Chris is a much more eloquent writer than me, so I am re-posting from his blog!
*Who would’ve thought we could have the disturbing privilege of naming a church? We seem so far removed from monikers like “the church in Corinth” or “the church that meets in the house of Priscilla and Aquila,” and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not. Either way, when the time presented itself, with naive conviction, the choice was made and “Christ Journey” became the metaphorical descriptor for a group of folks seeking to faithfully share such a quest in Burleson, Texas. However, naming the group was the easy part. Experiencing the implications of the name continues to prove challenging.
Throughout the past 7 years, many of you have prayed, fasted, traveled great distances, stayed up late, awakened before the sun, met in strange locations, embraced creative (and sometimes weird) ideas, asked good questions, sacrificed money, offered resources and equipment, opened your homes, cried, laughed, despaired, rejoiced, went way outside your comfort zones, gave to people you had never met, opened your backyard for baptisms and your front yard for barbecues, and served and loved in all kinds of other ways as participants in the Christ journey. To all of you, we offer deep, heart-felt, and humble “thank yous” many, many, many times over. “Thank you” for remembering us, the least of these among churches. You truly have served Christ by sharing this journey with us.
And what a beautiful mess of a journey it has been. We’ve been blessed to share meals with strangers, comfort folks in the agonizing valleys of life’s most despairing moments, and celebrate with them from atop magnificent mountain peaks. We’ve made tons of mistakes, learned from them, and made tons more. We’ve baptized friends in truck beds, rebuilt homes in the 9th Ward of New Orleans, and gathered for communal times of worship all over town. We’ve handed out water bottles among homeless friends in downtown Fort Worth, participated in Burleson’s Christmas
Parade of Lights with a lightless float, and helped friends sent overseas in Argentina, Africa, and Ecuador. We praise God for the leading of his Holy Spirit along the Christ journey. “Thank you” for caring about us enough to walk alongside us.
On Sunday, May 29, Christ Journey, as it has been known up to this point, came together for the final time. During that gathering, with words and prayers from Philippians 2 and John 17, Bret and Rachel Wells and three additional families were commissioned, blessed, and sent to start a church in a northwest Burleson neighborhood. We are thankful for the Wells family, the many sacrifices and risks they embraced in order to join Christ Journey in the fall of 2008, and the ways in which they modeled and nurtured the Christ Journey community with a passion for the Scriptures, intentionally pursuing and inviting non-Christians into CJ community life, and selfless attention toward disciple-making responsibilities and opportunities among children. We rejoice at the initial friendships beginning to form through their new work, and long for transformational stories in these four families and those the Lord adds to their number that Christ might be lifted high and poured out in northwest Burleson through them. For more information about their new ministries, click here.
So, what does this mean for Chris and Heidi? If you are asking that question, please keep reading.
First, we’re pregnant!!! If you didn’t know, I’m sorry we haven’t told you yet, and if you did know, feel free to push back from the screen and “happy dance” for us again! Earlier this week, we had our first doctor’s visit, complete with a sonogram and heartbeat! Additionally, Heidi’s been quite sick this go around, and we would appreciate your prayers for a healthy momma and baby. As a result of not feeling well, Heidi hasn’t updated her blog with the news just yet; however, for now, you can catch up on our summer happenings with a click here.
Second, I have received and accepted an opportunity to teach 5th grade math at our neighborhood’s elementary school. Ask me about the wild ride sometime, but over the last year and a half, I’ve gone from substitute teacher, to instructional paraprofessional, to special education teacher, to classroom teacher. We have witnessed the hand of our gracious and faithful God all over this process. For the longest, we prayed and longed for the discovery of “people of peace” in our neighborhood. We’re just now realizing that we might be those people! As a result of this opportunity, I get to walk with 80 students and their families all of which live within a 3-mile radius of our house.
Furthermore, the Lord has allowed our house to serve as a hangout for kids on our street. During last school year, it was not uncommon for me to come home to a backyard full of kids (a few of which I had never met)! We’re thankful for the ways the Lord leads us into ministry to and with our neighbors.
Third, Heidi and I are prayerfully seeking to initiate, develop, and nurture disciple-making relationships across our social spheres. For us, this is somewhat uncharted territory, but we continue encountering Christians asking if weekly worship services is all there is to Christianity, non-Christians wondering about the hope we have, and pastors seeking friends with whom they can share transparent, vulnerable, and encouraging relationships. Perhaps, we are at a place in our lives where we can serve and walk with these friends for the glory of God. We will not hesitate in following Christ and inviting others into that journey with seeds of hope and good news. So expect to see us serving on Lancaster Avenue in Fort Worth, building fences for widows in our neighborhood, sending money through the “Christ Journey Fund” to friends in need all over the world, and helping others listen to the Holy Spirit discovering ways they might participate in God’s mission by joining the conspiracy of little Jesuses wherever they are. Ecclesiologically speaking, if God brings a church out of that…a living, breathing oikos that hears the voice of the Shepherd, seeks connection to the Vine, and continually washes the feet of the neighborhood and each other…we long for such a day. And if not, we remain prayerful, humble, obedient, and for the sake of others.
Finally, I (Chris) will continue developing relationships, mentoring, and walking with other men through a bi-weekly gathering we’ve dubbed: “Scripture, Salsa, and Shiner.” Basically, it’s a gathering of guys with thoughts and questions about the Bible and life as we experience it daily. Some sit back and soak in the discussions, others mainly ask questions, and still others pour out their hearts in pursuit of Christ. Furthermore, I have joined with two friends (who are also S3 participants) in the “Missio Project,” a website of stories, book excerpts, photographs, reflections, and conversations focused on life in the Kingdom, recalibrating our lives and the church around Jesus, and prayer for a movement of God in our city. We’re just getting started, and have made some initial posts that you can check out here.
In actuality, who knows what lies ahead? For now, one Christ journey has concluded, and another is underway. In the chorus of “All To Us,” singer/songwriter Chris Tomlin sings, “Let the saving love of Christ be the measure of our lives.” We feel he’s on to something…join us as we find out. *