Posts Tagged ‘ Wildwind ’

DWELLINGS DAY ONE

Yesterday was the big day! As I said during our first service yesterday, we didn’t become a church yesterday when we held our first public gathering. We became a church back in January when a group of people began to come together to follow God into the unknown to learn to love and serve the people around us in Flint, Michigan. The church is a people after all, right? Well, yesterday was significant because we gathered to enter into a weekly rhythmic of worship. It’s tough to find the words to describe something that is so meaningful. Especially when this something that you are trying to explain has been a dream that has been in the works for nearly 10 years. But I’ll try…

The one word that keeps coming to mind when I think about how our first service went is comfortable. From set up to tear down everything felt very natural. I didn’t feel the need to make anything happen. It didn’t seem hard. There was an excitement in the air because new things are, well, exciting, but I think  comfortable sums it up nicely.

Set Up and Music

When we showed up at 8a.m. in the morning to get everything set up everyone who was there chipped in without a ton of direction and just did what needed to be done. With the help of the Flint Local 432’s regular sound guy, Tim, the band got set up and was ready to go within 20 minutes. We decided last minute to project the words of the songs we were singing for worship (and the PowerPoint that went along with the sermon) on the wall to the left of the stage instead of on the giant screen that would have came down in front of the stage and obscured the players from the shoulders up. It was a last minute decision that didn’t occur to us at rehearsal a couple days earlier but when we showed up in the morning it was pretty obvious that it would be a great solution. I think the result was fantastic. First, it allowed the musicians who wanted to stand to stand without worrying about being cut in half by the screen. Secondly, and I think most importantly, the screen being off to the side changed the focal point of the people in the congregation. Folks looked toward the screen and I think it made it easier to focus on the words in order to collect ourselves in worship.

After we set up the band, we quickly put the chairs and tables in place and did a run through of the set list for the service. This gave our tech person, Sarah, a chance to run the the powerpoint and get her familiar with the songs. After the band wrapped up, another crew of people showed up to get the coffee brewing, set up the kids area, and pass out donuts to the bikers who were in town for the big Bikes on the Bricks festival Downtown.

Coffee

We bought a fancy new airpot brewer to make our coffee so Jay and I had to spend some time making sure we knew how to work  it and where we were going to store it but we managed to get some decent coffee made to offer our people. We have decided to use ceramic mugs and have someone take them home each week to run them through the dishwasher in order to cut down on waste. Lisa and I went to the Salvation Army last week and picked out a bunch of the most random mugs we could find. The mugs were a nice conversation piece for the morning. We joked that instead of having people who come and sit in the same pew week after week we’ll have people that live and die by the coffee mug that they drink from. We’re also working with a local coffee roaster who will be roasting fresh coffee beans for us each week so we will be supporting a local business and have great coffee to share with our people.

Kids

Since the space we are meeting in is essential one big room with a couple restrooms attached we are trying to figure out ways to have kids stay with us in the service that allows the adults to focus and participate in the service without having to worry about their children being a disruption. We decided to set up a table and some floor mats up off to one side of the room to give kids an area where they can draw, play with playdough, or do puzzles. A couple parents and Casey, one of our college student, sat down on the mats to play with the kids throughout the service. A few of the bigger kids passed headphones back and forth while watching a movie on a computer. The kids seemed to really enjoy the atmosphere and made themselves quite at home. During the service, the kids were amazing.  For nearly and hour and a half they hung out with us doing their thing. Hopefully they will enjoy themselves as much next week as we continue to explore different ways to engage them in what we are doing as a church. We’re thinking about getting a bunch of tambourines and shakers so they can dance and jam with us during musical worship. Lisa and I saw this done at TheStory in Sarnia and it was awesome to see the kids involved in worship. Besides we don’t currently have a percussionist, so what the heck, right?

Donuts

Since the big Bikes on the Bricks thing was going on Downtown we decided to find away to engage in what was already happening around us. So we ordered 8 dozen donuts from Donna’s Donuts and gave them away to bikers who were setting up for the day. We didn’t do this as a way to have an opportunity to invite them to church but just to tell them thanks for coming to the city. This seemed very organic. As soon as the donuts showed up, a bunch of our people paired up, grabbed some of the kids and went walking around on Saginaw Street passing out donuts. I think everybody had fun and it was a simple way to connect with our neighbors for the day.

The Service

By 10:20a.m. the rest of the folks who were joining us for the service had arrived. People mingled, drinking coffee and chatting until we got started at 10:30. The service was pretty simple. We started with a song and welcomed people to make themselves comfortable while we sang songs together in order to engage in the same activity together as a community and to quiet our hearts to focus on whatever God might have for us. We sang a couple more songs and Carrie came up to read from the Psalms. We played one more song and then Jay gave some brief announcements before moving into the sermon.

We decided that we wanted to invite people to be an active part of the service by asking some questions and giving some time to reflect by writing in community journals. I asked some simple, straightforward questions throughout the service to give the congregation an opportunity to share ideas out loud as we talked about the idea of “following”. We talked about the different ways of coming to know someone or something, different kinds of things people follow in our culture, and what is required of those who want to follow someone or something. People who wished to share simply chimed in with answers. I think this questioning seemed to help people stay engaged in the message. Then, toward the end of the message, I introduced the idea of the community journals. We bought some simple composition notebooks and pens and passed them out to people around the room. I explained that the idea behind the journals was to give people a way to process and wrestle with what we were talking about in a quiet reflective way. I instructed them to keep their entries anonymous and asked them to leave the books at church so they can grow with the community. Sometimes I’ll give specific prompts for people to respond to during our services but other times I won’t mention them at all. But the plan is to make them available week to week to be used however they help the church process; taking notes, writing prayers, drawing pictures, doodling, asking questions, etc. I gave a few prompts and gave folks a 5-7 minutes of quiet to jot down some thoughts. After the journaling, I gave a few closing remarks and closed the service with a video. After the benediction people sprung into action helping us get the space back into shape for the next punk rock show. Tear down was swift and organized. I think having been a part of the set up and tear down crew at Wildwind, our mother church, for so many years really helped the process to go smoothly.

The buzz in the air was thick, at least it was for me. I know that I’ve given a brief record of concrete details here and while that might give people an idea of what we did, it doesn’t really contain the feeling of the experience. It was a great morning. The people that were with us (which included our initial core team, some friends from Wildwind, and a handful of people who wanted to see what we were all about before deciding how/if they wanted to be involved in a more direct way) seemed to be engaged and I’ve since received a lot of positive feed back in the last 36 hours.

Several new people informed me that they would be back! Another person wrote and thanked me for making the experience comfortable for introverts and extroverts alike. And yet another person made a point to tell me how refreshing the service was and how the content has already provided them with opportunities to share some of the ideas they heard at Dwellings with people at their workplace. Good stuff is happening here. Stuff I couldn’t have planned. We’re just gonna show up and see what happens next, listen for what God is up to in our midst, and then show up again the next week…and the week after that…and the week after that. So good? Maybe you can join us sometime.

If you are interested in hearing my sermon (lo-fi) from Sunday you can do so here: http://www.dwellingsflint.com/sermons/follow-me/

Thanks for sharing in our story. Blessings.

 

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WHAT TO DO IN THE IN-BETWEEN TIMES

This is a note I wrote to the people who are joining us in the church planting adventure that is Dwellings Church. Though this list fairly specific to those in our community, I thought there might be some helpful ideas here for others, too.

Here we are in the in-between times. I’ve heard from some of the Dwellings folks that they weren’t sure what to do in the time between when Lisa and I finished up at Wildwind and a month or so down the road when we begin meeting on Sundays for worship with Dwellings.

Here are some ideas to help with the transition, some of which our family will be doing, too:

1. Rest. Take a Sunday off and sleep in. God gave us the Sabbath to remember that we aren’t machines. Somebody said (maybe it was Rob Bell, or somebody like that), “We are human beings, not just human doings” See what I did there?

2. Visit another church to see how others experience the community of faith. We’ll be visiting some friend’s churches to share about Dwellings and see how others do it. We’d love to head back to TheStory.CA in Sarnia (the church Darryl helped start) and a church called Praxis way up north. Some of what they are doing really resonates with us so we’d like to connect with some kindred spirits. Maybe you can join us. We’ll keep you posted. Otherwise, visit your parent’s church, or a church in your neighborhood. We’re all family so go visiting and ask for open eyes to love and serve and listen for what God is up to.

3. Invite someone else you might not know that well who is a part of Dwellings over for breakfast on Sunday. This can be church, too. Just hang out and get to know the people of our community in a different way than a larger group setting. Remember, the church is a people, not just a service.

4. Do a service project with your family. Is there a need you can meet by spending a few hours together on a Sunday? Connect with the people and the needs around you by giving some of your time, talents, or resources.

5. Consider our Wednesday night gatherings as “church”. Show up. Be present. Worship in community as we learn to listen and dream the dreams God has for our church. Again, church is wherever God’s people are.

6. Go to Wildwind. It’s okay, we love these people. Spend some time with them. They are our family, too. We would, recommend however, to take some time doing something different to ease into our new rhythm of life. I imagine that Dwellings will feel very different on Sunday than being at Wildwind. The change might not feel so abrupt if you take some time away.

7. Spend your Sunday at a coffee shop or going around to garage sales. Notice that for many Sunday morning worship is irrelevant and dated. Listen to the lives of others and try to spot how God is working outside the walls of the church.

8. Seek God in nature. Go for a hike or a bike ride. Spend some time in quiet. Listen God’s still small voice…remember, he is still there even if, especially if, we aren’t busy!

9. Engage in worship on your own or with your family. Read the scriptures together. Write a poem about God’s love. Write a story about God activity in your life.  Do something creative. God is the Creator and we are ‘created in his image’….don’t be afraid. Don’t seek perfection, just do something out of your comfort zone to connect with God.

10. Come up with your own idea. I hope my ideas are just a little spark to get you thinking about being the church over the next month. Grace and peace is the key. No guilt. Just step into the stream of God’s love and see where it leads you. And then come share your stories! We can learn a lot from each other, that is the beauty of community.

I love you guys. I can’t wait to see who we become and how God will use us in Flint. Let’s be open to new adventures and encounters with God in places where we least expect it!

A YOUNG REBEL JESUS, PART THREE

Click on the picture to listen to audio message.

The following is part three of a message given at Wildwind Community Church on January 29th, 2012.

Over the last couple months, I have been trying to figure out how to articulate the vision for our new church. And even with all of the unknowns involved in taking on an adventure like this, I think I’ve honed in on three things that will help to explain the kind of church we want to be.

But before I begin to explain these three things please know that our goal is not to do church better or more imaginative than Wildwind or other churches out there. A lot of the heart behind our church is to pass on much of “the Wildwind way”. It’s just that we feel called to do that in another context; the place where we live our lives.

Keeping that in mind, I want to share three ideas that will help to focus our efforts. What are those three things? We want to be a missional church, an incarnational church, and a discipling church. Let me unpack these a little.

Being a missional church means that we want to serve those who are not currently served by a church. We don’t simply want to gather a bunch of folks from other churches. We want to build a faith community of people who are not yet connected to a church. To me this is very similar to what Wildwind has done in being a church for people who don’t like church. Of course, we hope to have a core team of people that are passionate and committed to helping bring this expression of church into existence but Lisa and I have been talking a lot about the idea that we want to be missionaries to our own community. To us, this is what it means to be a missional church.

Being an incarnational church comes from the example of how Jesus came to dwell among us, where we live.

John 1:14 (NIV)
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

The Message translation says, “the Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.” Here the Word refers to Jesus; the already-present-in-this-world, God-with-us Jesus. God moved into the neighborhood.

Being an incarnational church means being present to what God is already doing where we live. It means being a presence in my community. I live near Downtown in the College Cultural Neighborhood where is a renewed sense that the people who live where I live love their city and want to be involved in helping the city to thrive again. I believe that this is God at work. Lisa and I are seeing God at work in our own backyard and we want to be a part of that.

Being an incarnational church also means entering into the culture around us. There is a rich culture of art, music, creativity, and diversity in and around Downtown. It’s this sense of culture springing up in a place considered to be ugly and broken that initially made me fall in love with Flint. But we don’t simply want to consume this culture. We want to help contribute to the culture, creating culture and engaging in meaningful conversations pointing out those things that are good and beautiful and true that we believe ultimately come from God.

Being an incarnational church means listening to others in our neighborhood and helping connect their stories with God’s story. And it’s this connecting to God’s story that leads us to want to be a discipling church.

Being a discipling church is about helping the people we come into contact with to become more like Jesus in every area of their lives. It’s about helping people  learn the rhythms of life that Jesus lived. It’s about practicing a way of life that leads to hope and wholeness and peace and love and security in the arms of God.

There are people out there, who are a lot like the me I used to be, that are unfortunately, never going to walk through the doors of Wildwind Community Church.  I believe there are people out there who have something of their own “A Young Rebel Jesus” popping up in their lives, trying to get their attention, trying to give them a new picture of who Jesus is.

Paula D’Arcy said “God comes to you disguised as your life.” He did for me. He came disguised as a campy velvet-Jesus painting. And in conversations with friends over coffee. And in music. And in a beautiful woman who didn’t give up on me. And in a faithful couple who made some amazing sacrifices to build the kind of church that I’d want to be a part of. And in a community of people who have encouraged me to develop my gifts and gave me their blessing to follow my dream. As God has continued to show up in my life I can see where he wants me to go next and I am starting to see how he wants to use all of the experiences of my past for shaping my future.

But I have been talking a lot about me and my dream for this new church. And if it sounds like something you are interested in hearing more about I’d be glad to talk with you about it more in the coming months. But I don’t want this to be all about me. I hope that my story can help you look back on your own life and help you identify those places where God has been at work.

I hope that in the next few moments in worship, and even in the coming days and weeks, you will ask yourself the question “Based on where I’ve been and how God has been working in my life, where is he leading me next?” What are the key experiences that have shaped your life? How have they held you back? How are they urging you forward? What have these past experiences taught you about who you are? How has God been coming to you disguised as your life? If you don’t know where to look, grab on to whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable and start there. I hope that when you dig around a little, you’ll find that in your own story you can figure out a little bit about what God is up to.

A YOUNG REBEL JESUS, PART TWO

Click on the picture to listen to audio message.

The following is part two of a message given at Wildwind Community Church on January 29th, 2012.

Our new family and my relationship with Christ were beginning to blossom. I had a desire to continue figuring out where this rebel Jesus was going to lead us next. I remember being struck by reading the story of Jesus sharing a meal with his friends, but it wasn’t so much them sharing a meal together that struck me, but what happened afterwards.

John 13:4-5 (NIV)
4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.
5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

To me, this is such a beautiful picture of who Jesus is. The king of the universe who was given all authority in heaven and earth humbled himself, not only to live among us everyday people, but to serve us. The way he lived his life was in tune with the words that he spoke. The conversations he had with people lead them to reflection and invited them to participate in living the kind of life that he lived.

John 13:12-17 (NIV)
12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them.
13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.
14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.
15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.
16 I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.
17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

This picture of Jesus as a servant became the picture I wanted to model my own life after. So Lisa and I began getting involved in ministries that were meaningful to us. My first ministry was putting away the folding chairs in the gym at Brendle Elementary in Grand Blanc where Wildwind was meeting at the time. Then, I started occasionally filling in on bass when Aaron wasn’t around.

Lisa and I got involved in Young Life, a ministry that is focused on building relationships with teenagers and sharing the message of Jesus with them. The first time I met Lisa’s family, I was in high school. Lisa invited me to a Young Life meeting at their house. At the time I still didn’t get the whole Jesus thing but I loved being around such nice people. We have always seen Young Life as an important part of our journey so we became leaders at their Grand Blanc club as our first ministry together.

On one occasion, I got to take a group of students to a camp in the mountains of Virginia and found myself keeping up with the superstar high school football players all week even though I was super out of shape at the time. I walked away from that trip with the sense that I was supposed to spend the rest of my life sharing God’s love with people.

Before long, I had left my band and quit my job and was headed back to school full-time to pursue my calling to ministry. Dave gave me the opportunity to take over the teen ministry at Wildwind, where I got to volunteer as the Student Ministry Coordinator for 3 years before coming on staff in 2009.

Early on, I remember Dave sharing his dream that Wildwind would be a church that planted other churches and it instantly resonated with me. So I had some bits and pieces of a dream to plant my own church floating around but I didn’t think it made a lot of sense for me to jump into so early, never having been a part of a church before, let alone work in one. My time at Wildwind has been beautiful. Working alongside Dave and the various folks who have served on the Leadership Team over the years, leading the youth ministry and small groups, coordinating service events, and getting to know so many awesome people, has been one of the best experiences of my life.

But all along, I had this sense that being at Wildwind wasn’t the end of the line for me. The dream of starting a church was continuing to grow. I kept thinking about this idea that early on, I felt like Wildwind was created specifically for me. What I mean is that Wildwind began at a specific time, in a specific place, with a specific group of people that connected with me at the right time in my life. If it wasn’t for Dave and Christy and that team of 30 people who stepped out to follow where God was leading, I would be a very different person than I am today. I’m sure that’s probably true for a lot of you guys, too.

The more I have gotten to think about that idea, that Wildwind was created just for me, just for us, I couldn’t help but think about those people in my life, in my neighborhood, that don’t have “their” church yet,  and I wondered if maybe, just maybe, they don’t have their church yet, because it doesn’t yet exist.

So here we are, preparing to create a new expression of church that is seeking to connect with people who might not have a sense that God is already working in their lives.

Looking back, I can see how my life has been splattered by encounters with God through art, music, coffee, relationships, and service. All of these encounters were not always as clear as the fluorescent pink and orange of “A Young Rebel Jesus” but they were all significant steps in my journey towards God. All of these themes are shaping where we are headed with our church plant.

READ PART THREE HERE!

A YOUNG REBEL JESUS, PART ONE

Click on the picture to listen to audio message.

The following is the text of a message given at Wildwind Community Church on January 29th, 2012.

In my teenage years, I often found myself walking through the doors at 432 South Saginaw Street in downtown Flint. I was drawn to this particular location because of the sense of community I found there. The Flint Local 432 was an all-ages concert venue space that specialized in punk rock. Everyone was welcome, but you didn’t often find just “anybody” within the walls of the club. The people that frequented the Flint Local 432 were different. They were people like me. Most people I met within those walls had feelings that they didn’t fit in with the status quo. In my school, I lived on the margins. I showed up and did as little as possible to pass my classes. At this time, I was only interested in my education to the extent that it allowed me the freedom to pursue my passion.

My passion was music. I wasn’t interested in music as it was written on a page, but the kind that poured out from the heart. I did my school work all week because I wanted to be able to go see a show at the club on the weekend. This community that surrounded the Local, or the 432, as it came to be known, provided me an opportunity to express myself in my own way while learning different ideas that spoke to subjects that I was interested in. As the 432 relocated several times throughout my involvement, one thread remained that always made it feel like home. While different people and bands came and went I could always count on “A Young Rebel Jesus” to be there.

“A Young Rebel Jesus” was a Velvet Elvis-style, color-by-number painting of Jesus kneeling by a stone and praying. It was very similar to this painting that Lisa and I picked up at a thrift store a while back.

Pretty classy, right? This painting would have fit nicely in a traditional Christian home in the 60’s or 70’s. I think we paid about seven dollars for this because it reminded us of “A Young Rebel Jesus”. Now, while this painting is similar, it’s not quite the same as the painting that hung at the Local that had been adapted by a local tattoo artist. The painting was transformed when this artist added a neon mohawk to Jesus and painted a daisy into Jesus’ praying hands. The title, “A Young Rebel Jesus” was scrawled across the bottom of the portrait in fluorescent orange.

To many people this piece of artwork might have been considered a sacrilege but to me it was something special. Observing this painting week after week cemented Jesus in the forefront of my mind. For me, religion and authority were not topics I was that fond of, but this picture of Jesus gave me something to chew on. Maybe Jesus was different than I thought he was. Maybe Jesus was more than the authoritarian that I had conceived in my mind. At the time I was a lot more comfortable asking the questions than I was with the hard work of seeking answers to those questions. When I look back, I see this unique artist’s rendition of Jesus as a metaphor for my spiritual journey. The painting kept showing up in my adolescent life. The painting was a presence that seemed to follow me around asking questions that were stirring in the depths of my soul. In the same way, I can see how God continued to show up in my life over time. This thread of consistency had put me on a journey that I wasn’t always aware of.

Although “A Young Rebel Jesus” is a prominent touchstone in my spiritual journey, it is not the beginning of my story. My story begins with my family. My parents did not stress religion or spirituality as a key value in our family. I remember going to church a few times as a child. I believe that my attendance was a result of my mother’s longing for community that didn’t stick. My family went to church for a few weeks, just long enough for me to start getting comfortable with the other kids and getting a chance to perform in the Christmas play, and then we stopped going. No explanation was given by my parents as to why we weren’t going anymore. We just quit. I didn’t think too much about it. I guess I considered it similar to playing little league. It was something that you do for a season and then it’s over. So during this time, a seed of the idea of God was planted but was left to wither out in the field as we moved on to whatever was next for our family.

As I grew older, I got involved in the music scene. The community offered in this involvement fulfilled the desire of my heart. I wanted to be in relationships with people who liked me for who I was. As it turns out, the punk rock scene was not the only place to find people who extended unconditional acceptance. There was a group of students in my high school who were strangely polite and interested in me for me. Something was different about these kids. Now I can see that it was their relationship with Jesus Christ and His presence in their lives that made the difference, but I wasn’t interested in that just yet. They offered me caring community and I welcomed it.

Several of these friends showed up in my life in the places where I least expected it. I remember a time when my friend Lisa came home from college and invited me out for coffee. I had dated Lisa in high school but things fizzled as she sought the freedom that senior year brings. Although she dissolved our relationship, I didn’t walk away empty-handed. Over the course of the three months that we dated I had gotten to know her younger brother, David. He liked punk rock, too. After I was dumped, the only question I asked Lisa was if I could still be friends with her brother. So David and I started a band. I became a regular at their house; having band practice, listening to music, and skateboarding in their driveway.

Lisa and David grew up in a solid Christian home. They really seemed to take ownership for their faith and this was encouraging to me. I thought that if David could go to church and still like punk rock, maybe there was some hope for these “Christians” after all. After high school ended, I continued to play music with David, and Lisa went off to a Christian college in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

One weekend, when Lisa was home from college, she came down to the basement, just as band practice was finishing up. She invited me out to have a cup of coffee and catch up. Surprised, I accepted her invitation.

That night, at Colonial Coney Island, we went deep into our seemingly bottomless mugs of cheap, burnt coffee. I knew that she was a Christian and I had questions. I was testing the water. I wanted to see her reaction to my ignorance about God. She did react, but not how I expected. I asked questions and she answered them with more questions. She wasn’t judging me. She was trying to get me to think. She was trying to understand what was going on in my spirit and how she could serve me best. I’ll never forget her patience and kindness during our weekend tours of Flint’s finest greasy-spoons. For the next few years, she kept popping up in my life and helped me to keep the thoughts of God floating around in my mind.

Lisa was a great companion on my spiritual journey, but I had one problem. I wasn’t sure if I was seeking to know about God or if I was trying to impress a girl. Now I can see that if I was really trying to impress a girl I would have considered finding her a better cup of coffee. My friend Aaron provided clarity. He was that kid in high school that everyone thought was stoned most of the time since he was so laid back. I could see behind his squinted eyes and bed-messed hair that he was a person of character. He was the kind of friend most people only hope for. He often went out of his way to spend time with me. Before the time that cell phones became fashion accessories, he would drive out to my parent’s house in Davison, talk to my mom, discover that I was somewhere in downtown Flint playing with my band, find the bar, and show up just in time to see my strap on my guitar and strike the first chord. Coffee would always follow. This was our routine three of four times a year.

Our discussions often ended up on the subject of God. With all of this coffee and God-talk, it sometimes felt like I was cheating on Lisa, but I understood that God was trying to get my attention. Aaron had met God a few years earlier at Young Life camp. When we talked about God, he shared ideas that were different than I had ever heard before. The idea that God doesn’t care about how people dress, and that he is more concerned with relationships than rules, were new concepts to me. The questions that were brought about by the velvet Jesus painting were being validated. This Jesus character seemed to be something more than what I thought he was. It seemed to me that my coffee talks with Lisa and Aaron were leading me to a new place. When Aaron told me about a church that he was helping to start, I thought that maybe it was the place that I was supposed to be heading.

When I walked through the doors of Wildwind Community Churchfor the first time, I was met with the same sense of welcoming community that I experienced at the Flint Local 432. Wildwind was a place where my questions were welcomed and encouraged. I had stepped into a new community that wanted me to feel safe while seeking to know and understand God.

By this time, Lisa had moved to Chicago for a teaching job so I knew I wasn’t attending church for a girl. We kept in touch and she was excited for me. We e-mailed often about what I was learning at church. I remember when I told her that I had committed my life to Christ. I shared about the Old Testament Bible prophecies that were fulfilled in the life of Jesus. I told her that Jesus’ death and resurrection finally made sense to me. I told her I knew that God had plans for me and that I was headed in a new direction to find out what those plans were. My joy became her joy, and a year later she became my wife.

READ PART TWO HERE!

AN INVITATION INTO MY STORY

A while back, I announced that my wife and I would be heading out to plant a new church. I’ve been a little quiet on the subject, waiting to get through the holidays before making the unfolding story more public.

 

I’ve spent the time thinking , writing, and dreaming.

One of the things I’ve found is that it’s not the easiest think to distill my thoughts and experiences into sound bytes to help people understand what we are all about. I’d say that it’s really an impossible task. I’ve decided to think of the story of our new church, as just that; a story.

A story is often divided into smaller parts, like chapters in a book. And I think that there’s not a whole lot better stuff in our world than watching a great story unfold (aside from being part of a great story yourself) as the setting is established and the characters are built one page at a time, leading through conflict to climax, and finally resolution.

So I’d like to give you an open invitation to join me in seeing how this particular story unfolds.

This Sunday, January 29th, 2012, I will be speaking at Wildwind Community Church. I have been given the opprotunity to share my story and talk about some of the key themes in my life that have been leading me on this new adventure. You’ve read the introduction already, so consider this Chapter 1.

The service begins at 10:00a.m. at 6020 Corunna Rd. in Flint Township.

If you are considering joining us in this adventure or are simply curious to hear more about what we are going to be doing, I would love to have you join us.  (If you can’t make it, don’t worry. The audio will be available here later in the week.)

P.S. This is my 100th post on The Green Couch. That feels like a neat milestone to me so, WOO HOO!

 

 

 

SUMMER REFLECTIONS: THE LAST THREE MONTHS

So, here we are. It’s been a while since I’ve spent much time on The Green Couch. I’ve missed it, that’s for sure. Initially, I always think of Summer as a time where life slows down and the squares on my calendar open up but this is not usually the case. But rather than complain that Summer is almost over, and talk about how it flew by, or rather than making excuses about why I haven’t kept up with this blog,  I’ll just take some time to share what I’ve been up to. I think we can get glimpses of God’s grace in our ability to pick up where we left off. Thanks for joining me as I relfect on the events of the last 3 months.

Family

When you have a 2-year-old, life is always fun! This Summer has been a time of watching my baby turn into a little girl! There nothing that makes me happier than listening to her tell stories, speak in complete sentences, and sing the Doxology at bedtime. We’ve been camping, on picnics, watched “big-girl” movies, flew to Florida, and played games. Life with my girls, Lisa and Claire, is pretty amazing. I’m so thankful for the blessings God has given me!

Board Games

I am pleased to announce that the board game I designed, Over The Road, is being published by Cambridge Games Factory! Cambridge Games Factory is a small publisher that focuses on helping new designers get their first games into print as well as working with more seasoned designers (they’ve recently announced 2 games from Dr. Reiner Knizia). They have published an eclectic line-up with games ranging from a family card game to a zombie survival game to a highly strategic gamer’s game. Their games have won awards and accolades from Boardgamegeek.com and Games Magazine and have recently been getting a lot of attention with news of a new version of their hit game “Glory To Rome”. Glory to Rome is the game the put CGF on the map (it in the Top 100 on BGG) and it’s being given the royal treatment with a new Black Box edition that has been funded by fans through Kickstarter. I traveled to Ohio for Origins Game Fair to spend some time teaching their games and getting to know some of their crew. I couldn’t be more please to work with them for my first game. It looks like it will be released sometime in 2012. In the meantime, I’ve begun working on a few new game ideas.

Education

As you may know, I serve as the Associate Pastor at Wildwind Community Church. I graduated from Spring Arbor University in 2010 with a degree in Family Life Education. I am currently finishing up course work on the road towards ordination in the Free Methodist Church. While my degree from SAU has helped me develop helping skills my coursework with the Free Methodist Church is continuing to development as a minister. I’ve spent much of this Summer learning about the theology of John Wesley and studying the book of Acts. This Fall and Winter, I will take 3 more classes to finish my requirements.

Running

My wife and I have also been busy training to run the Crim. The Crim is one of our city’s biggest events, a 10-mile road race through the streets of Flint, Michigan. We started a running group at our church and have met on a weekly basis to prepare for the big day (THIS SATURDAY!) I’m not fast but it’s better than sitting in front of the television all the time.

Music

I used to play in punk rock bands and loved all of the stuff involved with keeping things moving forward. I booked shows, made fliers, set up rehearsals and studio time, and all the other behind-the-scenes stuff that keeps musicians busy. When I decided to follow my heart into full-time ministry I left my band and left behind the packed, weekend performance schedule. I always knew I would be involved in music again but I wasn’t sure what form it would take. I have played in the worship band at church and have written, recorded, and performed some songs acoustically, to mention a couple of my latest outlets for musical expression.  But my latest project is one that I am extremely proud of. I have taken on the task of booking and advising Kelsey Rottiers and The Rising Tide. Kelsey is a long time family friends and we both agreed that her talent and my experience with booking, marketing, and promotion could make a match. I’ve been helping Kelsey book shows all over Michigan in support of her new album (which you can get for free at NoiseTrade.com). Kelsey (and Derek) have been great to work with as their talent and passion not only shines in their music but also in who they are as people.

Dreaming

Lisa and I have been dreaming about our future a lot lately. We want to always be grateful for the present while looking toward whatever God has for us next. Whether its thinking about expanding our family, serving our community or playing the “would it be cool if…” game we love drinking in the possibility that is all around us. Dreaming keeps us alert and energizes us. We’re looking forward to whatever the journey ahead holds for us.

So what about you? What’s kept you busy this Summer?

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