Friday, February 26, 2010

Frequently Asked Questions

Since we’ve started letting people in on our plans to move to Fort Collins, we’ve had a ton of questions. So I thought it would be nice to answer some of those questions all at once:

What’s a church plant?
To get a better understanding of the term "church plant", let's think in terms of harvesting a crop (something this suburban girl has never had experience with, but just follow me for a minute). A farmer will plan out when and where they'll plant their crop. The climate and location has to be just right. Then they must tend to it to help it grow. (Notice I didn't say to make it grow.)

We've determined that the climate is right to "plant" a church in Fort Collins now with the goal of building a community of believers. As it grows, we'll be there to help cultivate it. It's up to God, though, to actually stimulate growth.

Fun analogy, huh? I can't take credit for it. I borrowed that one from Jesus.

Oh! So you’re going to build a church, right?
It depends on how you define "church". Our goal is not to go and merely build a building. In fact, it may be a long while, if at all, that we begin thinking of building a building. Actually, we're going to build a community of believers (the Church), meeting most likely at someone's home until the need arises to find a bigger location.

When are you leaving?
Neither of our families have firm dates when we’re leaving. Our goal is to be there before school starts next year, but we're flexible to whatever God may have in store for us - leaving either sooner or later.

Do you have jobs and homes already?
Not yet. We’re planning a trip the second week of March, largely focusing on the home and job hunt. A place to sleep and eat would be nice, right? So that’s big on our list to-do.

Are you guys going through an organization?
We will be considered church planters through the North American Mission Board.

What other questions do you have?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

MOST Of What I Need To Know...

So I once read this little essay titled something like, "All I Ever Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten". I don't remember the name exactly, but most of you probably know what I'm talking about. While this is a cute little essay and it strikes some sort of sentiment that makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside, I can’t say that I learned everything I need to know in kindergarten. I learned that if I tried to kiss the girls, then I would get a note sent home, and I learned that while I had a thing for my teacher, there was just no way it would work out. I was way too mature for her. But the bottom line is, I started first grade with a lot to learn about life.

This adventure that we are getting ready to embark on has gotten me thinking about what exactly led us to this point. And I have been having conversations with a lot of people asking me what in our lives has brought us to a point where we are ready to leave all that we know and move to Colorado?

Hopefully the list below will answer some of those questions. It is a list that pays tribute to all that Colonial Hills Baptist Church has been to the four of us. All of us are products of our environments and we are products of Colonial Hills and the investment that the people there have made in our lives.

“MOST Of What I Need To Know I Learned At Colonial Hills”

1) I learned the value of authenticity.
Robert Carter is the Chuck Norris of pastors. I am convinced that if we could harness the power that is held in his beard, we could solve global warming, end wars and make school lunches not only healthier, but better tasting as well. The greatest attribute of Robert, however, is his authenticity. I have never met a more transparent, real guy in my entire life. It’s because he is so comfortable with himself, and that comes from understanding his true identity. The guy that I see preaching on a Sunday morning is the same guy that I eat lunch with on Mondays and the same guy I heard today doing an Elvis impression for some of the older ladies in the church. Watching him taught me to be comfortable with myself and who God created me to be.

2) I learned how to not get “Calaway’d”

You may not call it “being Calaway’d”. You may call it something very different. But all of us know a “Calaway”. That’s right. He’s that guy or girl that has the magical, mystical ability to convince you to do something you were absolutely positive you didn’t want to do. Our “Calaway” is Jerry Calaway. He is our worship pastor at the church. He’s this great guy and he might be one of the most passionate people I have ever met. That's him in the picture below. The kid on the back was Calaway'd into riding with him.

I’ve known Calaway for 18 years and I learned a while back how to avoid getting “Calaway’d”. It’s really very easy, so be very quiet and listen carefully -- Don’t get caught in a room alone with the man. That’s where he strikes. He catches you off guard, which confuses you and leaves you with your defenses down. And the next thing you know, you’re running a spot light in the Christmas pageant. BAM. You’ve been Calaway’d, sucka.

3) I learned the value of discipleship.

One of the biggest sources of my own spiritual growth has been discipleship. I have been blessed to have people in my life at Colonial Hills who invested in me, mentored me and who have been amazing examples of what spiritual maturity looks like.

4) I learned the value of buying a falcon that has a high self-esteem.

If you don’t go to CHBC, I apologize because that makes no sense to you. You see, our senior pastor, Robert, is a man among boys. He could simply hunt with a gun like most normal people, but that is too easy. Robert chooses to fly falcons, which in turn do the hunting for him. It’s very fast and graphic and might be one of the most manly things I’ve ever seen someone do.

But lacking the same passion for life that Robert has, most of his birds have killed themselves. I’m convinced it's an issue of self-esteem. Simple lesson. Buy birds of prey with a healthy self-image and they won’t kill themselves the first chance they get. It’s much more economical. If I ever man up enough to own a falcon, this is a lesson to take to heart.

5) I learned what it means to live a missional life.

At our church, missions is a huge priority. That is evident in everything from our local outreach Mission Tyler, to the amount of international mission trips that our church has taken over the past 10 years. My first mission trip was with CHBC to Mexico. My first international trip was to Guatemala. Since then, I’ve been to Russia, England, Scotland, Brazil and all over the United States. This picture is of some of my students at the summit of an active volcano on our day off in Guatemala. Being missional is about being an adventurer. Living life boldly. Colonial Hills encourages me to live a missional life because that is what God created me to do. I know that God wants to use me as a means to reveal his truth to the rest of the world. At CHBC, missions isn’t something that is just talked about, it is something that we do.

6) I learned the value of having a church staff that loves each other.

Contrary to popular belief, church staffs do not operate in some sort of utopian state where they all get along all of the time and everything is perfect. Our staff is no exception. We occasionally disagree with each other or sometimes rub each other the wrong way. But I can say that those times are few and far between. All of the pastors on our staff are genuinely great friends. We invest in each other and spend time together. We laugh a lot and joke a lot. We also pray together a lot, we grieve when one of us is hurting, we celebrate when our kid’s soccer team goes to the playoffs. Being a close staff makes a staff that is of one mind and one direction. And that makes a difference in the growth of our church.

7) I learned about God’s grace and what it means to live the Christ life.

Nowhere else have I ever heard a purer, more simple presentation of the gospel than at Colonial Hills. I have learned what it means to be covered by God’s grace and how that effects the way that I live my life. I have learned what freedom truly is and that the abundant life begins now. I learned that because of my identity in Christ, He has set up shop in my life and desires to live his life in me and through me. This takes a great weight off of my shoulders when I realize that living successfully for the cause of Christ has nothing to do with my own performance and everything to do with His power working in me.

But notice that I put the word “MOST” at the beginning of my list. This isn’t because Colonial Hills failed at its job. It isn’t because there were some things that it didn’t do for me. I use the word “most” because there are some things that need to be learned that Colonial Hills can’t teach me. CHBC has been faithful to what God has called it to do, which is to prepare its people to go into the world and live for Christ, in whatever way that may be.

For the four of us, it means leaving the shelter and comfort of our own church and taking that leap of faith that is required to go where God is calling us. He is calling us to Fort Collins, Colorado. He is calling us to go and to share God’s truth with the people there. We have a lot of things left to learn in our own spiritual growth and we have by no means arrived, when it comes to our spiritual maturity. CHBC has done everything it was called to do in preparing us to live the life God has called us to live and now it's time to take the next step.

I ask you - What is God calling you to do? Where is He sending you? Is it across the office to strike up a conversation and start investing in a coworker? Is it to be involved in local missions, like volunteering with a local missions organization or planning or taking part in an outreach with your church? Is it across an ocean? How is God calling you to be a picture of His truth to the world? You were created to live large and it's time to leave the nest and begin to live the life God has created you to live.

We would love to hear your thoughts on how your church has impacted you. Feel free to comment.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Join Us In Prayer

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV

What a privilege to be able to communicate with the living God! As children of God, we are to “not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let our requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

We are so excited for the opportunity to move to the community of Fort Collins. As we go, we realize that we must rely on the strength that comes from allowing God to live through us. Please partner with us by committing to pray regularly for our ministry team, the city of Fort Collins, community groups in Fort Collins, and the church we will plant. We will post more specific ways to pray for these things in the future, but for now here are the highlights:

Ministry Team - Pray for our marriages, children, families, jobs, and ministry partners in the area.

Fort Collins - Pray for relationships to be built with city leaders, students at Colorado State University, and with young families.

Community Groups - Pray for various community organizations that we hope to get involved in. Some of these include the Bike Co-op, Fort Collins Music Association, Center for Fine Art Photography, Fourteeners Initiative, Wolverine Farm Publishing, and Community Gardens.

Church - Pray for wisdom as the church seeks to clearly communicate God’s grace through worship, bible study, and missions.

We will keep this blog updated with what is going on in this journey. If you are going to commit to being one of our prayer partners, please let us know by going to our website, clicking on the “Get Involved” link, and filling out the provided form. We are so excited about this journey! Thank you for your partnership.

“Our prayers for you are always spilling over into thanksgivings. We can't quit thanking God our Father and Jesus our Messiah for you!” Colossians 1:3

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

My City

Snow falls like white confetti from the sky in celebration of the new year. It's the beginning of January in Fort Collins. The trees in Old Town still hold tight to their Christmas lights, like a child unwilling to give up their toy. Cyclists ride by, bundled in the single digit temps, on the way to their lives. I love this city. The smell of coffee and pizza, the sounds of cars forging through the snow, the sky wrapping the town up in it's grey blanket. This city is different than the others, not because other cities are worse or better. It's different because it's my city, my home.

As I walked viewing the city through my camera lens, I am underwhelmed by what is captured. I just can't get what I am feeling into a shot. I continue to shoot until finally I end up in a small local shop at the far reaches of Old Town. I walk in out of the snow blanketed outside world, and take off my gloves and hat. Once visible from behind my wintery costume, I am greeted by the owner. Our conversation went from toys made from rubber trees to human trafficking eventually to spiritual matters. Now its all back in focus, what I so desperately wanted to capture on 'film' has now captured me, the people of Fort Collins.

Walking back onto the snow covered streets with a toy made from an old rubber tree in my backpack, my soul is warmed by what God has led us to. My thoughts can't help but wonder what this city holds for our lives. I look down in the snow to see footprints and I wonder where they are going, somewhere interesting, to work, a coffee shop, or maybe they just lead home.