Five years ago Sunday our family moved from South Carolina to California to join the South Bay team and start South Bay Church. We came with two kids, one vehicle, a 4×6 trailer, and all that could fit inside. September 1st, 2008 was a day full of excitement and anticipation. It was a time of celebration for us, our team, and South Bay Church– all nine of us! (With Capo that would be 10. I think when you’re church planting, dogs are allowed in the count before launch day- pretty sure it’s in the rule book.)

But September 1st, 2007, the year prior, was more defining. That was the day we said yes to the vision for South Bay Church. It was then that we began the transition from the comfort and security of ministry we had known, to the possibilities and uncertainties of our future that lie ahead.

I’ll never forget the few weeks prior to that day when Andy and Stacie presented us with the vision of South Bay. A vision I thought I understood before then. A vision that up to that point I said no to. I remember my questions, reservations, and doubts. I remember looking at the projections and thinking, “If we could reach half that, it would be a miracle.” (Have I mentioned I had a pretty flawed view of church-planting? Thankfully, God is bigger than our flaws.)

My mind has a weird way of processing about a hundred things at once and quickly coming up with a resolution. At the end of our conversation, Filipe and I walked away, and I told him we were supposed to do it (he quickly agreed). Why?

It was a risk worth taking.

There was no guarantee of an outcome. Andy couldn’t promise us anything (no salary, no job-security). All I saw was the vision and the risk. And I quickly calculated that it was worth the risk. By the end of that conversation I had resolved that it would be better to try and fail then to not try at all.

One Sunday morning a few weeks ago I was talking with a South Bay volunteer. He had no idea who I was and after asking the typical, “How long have you been at South Bay?” question, discovered I’ve been here from day one. He commented about what it must be like to watch the church grow. My response is always, “You have NO idea”.

To be completely honest, it still blows my mind that people show up every Sunday. I still can’t even wrap my mind around it. And I hope I never can.

Every week at South Bay I am moved to tears by the most random things.

  • A few weeks ago one of our band members led out on a song. I just stood there watching with tears streaming down my face trying to sing along. I couldn’t help but think about how his life was changed. Once far from God, this young, college student is leading hundreds of people in worship through song.
  • Baptism Sundays are another reminder. Each person that comes out of the water has a new sense of joy and freedom. It’s incredible to watch.
  • I talked with a woman a few weeks ago who hadn’t been to church in over fifteen years. Filipe talked to a guy two weeks ago and it was his first time to church EVER.

Each of these stories, each of these encounters, each of these experiences remind me why. Why the risk was worth it.

Risk is scary. It’s unpredictable. There is never guarantee. But when I get to the end of my life I don’t want to look back and wonder what could have been. I would much rather try and fail then not try at all.

Whenever I have a big decision to make- whether it’s moving across the country or starting an adoption process, this is how I do it. Will I regret trying and failing or never trying at all? In almost every decision the side that haunts me most is never trying at all.

What risk are you facing? It may be relational, financial, or a move across the country. Ask yourself- Would I rather try and fail than never try? If you can say yes, then do it. It’s worth it every time. You also aren’t guaranteed a second chance to make the decision.




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  • Chelsie Denson

    Really needed to hear this Mandy. Thank you for the encouragement and we are an awe of how God is using you guys! Proud of your obedience.

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