I’ve come to the front porch to write and to escape the billowing smoke from the fire pit. The Man’s tending the last few flames with the handful of boys still circled up around him and the girls are swinging from every bar on the tree house. The 18 wild ones who came for “a story about Jesus” ate 48 donuts in 30 minutes and 1 boy said that this was his best thing of the week.
His words made my heart well up in the best kind of way and I let my eyes meet the Man’s. He smiled at me because we were both thinking the same thing.
We’re going to be okay.
Y’all, it’s been a roll coaster of a week. Emotions have run the gambit, from despair to audacious hope and back down to confusion and sadness. We’re 19 days into this series of marriage and church planting and although I’ve been committed to this, things are tough round these parts. This is just the nature of planting a church.
I began this series with all 31 days planned. Each day was designed to set up the next day, all the days moving towards a grand finale something much like the scene in Braveheart where William Wallace cries FREEDOM! as he is being murdered.
Seriously. That was the plan.
But 15 days ago, I trashed the whole plan and went rogue.
I scratched the plan and reverted back to what I do best: Write exactly the story God is writing, right as it is happening.
For two days now, I’ve been feeling the need to wrap up my 31 days early. I thought I could write through the dark parts and end on day 31 with the whole truth, but y’all I can’t.
I can’t write through this dark part because the writing is not giving space for some much needed heart healing. And my heart is not the only one in need of healing.
Our entire church needs time to heal.
In the earliest parts of 2011, while living in Dallas, TX, we began to pray that Jesus would burden our hearts for a people and a place. And in the summer of 2011, He answered that request with one place and one people: Rocky Mount, North Carolina.
We moved to Rocky Mount in December of 2011 with only one direct mission from Jesus: Love the city of Rocky Mount and make much of My name.
And today, we still have only one direct mission from Jesus: Love the city of Rocky Mount and make much of My name.
The Man and I have spent the better part of the last 12 months, wrestling through our call here. We have prayed and sought council and read more books than we can even count. We have spun plates and moved our congregation and done all the things we felt Jesus wanted us to do to serve His church and make much of His name here.
We had people filling chairs and carrying out the tasks of our church. We had people showing up early and staying late. We had people writing checks and loving on our community.
But we did not have spiritually mature co-elders laboring with us.
As a result, our enemy has sown seeds of distrust to such a degree that makes leadership, without spiritually mature co-elders, impossible.
Our hope, for our family, is that we would be renewed in Christ and given clear marching orders as to how we are to fulfill our one clear directive from Jesus: Love the city of Rocky Mount and make much of Him.
My desire is that this post not be the end of this conversation about church planting and marriage and all the things that fall in between. The Man and I are still church planters. We plant the Gospel of Jesus all over our city. But our thoughts about what the church must look like are evolving. This weekend, church looked a lot like 18 kids around the campfire eating donuts. Next weekend, it may look like PBJ sandwiches across the picnic table.
But the Church is wherever we are.
And today, we live on Avent street.
Going forward, all neighborhood ministries, including MOPS, will continue in fullness of health. We will still Feed Our Neighbors, and round up the neighborhood for donuts and OJ, and make plans to host the IF:Gathering in the spring. God is doing good things here and we desire to join Him in what He is already about.
And one more thought...I did not know that when I began this series that Fellowship would close its doors this month. But over the last year, the Man and I have become increasingly aware that we were unhealthy. Only recently have we become privy to the severity of the unhealth in our body.
I will continue to write this story as I feel led by Jesus to do so. Writing through the dark is hard and scary. I covet your prayers and I thank you for continuing to love us through this hard part.