Last week I stopped by First Reformed Church of Cary to pursue their offer of office space for me. I stopped by to pick up the keys, and I just so happened to stop by the same time Chris was stopping by. Chris has long served in different capacities at First and she used to run an outreach program for the unemployed through the office space I am now taking over. This unemployment program moved two years ago, and since then a plethora of office supplies and furniture have gathered dust. So rather than just having office space, I have a furnished office space! It was a pleasant surprise and a wonderful gift. Of course, this office space is, like our rental home, temporary. We are seeking to move to the Holly Springs/Fuquay-Varina area in order to set down roots. For now we are doing what we can afford as we build up the capacity to move.
Basically the town of Holly Springs is made up of people who did not grow up in Holly Springs. In 1990, Holly Springs had a population of 900 people. It was historically known as a hamlet settled mainly by post-civil war African-American families. 1990 Was not that long ago. Twenty-three years later, it has 28,000. It is projected to grow to 50,000 in the next two to three years! One major factor in vision setting for a church plant is, of course, the context/place. At this point, it is exciting to think about how this new church can provide a sense of stability, permanency, and rootedness for this transient, new, and uprooted community. One thing I hear from local folk is that Holly Springs does not have a strong town identity. Its tax base is strong because there are a lot of people and the services are catching up. Besides new roads, Holly Springs just approved massive spending on building two soccer fields with artificial turf, newly lit trails and a baseball stadium (click here for all the details) among many other things. There is no baseball team yet, but the hope is that if they build it, it will come—right out of the tobacco fields. Seriously though, the town has money to spend. The plans for Holly Springs’ future are bright and exciting (click here for more information).
With all this newness, I wonder about how a church can fill the void for real rootedness and a place for people to call home within the context of community. The question I am wrestling through is this: Is it possible for a church plant to fill that void? We are not so much a church plant yet as a church seed, which means we have not yet grown roots let alone provide roots from inception on. This is the current dilemma I find myself in. Fortunately, the good news is, well, the Good News. When one finds Jesus Christ, the permanent place is really a person! Over and over again, the Apostle writes about how Christians are in Christ, and one can understand what in Christ means by deferring to geography. In Christ, we move from death to life. In Christ, we move from life of sin to new life eternal. In Christ, we move from self-dependence and self-preservation, to dependence in Christ and preservation by Christ. In Christ, we are called to daily pick up our cross in order to die to our sin. The Gospel is the rooted message that reveals how people find their identity in Christ.
Do you find your rootedness in the Gospel? Do you find your primary identity in Jesus? If not, send me an email and let’s talk. If so, may the Holy Spirit compel you to speak about this Good News wherever that may be: at home, at school, with friends and family, on vacation, and the office.
After making a Field of Dreams reference, I’ve got to say, Ray Kinsella, I can. relate.
Last week we returned from a whirlwind vacation. We drove from Raleigh, NC to Washington DC, to Drayton, ON, to Hamilton, ON, back to Drayton, to Grand Rapids, MI, to Dayton, OH, to Raleigh, to Morehead City, NC. Yes, Mark and Deacon are great travellers. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for that.
We spent the bulk of our time in Drayton. We laughed hard, played hard, discussed hard, and slept hard. Families drove from Grand Rapids, MI, Chicago, IL, and Guelph, ON to be together. My parents graciously hosted a growing family of 12 adults and 10 (#11 on the way!) grandchildren. God is good. We capped our time off in Drayton witnessing the best fireworks display in Canada on July 1st. Drayton’s tribute to Canada’s birthday is always a highlight, and brings back warm memories of my childhood. Spending a day in Hamilton, ON was very special as we spent time with friends. Those gatherings, along with another trip to Guelph visiting friends from PEI was such a blessing.
I have not stepped on the soil of West Michigan in two years. There was still a lingering sense of “home” when we drove into Grand Rapids. Two of my siblings and their families live in the area, and being there with them again conjured up wonderful memories. Grand Rapids as a city has also matured, and possesses an uncanny likeness to Raleigh.
Our final stop was Morehead City on North Carolina’s serene coast. We spent meaningful time with Heather’s parents. The last time I was in Morehead City was the day Heather and I became engaged. At that time, we quickly drove through the Outer Banks in one day. This summer we absorbed the beauty of Atlantic Beach and spent more time with family.
God is good.
Now that I am back, the journey before us is, to be honest, daunting. My church planting residency ends in September, and the work of starting a church begins. I should know the nuts and bolts of planting a church by then. However, I still have much to learn, and no education beats onsite experience.
So September will mark a new chapter. Until then, the excitement still bubbles. I’m thankful for the Sabbath rest we have had, and now I am anticipating a fruitful summer and fall! We appreciate your continued, faithful prayers for us as we seek to discern God’s will in all the details in our lives here in North Carolina. Thank you!
Some highlights of the trip: Fishing at Conestoga River!
The 4th of July parade near Grand Rapids was awesome! This particular float took me by surprise though.
Stopped by the birthplace of Bob Evans somewhere in Ohio.
We got to eat at the restaurant Heather and I ate at the day we got engaged in 2004! Interesting name, great food! It’s clean.