6 Years of Waypoint Church: An Interview with Lawrence and Jina Yoo
6 Years of Waypoint Church: An Interview with Lawrence and Jina Yoo
This month Waypoint Church celebrates six years of God’s faithfulness, goodness, and guidance to our congregation. I hope you will be encouraged as we look back with Lawrence and Jina as they discuss Waypoint’s journey from vision to the church family we know today.
When did you first feel called to plant a church? How was this decision confirmed?
Lawrence: For a while, I felt a yearning and longing for a church that looked like the kingdom of God by its diversity. Growing up in the South, I didn’t see any churches like that, so I thought, "I may be called to plant such a church." After pastoring for many years, I married Jina and God brought together our vision for international missions and church planting.
Jina: As an Asian American believer in the South, I had trouble finding a church where I belonged. My theology was more reformed and conservative, yet I grew up as a minority in America. Before meeting Lawrence, I was part of an Asian American church plant in Durham and hoped that this would be a good fit for where the Lord had called me. However, the church plant did not last very long. When Lawrence and I were dating, we often discussed our thoughts of what a church could look like, in its diversity, its love for the Word, its authentic worship...somewhere where everyone felt that they belonged.
What were your next steps?
Lawrence: Once we decided we were serious about church planting, we prayed for opportunities and guidance. I was offered a couple of options through some amazing churches in the area. But we ended up moving forward with Summit Church's church planting residency program.
When was your first service as Waypoint Church? What do you remember about that day?
Lawrence: We had our official "Launch Meeting" in January 2014. This launch meeting was composed of people who were committed to starting Waypoint Church. We had our first "Soft Opening" in June 2014. Our official "Public Launch" was in September 2014. During the public launch, I was overwhelmed by the Lord's provision. I wept while worshipping in the back of the church.
Jina: I also remember looking out at the church congregation, in awe of who the Lord brought to our church. We knew that it was the Lord who called these people to our service and not us.
What were some of the blessings and challenges of that first year?
Lawrence: A blessing that was also a challenge - we met in an old Baptist church building. It was a wonderful space, but it was SO HOT. The AC did not work very well and some days it was 86 degrees inside the sanctuary. We experienced a crucible of fire.
Jina: I was blessed by the people who were committed to our church. Oftentimes, those who came to church were former missionaries or those who loved cultures around the world. Growing up, I did not have the opportunity to meet people who appreciated other ethnicities and cultures. One of the big challenges was the children's ministry space. The old Baptist church did not have many children, so the space needed a lot of renovation and re-organizing.
What are some transitions or phases Waypoint has gone through?
Lawrence: The most obvious change Waypoint church has been through was the quick transition from a church plant to an established local church. This was always in the plans but happened much faster than we thought.
Jina: Another big transition was going from temporary spaces to our own permanent space. The journey to acquiring our own church building was pretty miraculous. As Lawrence and I drove around Durham looking for potential church buildings, we looked at several (very small) buildings. Looking back, we realized our dreams for a building were much smaller than the one the Lord provided.
Tell us a little more about the move to our current building and the merger with Journey church?
Lawrence: This merger was such a miracle from the Lord. We were rapidly outgrowing our small space at our second location. I was spending a lot of my time speaking to realtors and exploring creative opportunities for us to have a venue. But nothing seemed available or affordable. In the meantime, Journey Church at Southpoint built this incredible new building but did not have a congregation who could sustain it. Through God's perfect timing, our church who needed a building was connected with a church that was looking for new leadership and more congregants. We ended up merging and becoming one church together.
Jina: At first glance, it seemed that Journey Church and Waypoint Church were very different. Lawrence would come home from meetings not knowing what would happen. Over time, the Lord spoke to both church leaderships and was able to make a way. How wonderful that we could merge with a church who is committed to community and added a multigenerational component to our church.
Looking back on the past six years, what have been some of the highlights?
Lawrence: I don't know where to start...but I will say this, these past 6 years have been some of the sweetest years of my life. I love that we were able to form such a wonderful, tight-knit, gospel-centered community that lives to advance the kingdom.
Jina: I remember meeting people (who are now like our family) at the Vault in the Summit Church, as we were meeting as a Launch Team...
Lawrence: I have loved seeing the numerous weddings, child births/adoptions, and growth over the years...
Jina: I have loved seeing our kids growing up together with our Waypoint Kids (Josiah was born as we were beginning the church plant)...
Lawrence: I have loved seeing all the local and international ministries that we have taken part in...
Jina: I have enjoyed being part of the Worship Team and seeing that band grow. The Lord has continually provided excellent musicians who love the Lord....
Lawrence: I love the team of staff members God has provided over the years. The best team in the world!
What are some ways you have grown and lessons you have learned?
Lawrence: Very much like parenting, I have learned that I am not in control of the growth of this church - only God is.
Jina: I have seen Lawrence grow and develop as a Lead Pastor and main teacher. I always knew he would be a great Lead Pastor, and it has been wonderful seeing him grow into this position. I also have learned that only the Lord can make things grow!
Looking ahead, what are some of your hopes and prayers for Waypoint?
Lawrence: I would love to see Waypoint Church plant churches in the US and internationally. I would love to see us start intentional training programs for missionaries and church planters, like a residency. I would like to see us on the cutting edge of business as mission and intentional living.
Jina: I would like to see people come to the know the Lord and be discipled well. I would love to see our children's ministry and youth group grow! With all the pregnancies and adoptions lately, I see the Lord moving!