I recently attended a parenting workshop where I do a bible study and the focus was on how to accept and parent the personality differences that God uniquely designed each person to have. This resonated with me because I think we tend to respond to personality clashes by trying to change others or avoid them entirely, instead of considering how the unique strengths and weaknesses of each individual are used by God in the circumstances and situations of life.
The theory I learned at this workshop has helped me with my perspective on my family, but also I think this is useful to apply to starting a church. As we come together as a new community, we want to help people identify who they are and how God can use them. And, a necessary component of genuine community is conflict-both it’s mere presence and the resolution of it-because we grow through it.
In this journey already, I’ve seen God bring together among our group natural leaders, quiet observers, visionaries, encouragers, relationship-oriented people, and those more detail-focused. I see God providing for our needs before we even know we have them. It’s beautiful.
Wes and I have questioned ourselves at different points wondering whether we are qualified or suited for this calling God’s given us. In reality, our qualifications are not what matter, but rather our obedience. Each of us face a daily choice of whether we will respond to God’s leading in obedience or avoidance. Whether you’re considering joining us on this journey or whether you find yourself on a different journey in your life, consider the unique way that God has gifted you.
Then, consider how you can put your gifts to good use. As we help to build this community, we are not looking for a certain skill set or personality type. Instead, we are simply looking for those who feel led to join us. As I consider my recently improved perspective on my children, I see now that the very child who wears me out with his energy and liveliness is the same one who keeps our structured home fun. Likewise, another child who can be demanding and precise is also one who is great at helping to clean up and sees tasks and projects through to completion.
As I’ve seen the way God has intentionally placed the people in my home because of what they bring to the entire family team, I’m eager to learn more about who God has brought and will continue to bring into our church team with the same intentionality.
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Nothing says “Merry Christmas” like a passage from Ecclesiastes. But I have been reflecting on this book for the past month in my devotions, and do think this section is relevant to our celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.
The first two verses tell us about a man without a brother or a son. He is all alone. And after toiling and laboring; working hard and living large, he begins to wonder, “Why”
Solomon then compares this lonely man, with a man who has a partner. A friend who can help each other through difficult times.
However, it is the very last part of verse 12 that tells us why Christmas matters. “a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
While we may circle up with friends and family, and find the companion of another. It is when we wrap ourselves with this third cord–Jesus Christ–that we not only survive, but become strong.
How might you be strengthened this Christmas? How can this holiday go deeper than time off from work, and time with family?
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:
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).
Last month we held the first official gathering of the Trailblazers at my new favorite place–The Lodge on Carmel and Rea Road. In typical fashion, I snuck out of the house way early and found myself waiting at the bar for the rest–if any–of the Trailblazers to arrive.