My wife and I moved into our current house in Phoenix a little over 2 years ago. When we moved here we had just started with our former church plant and met my good friend Steve Evans. Not knowing him from anyone, he told me how he and his wife were planning on moving into Phoenix, but it didn’t work out. They were planning on moving here to raise their family, but also in order to plant a church. He was the one who told me of the lack of churches in the northern areas of Onondaga County and the southern areas of Oswego County. Since they had not moved here, he looked at me and said, “Maybe you’ll be the one to plant a church there.” I remember it like it was yesterday. I thought he was kind of crazy. I still do.
Ever since then planting a church here has been in the back of my mind. All throughout seminary (the past 2+ years) I had felt a continual tug to do something here. We were offered to move to Ohio and Virginia to plant churches, but neither one of them seemed the right thing to do. I started seeing things differently, I began to see the big picture of God’s work, and loving my neighbors began to take an entirely new shape. My heart has been softened for this area and the need for people to be moved beyond the current status quo.
All throughout, I began making new friends, getting reacquainted with old friends, and trying to figure out what steps were next. The recurring theme throughout all of this has been to see the kingdom of God spread and expand in our region and beyond. What I mean by that is I want to see people join in with what God is doing in the world because of the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Life can be different and meaningful and yet much, much more than the typical response of preparing one for dying and going to heaven. I’ve come across those disenfranchised with the Church, people who have never attended church but consider themselves spiritual, and all those in between and beyond. People are searching from both the inside and outside of the Church for something more, often not being able to articulate it but can sense something is amiss. I think this is a very valid thing and, simultaneously, something that needs to be addressed.
This is where the title of this piece comes into play. One of the people of whom I have been able to catch up with is a buddy of mine from college. He runs the Ecclesia Network, which is a “relational network of churches, leaders and movements that seek to equip, partner and multiply missional churches and movements.” They gather together annually for conferences, trainings, and other modes of equipping each other. Of all the networks I have looked into, they are definitely top-notch both theologically and in practice.
The reason I am writing this piece is to ask for your help. I have been invited to participate in their upcoming training in May. It will be held in Richmond, Virginia and is a week long. Through my above mentioned friend, the director of Ecclesia, I have already been graciously offered a large amount of money for the training. It came out of nowhere and I am deeply grateful. I am seeking to raise between $1000-1500 for the entire trip. Unfortunately, I will have to take a week off of work, and since it is not work related, it will have to be unpaid. Thus, one of my reasons for trying to raise money. Whatever money I do raise will go to cover the expenses of the training, my unpaid week off of work, and my aforementioned friend Steve Evans, who will hopefully be attending with me. Any money I receive above the needed amount will be put towards future service projects for the Phoenix area.
If you would like more info, feel free to contact me on Facebook or leave a comment and I’ll get back to you. For more info on Ecclesia and their training check out http://www.ecclesianet.com.