Veritas, it’s the Latin word for truth. It also happens to be the name of the church I’ve attended for the past year. Today I made a big decision about my attendance at Veritas and since I need something to blog about, this is my official announcement regarding the decision. I have decided to become a member at the church!

Here’s a very brief history of the church. The lead pastor, Mark Arant, worked for a church called Cornerstone in Ames, IA. He saw a need for a church dedicated to reaching college students in Iowa City. So he, along with a childhood friend, Jeff Thune,  and 60 some members from that church decided to plant a new church in Iowa City — Veritas Church. Their first several meetings were potlucks in the park. After a month they began meeting in one of the hotels downtown and having a college ministry that met in a couple bars all school year.

By the end of the school year, the church more than tripled in weekly attendance and on some weeks even quadrupled or quintupled in weekly attendance. A group of elders formed and Cornerstone church decided that they no longer needed to consider us a plant and no longer needed to be the crutch that Veritas stood on. Veritas got so big that the church outgrew the downtown hotel’s conference center and started the summer at a bigger hotel in Coralville. By the end of the summer Veritas grew big enough that they needed to expand the conference room. Now the church is ready to begin year two, and I have high hopes for what they will accomplish.

Here’s my personal history with Veritas. I attended the first potluck, but didn’t know anyone but the girls that I walked to the park with. Service already started by the time we got there and it looked like every seat was taken, so we wound up sitting a ways away from the service trying to hear from a park bench near where the children’s church was playing. We didn’t enjoy it and felt awkward so we left after like 10 minutes and didn’t go back the next few weeks.

I know I didn’t put much effort into enjoying the church, so I ignored the first, bad experience and still went to the first Salt Company at the Blue Moose Pub with an open mind. It was mostly fantastic. My initial thoughts was that it was easily the best church band I’d ever heard and  the message was spot on and convicting. The one thing I didn’t like was that only two people that came with Salt talked to me, but neither had time to do anything but introduce themselves before leaving. I sat with a couple other people who decided to leave our old college ministry and didn’t really meet anyone new.

Included with the welcome brochure that every church does, they handed out a little card to give contact information. At the end of the meeting, people who led connection groups made themselves known so people could meet them and exchange contact information about their Bible studies. I did the only sensible thing and gave my card to the person I recognized the most — the leader of the band! Didn’t meet him and couldn’t remember his name, but I saw him twice (when he led worship at the beginning and the end), which was more than any other connection group leader. I gave him the card and got out of the bar as quick as I could push the crowd. I know, it was the most ridiculous choice I could make since I know nothing about music, he looked like a cross between a punk and a hipster, he was too cool to use his real name, and it was very obvious that the two of us had nothing in common. But, familiarity is a powerful motivator.

A few days later I got an email from some random dude named James who said he was leading my connection group and wanting to know if I needed a ride to his house on some random street that I didn’t even know if it was in Iowa City… my first thought was that James is a normal name and definitely not the same guy. Again, I did the only sensible thing and checked out his criminal record. Turns out he’s mostly clean — no arrests and his facebook profile made him look like a decent guy, but not one that I’d actually be friends with.

We had a lot of funny stories. On my birthday I thought they were screwing with me because it was a connection group night and all they did was talk about birthdays. Turns out that they really didn’t know it was my birthday and after as many times as I’ve given them a hard time about it, James and Spaid will never forget that my birthday is October 14th.

I knew that I wanted to be a part of their lives, more than just meeting at their house once a week, when we went on the fall retreat. By chance, I was in their small group at the retreat too. We talked about the story of Joseph and because of the circumstances of his life, one of them asked me a very personal, very difficult question to answer. I knew the right answer, but I knew that once I said it, they would never unhear it. I’ve actually been asked the same question two other times in my life and after answering it both times the person who asked it metaphorically crushed me. I wasn’t sure whether or not they could be trusted, but after 2 months did eventually tell them the answer. So far they’ve proven themselves to be faithful.

We also fought, pretty intensely I might add. In my post On Reconciliation, I briefly talked about a connection group that fell apart. It digressed into a shouting match and battle of wills. When a bunch of stubborn guys disagree and can throw out Bible verses at each other, watch out… stuff’s gonna hit the fan quick! Within a day we made amends had a stronger relationship than before.

It’s now been months later, and I’m living with these guys. I moved into their 3 bedroom house with their other two roommates, who also moved to plant this church. I don’t consider myself to be a man of great faith, but I live with 4 men who left their friends and caused all sorts of problems for some of their college degrees to start a church that odds said would fail. They were robbed twice, some of them lost the things most valuable to them, some of them were separated from the people the loved most, and some of them of had every justification to be miserable, angry, and go home… but none of them doubted why they were here. None of them doubt their purpose in starting a church. None of them gave up faith in their mission. They give me faith, they encourage me, they’ve sacrificed for me, and I know that none of them would let me abandon God’s work, be miserable, angry, or go home.

Iowa City is my home and these guys are my brothers. It only makes sense for me to join them and help in their mission. The church I grew up in did a lot to raise me up. It’s because of that church that I have many Bible passages memorized, and if not for the influence of that church I would probably not go to church today. But, I have not attended my parents’ church on a regular basis since I graduated high school and at the moment I have no intentions of moving back to their area. I can’t wait to become more involved as a member of Veritas and continue to grow with my brothers this year.