I was reminded recently that I don’t write as much as I used to. Not sure why, really. Mostly because we are spending time doing life and not writing about it. I was encouraged to write more because people are watching us and are encouraged to live like us, as we attempt to live like Christ. So, I’m going to try and make writing a priority again. First topic – my Spiritual Family. Since Louis hasn’t been pastoring a traditional church since his time at New Hanover, people have wondered where we have attended church.
Following 2 knee replacements and 1 hip replacement in 2013, in February 2014 – Louis, a few other friends, and I gathered to talk about what it would look like to start gathering weekly as an Acts 2 expression of the church, where are not simply going to church and reading the Bible. We ARE the church and we DO the Bible.
Acts 2 The Fellowship of the Believers
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
- Divine Truth – Where we are focused UP – our relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit. We are called to love God. The creator of the universe wants a relationship WITH US, and that’s pretty amazing. (vs 42) On Tuesday nights, we study God’s Word together – where everyone can offer what God says to them through the scripture. We rarely have traditional sermons. (vs 42 – they didn’t have Bibles back then, so they learned from Apostle’s teaching). Throughout the week, we are reading and discussing the Word with one another as we get together outside of Tuesday nights. Each Tuesday and the rest of the week, we are in prayer for and with one another and our neighborhood and city.
- Nurturing Relationships – Where we are focused on being IN relationship with others. We are called to love our neighbor as ourselves. So, we focus on building relationship with one another…encouraging and loving in a familial kind of way. On Tuesday nights, we gather around the table to eat, laugh, eat, talk and eat, but also sharing life throughout the rest of the week – in person, via text, phone calls, etc. – (vs 46). We have traveled with one as he spent 4 months in jail and welcomed his mom and family into ours. We have cried together as family members have passed away and diagnosed with cancer, dementia, and more. We remind one another of the TRUTH and not the lies of the deceiver. We have celebrated marriages, new jobs, and new schools together. We like to party! We sent one to the military and another one on the road for a job. We have pooled our resources to repair homes, yards and cars. We have found new homes for washers, dryers and more! They will know we are followers of Jesus by our love for one another.
- Apostolic Mission – Where we are focused on going OUT into the community in our everyday walk around lives. We aren’t meant to be in a holy huddle sequestered away from everyone else. But, called to be in, but not of the world. Sometimes we do this as a group – like at our annual Memorial Day cookout or last year’s National Night Out in Highland Park where we set up a prayer tent. Today, it happened to be with my friend Karen who lives a few blocks away. We ate lunch at a new restaurant on Brookland Park Boulevard getting to know the owner and other employees. We bought and moved a piece of furniture from another neighbor who is moving because his wife had just died of cancer. We encouraged him and prayed for him. I got to meet 2 of her neighbors – 2 young men who said they wanted to come Tuesday night. Karen used her arboring skills to teach me how to trim a bradford pear tree beside the house. And the evening ended with passing on 5 white polo shirts to a neighbor who is starting a new job tomorrow. (Special thanks to friends who lovingly donated them!!!) So, as you can see… this isn’t a project or a specific thing we did. It was in the everyday rhythms of life that we were OUT and about looking for opportunities to love and serve. People aren’t projects. No one wants to be someone’s project. We just love people where they are.
- Beyond – Prepare and Equip – We spend our time preparing and equipping others to live a life following Jesus on His mission, who will then prepare and equip others to do the same. We aren’t meant to do life alone, but are meant to do so with others BEYOND ourselves.
The last couple of days, Louis and I have been in Houston, Texas enjoying a lovely visit with my sister and her family. Tomorrow, we leave for Austin, where we will remain until Saturday. Austin, you say? Yes…Austin. We are attending the Verge 2012 Conference.
2 years ago, Louis and I stumbled upon the Verge Conference on their first year. Although I was soon to be unemployed, we found the resources to attend….and I am so glad that we did! Last year The Verge Network joined with Exponential – the largest church planting conference ever – and this year we are back in Austin. I am thankful for some generous people who have given to us – providing us the opportunity to attend, allowing us to be better prepared (and encouraged) for the work we do each and every day in Southern Barton Heights, in Richmond, VA. I love the ‘church’ – flaws and all. Admittedly, I love the people more than I do the actual building and institution. But, I sometimes feel like a fish out of water in a typical Sunday morning worship church. I often leave thinking…is this it?
2 years ago, while attending Verge 2010, I got it. I had found my people group, my tribe. People who strive to live out God’s mission EVERY day…at work, at home, at the PTA, gym, soccer field, and coffee shop, and every where else their everyday, walk-around, work-going, weekend-loving lives take them….not just on Sunday mornings, Wednesday nights, and on missions trips. Every day is viewed as a missions trip.
I wish you…every one of you…could attend. Although it is sold out and located in Austin, you do have an opp to attend the Main Sessions on Wednesday and Thursday, at least, through a simulcast. Check it out and sign up here. You will hear from folks like Dr. John Perkins, Bob Lupton, Alan Hirsch, Neil Cole, Dave Ferguson, Mike Breen, Jen Hatmaker, David Platt and Matt Carter. Let me know if you do! Would love to hear your thoughts and comments.
So, I bit off more than I could chew! I have every intention of picking back up on the Neighbor series, but it’s just going to take me a little longer. If you are interested in reading the first 8-9 posts, you can find the series here: Neighbor. In our family, we have had 7 surgeries in the last 2 months, including 4 for Louis and 1 for me. In addition, Louis and I had 3 funerals in about 8 days. Another friend in the hospital, gracefully living the last days of her life (I HATE CANCER!!!) and another friend who continues the diabetes battle. Sometimes, we just gotta stop everything else…and love on our family and friends…and ourselves. That’s where we are right now. God’s got it…I know He does. So, the blog is on the back burner right now, while I focus on what’s really important to me…my family and friends.
Many of my neighborhood kids have moved…so Kid’s Missional Community has been placed on hold until I get back in the community more. Although our Thursday night Missional Community gathering is still happening…every week at 6pm. We haven’t stopped that. No way! 🙂 I love them…with all my heart! Can’t imagine life without them!
Will be back soon! Promise.
Some of you have asked….what is a Missional Community and what do you do?
Every Thursday at 6pm, a group of us (mainly from the Northside of RVA) get together in our home. What do we do? We fellowship (which basically means talk and eat great food together), We study God’s Word (also known as the Bible) and pray (talk to God). We live out God’s mission together (which means we encourage each other to love God more and to love our neighbors) in our everyday lives in our community, at work, at the gym, at the barber shop….wherever we spend our day. It isn’t project based. It’s just life.
Weekly, we also have Kids Missional Community, where we do the same thing, but for neighborhood kids.
I recently found this video online and thot I would share it because it describes beautifully what we are doing. This is the way we roll….in Southern Barton Heights and beyond. If you want to be a part or learn more, feel free to contact me!