Don't Stop Believin'

Growing up in Michigan I remember how much I loved the outdoors. So much of my time was spent outside of the four walls of any physical structure. If I didn’t need to be indoors, then I was on the go taking in the excitement of sights and smells as I set out to explore every part of God’s artistic hand in nature that surrounded me. These journeys led me to take up hiking and backpacking in my high school years. It was so wonderful, especially as I found a group of friends to do it with.

I recall one such occasion where we found ourselves in the northern part of the lower peninsula on a shorter backpacking expedition of 4 days. As we were hiking on day 3, we came across the most beautiful lake you could imagine. Somehow, the water in it was crystal clear, allowing you to see far into its deepest center. Having already done a good number of miles the previous few days without a real shower, the water looked too inviting to pass up. It didn’t take long for us to drop our gear; toss on some shorts and hit the welcoming water. As with any group of guys, soon we found ourselves becoming somewhat bored with the current situation. It was then that my buddy presented the challenge of someone swimming from one side of the lake to the other. Now, this was nothing close to Lake Michigan's size; in fact (though it seemed much larger at the time), it was probably only slightly larger than the length of a football field. The echo of his words hadn’t even had a chance to resolve when I found myself, even slightly to my own surprise, volunteering to take up the said challenge. 

So, wasting no time, I set out to swim the span of this beautiful lake. Everything started out great; I was in good shape and a decent swimmer, but about halfway across, I began to experience a challenge I had not anticipated. While physically I was doing fine, something in my mind caused me to look back at how far I had come. When I took a look over my shoulder, something in me longed to return back to the shallows where my friends were. This desire caused an inner conflict between my desire to complete the challenge of arriving at the other side and the desire to return to what was familiar and known. The reality was that there at the halfway point it seemed like it would be easier to return to where I came from. It seemed like there would be greater joy to go back than there would be going forward to complete what had been started. Well, I’m pleased to inform you that I chose to press on through some of the doubt to what was ahead of me and soon found myself standing firmly on the opposite shore from where I started. I completed the journey. As I look back on that day, I credit three things to my success and I believe they can apply to us as a congregation today as well.

The first help to me completing my swim that day was in my conditioning. While I had no idea that I was going to take on such a challenge that day, I was in a season of being in really good shape. I was in my late teens, playing soccer and swimming numerous times a week in my friend’s pool. I had been trained and equipped for the very challenge that I found myself. I believe the same can apply for us now as a church. The systems we are establishing at LGCC are making it so there are no underdeveloped areas of ministry. If my arms had been strong that day, but my legs weak, I would have been unbalanced and unable to finish the journey I had set out on. This is what our staff and Vision Team have been working on throughout 2023. We have worked over the past year to develop all areas of the ministry at LGCC and are excited that we are very close to completion. We have looked outside at our surrounding community, inside at our church body, as well as everything in between. We have assessed what areas are strong and what areas need growth and identified how to address the challenges. Our values of Loving God and Others, Living Life in Relationship, Giving it Away, and Going to the Lost have continued to help be our guide. We are nearly finished with the mission and vision of LGCC, which we will present during a Vision Service happening soon. This service will be a blessed celebration as we introduce to the rest of the congregation what the team has accomplished.

The second element that kept me pressing onward was the sound of my friends cheering me on. Isn’t it great when others gather around us in our times of struggle? This is the way we want to be at LGCC. We desperately need one another, whether we realize it or not. We need each other as we walk through difficult seasons of life and this is where our Life Groups come into view. It is so encouraging to hear testimonies of how life group members have gathered around one another when someone is walking through a difficult season in life. This is how the Body of Christ is designed to work. If you are not in a Life Group yet I encourage you to find one and join in the gift of community. Another way you will be “cheered on” is through sound Biblical teaching. We will continue to roll out sermons and sermon series that don’t just tickle our ears but instead challenge us with the Word of God. As times are getting more and more uncertain, we must have God’s Word planted in our hearts, running through our minds, and being shared through our mouths and actions. I promise that as long as there is breath in my lungs and strength in my bones, LGCC will be a place where the full council of God’s Word is always preached.

The final element that saw me to the other side of the lake that day was the decision to fix my eyes on the destination I was trying to reach rather than looking back from where I came. I had discovered myself in that place of “in between” where it seemed easier to go back than it was to go forward. The reality, however, was that it would have been as much work to return to where I had begun instead of simply pressing on to what was ahead. We, as a church, find ourselves at that same place and it is time for us to press on to what is ahead. This is not to say that we will ever forget the rich history that brought us to this point or the many wins and successes that have taken place along the way, but now we must set our face like flint as we persevere towards the goal of the other shore. It is time to go “all in” on getting to the other side and it will take all of us having our eyes fixed on where God is leading us and all of us doing our part. Once the vision is rolled out, we will have clarity of our destination which will allow us to move in sync with God’s will for LGCC.


Last year took us as a congregation through many great places in the Scripture. 

Some of the series included:

• Our House – A series on how we will treat each other at LGCC.

• One Another – A series on living life in relationship with each other.

• To the Ends of the Earth - A study through ACTS chapters 13-18

• Climate Change – A series on how the spiritual climate of LGCC changes

• No Condemnation – A series exploring Romans chapter 8

• Waiting Room – Our Advent series focusing on the aspect of waiting for the Messiah.

We also saw significant growth in all of these areas:

• 27 – People completed our NextSteps class

• 16 – New members added to the congregation

• 6 – People baptized

• 4 – Baby dedications


2024 will bring with it some significant changes. While the search has continued for a NextGen Pastor, we anticipate that person being identified in the near future. I am deeply grateful to the search team that is doing a lot of the initial legwork in finding eligible candidates for the position. I have met with a few different candidates, but have yet to find the one that truly is the right fit. This is an extremely important hire moving forward into the future so not one we will rush. We are trusting the Lord for His timing and His person to be discovered. The NextGen Pastor will primarily be charged with leading our junior and senior high student ministry. Their secondary role will be to oversee a Children’s Ministry Team entirely made up of volunteers which leads me to the other upcoming change.

2024 will also bring with it a change in the Children’s Ministry as our current director, Cindy Disney-Gainey, will be stepping down to pursue her desire to move into full-time teaching in the public schools. While we will be sad to see her step out of this role she has served in for so long, we recognize how great a gift it will be knowing someone who has a passionate heart to reach kids with the Gospel of Jesus is now on the front lines. The responsibilities Cindy has managed in the past will be transitioned to a Children’s Ministry Leadership Team made up of a handful of volunteers. We pray God’s continued blessing on Cindy and will have a special time to celebrate her before her time with us officially comes to an end.

Closing Thoughts

Once again I want to thank our dedicated staff for walking with me in so many different areas, we truly would not be where we are today without them. I also want to say how privileged I am to walk alongside the other Elders of LGCC as they continue to oversee our congregation and it’s needs. Lastly, I want to thank everyone who calls LGCC “home”. It is a true honor to be able to serve you and your families and I am truly humbled and challenged by so many of you as I witness how you walk out your relationship with Jesus. May the Lord continue to sustain all that we do for His glory as we walk out His will and desire for Long Grove Community Church.

I share with you again the picture of what we long LGCC to be:

Acts 2:42-47 (NLT) - A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had.45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity — 47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved

In His Service and yours,

Your Brother in Christ,

Pastor Dell