I Am A Part Of Restoration: My Story

by Justin Rhorer

May 9th, 1995. It was a Tuesday night. I walked down the aisle of a little country church during a revival service and told the preacher I was ready to be a Christian. Earlier that night I had prayed with him and another pastor to accept Christ as my Savior. That night my decision became public, and a week later, I was baptized.

And then…

It’s the “and then” that always ate at me. After that night I was spiritually adrift, with little more to go on than simply go to church, learn more about God, and don’t do bad stuff, and go to heaven when I die. That was the totality of the Christian life as I knew it. And for a while, that’s what I tried to live. I was in church every time the doors were open, I learned more facts about God, and I was a well-behaved young man. What else was there?

For the better part of the next 15 years I lived in the confines of this worldview. As a young man in high school I felt called to Christian ministry. This continued in college and beyond, where I quickly entered full time ministry. For what I knew, I was being charged to get people to church, help them learn about God, not do bad stuff, and going to heaven when they die. And in many settings, I was “successful” in this pursuit. But in my heart, the same feeling of spiritual emptiness ate at me.

I “knew” more, I did more, but my heart didn’t seem to change.

I saw it in the people I was leading too. They were wonderful people, active in the church and passionate about getting people there to learn about God, but conversations and questions removed the illusion of success, and I saw in many of them what I saw in myself – a Christian-ish life without Christ and His Kingdom mission.

It was here that I experienced a second conversion of sorts. Jesus began showing me that I was made not just to know about him, but to know him and follow him. I discovered the call of every Christian was to be a disciple, or an apprentice of Jesus, becoming more and more like him in character and competency.

On top of that, I discovered Jesus’ primary message in the gospels – the kingdom of God. This kingdom was the in-breaking of heaven on earth, inaugurated in his resurrection and brought in fullness upon his return. As his disciples, announcing and demonstrating this kingdom here on earth was at the heart of our mission. Instead of just getting people into heaven, we were called to get heaven into people. And as disciples, filled with the life of heaven, we would be the hands and feet of bringing heavens realities to earth.

As disciples then, filled with the vision and power of Jesus and his kingdom, we run towards issues like racial injustice and poverty, not away from them. In our neighborhoods, school, jobs, and everywhere in between, we believe we are the hands and feet of Jesus’ mission to bring restoration. But it starts with us. We recognize we can’t offer our world a restoration we aren’t experiencing ourselves. And so together, we follow Jesus and experience his transforming power in the everyday stuff of life, being restored one day at a time.

The story God is telling is a restoration story. He is restoring people who restore the world. That’s why, in early 2017, we are launching Restoration Christian Church. We dream of being a community that tells God’s restoration story though transformed lives, transformed neighborhoods, and transformed relationships. As we seek Jesus and his kingdom together, we believe God is going to restore people who restore the world. If you’re new to faith, burnt out, questioning, or just ready for a mission bigger than yourself, we have a story to tell here in downtown Lexington.

As we head into 2017, I hope you’ll join our restoration story. Stay tuned as we move closer and closer towards our launch!

21st Century Restoration Movement

 

by Adrian Wallace

RESTORATION CHRISTIAN CHURCH

I’m not a big C.S. Lewis fan, although Jennifer, my wife is, and turned my attention to his work. One book that he wrote really gripped me called The Screwtape Letters, in particular the second chapter. In this section, the title character Screwtape (a demon mentoring a newer, less experienced demon) writes to his apprentice Wormwood about his displeasure in having allowed the human to whom he has been assigned to become a Christian. He notes, however, that all is not lost because even though The Church (Big C) through all eternity is as “terrifying” as a large army, that Church is “quite invisible to these humans.”

This line in and of itself speaks volumes. I’m not saying that there aren’t thousands of strong churches in communities across the globe, however it is an indictment on many throughout the ages, when we think about what The Church is and what her visibility is to reflect.

According to Revelation 7:9, in the Kingdom of God, there is to be “…a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language…” Also, immediately preceding Jesus’ betrayal, He prayed to the Father that The Church would visibly be one-be unified in love-so that the world would know that God had sent Jesus to redeem and restore the world.

Over the years, especially as nation after nation has perpetuated racial segregation, ministers have argued that this unity Jesus speaks of is merely spiritual. This, however, is plainly a faulty argument based on Jesus’ words in John 13 and 17. He reiterates that those who have not yet heard the Gospel will have a visible manifestation of it based on the love and unity that His Disciples show for one another, regardless of ethnicity, culture and yes, even political affiliation.

This command of Jesus has been a burden on me since I was first called to ministry. I’m comfortable in my culture, in the “black” church. I could remain in the most segregated hour of the week at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday morning and be content, I wouldn’t be, however, being obedient to what the Lord has called me to do: pioneer and pastor the visibly unified flock required to reach this generation.

In times past, segregation might have been acceptable…to my Millennial generation…it won’t fly. It’s the reason that a new report revealed that only 4% of us are Christians.

Much like what occurred in August 1801 right here in Kentucky, at Cane Ridge in Bourbon County, we need a great awakening. We need a 21st Century Restoration Movement. This is the reason that in January 2017, I’m planting a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural church: Restoration Christian Church.

Launching with the biblical and practical principles of such a congregation, I’ll co-pastor alongside my friend, cousin-in-law and brother in Christ Justin Rhorer, intentionally showing the visible unity of shared multi-ethnic leadership.

We don’t claim to have all of the answers but we follow the One who does. Join us.

#ForTheSakeoftheGospel

 

From Crossroads to Restoration

by Justin Rhorer

I arrived at Crossroads towards the end of 2011. I was a broken, cynical man who found himself outside of ministry and in a really unhealthy place personally. Erica and I had just had our first child, and we didn’t know what to do next. I knew ministry was my calling, but I was wounded. When I was approached by Lynn Buckles to lead worship part-time at the newly formed Richmond campus, I initially said no. I wasn’t ready. But a few months later, I said yes. I told Lynn I’d give him 4 months before I went to seminary and prepared to plant a church in downtown Lexington.

5 years later, I stayed longer than I expected. That calling to plant a church in downtown became the Downtown Initiative, a missional community focused church family that eventually took form as Crossroads Downtown in September of 2014. During these years, Crossroads has been a place of emotional and spiritual healing for Erica and I. I’ve been mentored and poured into by the likes of Lynn Buckles, Greg Gilmore, and Glen Schneiders. Being under wise, healthy leadership who both encouraged and challenged me was invaluable.

In early September, the staff of Crossroads Christian Church learned of the possible merger with Crossroads Cincinnati. My initial response, like many of us, was shock. As a large healthy church, a merger of this size and scope was virtually unheard of. I wasn’t sure how this would affect my role or Crossroads Downtown’s mission in the city, but I moved forward because I love and trust our leaders.

But as we moved further into the process and learned more about the culture and expectations of my role under the new philosophy and direction, it became clearer that I wasn’t a good fit. I wrestled with this, and at first was determined to press through and try and fit in any way I could. But through a considerable amount of prayer, conversation, and contemplation, I learned that this wasn’t where God was leading me.

A few weeks back, I informed Glen and the Cincinnati team I would not be continuing as campus pastor of the downtown campus. As you can imagine, this was a heart-wrenchingly difficult decision. But it was one that Erica and I feel a genuine peace about, and God has confirmed this decision multiple times through multiple people.

I want to be clear: this was my decision. Crossroads isn’t forcing me out. We have the tendency to formulate conspiracies in these scenarios, but there simply isn’t one. My decision was made and communicated before the vote, so Cincinnati had nothing to do with it either. I love Crossroads deeply, and couldn’t be more grateful for my time here. While I won’t be continuing on, I pray God uses their efforts to advance the kingdom in our city. I’m confident he will.

What about the Downtown Campus?
While Crossroads remains committed to a downtown presence in the future, the current “form” of the Downtown campus will end operations after our Christmas service on December 23rd. In the event a new leader and location, Crossroads will relaunch their downtown presence when possible, with the goal of being closer to the University of Kentucky campus in order to reach more students in the near future.

What’s next for me?
Erica and I love Lexington, and we still feel called to kingdom investment in the downtown area. We came to Crossroads with a passion for discipleship and mission, and our time here has equipped us in many ways. We plan to continue missional efforts in the city along with other families who feel the same call. In early 2017, myself and Adrian Wallace will be launching a new church centered in downtown Lexington. Our passion is to build a Church that displays the gospel in our city, in particular through diversity. In many ways this is less a ‘leaving’ and more ‘sending.’ Our prayer in our new journey is the same – in downtown Lexington as it is in heaven.

To those of you who’ve encouraged us, challenged us, laughed with us, cried with us, worked with us, worshipped with us, prayed with us, and everything in between – there’s isn’t a big enough thank you. We are grateful for your continued prayers and support. Crossroads is family, and always will be.