Growing in Community (Part 1)
This post is an introduction/back-story of sorts, catching everyone up on the past 3 years, so that future posts can make more sense and have a greater impact . . . I hope you enjoy!
Our family has now lived in Towson, just outside Baltimore, for more than three years . . . But if we are honest, we only really started to feel like a part of the community for the past three months . . .
When we packed up all our belongings in July 2009 and headed up I-85 from Auburn, Alabama, I was an unemployed, unlicensed architect with dreams of planting an awesome church that would transform the region . . . We rented an apartment sight unseen off the internet, getting a good deal because it was scheduled to be renovated in less than a year (think about how creepy that could have been!) Within 6 months, our lives had changed dramatically. I became a registered Architect. I began working for Curry Architects, a Baltimore firm that moved to Towson 4 months after I began working for them. Finally, a large part of our church planting dream died, simply because our dream wasn’t compatible with the culture God sent us to. We began helping a local traditional church with leadership and ministry transitions.
Throughout 2010, our life continued to change dramatically. I designed a stadium for Stevenson University, a project that continues to receive widespread attention — something I never thought would occur in my architectural career (It also gave me an excellent relationship with most of the Baltimore County building code officials). We moved to the top floor of our apartment building into a renovated apartment. One of our cars was totalled and we became a 1-car family. Our second child, Holly was born and spent 2 weeks in the NICU due to a collapsed lung. A vast majority of our developing friendships were with people with little or no relationship with the church, a vast contrast to our previous lifestyle. I began preaching pulpit supply at various churches around the region.
2011 was much less eventful . . . Most of the developments in 2010 simply developed further in 2011. Curry Architects became one of the first Baltimore architecture firms to feel some sense of recovery from the Great Recession. I began contributing to the Greater Towson Committee. We continued to develop the friendships we could, and had to let a few go that didn’t seem to be headed anywhere. While we continued to try and help the traditional church, several factors led us to realize that our influence was used up and we needed to bow out gracefully. As I learned more about Baltimore, I was more and more thankful we hadn’t pushed forward with our original church planting vision. Instead, we continue to learn the culture and community, beginning to shape a vision for the type of church that God wants to use to reach people in this area. I preached at several area churches, allowing me to refine my preaching style to fit me better and to communicate better to the local culture.
Despite over two years in the area, and a growing network of relationships . . . we still didn’t really feel a part of the community. It wasn’t until May 2012 that our roots began to grow deeper and wider . . .
And that is where I will pick up next time . . .