Monday, April 21, 2008


We've spent the last week in North Carolina doing several different things. We flew out last week and stayed a day or so with Kimi's family in Raleigh. Then we borrowed a car and headed to Charlotte for the First Steps conference with the Baptist General Conference (now Converge USA). The conference was really helpful. It took us through all of the first things we need to be doing and thinking about as we begin to plant a church and all the way up through launch. I guess there's another seminar series called "Next Steps" that will take us through the first few years of the church. Kimi and I learned a lot, and got a lot of great ideas. It was also a bit overwhelming as I begin to realize how much work I need to be doing.

After the conference we headed back to Raleigh to spend a few days in the triangle area scouting out potential areas to plant, as well as potential areas to live. To be honest that was quite discouraging. It's really hard to understand why God has moved us in this direction. I mean, in some ways I think he let us choose, but in other ways it seems like he moved our hearts to this place. We do love the area, the weather, the people, the speed of life. I love the potential for ministry to college students and young families moving into the area. But we know almost nothing about the area - which makes it really difficult in picking a location. There's very little to guide us into that decision. I met a few pastors at the conference who are from this area and I hope to talk to them further to get their take on where we might want to be. I also went by an existing church that I have visited before. They are doing the kind of ministry I would love for us to do. So I asked them their opinion and they sort of pointed us in the direction of Durham. I couldn't tell if they were pushing me in that direction because they thought it would be a good idea, or because they just wanted me away from them. Who knows? At any rate, we spent the better part of yesterday just driving around feeling really discouraged. Nothing looked good to me. There was a lot of country places, established neighborhoods, and just not much that excited me. I kind of feel stupid for being here and planning a church in an area that I know nothing about. I'm sure as I talk to people and ask them questions they are thinking the same thing. But then we were able to pick up my sister in law's boyfriend who has recently bought a home in Durham. He knows the area really well and was able to give us a tour of the whole city including some neighborhoods that he thought we might like.

Kimi and I both were really discouraged, like I said. So I talked to my mom, and I texted Jordan and asked them both to be praying for us. Very quickly things began to turn around. As we started into Durham things started looking quite different. We saw some neighborhoods that we loved. We went up by Duke University and that was quite exciting. There are college students all over the place. As we came out of Duke and entered the downtown area I started getting really excited. In the downtown area there is a huge push to revitalize the area. Some parts of it are really run down, but other parts have been restored. The area reminded me a lot of Portland which is an area I really love. Central to the city is the stadium for the Durham Bulls, a minor league baseball team. It seems as though this is a big deal to the city. That's exciting to me, seeing as how I love baseball. I was excited by the thought of a church in the center of downtown, partnering with the city in the restoration and revitalization of the people of Durham. I see so much potential here and I'm really excited. It's close to the university, close to some really rundown areas and people that could really use the hope of Jesus, and in a downtown area where the city is practically begging for people to be part of the restoration process. I begin to get visions of a church that is intimately involved in the community and making a real difference there. The other thing is that I saw very little being done by any existing churches in the downtown area. I think this could be a great place for us to be.

I still plan on seeking the advice of local pastors and ministries, but I am grateful for God answering our prayers and beginning to awaken our hearts to this place. I was really feeling lost and discouraged, and I believe the prayers of so many helped to change that.

Is this the beginning of what is to come? I hope so. I hope it is the place where we can emphasize our theme of belonging, believing, and becoming.


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