True life restoration was happening in the lives of Dan and Gina Trippie. In 2008 God set events in motion that would eventually bring restoration to not only their families but to a city.
Dan and Gina were church planters in Nashville. When thinking through the eyes of a planter that's where they thought they'd multiply. Dan was originally from Buffalo, NY. Both of their families still lived in New York.
God began to break their heart for not only the lostness of their families but the lostness of the area in which they lived.
In 2008 Dan and Gina moved to Amherst, NY. They began Restoration church in September.
Dan Trippie, Sr. loved having his son nearby....
Not wanting his son's church to fail and have him and his grandchildren move away from New York Dan's father began attending the church. He wasn't particularly interested in the gospel. He didn't like arriving for the musical worship time. Dan Trippie, Sr. arrived just in time to fall asleep through most of his son's sermons.
Within two years they grew to about 150 people - an impressive number in the northeast.
Dan grew uneasy as he looked at his quick growth.
Knowing that he needed a "real" look he reached out to his friend Ryan Kozey, Christ Together's Northeast Regional Director and developer of the Missional Behavioral Survey. Once his church members completed the survey he realized that only 2% -3% of his growth had come from conversions. Over 95% of his growth was a result of saved people moving to his church.
"The day we took the survey my dad crumpled it up and threw it away and left."
The results of the survey were startling. Dan realized that this was not the reason that God had uprooted his family and planted them back in New York. "I didn't come here to transfer the sheep but to reach into the lost-ness of this area," says Dan.
"It was time to take a hard look at what we were doing here."
"As the leaders of our church we made some really hard decisions...decisions that made about half of our chairs empty on Sunday."
"But this was a crucible moment."
"I decided I would do whatever it took to become ruthlessly missional." click to tweet
"In 2010 we just ripped down the whole thing and started over. I decided that we would become ruthlessly missional - meaning that we were going to teach every member of our church to start viewing themselves as a missionary. If people were coming for 'goods and services' they really wouldn't be very comfortable here. They were expected to own the lostness of their circles of accountability."
Dan Trippie Sr. continued to come and was observing everything that was happening.
As Dan and the members of his church began to embrace the guiding principles of Christ Together they began to see fruit...it took about 18 months. Some people bought in and others did not, but eventually the values became a way of life. "It's still a work in progress," he says.
They stuck with it and Dan's dad even asked to join. But when faced with the fact the he had to be a believer he decided against it.
One Sunday it October 2013, Dan Trippie, Sr. came to church.
This particular Sunday one of the elders of the church was preaching about baptism. This was the day that Dan Trippie, Sr gave his life to Christ.
He asked to be baptized. In his Budweiser shorts. Dan Trippie, Jr was able to baptize his father as a brand new believer.
"I got to see my dad, an angry, hostile 70 year old man, give his life to Christ and humble himslef before God's people in baptism, professing Christ."
But the story goes on....
Fifteen months later Dan Trippie, Sr. had a massive stroke and passed away. His new eternal home was now with Jesus.
Along the way Dan's mother-in-law came to the church during this growing season.
Much like Dan's father, she came and invited her friends to come so that the church wouldn't fail and she would be able to keep her children and grandchildren near.
In 2013 she, too, gave her life to Christ. That same year she was diagnosed with Cancer. Today she shares her life, living out suffering in faith, in front of a church that is made up of about 30% unbelievers. God is using her suffering in the midst of this to proclaim His goodness.
Restoration Church now meets with the purpose of reaching every man, woman and child in their city.
"The message from God was clear in 2008 - move to Buffalo, don't play games, plant churches that are ruthlessly preaching the gospel." - Dan Trippie, Jr.click to tweet
How did all of this happen? Dan is quick to point out that it is by God's providence and His grace. "But in addition, the principles that we gave ourselves to shaped us to not play games and to be in a position for God to mobilize each of us to be missionaries to our geographies. We started going after the heart of God"
"God has given us a voice in our city. We are working with 30 other church planters - coaching them, walking with them."
Dan recalled about that pivotal moment -
"When the 'hard look' happened we lost people. But I came here to go after the lostness of the area not to 'swap the saved.' As a result Restoration church is seeing a glimmer of light made in the darkness that once gripped his community where once 90% of the people would profess no faith in Jesus.