A few nights ago Deanne and I went to El Rey in center city Philly with our dear amigos the Shaws. It was the first time we hung out as just the couples and we laughed a little after my prayer over the food and for God to be with our kids. Not something I’ve prayed in that same sense a whole lot since they’re usually safely nearby us parents. We both own camera monitors that actually allow us to watch them while they sleep from our iPhones. Handy huh?
The most memorable parts of the dinner were the amazing food, the story of how Tyson and Esther became the Shaws (you should totally ask them about the exotic origins of their love in Spain that could really be made into a romantic comedy), and how being a part of REACH Philadelphia has impacted them.
They are about to move to D.C. and at one point started sharing about how they will miss the church community we have. I know it hasn’t been convenient to meet with us because of having a young daughter, and living 30-40 minutes away. but it was very encouraging to here what they went on to declare.
They don’t view belonging to a church the same way anymore because of their time here. Looking forward they don’t want to join a church that is well smooth, comfortable and established, they want to be part of another church plant. They want to dive into another growing community focused on the basics of christian faith and discovering how to live all out for God together.
Those were thrilling words for this young pastor. Before I was home for 60 seconds I was already telling Pastor Tiffany (our babysitter for the evening) about it. As a church of mostly young transient members, we must bring in new members frequently to at least stay the same size. This has often reminded me that we must get roots in our community if REACH is to continue to exist. But that conversation showed me that this place really is a training ground for all who experience it before launching into the world as agents of change, building healthy communities wherever they go.
As Jeremiah 29:11 says, God is always working in more ways than we could ever plan. He has good plans for us, to prosper and not harm us, for hope and a future. Let’s trust Him and follow where He leads and leave what it looks like up to Him.
In closing, here’s a little paragraph from Ellen White to consider. “Many families, who, for the purpose of educating their children, move to places where our large schools are established, would do better service for the Master by remaining where they are... It would be vastly better for their children, for themselves, and for the cause of God, if they would remain in the smaller churches, where their help is needed, instead of going to the larger churches, where, because they are not needed, there is a constant temptation to fall into spiritual inactivity.”