The SHOP Series:
By June 2009 the SHOP was at its peak and the summer continued to be full of fun, growth, and challenges. This was the beginning of a pivotal season for us as we were given a very sobering and challenging word that revealed a fork in the road and called us to the less traveled and higher path of the Cross. This message also came with a time frame of about 3 months.
The first Tuesday of July 2009 Steven and Andrew set up the SHOP outside on the back patio of the Gerber house property. It was not the smoothest transition, as we had a new worship leader along with new distractions; but it was a lot cooler and could hold more people. We were back inside the SHOP the following Tuesday and it was another full house filled with worship, prayer, unity, and an awesome testimony by a gentleman named Paris.
We had a new friend, Tyler Johnson, come from Washington the next week through a connection of a couple that wanted to fly him out to share at the SHOP as well as at our local church. The 8 of us met with Tyler, his wife Christine, and friend Adam Short, at our house the Saturday before the SHOP. There was an instant connection as we prayed and worshiped and received encouragement from our new friends. I had a unique encounter at the end of our fellowshipping that I will never forget. There was a great connection and we were all excited to hear Tyler share at the SHOP.
That Monday our pastor had graciously said yes to host the shop for worship as Tyler spoke. This was a big success in our eyes as a lot of church members came together in one place to worship Jesus. The worship that night was very powerful and released a great measure of freedom and joy. On a side note we found out that night that a meteorite the size of earth struck the planet Jupiter (There is more to it, but we felt that there was some significance behind it). Tyler shared again at the SHOP (outside on the back patio) with encouraging stories and testimonies. There were over 150 people gathered and we had a fun fire tunnel followed with 13 baptisms in the pool at the end of the night! It was a great night full of Jesus.
August was busy as far as leadership went as we all felt like it was important to figure out a clear vision and mission statement for the SHOP. Because of the rapid growth that we were experiencing we started to get bombarded with questions! This was a good thing and caused us to step back and look at what we believed the SHOP was called to. By now we had each shaped our own ideas, influences and agendas about what it was to us personally so it took some time to hammer out. I must admit that we easily complicated this process and mixed in a lot of flesh instead of simply seeking the Lord in prayer. Aimee and I noticed during this time that the core leadership circle was being tested causing our friendships to be strained.
During the month of September Steven took a break from worship and we ended up having a lot of guest speakers. We started the month by watching The Finger of God, which is a great documentary on some of God’s moves and miracles around the Globe. We were then blessed to have Ryan Helbling lead worship and share a message as he was back from Africa for the remainder of the year. On the 22nd Isa Agape came and shared an awesome message that the Lord had been placing in her heart over the last couple of months. Young, old, and new faces continued to show up as we enjoyed the summer outside.
The last Tuesday of the month was a very difficult night; looking back this also marked the end of the period for the word that we had received. We had found out that a local teenager, Emmitt Broaddus, was killed in a car accident right before we gathered; he was a friend of many. There was also a very large group of black birds circling around the property for about 20 minutes, which we found to be very bizarre. Steven, Andrew, Sonja, and Bethany all went to the hospital to pray for him and his family. Carlie, Aimee, and I felt led to get everyone in a circle to pray until we felt breakthrough. It was rough but we did feel some breakthrough at the end.
Our season out on the patio ended and so did our season on the property. We had our last shop meeting in the actual shop building October 6, 2009. It felt great to be back in the shop and have our old friends Ryan and Nina Landis leading worship to bring things back to the heart of worshipping Jesus! Being outside was good but I believe it brought a lot of distractions naturally and spiritually.
We had corporately made the decision to move our place of meeting down the hill, into an old warehouse in Tuolumne City. We were outgrowing the old shop and had some issues that needed attention; like parking, bathrooms, and the leaking roof. I went up to the owner of the building after church one day to inquire about using his place and before I finished explaining everything he had graciously put the key to the building in my hand. We had also gotten some cool words about the fire flowing down the hill. I have always had a heart for Tuolumne and saw this as a dream come true! I believe that there was a grace to move and that the Lord wanted to start moving in Tuolumne City in a greater way! With that being said, a huge part of the shop was dearly missed.
This warehouse was MUCH BIGGER, had plenty of parking, and two bathrooms…but the best part was it fit us perfectly. It had dirt floors, old church chairs, and was centrally located in a town that needs much reviving! So we had our first gathering in Tuolumne, October 13, 2009. I was super excited as a couple of my Tuolumne friends showed up after not seeing them for a while. It felt like a smooth transition. It was also raining that night and it sounded beautiful as the raindrops poured down on the old metal roofing.
Tyler Johnson came back for our second meeting in the new place and helped us break it in a little more. The leadership also started meeting around this time with an amazing couple whose heart is to refresh those in ministry. The timing was great as there were feelings and stirrings going on between the leadership as well as in the community. It was good to have an outside source come and help us in some practical ways. These meetings were very healthy and brought some things to the surface that Aimee and I were unaware of.
As November and December rolled around the shop was good but the building was getting beyond cold. We had little space heaters set up, but everyone was being challenged by the frigidness. This put even more strain on the leadership as it seemed like the grace was lifting. I felt like we were to weather the storm so to speak but it may have just been my stubbornness. I also felt like during the last few months of the year that I was fighting something that I couldn’t see at the time. The leadership team also lost two big pieces as Bethany went on a mission’s trip to Africa and Carlie went to a prayer internship on the East Coast.
Aimee and I started taking a good look at what the shop had become to us and how it had started to become our identity. We had realized that our friendships between the leaders had turned into something completely other than, as everything revolved around the shop! There was no doubt that His presence was still there, but we both started asking the question as to why we needed to be on the leadership team. With the growth, changes of season and our weaknesses, I believe that the leadership team had gotten distracted.
At the end of December Aimee and I attended the OneThing Conference in Kansas City as well as the leadership summit. This was an impactful time for us as we felt a release from the SHOP leadership. We both strongly felt that we were to start a family after hearing a powerful message from Lou Engle. It was also confirmed with us that we were to pursue prayer and worship on a deeper level while growing in His Word. January 17, 2010 we let the team know that we were stepping down in hopes to continue to be friends. About a month after this decision we found out that Aimee was pregnant with Liberty Reign. This was very exciting news for us as our steps were confirmed and our family started to blossom.
The shop continued to weather through the winter and with spring time Kaenan and LauraLee got married March 19, 2010. I will end this session here and see if there is room for another one down the road. It was a wonderful to see the Lord work through the shop and I am very thankful that I got to be apart of it. Thank you for taking the time to read this. Feel free to share any of your own stories in the comments!