Legacy Service: The Church I Grew Up In

Jan 23, 2023

It’s the first Sunday of our changeover weekends at Valley Family Church and we’re thanking God for all He has done the past 32 years and also honoring our Founding Pastors, Jeff + Beth Jones, for their faithfulness to the Lord and our church! During our Legacy Service, Pastor Eric Jones shares a heart-warming message and encourages us to abide by God’s word by pausing the busyness of life to reflect and remember. 

We see throughout Scripture that God strongly emphasizes the practice of remembering and implores His people to do the same:

Hebrews 13:7 (NLT) Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith.

Deuteronomy 32:7 (NKJV) Remember the days of old, Consider the years of many generations.

1 Chronicles 16:12 (NKJV) Remember His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth.

Psalm 143:5 (NIV) I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.

As we set out to remember God’s marvelous craftsmanship and consider the work of His hands, we’re taking time to honor and not forget the story that He’s written in our lives and in our church. The Church I Grew Up In will not only help us to reflect on the past 32 at VFC, but will also encourage us in our own personal stories and journeys. 

The Church I Grew Up In

As many of us know, 32 years ago, Pastors Jeff + Beth moved from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Kalamazoo, Michigan with a dream in their heart to build a church and a family that would honor God and help to make His name known. Lot’s has happened since then! 

In some way or another, as members of Valley Family Church, we have all witnessed God do the miraculous. Pastor Eric reflects on some of these miracles in his message The Church I Grew Up In and he shares 4 lessons that he’s learned that will bless and resonate with each of us, too. He encourages us to remember God’s faithfulness to us as we reflect on these lessons and continue applying them to our own journeys with the Lord. Amen! 

1. The Church Is Alive

A lot has been said recently about the death or decline of the church. Deconstruction, cultural relativism, cancel-culture, and even generational shifts are a few of the reasons for this. Unfortunately, in the world we live in, it seems there are often more critics of this thing Jesus called His Bride and gave His life for than there are champions and builders. 

Valley Family Church proves that the Church of Jesus is very much alive. The church is alive, not because of who leads it and not because of those who are in it. The church is alive because of the One who is the Head of it–Jesus. 

Colossians 1:18 (NLT) Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything.

We are a church that’s navigated many challenges–we’ve had attacks from without and attacks from within. We’ve seen unexpected crises, presidents from every political persuasion have been in power; we’ve experienced a global economic crash, we’ve seen laws change, only to be changed, and then changed again. We’ve seen a worldwide social and health pandemic and yet the church has found a way to remain strong, vibrant, diverse, and healthy. The church is alive!

Our small story at VFC is just a reflection of the greater story of the church for the past 2,000 years. What other organization could be successful having been started by a small band of no-named disciples, dependent on the mutual commitment of self-sacrificial love and service of one another, funded by financial donation and contributions with no promise of worldly return, that preaches the same unchanging message about a God we cannot see!

The church has weathered the rising and falling of global empires, wars, coos, natural disasters,  language barriers, cultural contexts, economic and technological advancements, and every other conceivable challenge possible…and yet, still stands strong with billions of people globally attesting to the same thing–that Jesus is Lord and He alone is King! That is the story of His church. 

The church of Jesus Christ has lived and thrived not based on human leaders or on cultural trends; not confined to buildings like ours or denominations or theological or political persuasions. The Church is alive and it is united by the power of the Holy Spirit under the name of Jesus. The Church is alive because Jesus is alive. Amen!

Matthew 16:18 (NKJV) I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.


What does it mean that the church is alive

How do we see this to be true at VFC?

2. The Holy Spirit is Real

We have always been a church that has believed in the power and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In The Church I Grew Up In, Pastor Eric shares a comical memory that highlights the undeniable truth that the Holy Spirit is real and we desperately need Him at work in our day-to-day lives, every single day. 

1 Corinthians 2:4 (NIV) My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power.

We are so fortunate to belong to a church that has not only modeled this principle for 32 years, but that will continue to do so for countless decades to come. Because of this continuous demonstration, we are ingrained with a love and a passion for the work of the Holy Spirit. When we encounter the Holy Spirit, our lives are deeply impacted and our hearts are touched.


Share a time when you’ve seen the work of the Holy Spirit first hand in your life in a real, profound way. 

How does your relationship with the Holy Spirit differ from your relationship with Jesus the Son and God the Father? 

3. Prayer Changes Things

Oftentimes, one of the most neglected and overlooked things in any church is prayer. Prayer unfortunately gets undervalued and under celebrated. One of the lessons we learn from The Church I Grew Up In is that prayer is vital and it actively changes things. 

Pastor Beth has modeled prayer for us for decades and shown us the benefit to intentionally prioritizing time talking to and connecting with God. Prayer is powerful! It’s been said that, in the church, much is taught but most is caught. Our church provides an environment for us to easily and constantly catch the spirit of prayer. We’ve had the opportunity to witness God interceding on behalf of others. We’ve seen God respond when a group of people pray for one another. 

James 5:16 (NLT) The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

Prayer has been a staple of our church for 32 years and we’ve witnessed countless moments where prayer has changed things. 


How has prayer changed your life? Reflect and share a specific scenario in your life where you actively witnessed the power of prayer. 

Pastor Beth is a fan of prayer drives. What does intentional prayer time look like for you?

4. My Parents Are My Heroes

In The Church I Grew Up In, Pastor Eric shares a heart-felt tribute to his parents, Founding Pastors Jeff + Beth Jones, that highlights all the reasons they’ve been phenomenal parents not only to him and his siblings, but also to our church for the past three decades. They have lead and loved in many different seasons and given us plenty of reasons to honor them during this transition season at VFC!

Ephesians 6:2 (NKJV) Honor your father and mother.

Hebrews 13:7 (NLT) Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith.


Lord, we thank you for our time together. Thank you for the opportunity to open up your scripture, Father God, and to listen to you, Holy Spirit. Please help us to always remember your faithfulness and your goodness. Bring back to our memories stories, moments, tears and laughs, and all the other pieces that have taken place through our journey with you as our Lord and King. You’re a good, good Father, and we love you. In Jesus’ holy name we pray, Amen!


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