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Living in Your Story

I was in my city last week. It’s the first time that my kids have seen Charleston, so we tried to make it special. We were there all week.

We want to know our city. To meet people and to get to know the rhythm of life there. We want to see the mood of people and understand the lives that they live. It’s going to take time to do that and we didn’t learn everything during this week long visit. But the point is to know the people.

I just finished reading Don Miller’s book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years where he talks about story and how we write our story with the challenges and the difficulties that we live. The best statement of the book for me was “Joy requires pain.” It’s true. The best stories that we know have a moment when the main character must overcome a difficult obstacle. How they must fight their father in a battle or leave their village for the strange world. It’s all about taking on the difficult to experience the joy.

I think church planting is like that. Taking on the story of stories by extending and investing in God’s kingdom. The amazing challenge of not knowing the next chapter and realizing that God does.

We’re in our city last week beginning this next chapter in our story.

We Are Missionaries

I work for Fellowship Technologies, which I love doing, but next year sometime my family and I will be planting a church in Goose Creek, SC which is just outside of Charleston.

Planting a church in Charleston, South Carolina may sound like a plan to live near the beach (we’re actually planting in Goose Creek). Charleston is a historical vacation destination city with wonderful history, great places to eat, beautiful beaches, and excellent weather the majority of the year.

None of these are reasons that we are moving to Charleston. We considered other cities as we thought as the Holy Spirit was leading us. We honestly hadn’t thought of returning to South Carolina until late last year. We had thought, “Well we’re going to Dallas, TX to seminary. We probably will not be back. God certainly must be taking us out of South Carolina to equip us to go elsewhere to minister!”

As we began to really pray and think about what was next for us after seminary we realized several things:

  1. We love where we came from. We had been a part of a wonderful church plant in Greer, SC for about 6 years and had been deeply affect by it.
  2. We have parents, family and friends in South Carolina. We miss them!
  3. The world is a scary place. Dallas is a big city and it’s hot in Texas! (Texas is really a great state otherwise.)

So we looked at these reasons and realized – they were NOT reasons to move back to South Carolina! They were reasons to hide in South Carolina and they limited our response to God’s desire to use our lives.

We began to realize that God had used us in Dallas, that life was good in this big city, and that God could and would use us anywhere that he chose and that we would be happy anywhere that he sent us. In other words God is God and we had to trust that.

So we began to consider all of the options! We looked at and applied to various ministry agencies, church planting networks, and even considered overseas missions.

It was then that we realized that we’re all missionaries. We’re all called to enter society, befriend others, share our lives and our faith with them, and then disciple them as the Holy Spirit leads us. We are all missionaries!

No matter where God had us living, no matter what “kind” of ministry we start or we are a part of – we’re still missionaries.

It was then that South Carolina came back into focus. We know the state. We know of the need for real faith there like anywhere else. South Carolina didn’t have to come off the list of places to go because we came from there. The need for missionaries in South Carolina is as real as anywhere and if God was calling us there then we needed to go!

So we are going as missionaries to plant churches in Charleston and where ever God leads us to minister. Charleston is a vacation spot but Charleston is like most places in the South plagued by marginal Christianity. We can find that in every city in the nation. There are socio-economic struggles there. There are race-related issues there. There is poverty, pain and struggle there – just like everywhere else. The absence of Christ in the lives of people always leads to longing and a need for a missionary.

So we’re going to Charleston not just as church planters but we are going first as missionaries because that is what missionaries do – they go teaching and reaching the world!

Starting a Journey

For past few months I have been in the process of starting a new journey – that is Journey Fellowship Church. Stacy and I have dreamed about this for a long time and we know that this is the next adventure for our lives. I’ve been blogging over at Wonderingfellow.com since 2003. I haven’t blogged there consistently for a while while I was in Seminary. Just not enough time. But blogging for me is a great way to record my memories to go back and look at later, to let my friends and family know what’s going on with me, but more importantly to share my journey.

My first blog on Wonderingfellow included a passage that I still believe and that I think is interesting given the name of the church and even my comments here. I went back and was surprised to find this part of the entry:

I don’t have it figured out! I wish I did!! I’m OK. I love my life, which is more than I used to be able to say. I’m on a journey – not a journey of self-discovery or a journey of perfectionist baloney. Let’s just say I’m on a journey.

I’m a lot farther along in my journey. I have found healing, new lifelong friendships, great love and great strength to share my journey since I first wrote those words. But I’m still on a journey – one that I love and one that I want to share!

That is what Journey Fellowship is about – our journey.

So I’m going to talk about my journey here as we launch this church sometime in 2012. I hope that you’ll join me here and find what I share to be interesting and at times, hopefully, inspiring to think about and encourage your own journey.