THE SHOP: Part One, The Beginnings
The beginning: this is important to know. Before the gathering officially started it was birthed in Aimee Atkins (then McGrady’s) heart. I asked her why she felt lead to start Tuesday Nights and she said, “I had it on my heart for a couple of months to start a college age worship group. Just a time to be with the Lord and worship freely with no limitations.” At the time Aimee was too old for youth group and was hungry for a place to gather with like hearted people that were close in age.
So the origins of “Tuesday Night Worship” started on a Tuesday night (imagine that!) in October of 2007 (possibly the 16th). Aimee’s heart was stirred so she went to a few other worshipers and they gathered in her parent’s living room. It was a very small group of young adults that came together in a little living room to worship a BIG GOD. I must clarify that the heart of this was not started out of a dissatisfaction or frustration with the church. It was simply another time to meet outside of Sunday morning to love on Jesus through worship, prayer and fellowship.
There were guitars, some bongos, and hungry hearts. It was very simple and low key with a genuine focus on Jesus and building friendships. There was no agenda or task list. From the beginning freedom was honored as the Holy Spirit showed up time and time again. This continued for 6 months every Tuesday in the McGrady living room.
It was not too long after this that I flew Aimee out to Albuquerque, New Mexico with me and proposed March 24, at the Rio Grande. I proposed to her at the same place that I got baptized on Easter Sunday the year before! This was a great time for both of us as we were working full time and maturing as the Lord was unfolding His plans before us. Aimee’s heart for worship was blossoming before the Lord and I starting to feel a fire for prayer like never before! Not to mention that we were making amazing new friends from all over the place.
Aimee (my fiance’ at the time) had told me about the get-together but I had never made the effort to show up. I didn’t know any of Aimee’s “Christian friends” yet. Eventually I showed up and it was awesome! I wanted this thing at my house! I know that sounds selfish but I had just moved into a new place with my roommate Jordan Geary and our living room was perfect. As the worship time ended I asked what everyone thought about moving it up the hill to my place. It is a pretty funny story looking back because other than Aimee and her brother Ryan, no one knew me and I hadn’t said much to anyone before. I remember everyone looking around and then the consensus was, “Ya, that sounds cool.”
The 8 people that were there that night must have each told one friend because that next Tuesday, April 1, 2008, there were 16 people gathered! It was a great first night to break in the new place. We had a time of putting on a Misty Edwards CD and started going at it in prayer for people. A few were falling down in the spirit, others were filled with laughter, and some were weeping. The Spirit broke loose and His presence was very thick and tangible in the dimly lit living room that evening.
It was exciting that the Lord was moving and hearts were being touched. There was anticipation building that whole week and as word spread, 25 people showed up that next Tuesday. Because we never had time for announcements each week, Steven Robbins (one of the amazing worship leaders from the beginning) started up a g-mail account under the name, Acts2Gathering, to share any changes, announcements, suggestions, prayer requests or testimonies. The first one sent April 20, 2008 and read as follows:
Yes, you can bring a friend… or a few…Yes, adults and children are allowed to come…Yes, you can arrive late or leave early if you need to …Yes, you can share some scripture during our time of worship…Yes, you can bring an instrument and play along if you want to…Yes, you can request that we lay hands on you and pray for you…YES, YOU CAN EXPECT THAT NOT EVERY WEEK WILL BE THE SAME AS THE ONE BEFORE. We are very open to many things as long as we keep our focus on the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Our purpose for meeting is to worship freely and expressively and to expect God to respond to our worship and prayers. Please pray for corporate breakthrough in our worship, revival in our county, and for more souls to come to Jesus.
By the beginning of May there were at least 40 plus people packing into our two-bedroom house. Jordan and I stopped putting the furniture back in order and just left it the way it was until the next gathering. With that many people we took out the dinner table and chairs to open up space and it still wasn’t enough! We had people lined down the narrow hallway, the living room was maxed out, and the dinning room and kitchen were full. Did I mention that 40 worshipping kids in a house without A/C during the start of summer makes things a little hot?
Every night was unique as we honored each other to create a “safe atmosphere” and allow freedom to worship Jesus. There were new faces each week, some with church backgrounds and others had never been to church before or had never seen anything like Tuesday Nights. Worship, prayer, prophetic words, reading the Word, and sharing testimonies resulted in freedom, joy, breakthrough, and unity.
I just read a quote from Rick Joyner that said, “If Jesus is in it, a cave will have more glory than the greatest human structure.” One thing was certain, it was God breathed and Jesus was there! It was completely out of our hands as we all marveled at what God was doing amongst us.
Nearing the end of May our biggest problem was not people thinking we were some type of a cult. It was parking and more room for the explosion of kids that were coming in. There was actually a lot of support and encouragement from adults in the area even though some didn’t want to show up to scare away anyone :). A grass roots prayer covering started up as news was spreading fast! All of the “young adults” that had been there from the beginning went to church and had parents that were excited about it and were praying protection along with others that had got wind of what was going on.
On June 16th a huge door had opened up, thanks to my aunt Lisa Whitman (Gerber) and Nancy Allen. I cannot stress enough the role that these two played in the whole thing. They were praying and felt led to let us crazy young kids use the old shop on the Gerber property. When they shared with us this grand idea, we were stoked! Of course this old shop was filled with junk and had been sitting unused for a long time. That following weekend we had a shop workday and cleared out a ton of stuff. The shop is located right behind the house that we were currently meeting at.
By the first of July, we had our first group of adults come to the house; 3 local couples that carry a fathers and mothers heart for our generation. It was an awesome night and the couples started showing their wonderful love and support ever since. We had one more shop workday on the 19th as I was pushing to have it ready before Aimee and I got married. It was great to see how the Lord provided. I was driving down the road and saw a free carpet sign and was able to pick it up and lay it across the cement shop floor. There were also some old family couches with no place to go that fit nicely in our new/old gathering spot. I can’t say that the shop smelled or looked great, but it was just what we needed.
On the 22nd the doors were open for worship and prayer as we had our first Tuesday Night Worship gathering in what was dubbed as “The SHOP” from there on out. It was a great transition; as usual the presence of the Lord was there as we gave ourselves to worshiping Jesus.