you sister…

    Mrs. Moore, “regular” ministry…”title of whatever” m&m particles, you are killing me! It is thrilling to see what your daughters are walking in as they pursue their futures…Nope you don’t need my delight or approval, but love overflows for this exciting season! I know the Lord and you must be having a blast together…

    Ok not the most elequent writer, and nope I haven’t found the spell check on my Internet Explorer yet…lol but I hope you guys know that I am joined with you in this pilgimage and my heart shares so many loves that y’alls hearts do…Just delighting with you…you are a treasure

  30. 330
    Julie says:

    Haha…thanks for being so real. We can love Jesus and be crazy silly at the same time. I feel so at home in your company! 🙂

  31. 331
    Amy T says:

    Loved this! Thanks so much for sharing that day with us! If I’m ever in Houston on a Sunday for some reason (you never know right?), I’ll definitely be there! So happy for y’all that God blessed in such a way. Yay God!

  32. 332

    This makes me want to tear up, it really does. I think I will cry just because I’m feeling that way. I’m so glad that you would share this with us. God has blessed you so much. He has the best plans for you always. I’m so happy for you

  33. 333
    Christen says:

    Wow, I needed this. My husband is a youth pastor and we have been facing a larger than normal amount of trouble and dissension. This past week I told him I was ready to give up and call it quits on ministry. I love Jesus and am desperate for Him alone, but to be honest, there are days I want nothing to do with the church. The last few words that you said about loving the church despite it’s flaws resonated deep in me. The butt kicker though was that Jesus loves the church…and if He loves it, then I will too.

  34. 334
    Melanie says:

    Just finished reading this aloud to my husband in my best “Texan” accent. We ARE from Texas, but have lived in Massachusetts for the last 12 years. We moved here to plant a church, (a still-thriving church full of college students and 20-somethings!) so this post was especially exciting!

    What a blessing to join with your entire family, Beth, in this walk of faith-ful kingdom building! Yes, Jesus loves His bride, and it is a privilege to stand shoulder to shoulder with YOU and yours!

  35. 335
    Jennifer says:

    I have been hooked to your blog for well over a year now and I look forward to every post! I’m so thankful for your ministry and am always excited to see and hear what God is doing in and through your life. God has definitely used you in my life. 🙂

  36. 336

    Well, sounds like a wonderful time, new, fresh and fun and love and all the things God will bring in those humble settings. I miss you Beth and hope to see you soon…. cause you will always have a special place in my heart. Love, Allison

  37. 337
    Michelle says:

    Can’t wait to taste the coffee and swat off the peanut M&M’s….My family is relocating to Sugarland Texas from Calgary Alberta on Oct. 8th. I know God is up to something good and I am soooo excited to experience it! See you soon at Bayou City Fellowship!

  38. 338
    Deborah Mott says:

    The LORD works through you to bring refreshment to the soul. Your willingness to be yourself and to let all know how human you are and not above anyone…what a blessing of humility you are! May you continue to humble yourself and EXALT OUR SAVIOR! Thank you.

  39. 339
    loyce says:

    How wonderful to hear about your first Sunday!! (I know, I’m late in reading your post and responding.) I’ve been praying for you guys so thanks for sharing this. I would love to visit, but I teach little ones every Sunday (4 & 5 yr olds). Please continue to keep us posted on all that God is doing there. Praise His name!

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