“SO WHAT IS NEXT FOR YOU MAN?”
“SO ARE YOU PLANTING A CHURCH OR WHAT?”
“WHERE ARE YOU HEADED AFTER YOUR TIME IS DONE IN ATLANTA?”
“WHAT DO YOU DO – I MEAN DO YOU EVEN HAVE A REAL JOB?” ha ha ha (okay so that last one isn’t totally legit but I have gotten some minor form of it and I know some people probably think it but would never dare ask it!)
All of these are some form or fashion of questions that people have had for me and what the plans are for my immediate and extended future. Just to sort of recap for you – in July of 2008 I left the Campus Ministry that I was a part of at NC State University in Raleigh, NC. I did so to move to Atlanta to work with Christ’s Church at Cobb, the church that my brother-in-law & sister and family had helped to start/plant back in October of 2004. I was going to be joining them as an “Associate Minister/Apprentice/Intern” to sort of “get my feet wet” and learn a lil about the world of new church work and church planting. It was my thought at the time that maybe God was opening a door for me to enter into the world of church planting. The plan was for me to work here for a 2 year period and then see what God had in store after that.
Well as you can tell from the calendar it is now BEYOND the 2 year window (that would be July 2010) – so why am I still here? That is the beauty of this type of situation – it is a pretty flexible thing. We decided that there were some pretty big things on the horizon for our own church family here in Atlanta (search for a new building, some major changes in focus/direction, a relaunch/renaming process, plan for a huge offering to help our building fund, etc. etc) and that it would be beneficial for me to stay on an extra time frame to help walk through all of these things. So that is what I am doing. We decided on another window of about 6 months – so my plan is to stay here till the first part of 2011 to help with all these plans.
THEN WHAT IS NEXT?
So glad you asked. The next step for me is what I am calling (for right now till I get a better grasp of what the details actually are) “PROJECT JC IN EC”. Basically that means to me “Project Jesus Christ in Elizabeth City”. Over the course of the last couple years I have heard a lot of people give me feedback and ideas as to what they could see me doing, I have had plenty of ideas of my own about what I would like to do and could see myself doing, but I just kept coming back to being “unsettled” in exactly what that looked like. Then this past Spring into Summer I started to see some things more clearly and started getting some answers to prayer and some guidance that I believe is God directed. I attended a conference and heard some speakers that were sharing a heart and message for things that I had been struggling to figure out. I came home and begin praying and reading and developing a better direction to where I thought God was leading. All of this led me to a few basic principles to lay the groundwork for where I’m headed.
Unfortunately I started seeing more of the “what this will NOT” be ideas more clearly than what this would actually look like – so let me start there:
My intent is NOT TO come back and “start another/new church”
My intent is NOT TO come back and “start up a non-profit organization”
Now having said both of those things, let me clarify – these ideas are NOT MY OWN MAIN INTENT OR PURPOSE – but if through what God leads me and guides me to do – either of those things are birthed, then I will totally accredit that to God’s design and I will be fine with it and run with it.
My intent is NOT TO try to figure out what “I” want to do in the Elizabeth City area, but instead it is to figure out what the greatest needs are. Then ask God to guide me in the direction of how those needs can be met through HIS CHURCH and HIS PEOPLE!
My intent is NOT TO SAY that Jesus Christ is NOT being lifted up there already or that the local churches or organizations are not honoring Him. I simply don’t have a definite direction or “plan” at this point. So my idea is to take the Jesus life & work that I know of back to E City and share it in my own way in methods that might be different from ones currently being done. Please do not read ANY NEGATIVE reflection on the current state of the area based on my terminology.
THIS LEADS TO WHAT MY NEXT ACTUAL STEPS will be:
First part of this process begins this next week. I am traveling back to E City on Wednesday, 9/8 and will be there till Tuesday, 9/14. I am attempting to meet with community leaders and area church leaders to start gathering information. I would also like to talk with people around town and get their feedback and perspective. I consider this an idea of “needs assessment” for the community and city. The plan is to ask things like “What are the top 3 greatest needs of Elizabeth City?” – “Where are the people of Elizabeth City hurting the most?” – “What needs to be addressed about these hurts but at this point is not happening?” as well as other questions to get to the heart of some of the hurt – both physically and spiritually in that community.
I also want to get feedback to see what the governmental agencies, the community leaders, the schools, para-church organizations, non-profits, area churches and so on are doing to attempt to meet these needs and what is left not getting done. Then I will begin to pray and process a plan of attack to find a way to meet those needs. (and don’t even being to ask me how I think that is going down – at this point I have NO CLUE ha ha)
I also want to start seeking out an area or community or a section of town in which to live – to possibly be intentional about inviting others who are willing to take a risk – to move in – to invest in and to help encourage and build up that specific area of the community, while at the same time ministering to and meeting the needs of the larger city community.
I also desire to use my network and connections to attempt to bring the “BIG ‘C’ – CHURCH” (global & area churches) together to have some unity and work together on some of these tasks that we can represent Christ as a united front in meeting these needs. I see using my gifts & abilities in the area of networking, organizing, and delegation to allow this to begin to happen. Often times I believe local churches are not so much AGAINST working with others as it is they simply do not have someone who will take the lead and take charge of making that happen. Most of their staff and key leaders are already overwhelmed with a workload and they simply are not able to take the time to find out what is going on elsewhere and thus we all tend to stay in our own lil personal local church world and keep trying to do our thing. While we do see some positive results going on – I firmly believe that God has in store some much more MIGHTY work that will only get done when we come TOGETHER!
So yeah there is a lil bit of what my thoughts are – and again not sure how all this pans out – I am trying to be patient and diligent and rely that God will guide and bring it all together in HIS PERFECT TIMING. So I am simply beginning to take steps to move forward in this process.
My hope is to start with the trip next week. Then come back again in late October and do more “on-the-ground” work. Then hopefully again in maybe early December. All of these leading up to a return sometime around mid to late January.
There is a lot of work to be done – so I ask a few things of you – if you will be so kind:
1) Please Pray – Pray for every aspect of God’s guidance in these plans, that they will be HIS plan and not my own.
2) Please Connect – if you know of someone who I should connect with during these visits back to E City – send me a name and contact or take a step further and help me set up a meeting with them. I am talking City & Community leaders, Church leaders, towns people – whomever.
3) Please Partner – if you live in that area or might consider relocating there – contact me and see about joining in on this adventure – BY NO MEANS is this a “lone ranger” type deal – my whole intent is to build great community and connections and I’d love to have others who desire to be along for the ride.
4) Please Encourage – I’d love to hear your thoughts & feedback – this will NOT be an easy task (is anything God-size ever easy??? ha ha ha but that is what makes it great)
5) Please Promote – be an ambassador for me and the work God is doing through this – but only if you BELIEVE in and TRUST what is going on – I don’t want any “half-hearted” helpers.
I also encourage you to continually check back here to my blog – especially the category called “Project JC in EC” for any updates!