I (Greg) have been working twelve-hour shifts on weekend nights for the past six and a half years. I often came home from Saturday night’s shift at 4am and then served at church Sunday morning. I also was working in Ohio, which meant long commutes and building relationships with non-Pittsburgh people I wouldn’t be able to invest in throughout the week. Although my job was a huge blessing in how it helped get us here to Pittsburgh and provide much of what we need physically, it became apparent over the last few months that something needed to change. Church planting responsibilities have ramped up, and it was beginning to feel like I was giving my spare time to the work God meant to be our full-time focus.
Although I see bi-vocationalism as a means to provide while being a viable part of the community, I clearly wasn’t in my community with this job. So here’s what you need to know:
Please pray that God will continue to provide all that I and our little family needs as we have taken this step of faith. Pray that we will be sensitive to His spirit and use this time to lean into the work He has for us. I am very excited for this new season. Thanks for praying alongside us. If many pray, many will be able to rejoice at God’s work.
-Greg, Megan, and Graeson
“On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.”
2 Corinthians 1:10b-11
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.
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:
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:
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!
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.
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.
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!