I am convinced Paul’s letters to the Ephesians, Galatians, Corinthians etc, were not written to a singular house church. I believe they were written to the churches that made up the whole city. Even further, we know the churches all over the ancient world shared and exchanged these letters. So I reflect on why our small urban church chooses to partner with so many. Why? Because we make up the Church, the bride of Christ and we are better together then separate.
When we decided to join the Southern Baptist church, we knew they loved the Bible and were starting hundreds of churches, while nurturing them to maturity. There were some crazy uncles, (like the one who had Sean Hannity preach in their service, WUT?) but the majority were lot of crazy good leaders in the group, lIke a ton. So we joined and they supported us. They checked in on my family, sent us on dates, and sent us gifts. They truly cared for us. What I did not imagine is the partnerships we’d have.
Obviously our planting church, City Life Church, in Wichita has been UH-MAZING through this whole process. They have supported us financially, prayed consistently with and for us and been a constant source of encouragement. They sent teams two years in a row to help us as well.
Another surprising encouragement has been Taylor Road Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Since the first time they worshiped with us in a backyard in the hood, we have been floored by their “all in” attitude. They have loved us well, when we were a service of about 15 people and have continued as we have grown. They believed in us when not many did.
First Baptist Church of Russellville, Arkansas has become more and more a partner in ministry with us. They’ve handed out fliers for us, prayed for us, prayed for our neighborhood and even gathered to pray over someone in our church when she was very ill.
One of the ways, we’ve seen these partnerships flesh themselves out is how our upcoming Easter event has come to fruition. A while back, the leadership from First Baptist Russellville contacted us about serving our church on March 18. We talked about doing an Easter egg hunt for our under-served, mostly poor, urban community. We had NO IDEA how we would get the word out or where the money would come from, but we said yes to the event.
A few weeks later we got a message from Taylor Road Baptist church, saying they would be here on MARCH 16 and had a day to help us out. It was clear as day who would pass out the majority of our fliers for our event! God, you crazy. Next came the finances. With a wing and a prayer we submitted a request to the California Baptist foundation and within a few days they had agreed to FULLY FUND our event. God was working in the details even when we were walking in faith.
The BLVD training program is through the SBC and their goal is to make disciple makers in the Urban Church. They make me a better husband, leader and pastor. The leader of the program, Dhati Lewis has provided so much encouragement to me personally. Blueprint Church, where he pastors has grown by engaging their local community and sharing the gospel through relationships and service.
Without BLVD I would’ve never met my friend Sam Dula, who not only has preached for me many times but also is one of my first calls when I need help serving in my context. He always cuts it straight with me and makes me laugh, EVERY SINGLE conversation. His prayers and friendship have been much needed through every season of church planting. Also without BLVD I think I would've said and done some really dumb things within my community. God is good, y'all.
In San Diego I’ve also been encouraged by local churches who pray and serve each other. Whether it be the Urban Church association guys, the local Baptist churches or the guys in the Acts 29 group that let me tag along even though I’m not an A29 leader. I am blessed. There are leaders all over the place that desire to see our church thrive.
We have also partnered with churches for combined services and it has been such an encouragement. Epikos church is a church with a heart for the people of SESD and I have been stoked to join with them. Their pastor, Coral has meets with me for prayer and he is a godly man. I’m excited for the events we will do together in the future including our upcoming good Friday service.
We are also doing our “If” conference alongside Mission Trails Church in San Carlos and there is another lead pastor, Kyle Walters who is a constant blessing to me. Without their hospitality our conference would have to meet in a cramped home.
My hope for the future:
I truly believe we are better together. We are THE CHURCH and I hope more and more we can come together in the name of unity, in the name of racial reconciliation and in the name of the hope we profess.
Keep grinding church!