Those who have been part of the Lighthouse family for a while, as well as those who may be relatively new to Lighthouse, know that at the heart of the ministry of Lighthouse Community Church Nondenominational lies the desire to be faithful to God by proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our vision statement declares that “We exist to proclaim the reign of Jesus Christ over all things; glorifying and enjoying God, now and forever!” Because Jesus Christ is Lord, it is our mission and calling to make disciples of Jesus Christ as we live as disciples of Jesus Christ, revealing His Lordship over our lives and calling others to know, to love and to serve Him.
A revival began at First Reformed Church in Allendale early in this new century, as First Reformed Church became Lighthouse Community Church and a new building was erected as a mission base to reach out to the community of Allendale and West Michigan. God began to gather a people for Himself from various life backgrounds and spiritual journeys As we grew together around the Word of God, we found our oneness in the truth God has revealed through His Word and in His Son Jesus Christ. The Spirit of God made us ONE and continues to do so today.
Yet, as we grew together as a congregation, all things were not well. There was growing evidence that the denomination of which we had been a part for over ninety years was unwilling to stand firmly on the authority of Scripture by applying God’s truth to all areas of life. Alongside a growing sense of unease was an increasing awareness that denominationalism was dividing the body of Christ unnecessarily. God was teaching us about the oneness of His whole body and the meaning of what Jesus prayed for in John 17, that we are called to be ONE, as He and the Father are ONE. While many around us were seeking an outward unity that watered down God’s truth, we came to believe that the unity that Jesus came to establish was the unity of His Spirit around the truth of His Word and the very Gospel itself.
After several attempts to voice our concerns at denominational gatherings, it became clear that God was calling us to come out of the denomination and to become what God had already made us: Lighthouse Community Church Nondenominational. Following a rather tumultuous series of meetings with denominational structures, we determined to file a petition to withdraw from the Reformed Church in America to become a nondenominational congregation and a member of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. When our petition to withdraw was denied, the congregation voted overwhelmingly (almost 90%) to leave the RCA without their approval, understanding that such a decision may well cost us our building. Indeed, following our withdrawal on December 31st, 2011, the Zeeland Classis of the Reformed Church in America claimed our building and property as theirs.
Lighthouse Community Church, Non-Denominational came into existence! Following our withdrawal and our filing of new Articles of Incorporation, the Zeeland Classis moved forward to take possession of the church building that had been erected in 2004 solely through the labor and gifts of the members of Lighthouse Community Church. After much prayer and seeking the Lord, the leadership of Lighthouse conveyed to the congregation our belief that it was not God’s will for us to enlist a lawyer and to go to court in an attempt to defend our claim to the building and property that had been our home. We communicated to the Zeeland Classis our willingness to vacate the building and over 95% of the existing active membership of the congregation did leave on June 3, 2012.
God Provides & We Are Blessed
God provided office space and a large meeting room, as well as the use of another building to host our Wednesday evening ministries and we would hold our worship services in one of the schools in our community! Our first service in Evergreen Elementary was held on June 10th and this became our worship "home" for the foreseeable future, we thought. While in our old building, now over one year ago, we had a worship attendance between 350-375 total at two services. Evergreen's cafeteria had a capacity of 350 and within a few weeks, it became obvious that we did not have enough room! We moved again to the gymnasium of Oakwood Intermediate School, where we began setting up 450 chairs. This new location allowed us to have fellowship space in the cafeteria and sufficient classroom space for our education classes, nursery, etc. We are now setting up 520 chairs and our worship attendance is averaging between 425-500! All of these are temporary locations, and while they are adequate for most of our present ministries, the need for a permanent home that will serve as a mission base to our community and area is vital to our continued faithfulness to God’s call.
New Church Property & Future Building Plans
In the fall of 2012, we were informed of a piece of property that was available in a prime location on Lake Michigan Drive and we negotiated an offer on the ten acres. Our offer was accepted and the congregation rallied to gather the down payment before January 1st, 2013. The down payment was made and the property was purchased. With the purchase of property, a Design Team was formed to produce a design for a new church building that would be sufficient for the present congregation, now numbering between 450-500 in worship, and also allow for future growth. A Finance Team was also formed to begin the process of praying and planning to see how God might provide the necessary funds to erect a new mission base for a congregation focused on reaching the community and the area with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in Word and in deed.
The plan of the Design Team was presented to the congregation at an informational meeting on June 2, 2013, exactly one year after we left our former building. As God continued to open doors, the leadership of Lighthouse called another meeting on July 8th, this time to approve the concept of the new building design. As the meeting began, it was announced that the property that had been purchased in January had been completely paid for!! Who could have imagined what God would do in such a short time?! But, Our God is Able! The plan was presented and approved in concept by a nearly 100% vote of those present. Excitement filled the air as we began to believe that God is going before us in a powerful way to make the vision of a new mission base become a reality.
All of this seems to be happening rather quickly and some may wonder if we are rushing ahead of God. The building that has been designed by our Design Team is nearly 50,000 square feet – almost twice the size of our former building. Do we need such a large facility? Is it practical? Many things have been prayed over and considered, by leadership, by the Design Team and by the congregation. We are seeking God’s direction and it is our heart’s desire to follow Him in obedience to His call. Were we to build a facility only for ourselves, perhaps the project could be reduced in size, but if God is calling us to continue to do what we have been seeking to do since 2004, to reach out to our community, our area and, indeed, to the world, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then planning for continued growth is essential to our obedience. As we grow spiritually in our understanding of the Great Commission Christ gave to His Church, God adds to our number those who are being saved. It is our responsibility to care for them and to nurture and equip them for service to the KING!
We invite YOU to join us as we labor together for one reason: to bring glory to God by making Him known, by serving others in His Name and by proclaiming the Gospel to all, knowing that God’s Word will accomplish the purpose for which He sent it! To HIM be the glory!!