An Update on Awaken Church

It’s been a crazy 1st four months in the process of planting Awaken Church. Would have never guessed things would have worked out as they have, but alas, here we are.

One thing I know for sure: I am as clear, passionate, and focused as I have been since we set foot back in Columbia in October 2007. Understand, when we first moved, we weren’t sure what in the world was going to happen or when. So much of our time in Columbia has been spent learning, exploring, investigating, listening, and preparing. It wasn’t until late last Fall that we knew the time was right to move forward with planting Awaken Church.

As we began a season of vision casting/culture building meetings in January, we did so with plans to build our team, engage the community, and officially launch Awaken’s full-blown Sunday morning gathering on March 15. Well, in the middle of our vision casting season, my dad passed away. Clearly, that was an uncontrollable and unexpected speed bump.

A wise friend told me that I had to be very careful – that grief manifests itself in unexpected ways. He told me that the grief over losing my dad at my age (I’m 30) would be more significant than I would expect and if I was not careful, the combination of grief and the stress of planting a church could eat me alive. His words stung because I knew they were true. I just didn’t know what to do with what he said or with our “still in the womb” baby church plant.

What I didn’t realize or expect was the amount of clarity and perspective that would come in the wake of my dad’s death. The combination of time spent away from Columbia and allowing my mind to completely check out of Columbia and Awaken for a couple of weeks was huge. Someone has said that a change of pace plus a change of place will equal a change in perspective. Whoever said it was right on the money.

In the last few weeks, the clarity that we have sought so diligently has come. With clarity came a few significant decisions…
1. Awaken Church will focus 100% of its time, energy, and resources on Northeast Columbia. NE Columbia is where Lara Beth and I grew up, it’s where we live, and it’s where most of our team lives. It’s also the fastest growing part of Metro Columbia and one of the most diverse. The zip code we live in was the 15th fastest growing zip code in the country last year and has been one of the fastest for several years in a row. Long range, we’d love to be able to plant multiple churches throughout the Metro, but we must earn credibility and put down a footprint in the Northeast first.

2. We need to build a stronger and bigger launch team. We need to help people understand more of what it means to be committed to a church community and specifically, what it means to be committed to our church community. We have a little bit of a revolving door going on and we need to help more of the right people get out of the revolver and put their heart and soul into Awaken Church. From there, we can teach those people how to engage biblically, theologically, and missionally with the people around them as part of our vision of joing God in the transformation of our city. A church is only as strong as its foundation and we need to build a stronger one.

I could go on with some others, but these are the biggies. Beginning yesterday and continuing for the next 3 weeks, I will be talking about 4 words that we want to define our church that also defined the first church found in Acts 2:42-47. At the end of this 4 weeks, on May 17, I am going to ask our people to make a commitment to be on the team that will work hard and work together through the summer to launch that church in the Fall. Our big picture goals this summer are simply to build our team and to engage our community. We want as many people as possible in our community to be served by, blessed by, and know about Awaken Church and be compelled enough to come with their questions in September, if not before.

You may not care and I know that was a long post…but I wanted you to know where we are. Pray that God will continue to speak clearly to me, that I will continue to hear His voice above ALL others, that I will cast the vision He gives me with clarity and passion, and that He will send us the right people to launch Awaken Church.

And that’s all I have to say about that…:-)

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6 Comments on “An Update on Awaken Church”

  1. 3 Things:

    1) I am your friend.

    2) Project Church is a friend of Awaken Church.

    3) I think Mark Batterson is the one that said, “Change of pace + Change of place = Change of perspective.” At least that’s where I heard it.

    I’m excited about the future of Jay Hardwick, Awaken Church, and NE Columbia, SC!

  2. Josh Roberts says:

    Great Stuff man! I’m am incredibly excited about what you guys are doing and going to do in Columbia. We are praying for you guys down here in Rome!!!

  3. Clayton Bell says:

    Jay, what a fantastic post. Thanks so much for the insight and wisdom

  4. Rachel says:

    Beautifully written. You have people praying for you that have experienced the exact circumstances you’re facing. God will provide.

  5. Becky says:

    I can’t wait to be a part of the vision you see for this church Jay. God is working and moving in a powerful way!

  6. jay hardwick says:

    thanks to all of you for your encouragement and prayers! Jesus is on the move here…i’m thrilled we get to be a part of it! keep praying!


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