Devotion: Are You worth imitating?
Core Value::Genuine Community
40 Yards Ahead...
   Yesterday morning I joined 9 other men as we sprinted around a track.  For all 8 of my laps, just in front of me ran a man, who by my calculations remained 5 seconds ahead. Unknowingly, he helped to motivate me to stay on course and continue at that pace when I hit difficult parts of the run. 
     In a similar way, two weeks ago I was able to visit my hometown of Atlanta to meet with different pastors and churches.  On my final night, when I gathered for dinner with Kairos Church's mission team, I caught a glimpse of where God is leading our community in Charlotte.  The pastor--a few years older--went to prep school in Atlanta, then to Davidson and off to seminary.   After serving a large urban church in Atlanta, he veered off "course" to start Kairos. While his personal journey has been similar to mine, it was when I saw their community in action, that I realized this community was 40 yards out in front of where I pray God will shape our community. 
  One of their core values I saw demonstrated that evening was "Authentic Relationships." For two hours I was welcomed into a stranger's home for a delicious meal, reconnected with an old high school classmate of mine, met the father of a seminary friend, and sat quietly (well the best I could) as I listened to them enjoy each other's company, reflect on their experiences over the past 4 years, and encourage me that this can be done.
  I commented that I wish I could have videotaped the evening so that our community could see what is possible in a church plant; where we peel back the surface veneer most of us put on when we step onto a church campus, and begin to share real, transformative life together.  
  At one point I sarcastically asked them "How do you package up and manufacture 'authentic relationships' so you can sell this as an effective church planting model?"  Then they actually gave me some pointers...
1)  It starts with the leadership...their pastor had demonstrated this by sharing the difficulties and stresses he faced, telling stories of where he sees God molding the community, seeking to connect them with one another, and getting out of the way so others could do God's work.
2)  It continues with intentional efforts to meet new people and invite them along the way.  This was not the pastor's job; it was the responsibility of each of them.  
3)  It's sustained through prayer.  Each week, their open prayer times go beyond prayers for "Aunt Stella's dog's cataracts."  They call upon Christ to restore broken relationships, to give them rest during restless nights, and to protect a young adult struggling with a heroin addiction.  

Likewise, I recently read that individuals need two types of people in their lives: 
Older people who repeatedly say three things: It can be done, I am with you, I believe you can do it.

Contemporaries who are in the trenches fighting alongside you.

For us, our first Core Value is "Genuine Community" where God will raise up men and women who want to break past our vast amount of surface relationships and discover not only other people in Charlotte who will be elders and siblings in our lives, but also that God Himself fulfills these roles as our Heavenly Father and as Jesus Christ (hmm, starting to see some sermons materializing). 

1 Thessalonians 1:2-10

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   Here we catch a glimpse of Paul's missionary style: Relational. Reading just these verses makes it sound like a beautiful community filled with prayer, love, & joy, and inspired by hope.  However, if you read Acts 17:6, you will see that Paul's welcome into Thessalonica was anything but that...he started a riot!

   I believe that is what gives Paul the confidence to say that, "our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power and with deep conviction."  They did not present an intellectually interesting and wordy message, but they lived it.

   One of my favorite lines from scripture is verse 5-6.  Paul intentionally lived with these people--many who hated him--so that he could show them the power of the Gospel.  It wasn't for his success, but so they would imitate Paul imitating Christ.

    Who is someone with a deep faith life you are seeking to imitate?  Is your life worth imitating?  When our life gets riotous, what do you do?  


"Money follows members in mission"
~Art Ross
Christ calls us to follow Him, and our faithful obedience will cause the resources to follow us following Him.  



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A Spouse Perspective:  

"Faith Impact"



Following up from last month's post, the most important part to me is how our entire family is adapting to the changes this journey has brought.  I would answer "splendidly."  


Ellie, in particular, has great enthusiasm about the new church and is a little evangelist and marketing representative everywhere she goes---all on her own initiative, of course.  

Jack, James, and Thomas don't get a lot of it, but there are moments when they want to serve by cleaning up the yard for church gatherings or testing out some Sunday School curriculum. Also, they eagerly ask when they will get to go to the new church.


The greatest impact on all of us has been in the testing of our faith.  Starting a church with no guaranteed money or people is very daunting.  However, this is the first time we've truly had to trust God and not rely on our own means (it's been easy in the past to give ourselves more credit than we ought).  It's freeing in many ways.  It's expanded our prayer life.  It's caused us to reflect on the value we place in others and their approval ahead of the Lord's.  


We've seen the children grow in their faith life as they are memorizing scripture and gaining a better

 It's caused us to reflect on the value we place in others and their approval ahead of the Lord's.

 understanding of biblical narratives as they apply them to their lives.  I don't know that we've been more intentional with them, per se, but by simply being more intentional in our faith and prayer life as adults, it's bleeding into how we parent them.  It's a great witness for them to see what it is like to be living with Christ at the center in a way we haven't before.  


While I see all of the uncertainty as mostly positive--because it keeps us desperate for God--I know it is hard for Wes when doubts creep in.   When the doubts come, they tend to be over the things we truly cannot control: the people God's calling to be a part of this church and those He's calling to invest in it.  It's one thing to say and believe that God will provide, but it's another thing to overcome the ingrained tendency to attach worth and productivity to having a stable income.  As much as we pray for God to provide, we also pray that God wouldn't make us too stable so that we start to take credit for His glory or stop relying on His power and provision.  We have already seen God respond beyond what we have prayed for.  It is very humbling and I'm amazed that God has given us a front row seat to see His glory on display.


A church for the overburdened and overscheduled by changing lives through genuine community, Biblical teaching and authentic worship.
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Charlotte, NC