Church Plant Update: July 2016

It's been a little over a month now since my family arrived in Fort Wayne. The time has flown by as we've been adjusting to our new life here. A lot of people have asked me if it feels like coming home, and my answer is yes and no. Yes because I spent the majority of my life in this city. Yes because I know how to get to most places without having to use GPS. Yes because I know a lot of people here already. But at the same time my answer is no because we currently live in an area of the city that I spent very little time in as a kid growing up. Actually, the area we live in now wasn't even really developed when I last lived here. No because my family doesn't live here anymore either. My parents moved from Fort Wayne to Raleigh, NC when I was in college, so I don't have family in the area. And finally, no because Fort Wayne has changed a lot since I moved away. It's actually pretty unreal how much has changed in seven years. Downtown Fort Wayne is exploding with new businesses, buildings, growth, and life. Yet the city seems to continue to expand in all directions too. It's a pretty exciting place to explore all over again.

As far as family life goes, we are getting settled in our temporary home. We still have a good amount of boxes to unpack, but the majority of our stuff is unpacked and in place. We took a mini family vacation to Frankenmuth, Michigan at the beginning of this month to celebrate eight years of marriage. (Isn't that crazy! Eight years, and we are still in our twenties ... at least for a little while. We were just babies when we got married, but I wouldn't change a thing. God has been so good to us and blessed our marriage in amazing ways.) Madison and I take turns planning our anniversary, alternating each year. Most years it's a surprise, and this year was Madison's turn. She kept it a surprise the entire way to Frankenmuth. Neither of us had ever been there before, but it was a fun, family-friendly German village with water parks, famous chicken dinners, and the world's largest Christmas store. Who knew? We had a great time together as a family. Piper loved the water park and the arcade attached to our hotel. Madison loved the Christmas store. I loved the chicken dinners.

Me, Madison, Piper, and our baby on the way in Frankenmuth, Michigan

Me, Madison, Piper, and our baby on the way in Frankenmuth, Michigan

As far as the church plant goes, we just completed our TAP team. This is the team that we've been working with to identify the community in the greater Fort Wayne area where we will plant the new church. The team is made up of 12 people from Pine Hills Church who prayerfully committed themselves to this process over the last couple of months. We considered, researched, explored, prayed, and discerned together where God was leading us to plant a new church with Pine Hills. We have arrived at a consensus on a specific community that we believe God is calling us to in order to plant the new church, and the next step is to make our recommendation to the elders of Pine Hills for their consideration and approval. We hope to have the final decision made within the next couple of weeks. I'll share more specific details then. If you subscribe to my blog, you will be able to read about it in my very next blog post.

I've also been doing my best to saturate myself into the life of Pine Hills Church. I've had the privilege of teaching and preaching at the middle school youth group, the high school youth group, the church wide worship night, and the Pine Hills Kendallville church plant. I'll be preaching at Pine Hills Carroll Road in a couple of weeks as well. I've been meeting with lots of people, getting to know the culture, and making lots of new friends. Over the last seven months I've had the privilege of visiting dozens of churches in order to learn from them and adopt best practices from them. Out of all the churches I've visited, big and small, young and old, Pine Hills is the most unique church yet. Now obviously I'm a little biased here. I'm planting a church with them so you might think that I'm obligated to say that, but I'm being honest. It's not a perfect church by any means, but I can say with complete truthfulness that it's the most unique church I've spent any amount of time in. I've been trying to put my finger on it, and it's difficult to pinpoint it. But if I had to narrow it down to one specific thing it would be this: Pine Hills is a multiplying church. What I mean by that is they are laser focused on three words: bringing, building, and sending. This church is sold out on the idea of bringing people into relationship with Christ, building them up in their faith, and sending them out into ministry and mission, and they are doing all three of those things wholeheartedly. As a result, they are multiplying themselves like crazy. They are reaching new people, making new disciples, and planting new churches. It's a neat thing to witness.

As far as what's next, Madison and I are headed out to California for a few days at the end of this month for a church planter assessment. I'm excited to learn more about myself, and to pick up some tools that will be helpful for the journey ahead. We are also turning the corner on building a launch team that will help us get the new church planted. I'll be sharing more about that in a future blog as well. But for now, if you are at all interested in being a part of this launch team, please let me know. You can comment directly to the blog and I'll follow up from there!

Finally, thanks for taking the time to read about my life, my family, and the new church plant. Please keep us in your prayers, and if you feel led, you can support us financially by completing the following steps.

1. Follow this link: Pine Hills Church
2. Click the "Give" button on the top, right hand side of the page.
3. Choose "Fort Wayne - New Regional Campus."
4. Complete the process to make a tax-deductible contribution.

Peace and blessings,