Well actually let’s back up to earlier…around February 2003. We were invited to a dinner date (turned interview, kind of) with the lead Collegiate guy for the Northwest. Before we even got to the meal, he was telling us of the openings and options for us upon graduation. He mentioned two universities in the Northwest that would be without Collegiate Ministers (when there are only 7 positions and 2 are opening up in a low turnover job, it’s a big deal). But the bigger deal to Handsome K and I after that conversation wasn’t which place, but “they want us!” A very excited newlywed couple (2 ½ years in) just heard that there was a potential job offer directly after completing graduate school. That’s good news for sure!
You need to know something about the previous two years in our lives. We discovered what it means to live in AUTHENTIC COMMUNITY with friends. It is a life-changing, life-giving experience and I believe that’s why God thinks it’s important. God uses community to speak truth in love, people to listen and love you anyway, to be a picture of truth that can only be founded in Jesus. We were feeling a bit alone in our world, we wanted close friendships and missed the college feel of community. We saw a video sermon of Andy Stanley talking about authentic community and we deeply and desperately wanted it. So I looked at Keith and he looked at me, and together we said we aren’t exactly sure how to do it, but let’s do it. We thought of 4 other couples that we would invite into this authentic community thing, we even told them what we desired but that we don’t know what all that means yet…will you come? We will feed you (leftovers from our ministries on-campus lunch). Will you come? Friday?
We didn’t know what to do exactly, so we ate the leftovers, showed them the video of Andy and through my tears told them we’d like to do this with you guys. What do you think? I was nervous and excited.
They said yes.
We met together the next Friday and decided we would start with a real life question during our meal. I chose, “What sin do you struggle with the most?” We didn’t waste any time on the fluffy stuff. Then, from we never looked back.
I learned about Jesus, forgiveness, honesty, trust, accountability.
If you remember from my previous blog post, God affirmed some things to us when we knew we were supposed to get married (see previous blog)…
We were to go to seminary,
work with college students
and move out of Texas.
There was another part to that vision God had given both of us when we were 1300 miles away from each other on the same day…it was to
…be a part of a church that’s really different.
We were living the other part of the call so far, but what did that church part mean. I pushed it aside because well, my personality says if it’s not measureable it’s risky. If it’s new and there’s no system, it’s scary. Basically I didn’t have faith in what I couldn’t see.
So unbeknownst to me, throughout seminary Handsome K thought and prayed about that part of our call. Good thing I’m married to a visionary who doesn’t forget what God says to us.
One of the few times during seminary that I thought about this part of our call we had a guest speaker in our Evangelism class. He was the pastor of a new church plant. I was excited to hear of his church and people meeting Jesus, but my take away came in this one side comment he made. “Planting churches has been the hardest on my closest human relationship…my relationship with my wife.”
Alright, that must not be what God meant by “church that’s really different.” Good. We don’t have to start a new one, we need to find a “different” one…because God wouldn’t want me to do anything that was hard on my favorite earthly relationship, my marriage to my best friend. (These fearful faithless thoughts were before some life lived and lessons learned about God’s best not always being the easiest way.)
So I wrote it off…
…while Keith prayed about planting churches.
Ok, back to Spring 2004…
During the next few months after the dinner interview/conversation…God taught us a lot about community and the importance of it…the way He speaks through community and helps us discern His will. We wanted to know the wise thing to do in our circumstance, but we couldn’t tell the future or know what life would be like in 2, 4, 10 years?? How do you make this kind of decision that doesn’t have the promise of transition in 4 years as had our last decade of life…
We had more conversations with the powers that be and were told to decide which of the 2 campuses we wanted to go to by May 1, we were offered the job. We could choose, just let them know.
This was great and HARD!!!
We wanted to give each place equal opportunity, but one place was so close (50 miles) from our Fun Friends (this is what we call ourselves), our authentic community we’d investing our hearts and our lives into, our peers who presently knew us the best. The other was in the middle of nowhere and 6 hours away. Hmmm
We visited both places. We prayer walked both places, we met with local pastors in each area and talked about the reality of ministry in both places. We prayed. We visited the closer campus a second time. We talked with our Fun Friends through it all. We prayed, they prayed for us. We made pro/con lists, like really wrote them down and looked at them. We prayed some more.
“God show us where you want us, make it clear.”
By this point, we had talked again about the “church that’s really different” part of our call, and decided that should be a consideration in our decision. The place we chose needed to be open to a new collegiate church plant. We didn’t commit to it (maybe I should say I didn’t) but I agreed it should be in the consideration of the decision process.
One place was open, one was not.
We relayed all these experiences to our community and called a special meeting…May 1 had passed. It was maybe May 3. Their reply after we set it all out there again, pro/con lists and all…
We prayed with our Fun Friends, we cried because this meant we would officially be moving.
…moving 6 hours away.
We travelled back to Pullman, WA, down a two-lane road that went on for hours to a place (in the middle of nowhere) to a university inspired town. A place that was alive with 18-23 year olds. We were 27 years old at the time. We had an official local interview and searched for places to live. We stayed an extra day and put an offer on our first house before we rolled out of town back to the Portland/Vancouver area where our Fun Friends were. I cried.
But the decision was no longer hard.
We knew what God had said to us years earlier, I knew what I experienced when I prayed for both campuses and how God had drawn my heart to Washington State University/Pullman, we knew the shoes we would be attempting to fill were of one of the greats in campus ministry, we sensed that the area was ripe and ready for a church focused on 18-23 year olds. I was confident, but cautious. I was standing beside my man, who said to me, “I’ll go as long as you know this is right too.”
July 1, 2004
In two months we said good-bye to lots of friends, students, co-ministers, our little rent house in a not so safe neighborhood, the place where Keith and I had lots of our firsts in marriage…first fights, first burnt dinner, first pets, first surprise money in the mailbox when we needed new tires, first break-in, first failures and successes as a team in ministry…
One Fun Friend couple came to visit 3 days after we moved, they came to help. They worked hard, we painted most of the walls in our house because of their help that first week in our home. I loved it, but dreaded the time they would have to leave. We planned Thanksgiving for all of them to travel to the middle of nowhere for the week. That made it easier to leave, having a time we’d for sure see each other soon.
We were unpacked and unloaded, but it took awhile to feel like home.
Because home is where your community is.
I prayed for a multitude of freshmen to help get this ministry continuing…we had 3 show up to our first event. I sat outside the house we were hosting the event and allowed myself to cry and be angry at God. I didn’t know it at the time, but those three people are some of my favorite people from the early years in Pullman.
Keith and I worked at a youth camp (Centrifuge) as Camp Director and Camp Nurse each summer (for 5 years). We spent three weeks with a team that travelled around the Northwest. It was lots of fun. We met Josh Martin (and Rachel Walker). Both were on the travelling team. This is important later.
I received an email from the missions organization that I work for, about a travelling illusionist that was going to be in WA. He would come to college campuses, do magic tricks and he had a buddy that would put on a concert. The guy with the guitar happened to be Josh. Coincidence? I think not! We invited them to do an event on our campus and they stayed with us. We had lots of conversations…about church planting. I thought about what that would mean for my little family because we were expecting our first baby soon.
We had Little K in January, and we were enamored by him. God began teaching me more about how much He loves me even though I give Him no reason to and I don’t have to give him reason, He just loves because that’s who He is. I love my babies and they don’t have to give me reason to.
We began conversations with our current ministry and those around us…what would it look like to take our collegiate ministry and morph it into a church? We asked lots of people a ton of questions. We talked with our mentors, the greats that we admired. I was scared, I was unsure, but it made so much sense…even if it was risky and a little crazy. It was something I knew Keith and I were called to do. God reminded me of the part of the call from years before, being “a part of a church that’s really different.” I trusted and my faith made me move forward even when we didn’t have all of the answers.
That illusionist (Drew Worsham) and the guy who played guitar (Josh Martin) moved to the middle of nowhere to start a church with us.
We thought we needed some opinions of those who we were trying to reach and therefore, we held 4 sessions, we called them Resonate Sessions, because we wanted to know what resonated with collegiates. This wasn’t the name of our church…yet.
We had some opposition with others and leaders…as most things do, especially things that made Satan tremble.
While we were putting up our Christmas tree I stopped, looked Handsome K in the eyes and told him, “If this is the wrong place to do this, let’s go somewhere else.”
As you can see, God had changed my heart, I knew we were supposed to do this, I had no doubt…even to the point of being willing to move.
When it’s God, you have to do it even if it’s hard…even if it’s not the easiest choice, even if it means sacrifice, risk, unknown.
We began meeting every Sunday night for prayer and vision casting for our church launch. We chose evening because college students travel on the weekends, that way they’d be back in town by the time we met.
During one Sunday, Keith and I shared how God had lead us to this point. While speaking to the group about our call, the vision that God had given both of us in different states on the same day back before we were even married…I surrendered my fear, I surrendered my need to know all the answers.
We had to do, it was God.
Unspeakable peace in the midst of the unknown.
Handsome K and I went on a fundraising trip with a lot of heart and dreams. Telling what we believed God wanted to do in the middle of nowhere. People got excited and sacrificially gave to our call.
God assembled our team of 7…us, a recent WSU graduate, our current ministry intern, the illusionist and the guitar player, and the guitar player’s girlfriend. We had lots of late night brainstorming, dreaming, big pieces of paper up on all the walls in our living room…
God guide our steps.
We talked a lot about community, began praying that 80% of those who come to our worship gathering would be a part of a smaller group, a Village. Community was so important to Keith and I that we went back and forth as to whether we would have a worship service every week or alternate between worship service and Village. My heart longer for others to experience community and we wanted to make it easy. One thing a week ya know.
2 weeks and counting…
We were all at a conference in New Mexico, and every free moment was planning, calling, praying, emailing, begging, praying, talking, organizing, praying, crazy excited and a lot scared.
But unexplainable peace.
Aug 12 2007
1 week and counting…
We found out we were expecting baby #2.
Wow. God is funny.
Aug 18, 2007
I have tears as I recall this day.
Last minute things.
People from across the state had come to spend a week with us to launch Resonate Church. We had given flyers to everything that breathed on campus. The local news even showed up. We rented the lobby of an event center (it was $200 we couldn’t afford the actual meeting room). We probably all slept fitfully, nervous, excited, hopeful, prayerful. God didn’t tell us what the results would be, he just asked us to be obedient. We were doing our best, messing up sometimes but continuing to pursue the call as best as we understood it.
Is this really happening?
We woke up a little hyped-up even without coffee…and set to work.
I praying as I walked the rows of chairs we had set up, looking proudly at the make-shift king sized sheet as a projection screen, drinking a smoothie (my pregnancy craving) and seeing my good looking husband about to make his debut as a pastor. I was proud. I was excited.
It was time.
We greeted people and they kept coming. I was trying not to cry out of sheer joy.
That night we had 190 something people.
That night we decided before the last announcement that we would meet for worship next week same time/same place.
That night was 6 ½ years ago.
That night God reminded me of His love and His desire for people to know Him…at all costs, and how He calls regular people.
I am a regular person.
My earthly sacrifices are small compared to what I have witnessed Jesus do in people’s lives since that night.