On Journey…

Journeychurch
This entry is long overdue. My love for and admiration of the people of Journey Church has always been somewhat understated and undercover. When we began the process of starting a new church in our community in 2003, I was then serving as the campus minister at the Baptist Collegiate Ministry at UAM. I started there in 1995 and enjoyed every moment of it.

However, we sensed the leadership of God in the intentional beginnings of a new church, with a decidedly different structure and strategy, and I resigned to start Journey. At that point, we did so in faith that God would provide for and meet our needs. Carolyn had started a Noble photo a few years before, and the Lord continued to use that business as a primary means of provision for us. In addition, I started Noble Design since my background was in design, journalism and advertising. Business from it comes and goes in spurts.
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Carolyn and I continue to receive our primary income from these two sources of self-employment. I have great hopes that MonticelloLive will eventually become my primary focus as it begins to draw in advertisers and sponsors.

That brings me back to Journey. In the beginning, we received a meager housing allowance from Journey as support. As Journey has grown, it has begun supporting us with full housing allowance and with health insurance, but we do not receive a “salary,” so to speak, from them yet. The church just isn’t at that point quite yet.

All that to say this… when I first helped start Journey, and we were meeting in our living room, I was very hesitant and even reticent to talk about it with folks that I knew. At that time, most folks I knew, obviously, were members of churches already. I did not (and still don’t) want fully-participating members of other churches to leave their own church to come to Journey. I don’t encourage “church hopping.” However, in the past three years, that hesitance has become a habit. What initially began as a wise principle to prevent proselytism (“stealing” other churches members) has become instead a phobia of perception. I think somewhere along the way, I grew quiet about Journey to others, simply because I didn’t want to be seen as “bragging” or “boasting” about the church.

However, a church is not a building. It’s a people. It’s ordinary folks – friends, neighbors, co-workers, students, and children – who have given their lives to following Jesus Christ. It’s normal folks like me who are discovering daily just how true and real the presence of God can be in our lives when we follow His teachings and submit all of life to Him. That’s why I’m so privileged and honored to be a part of a church like Journey.

I see all of its members imperfectly pursuing a perfect God. There’s not a single one of us who “have arrived.” But I sincerely regard each person as seeking to allow Jesus to be Lord of their lives. Everyday folks are “being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory” (2 Corinthians 3.18) simply by following the teachings of Scripture and loving one another. That’s really what being a disciple of Christ, a follower, a learner, a Christian, is all about anyway, isn’t it? It’s not meant to be hard, but something so simple a
child is held up as an example.

And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. (1 John 3.23)

Believe – really, truly, and deeply and love. Believe and love. Give your mind and your heart. Radically.

AgraceI don’t know what this entry has meant for those of you reading, but for me, I had to get it off my chest. Journey is an amazing church.

Not because of its innovative structure or strategy of servanthood. Not because of its dynamic small groups. Not because of solid biblical teaching. Those are the things that folks might point to, but it’s not what makes Journey a great church.

Journey is not even a great church because it’s full of great people. The truth is that not one of them/us considers themselves “great.” They would all deny the description. Truth is, they’re just ordinary. Sinners being transformed into saints. Recovering hypocrites. Wretches who testify to the truth of “Amazing
Grace.”
The people of Journey are great because of our Great God. It is He that has made us and not we ourselves.

We are being transformed daily by Him. We are seeking daily because of the glimpse of Him that we’ve seen. We are striving daily to be more like Him.

And it’s the continual dailyness of these amazing, ordinary, grace-filled, God-glorifying people that compels me to write today…

Thank you. Truly.

On this day...

5 comments

  1. dawn Reed says:
    Go Journey! Great entry.
  2. Letty Burton says:
    I am a “Newby” visiting Journey Church and I have found it to be refreshing. I especially like the way this wonderful young pastor includes the people in the service. Reading scripture etc. I feel an atmosphere of Christ-like love and see joy on each face. Again I use the word refreshing!
    Thank You.
  3. Marylee Noble says:
    I have visited Journey only a few times, mainly because we live in Little Rock. I would love to be there every Sunday, not only because I love to hear my son teach God’s Word, but because I see an innovative approach to living the authentic Christian life – not the “same old, same old” which we “seniors” have settled into. I have been deeply impressed by the servant attitude and the “realness” of its people. Your concern for each other and for your community is obvious.You are all in my prayers daily. Galatians 6:9 is my hope and prayer for all of you as you seek to follow Christ in a fresh and bold way.
  4. Elton says:
    As a pastor of a start-up church, I too have been overly careful about being perceived as “sheep stealing.” As more people have come to our church I’ve realized that these people are not “ours” now and they weren’t “theirs” back then. Nor are they sheep to me at my level of participation in the process. They are all GOD’s sheep, and to me they are friends that I’m trying to help and encourage in their faith (I know that “pastor” and “shepherd” are similar concepts, but I think we’ve gone too far in the “hired-hand” shepherd direction). This healthier view has helped me not to be afraid of people coming from other churches, and it helps in my view of people who want to continue being Catholic as they come to our church or Bible studies.
  5. Diana Harton says:
    Man Jeff….that was beautiful. You brought a tear to me eye…. ๐Ÿ™‚ I know we don’t tell you near enough but you mean a great deal to me and to Doug. We do love you and I hope you know what a blessing you are to Journey.

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