Summer Recap 2017

Hello from Pittsburgh!

 

I am so excited to tell you about our 2017 summer adventures. We had a packed summer for sure. Here are the big highlights…

June- Super Summer Sports Camp + Pleasant Garden Family Mission Team

Pleasant Garden Baptist Church came up for the week and hosted the Super Summer Sports Camp in the borough of Crafton. We had over 90 kids registered over the course of the week. Most of these kids do not come from christian homes. They all had a chance to have fun and hear the gospel story as told through the story of Joseph. It was a great way to introduce myself to the residents of Crafton right before Megan and I moved there later that month. After each morning of sports camp, the team quickly ate their (delicious) lunches and ran out into the community to serve in many ways. And for even more fun, we got a tour of PNC Park! 

July- We bought a House!

Megan and I found a house that fit our needs, was within the school district we are targeting as a church, AND is right next door to one of our core team families. We are so excited to call this place our home as we invest further in our community. Also, if you want to visit, we have a room just for you!

 

August- Arlington Family Mission Team

At the beginning of the month we hosted another mission team, this one from Arlington Baptist Church. They helped with serving food for gospel relationships we have made. They also made extra food for our core team members in order to encourage them to share the meal with non-believers. After a lot of food prep, They watched the core team kiddos so that we could go out as a church and escape an escape room! It was fun and since we had the best time we made it to the board.

Later that weekend, the team went door to door (Like Bay Leaf Baptist in May)  in Carnegie asking questions from our community survey. We had a lot of great feedback from this outing. Two ladies without a faith family are even coming to one of our small groups on wednesday nights because of this outreach. Please pray for consistent faith and growth for these two neighbors.

Core Team Start Up

We have started our first week of Core Team training at our home! I am so excited for what God is doing and I can’t wait to see this group grow on mission. We are going over the core values (What are Core Values (1)) of our church as well as sharing our testimonies and heavy duty prayer times every third week of training. Please pray for God to show off through our team and bring many people into the Kingdom. 

 

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KNOCK, KNOCK

Last month, Bay Leaf Baptist Church (my church home for the 8 years I lived in NC) sent a team to help do some work here in Pittsburgh.

For the last year and a half, Megan and I have been getting to know our neighbors in the borough of Carnegie. In that time, we have been able to befriend our immediate neighbors, listen to the stories of those who live along our street, and share the gospel with a few of them. This relational work is vital to knowing who God has called us to and how best to serve them.

However, it has been slow-going work. We are only two people and can only cover so much ground in relationship building. That’s where Bay Leaf came in. Steven Madsen and a crew of college students came up to multiply our efforts ten fold.

The first night they arrived, we enjoyed some classic Pittsburgh baseball.  It was a great time to catch up with the Madsens and get to know the rest of the team.

 

The next day, I shared with the team a little about the city of Pittsburgh and what God is doing on the ground. We got lunch downtown and then quickly got into the action of surveying Carnegie. In the two days this team was with us, they covered more ground than I could have in a year. We tackled two major chunks of Carnegie, knocking on doors and asking four survey questions:

  1. What do you like about Carnegie?
  2. What would you change about your community?
  3. What do you appreciate in a spiritual community?
  4. How could a spiritual community best serve you and the community?

 

 

The answers to these questions help us understand the perception of an entire community. How do people feel about their lives and the role of spiritual communities?

The mission team’s efforts helped in a few ways:

  1. They proved that knocking on doors actually works in Pittsburgh! We went surveying on Saturday and a rainy Sunday. The Pen’s game was on Sunday, and we still had people answer the door. Many people were actually glad someone was asking them questions about their community.
  2. We discovered that there is a lot of hopelessness. The older generation wishes things could go back to the way they were, and the new generation wishes things were better than they are.
  3. We ran into a lot of people who found church to be either a place for nice events or something they rarely–if ever–think about. Although Pittsburghers are historically religious, there seems to be a generational divide between those who have at least attended church at some time in their lives and those who haven’t or who don’t give it a second thought.
  4. There are people here who are interested in spiritual communities. This was an exciting revelation and one we hope to capitalize on soon.

Overall, the team was so helpful and encouraging to us a planters. Planting can be slow and tedious work, but partners like Bay Leaf propel the work forward. Thank you, Bay Leaf!

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Training All Around

Hey Guys!

So these past few months have been full of travel and training, and it’s not stopping anytime soon. Last month I had the privilege of visiting with churches in North Carolina to share the vision of church planting in Pittsburgh. That trip was such a blessing. I even came back with gifts from Arlington Baptist Church, including Graeson’s current favorite instrument: the guitar. We are so thankful for the love and support we’ve seen come from people all over, and NC Baptists have been especially incredible. File_000.jpeg

Last week, I had the chance to go to a 3 day DPCI training intensive about the essentials of church planting. I don’t think in those three days they wasted a second of my time. I learned so much about waiting on God, planning for future Kingdom growth, and how to care for those God entrusts to us. I am sure what we learned will serve us well in the future, and I highly recommend attending a training if you are interested in discovering what it takes to plant a church. The training was graciously provided by the Annie Armstrong missions fund and the cooperative program of the SBC. Opportunities like this are just another reason I am proud to partner with like-minded churches.

We are still meeting together each with with a core group of families to continue to explore church planting. Our time together has been solidifying us as a family of missional servants. We are even starting to look ahead to outreaches and events that are headed our way soon. (I’ll share more about those in a future post.) I am so excited for the future and how God will grow His church! Thanks for following our adventure in church planting.

 

 

January Mission Team

This month, we had a mission team from Arlington Baptist Church join us on mission as we reached out to neighbors, acquaintances, and refugees here in Pittsburgh. Their visit was a great picture of what we are doing right now in Pittsburgh–building relationships. Enjoy the video they made of their time here!

Delivering Christmas on a Bike

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That’s not me in the picture, but it looks pretty close! This Christmas, Adam Sewell, pastor of The Well Church (another church plant here in Pittsburgh), let me know about a friend of his who had moved into a house really close to us in Carnegie. This guy (we’ll call him Rick) met Adam at a food kitchen for the homeless in Pittsburgh. Recently, Rick finally got his own place, and he is starting to get back on his feet. (Side note: This connection is one of the reasons I love the church planting network here in Pittsburgh. Whenever church planters here get the chance, they work together for the Gospel, sharing resources, links, books, and ministry opportunities.)

So when I heard about Rick, I asked Adam if there was anything Rick needed now that he was renting a place nearby. Adam asked Rick what he needed, and without hesitation, Rick told him that his biggest desire was for a Christmas tree. This is a big deal, Adam later explained to me, as Rick has professed to being a Muslim. Regardless, Rick hounded both of us for that Christmas tree. Our small group gathered some funds, and I bought a synthetic tree and a few lights.

Rick was so excited, and I couldn’t wait to get the tree to him. When I went to deliver it, though, I found my van completely blocked in the driveway. I felt like I would be letting Rick down if I made him wait another day, so I strapped the tree to my bike and peddled downtown. As I swerved down the sidewalks with a Christmas tree wobbling behind me, I felt the stares of onlookers.

I dodged the commuter traffic to get to Rick’s apartment, and when I saw the look on his face, I didn’t care how ridiculous my situation looked. His genuine joy was worth it. I don’t know where Rick is spiritually, but I believe he felt the love of Christ that day thanks to people like Adam and our small group.

Later, I realized why it was a big deal for Rick to have something like a Christmas tree–he wanted to make his house feel like home. With my house full of stuff, I tend to forget that not everyone has such a cozy place to come home to. An ex-homeless man with a house to call his own desired to make it his own, and we were able to be a part of that.

There are tons of people in Pittsburgh like Rick trying to find a home to make their own. I pray that I’ll get more chances to share with Rick and the people of Carnegie about an eternal home we can have forever through Christ. Merry Christmas from the Burgh! May the Lord bless your new year!

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Novemburgh

November was a busy, busy month. Just before the month started, though, two of Living Faith’s small groups joined together to serve trick-or-treaters during Halloween. We were able to set up a fire pit, music, and serving table as we handed out hot dogs, hot chocolate, and–of course–candy. It was a great way to connect (or reconnect) with neighbors in the Carnegie community. Megan, Graeson and I went as characters from “The Lego Movie”!14947556_10104512485754297_5965198501393811315_n

Megan and I also dedicated Graeson to the Lord at the Baby Dedication service at Living Faith. It was a great time for us to commit to making sure our kiddo hears the Gospel and that we point him to Jesus. It was also amazing to have the church pray for us as parents. Living Faith, if you can’t tell already, has been a blessing to us and our little family.14915472_1356490551060182_3712681544456735742_n

Then, Hickory Grove Baptist Church of Charlotte, NC, sent a mission team to minister all over Pittsburgh. This team of students was amazing! They served churches selflessly and diligently.

For one project, they partnered with a church planter on Mt. Washington by cleaning and organizing (and this is an understatement) the entire community center the church plant meets in. They earned major brownie points for the church with the people who run the community center! Since it was fall, the team also raked the leaves in a few of our communities. Raking leaves may seem pretty tame, and we didn’t think much of it at first, but it opened up two stellar Gospel conversations with neighbors who were curious about what made us so different! 15055648_10158039484675112_5505675176965463950_nPart of the team also helped me host a Tween night at the Boys and Girls Club in Carnegie.  Tween night is an event the B&G Club started holding this year, and we helped with the final Tween night of the year. Our team hosted the night by providing pizza, drinks, candy, and super cool prizes. We hosted knock-out and kickball competitions. I cannot express enough gratitude for the way this team helped establish a great reputation for me with the B&G club and the town of Carnegie. They served church members and church planters and truly made a difference.14925226_10158039484630112_1215883716049668655_n

Ultimately, God is the one who has done so much work this past month. My prayer is that we can capitalize on it as we head into the winter months when we won’t see our neighbors out and about quite as often. Pray with us that we have opportunities to continue building relationships even as the colder weather sets in!