An eight year old who is a fellow church planter and the functional deacon of our church, said to me the other day, “So heaven is where everyone goes to their happy place.” It was stated more than questioned. He is also my son.
I went to my happy place (on earth), on January 17, 2016 in a four part event uniting four of my favorite communities.
The Parts: workout, worship, beer and hymns.
The Communities: Choice Fitness, Tobacco Trail Church (TTC), Durham Co. Beer & Hymns (B&H), and Girls on the Run of the Triangle (GOTR).
By nature I like to hold a lot of stories together. It can be a bit chaotic, if the story runs down a winding rather than linear path.
When such a winding road effectively tells a story, I believe that such a road is a fresh expression of church. Such a road has to add value to individual and communal life without the requirement that Jesus be the centerpiece.
What Are People Ready For?
Now, don’t get me started about how Jesus is always the centerpiece. Of course he is. But when benefiting those who are not yet part of any church, context must always be patiently considered.
When we ask the question—what are people ready for? We are reminded, there is all the time in the world to get in relationship with God.
Context, freedom, and trust matter particularly when considering individuals and communities who do not identify as church. They must be offered value even if they do not give their lives to the Lord, or are somewhere else along the giving road.
What did such controversial complexities look like?
In the first happy place of my day, we worked out for 30 minutes with Tyrone Irby at Choice Fitness Performance Center, Durham, NC . He ran 11 of us through a rigorous core and conditioning workout. The gathering was drenched. It sounded a lot like good “worship and praise,” aka singing.
Happy place number two: worship with preaching for 45 minutes, also at Choice Fitness. “Nutrition and Sharing Food,” was shared by Jeremy Richards, ministry intern to Tobacco Trail Church. He is also a church starter with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship slated to plant in Portland, Oregon for 2016-17.
I experienced Jeremy’s offered Word as a gospel infused 10 minutes that radically included others in thought, prayer, and commentary.
We closed with the Holy Eucharist.
For happy place three, I traveled to FULLSTEAM brewery, 20 minutes away, to sing and enjoy beer and fellowship with 150 or so gathered for the monthly beer and hymns.
Jesse James DeConto and the band led us in both hymns and secular music in a casual sing-along. B&H is a Fresh Expression in its own right.
The band receives $300 for its offering. This fee was split between Choice Fitness and TTC. Donations from the evening helped pay for the band and $133 was raised directly for Girls on the Run, which brings me to happy place number four.
If the night were measured solely on funds raised, well, $50 in the common purse at TTC and $133 at B&H is okay, but not great.
But Choice Fitness is likely to pick up a few paying clients as a result of the evening. Tobacco Trail Church was at its best, which is what we are trying to do. Be at our best.
Girls on the Run received a community touch in a way that was totally new a unique. Who knows where future coaches, children for programs, or major gifts are being prayed over as a result of the connection?
Just Getting Started
The bulk of my work is in marketing. Everyone, myself included, wants immediate results. But that is rarely how it works. Marketing is like evangelism. It takes time. The fruit ripening on the tree may not even be a seed in the ground, yet.
Check out the next event with TTC at tobaccotrailchurch.com