“And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power” (1 Cor. 2:1-5, NIV).
One year ago, my wife, sons and I moved from Seattle to Atlanta. We moved because we felt an ache in our hearts that wouldn’t go away—an ache to see the gospel transform the East Coast. So, we arrived in Atlanta.
I was terrified. We were a young family, alone in a brand-new city, and I kept wrestling with the same questions: “Is it really possible to plant a church just through the power of the gospel? Is resurrection power actually alive, or does it need the church ‘show’ to help it be known?”
I wanted to see Jesus, with no background music, show up and restore families; Jesus, with no light show, heal the sick; Jesus, presented with simple words, compel young leaders to give their lives away for the gospel. I just wanted to see Jesus, and nothing else.
As much as I knew God had called us to Atlanta, I knew that He, conversely, had called Atlanta to us. So, with weakness, great fear and trembling, we started loving our city and doing the Word, not just proclaiming it.
We went from one family meeting in a living room, to two. Then other people began to show up: there were eight of us, then 11, then 15. The living room was full, so we began meeting in our garage, which is a bit short on amenities. But the gospel is compelling, and people come anyway. People park almost a mile away and shuttle together to church so we don’t flood our neighborhood with cars.
We haven’t launched our website, we don’t have a building, and we don’t have a media team. We do have a dingy garage and a really powerful gospel.
Twelve months after our move, a new church exists—a small, beautiful group of believers that is gradually becoming larger than our garage. Every day, I’m watching the gospel change lives and redeem stories. I’m seeing prodigals and unbelievers experience the power of God. Ultimately, I’m seeing that the gospel alone, proclaimed in the power of the Spirit, is able to draw people to Jesus.
By: Phil Manginelli, senior pastor of The Square (Smyrna 2 Foursquare Church) in Smyrna, Ga.