Q. How is CHURCH IN THE NOW doing?
A. CHURCH IN THE NOW is alive and well, but it has definitely gone through some transition. As has been widely reported, the property on Iris Drive went through a foreclosure back in April of this year and was put up for sale, at which time we moved back into our original building on the property. We've been meeting there for the last six months and leasing the building from the bank. There have been a few offers made on the property during that time, but, as of yet there is nothing definite. The word on the street is that the property has already been purchased by another Conyers church, but that is not the case at the time of this writing.
The ministry in Conyers is now called CHURCH IN THE NOW EAST, and most Sundays there are several hundred people who attend the 10 AM service there, and hundreds (perhaps thousands) more attending CHURCH IN THE NOW ONLINE. On Easter we had approximately 1,000 in attendance, but most Sundays the attendance is in the hundreds. Apparently, a lot of people think that the church was disbanded when I came out, but that's certainly not true. We're not as big in numbers as we were before, but we're definitely as strong, if not stronger. The presence of the Holy Spirit is very evident in all of our services, and miracles continue to happen there on a regular basis as God is exalted.
Many of the hateful "Christian" blogs (more about them later) have celebrated what they believe was our demise, but, as Mark Twain said, "The rumors of my (our) death have been greatly exaggerated". The bottom line is that the property was not foreclosed on as a result of my telling the truth about myself. Of course that was a factor, in that many of our financial supporters left the church because of it...but anyone who knows our history knows that we have been in a financial struggle since we built the main building. We were headed toward foreclosure long before 10/13/10.
Some other of the mean-spirited "Christian" bloggers have speculated that I came out because I knew we were headed toward financial ruin, and I wanted to re-invent myself so as to attract and fill up the church with gay people who could support the church. Well, let me tell you that that idea is, as they say, a hoot and a half! Be assured that telling people in the Bible-belted South that you're a gay minister is NOT, I repeat NOT the way to fill up a church! These people...these anonymous bloggers with their crazy suspicions...continue to amaze and amuse me. Believe me, if I was wanting to save the church building at any cost I would have NEVER told the truth about my sexual orientation!
Considering everything that has happened at and to CITNE, the fact that we still have what we have...a church that is still considerably larger than the average American church, and still meets the definition of a Megachurch...is really quite remarkable. If and when the property sells we will simply move to a more manageable location (one with less than 43 acres and three large buildings to maintain!) and will continue to meet somewhere on the East side of Metropolitan Atlanta, preferably in Conyers or Covington.
We are not worried about the future of CITNE for two reasons. The first is that God has always taken care of us and we know He always will...and the second is that the church is more than bricks and mortar and acreage. The "CHURCH" in CHURCH IN THE NOW is what really matters, and it's not going anywhere.
In the meantime, we have added a second congregation in Atlanta called CHURCH IN THE NOW MIDTOWN, currently meeting in the Imperial Ballroon of the iconic Biltmore House. That church is doing very well, and I am blessed to be able to minister weekly in both locations. I've already said a lot about CITNM, so I won't repeat myself...but I do want to make it clear that CITNM is NOT a gay church...nor is it a black church, or a white church...it is a melting pot of all kinds of people, gay, straight, black, white, young, old, married, single, liberal, conservative, democrat, republican, believer and non-believer...in a word it is simply REAL PEOPLE EXPERIENCING THE REAL GOD IN THE REAL WORLD.
I have never had a ministry demographic, and I never will. I only want to pastor a New Testament Church where we recognize that "Christ is all and is in all", and that's what we have in Midtown. CITNM is certainly gay-affirming and has a considerable gay population, but everyone is welcome there, and everyone comes. The gay people I have spoken to there have no desire to attend a "gay" church...they just want a church where they can hear the Word and be themselves without fearing the wrath of religious bigots and pharisees...a place where they are not forced to live a lie, but can worship God in Spirit AND IN TRUTH. We provide that place weekly at CITNM.
The vision...the Big Picture, if you will...is that there will eventually be a CHURCH IN THE NOW NORTH and a CHURCH IN THE NOW SOUTH in addition to the two current locations...maybe a CHURCH IN THE NOW in every city in America. Who knows?
In the meantime, it's all good. Many people who left CITNE because of my telling the whole truth are now returning. They have realized that absolutely nothing about my ministry has changed, and they still hear my voice as being the voice of their shepherd, so they want to come back and find the green pastures of revelation that have sustained many of them for the last 26 years. We gladly receive every one of them back, no questions asked.
This past year has no doubt been an adventure and a walk of faith, but we believe that our latter will be greater than our former!