The Incarnational Pathway – Interaction

About two months ago, we felt like God showed us where our first missional context would be.  After spending time in that area, praying, and reflecting, we feel like God has identified a specific neighborhood within that context for us to focus on.

Osage OneLife
OSAGE NEIGHBORHOOD

The Osage neighborhood is home to the Robert Churchwell Museum Magnet Elementary School and Fisk Park. It also has a local convenience store. We are super excited to have clarity about our primary missional context!

Now that we have clarity about the specific neighborhood we are being sent to, what’s next? In a previous post, we shared a diagram that maps out a process for doing 7-is-of-incarnational-mission-triangleincarnational mission. The first step is to Immerse ourselves in the neighborhood. We don’t currently live in the neighborhood, so we do this by spending time there doing normal everyday kinds of things, like: playing basketball in the park, walking to the local convenience store and buying a drink. The goal is to be present and quietly participate in the rhythms of the community.

The obvious next step in the process is to Interact with people. This is basically about building social capital with people who currently live in the neighborhood, as well as those who live outside the neighborhood – like church, business, and civic leaders – who can potentially be an asset for the neighborhood.

God has already opened up several doors for us to meet some really cool people who want to see that community flourish. For example, at a local neighborhood association meeting, we met an amazing lady who “just happened to be” the Director of Member Relations at the Nashville Chamber of Commerce. She is a tremendously gifted and spiritual woman, as well as a stakeholder in the North Nashville community. After meeting with her, she offered us a sponsored membership at the Chamber. This gives us greater visibility, creates awareness of whats going on in North Nashville, and offers opportunities to connect with people of influence. Wow! What a gift! It’s amazing how God opens doors and, if we have the courage to walk through them, meets us on the other side with all kinds of surprises.

We’re also attending some of the local churches in the vicinity to help us get a feel for some of the good things God is already doing in the neighborhood. We believe God is already at work in the community, and we want to synergize with whatever He is up to!

At some point in the near future, we will be reaching out to the elementary school to explore ways that we can partner with them in, to use the language on their website, “help every student reach their full potential.”

Here are some next steps we would invite you to pray about:

  1. Immersion – that the Spirit will guide our steps as we plan and practice a monthly rhythm of life.
  2. Interaction – that God would open up doors for us to form new relationships with people in the neighborhood.
  3. Partnership – that we will finish developing our strategy to invite people to partner with us in the mission.

 

 

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Next Steps Update

Thank you so much for helping us serve the residents of Hadley Park Towers!!! We dropped the items off to these sweet ladies in the picture below. They serve the residents there with giving hearts. I’m so glad we got to meet them. We collected enough items for 10 people, yes! We really appreciate everyone who contributed items and money for this! Thank you!!Hadley Park Donations

Last month we sent out an email update listing off some next steps we were going to take. Here is a short update on how it went.

1. Do a police ride along in that area. Tim did a police ride along in the 613 district of North Nashville. It was really insightful to see the community from the perspective of law enforcement. He got to see some of the challenges facing that area in an up close and personal kind of way.
2. Explore volunteer opportunities at the Hadley Park Community Center. We are still exploring opportunities here. We filled out volunteer applications and are waiting for our background checks to be completed.
3. Set up meetings with already existing organizational leaders in that context i.e churches, non-profits, schools/universities, city council members etc. We are still in the process of doing this. We have already met with several church leaders in the area and were encouraged to see some of the things they are doing to serve the wider North Nashville community. There are plenty of people to meet with, in North Nashville, so we will likely be setting up these kinds of meetings for months to come.
4. Develop an intercessory prayer strategy for people and places in that context. Our first step was to schedule times of prayer walking in the neighborhood. Next, using the Lords Prayer as a model, Tiffany developed a prayer that we can use to pray for the North Nashville community. You can read that prayer here.

 

Lord’s Prayer for North Nashville

We want this missional community to be birthed and bathed in prayer. Using the Lord’s Prayer, Tiffany crafted this for us to use when praying for the community of North Nashville. Would you also take a moment and pray this prayer with us?

Our Father in heaven, holy is Your name.
We love You and call on You to reveal Yourself to North Nashville. Reveal to each person a new identity of being your son or daughter. 

Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Let Your love and goodness flow through the neighborhood. Break every chain and bring complete freedom. Heal wounds. Restore wholeness. Let sorrow be turned to joy!

Give us this day our daily bread.

Provide safe homes for single moms and sustain them. Provide jobs and resources for those who are lacking. Provide hope and a future for every child. 

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
Open hearts to embrace your forgiveness and generosity. Empower the offended to release those who have wronged them.  

And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Shine light on the prevailing lies and shut down any schemes of the enemy. We claim victory in Jesus over any spirit of oppression in this neighborhood.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
You are greater than any other power that comes against this neighborhood. We praise you, Lord! Thank you for the works You will do on behalf of this community. Be glorified in this place.

Our Rhythm of Life

Now that we know the exact neighborhood God wants us to start our first missional community in, our next step has been to develop a monthly rhythm of life that will help us live out the story of Jesus in this context. One of the things we see Jesus doing in his ministry is developing the three relationships of UP, IN, and OUT. For example, in Luke 6:12-19 we see Jesus spending time with the Father in prayer (UP). Then he forms a team of 12 disciples (IN). Then they go on mission together to practice and proclaim the kingdom of God (OUT). Using Jesus as our example, we will be organized around developing those same three relationships:

UP: relationship with Father, Son, and Spirit

IN: relationships with people in Christ

OUT: relationships with people not yet in Christ

In order to develop this new rhythm of life, we did two things. First, we got out the whiteboard (yes!) and made a list of ideas for building UP, IN, and OUT relationships. Next, we took some of these ideas and put them on our calendar for the month of June. For example, one of our regular UP activities is to prayer-walk the neighborhood.

One of our regular IN activities is to visit local churches in the area, set up meetings with their leader(s), and discover what kinds of ministries are currently being offered in the neighborhood.

One of our regular OUT activities is playing basketball with kids of all ages at the neighborhood park. The goal is to develop a consistent rhythm of life that spends time building UP, IN, and OUT relationships. Visually, the month of June looks something like this.

June Monthly Rhythm

One of the benefits of developing a monthly rhythm is that it gives us specific activities we can invite people into. Each UP, IN, or OUT event is kind of like a landing point that allows people to orbit into our world and have an “on the ground” experience with us.

We are super excited about how Jesus is continuing to write his story into this neighborhood, and we want to invite you to participate with us in the journey.  As Maragaret Mead once said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world, indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.” If you want to join a small group of people participating in the mission of the Father, Son, and Spirit to renew all things, let’s have a conversation.

An Opportunity To Serve

Now that God has given us clarity about where our first missional context is, we are proactively looking for ways to serve the people and places in that area.

Hadley Park Towers

This past week we approached the leaders of the Hadley Park Towers, a public housing facility of the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency of Nashville that houses disabled and elderly citizens in efficiency and one bedroom apartments. We asked them about ways we could serve the residents that live there.

Hadley Park
HADLEY PARK TOWERS

We ended up having a great conversation with the social worker, and the President – a resident who takes on the responsibility of coordinating various activities and projects for the residents.

They mentioned multiple opportunities to get involved, which we will continue to explore. However, there was one that we felt would be a good starting place in serving this community. They said most of the residents are on a fixed income, and periodically need help with basic household items like soap, toilet paper, toothpaste, etc. We were moved by their request and wanted to do something to provide for some of these basic needs.

Our goal is to donate enough items to meet the needs of 10 residents.  If you would like to participate with us in this opportunity to serve some of the residents in a tangible way, just click on the Target House Warming Registry image below.

CS-TARGET_logo

How It Works:

When you make a purchase from the Hadley Towers Target House Warming Gift Registry, the item(s) will ship to a local Target Store. On May 19th we will take a picture of all the items we received (post it to the blog) and then close the gift registry. Then we will deliver the items to the Hadley Park Towers residents who have the greatest need.

NOTE: As you go through the check out process, when you come to the order pick up section, select “White Bridge” or “Nashville West” stores for the shipping location. That way you don’t have to pay for shipping costs. We will pick them up at either store location.

Would you consider helping us purchase these items to donate to the residents of Hadley Towers? Thank you for participating in this opportunity with us!

Our First Missional Context!

We have good news! In our last post we shared a map and invited you to pray and fast with us as we asked God to bring clarity about where our first missional context will be. After praying and fasting for the month of April we feel like the Spirit has revealed that to us! Yes! Take a look at the map below.

First Missional Context

For detailed demographics on the area, see Census Tracts: 136.01, 136.02, 143, 138, 139. This area is projected to experience a degree of gentrification over time, but currently it’s an under-resourced area in Nashville.

God has already opened a door of opportunity for us to serve at a public housing facility for disabled and senior citizens called Hadley Park Towers. We met with some of their staff and asked them what kind of needs the residents have. They mentioned multiple opportunities to get involved, which we will continue to explore. However, there was one that we felt would be a good starting place in serving this community. Most of the residents are on a fixed income and periodically need help with basic household items like soap, cleaning supplies, toothpaste, etc.

As a way to meet this need, we created an Target House Warming Gift Registry and are inviting people like you to purchase items for donation. To learn more about this opportunity,  click here.

NEXT STEPS
Some next steps for us will be:
1. Do a police ride along in that area.
2. Explore volunteer opportunities at the Hadley Park Community Center.
3. Set up meetings with already existing organizational leaders in that context i.e churches, non-profits, schools/universities, city council members etc.
4. Develop an intercessory prayer strategy for people and places in that context.

PRAYER REQUESTS
That God will open doors for us to serve and add value to this community.
That God will raise up workers for the harvest.
That God will guide us to a person of peace.

Discovering Our Missional Context

It’s been a little over a year now since we first arrived in Nashville (1 year and 3 months to be exact). During that time, God has been growing our affections for the city, the people, and the unique culture that is being created here. We have also become aware of various principalities and powers at work in the city that bring about racial and economic injustice, as well as the dehumanization of people in general. All in all, God has given us a window into some of the forces that are shaping the city for both good and evil.

This email update is a simple request for you to pray – even fast – for us to have clarity about where our first missional context will be. Below is a map outlining an area of 7 square miles around our apartment (the green tear drop).

Catchim Missional Context smaller

This is a really diverse area – ethnically, culturally, and economically. We feel like we are supposed to identify a neighborhood or network of relationships within this outlined area and let that be our first missional context. We do not want to make this choice lightly. We have a vision for incarnating the gospel into multiple missional contexts, but that vision must start among a particular people or place. We want to be Spirit led in all that we do. So we are asking for your prayers to help us have eyes to see and ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to us.

Better Together: Apostles Working with Prophets

When we posted our first blog post, we mentioned that we would be sharing some of our kairos moments with you – points of conflict, confusion, clarity, or celebration. As we have been laying new foundations together over this past year, we have both learned new things about ourselves, and one another. Tiffany and I are gifted in really different ways. I am primarily gifted as an apostle. The word apostle just means “one who is sent.” Those who are gifted as apostles are gifted at launching out into the frontier. They have an appetite for adventure, starting new things, and designing systems for strategic and sustainable impact.

Tiffany, on the other hand, is primarily gifted as a prophet. She is drawn towards prayer and meditation, as well as ministering to those who are often overlooked and disadvantaged. She has a heart for knowing God and experiencing his presence.

These differences may not sound very big, but when you lock arms with someone to accomplish a certain task, the differences really start to come out into the open. For example, when we went to the public library this past weekend, Tiffany ended up spending a lot of time in the prayer section, and I spent a lot of time in the leadership and organization section. Something as small as this reveals how different we really are.

Apostles Working with Prophets: An Interview with Tim

apostleBecause we value being real and authentic, we wanted to share some points of tension we have experienced between our “A” and “P” and how those tensions have created moments of conflict and clarity for us. But instead of listing those things out in bullet points, we wanted to package it in an interview.

Tim, how did you discover you had an apostolic gifting?

I had a pattern of starting new things and approaching problems with what would be characterized as systems thinking. But the first time I realized I had an apostolic gifting was while reading Hirsch and Frost’s book The Shaping of Things to Come. I always thought I was kind of weird because I did not fit the stereotypical profile of a pastor, but after reading that book, I finally understood that I wasn’t weird. I was an apostle, which meant I was not primarily wired for ministry and leadership at the settlement, I was wired for moving into the frontier and starting new ventures.

How would you describe the way this gifting has been contributing to what you are doing with OneLife?

We are in a unique situation right now in that we are not currently partnered with a denomination. This has required us to build some things, like a reputation, from scratch. When we moved to Nashville, we only knew 2-3 people. One of the primary challenges has been meeting new people and building social capital. My apostolic skills have given me insight and initiative for exploring and entering already existing pockets of people, as well as developing new relationships. That would be an entrepreneurial energy that I have been able to channel for our efforts here. In addition to building social capital, I’ve also been building systems capital. For example, our E-book and Prospectus are things we developed in the past to help us communicate our vision to people. Most recently, I’ve been writing a discipling tool kit for us to use with our future core team, as well as developing content for the church website we are building.

What are some points of tension you have experienced as you work with Tiffany and her prophetic gifting, and how have those tensions helped you to mature as an apostle?

Wow, this is such a big question. I can think of so many examples, but here is the first one that comes to mind. A while back I was in one of my phases of being frustrated about how slow things were developing with the plant. I have met with literally hundreds of people over lunch and coffee since I have been in Nashville, but for some reason, we are still looking for our core team. My initial response was “We need to get out the whiteboard and start brainstorming about how to meet more people!” When I suggested to Tiffany that we have a whiteboard session about meeting more people, she asked me if I had prayed about the situation. My first thought was “What’s to pray about? We need to find people, so let’s find a way to do it.”

Tiffany is really good about seeking God for direction. It goes hand in glove with her prophetic gifting. I, on the other hand, do not have that kind of default response to situations. I look at a challenge and immediately come up with options for how to effectively engage it, assuming the missing link is a good strategy. I got frustrated with her that she was not as energetic about strategizing to meet more people.

Eventually, I decided to pray about it. I asked God (really I was lamenting) this question: When will we meet our core team? I felt like God said “You will, but not yet.” Then I was like “So what are we supposed to be doing then?” He then said “The discipling tool kit.” And I thought to myself “…really?” I then heard him say “You need a wineskin for the wine.” I knew what he was trying to teach me at that point. You see, I had totally stopped working on the tool kit and was focusing all my energies on meeting people. So in response to what God said, I cut way back on meeting people and have been focusing primarily on developing the tool kit.

Later on, a few days after I had that conversation with God, I started to appreciate even more what a gift Tiffany is to me and our efforts here. I need her prophetic sensibilities to help me stay grounded in God and his leading.

Where have you seen your apostolic gifting synergize with Tiffany’s prophetic gifting?

I think one of the ways this happens for us is through people. Tiffany picks up on things about people really quickly. One of the attributes of prophetic people is that they often perceive things way before other people do. When we meet new people together, I often check in with her to see if she sensed anything from the Lord. While I may be able to generate a lot of first time contacts with people, Tiffany is good about helping me discern the relational opportunities in front of me.

What is something you think might be helpful for other people to know about the apostolic gifting?

If an apostle is “one who is sent” then it implies someone is doing the sending. I have met plenty of people who are gifted as apostles. They have the hardwiring for entrepreneurship and systems thinking. But just because you are wired to be sent, does not mean you in fact are being sent. One of the things I have had to learn through the school of hard knocks is that just because I see an opportunity does not mean I am supposed to move on it. God is the one who sends me, I don’t send myself. Learning how to discern what originates with me and what originates with God is one of the reasons why I need to be equipped with prophetic skills and sensibilities. The more I mature in my gifting, the more I only want to be led by the Spirit, and not my own initiative.

Here is a post on prophets working with apostles.

Better Together: Prophets Working with Apostles

In the post Better Together: Apostles Working with Prophets, Tim shared points of conflict and clarity that have come from working with Tiffany and her prophetic gifting. In this post, Tiffany will share her insights about working with Tim and his apostolic gifting.

An Interview with Tiffany

prophetTiffany, how did you discover that you had a prophetic gifting?

I always knew I had a shepherding gift, but I never felt like I fully fit into that. After getting a clearer picture of the prophetic through reading and training, it seemed like everything from my life clicked and made sense. Even as a child I remember noticing things in the church that just didn’t seem to align well with what I saw that God valued. I began to notice how much I’ve always wanted to know God and understand His way and how I tended to compare that with what I saw around me.

How would you describe the way this gifting has been contributing to what you are doing with OneLife?

I find myself frequently asking us things like: Have we asked God about this? Do we feel peace? Is this in line with what we know God wants? These kinds of questions can be annoying to Tim sometimes, depending on the situation, but they are crucial to what we are doing here.

Also, sometimes I get a very strong sense that we should not go in a particular direction. It can be helpful to see further down a seemingly good-looking path and notice that in the end, it may be quite a rabbit trail or a distraction from where God is intending us to go.

For example, a while back there was an opportunity that Tim was getting increasingly excited about. It was a great opportunity and full of potential. As momentum was building everything in me increasingly became more uncomfortable, less at peace, and wanting to scream NOOO! (And I rarely have a desire to scream ; ) Sometimes my whole being can feel the weight of a decision. As we approached a decision time, I increasingly prayed for understanding on why I felt this way. By the time we needed to discuss this, my whole body was feeling overwhelmed and almost sick about the potential direction. It was painful and a difficult conversation but I was able to share my concerns. Tim listened well and after more praying we altered our course significantly because of that.

What are some points of tension you have experienced as you work with Tim and his apostolic gifting, and how do you deal with those tensions?

Tim is a go-getter and is a natural at thinking of ideas to help us step into this mission God has us on. He sees potential in any opportunity or relationship. It’s easy for me to over-spiritualize decisions and ideas, and this can easily cause tension because I sometimes don’t initially see the reason in doing something. Such as… meeting random people all the time.

Also, as I hinted at before, I’m a natural questioner and Tim is an idea man. It’s not hard for tension to come when I start to question an idea that he is bringing up. It’s not necessary for me to question every networking opportunity Tim may suggest we attend, but that is something I’m inclined to do if I’m not careful.

Where have you seen your prophetic gifting synergize with Tim’s apostolic gifting?

If you know us, it’s fairly obvious that we would not be doing, or be able to do what we are, without Tim and his entrepreneurial sensibilities. He is truly gifted in multiple ways to lead this venture. While I don’t have the capacity to carry that role, I do have the ability to fuel it by bringing fresh revelation and building up faith by reminding him what God has spoken over us (despite how things may appear to be going.) In fact, God has made it clear to me that I need to be constantly seeking him and listening, and then sharing with Tim what I hear. Not long ago, as we took the afternoon to pray, God gave me a bit of clarity on a point of confusion Tim had been wrestling with. It was a joy to be able to share that with him. He was really encouraged by it.

What is something you think might be helpful for other people to know about the prophetic gifting?

Sometimes we have a hard job in trying to express difficult truths in a way that people will receive. You have to prove that you are “for” your group, and in this with them. Even with just Tim and I, it’s crucial for me to remind him that I believe in what God is calling us to, and that we are in this together. That will take you a long way in being able to fulfill your prophetic role in the relationship.

Also, before you bring up your concerns, test your thoughts and motives. Talk it over with God until you are clear about what he wants you to say. Let the Holy Spirit guide you through the process. He’s great at it!

Here is a post on apostles working with prophets

Video Blog

We put this short, 3 minute video together (on the fly) to give you a window into our missional context. After you watch the video, read on to see some of the interesting features about the people and places we show you.

The video starts out right in front of our apartment building. We live right across the street from Centennial Park, home of the Parthenon, which is a full scale replica of the original Parthenon temple in Athens Greece. Tiffany and I often prayer walk this park, and at various times, as we feel led by the Spirit, will approach people and ask them if they would like for us to pray for them. We have had several really meaningful encounters with local people by doing that. The park is really a commons area for both locals and tourists as they participate in walking trails, recreation, festivals, and a host of activities throughout the year.

all-logos

One of the most amazing things about this area is the population of college students. Within a 2 mile radius of our apartment, there are a total of 5 universities. Three of those colleges are historically black colleges and universities: Tennessee StateFisk, and Meharry Medical College. Both Fisk and Meharry are right across the street from one another, and each have strong, historical roots in Christianity, and maintain close affiliations with the Methodist Denomination. Vanderbilt also has roots in the Methodist denomination, but is presently organized as a private research university. Belmont, formerly a Baptist college, is now
organizing more generically as a Christian community of learning.                                          The total combined student population of these five schools is                             approximately 27,500.

nhi_logo_sm

We are currently making plans for starting a campus ministry on one, or several, of these campuses in the coming year. As a way to strengthen our efforts and develop momentum, we are entering into a partnership with the New Humanity Institute, a campus ministry organization based out of Boston that specializes in the medical substitutionary model of the atonement, with methods of ministry and leadership that flow directly out of that understanding of the gospel. We are really excited about this partnership!

VANDERBILT
An Ambulance sits outside the ER on the at Vanderbilt Hospital in the early morning.

Another unique dynamic to this area is the high concentration of healthcare workers. There are 4 hospitals within a 2 mile stretch: TriStar Centennial Medical Center, St. Thomas , Vanderbilt Hospital, and Nashville General Hospital – located on the campus of Meharry College. In addition to the hospitals, the nationally known Hospital Corporation of America (HCS) has recently moved their headquarters to downtown Nashville. Due to the high concentration of healthcare industry companies, and the burgeoning movement of tech and entrepreneurship, Nashville is now being dubbed the healthcare capital of the nation, and quite possibly the world. We feel particularly drawn to the medical and tech community, so we are currently exploring ways of participating in these respective domains, as well as their intersection. In an effort to be incarnational in our approach to the healthcare industry, Tim and Tiffany are both volunteering at the TriStar Centennial Medical Center. Tim is serving as a volunteer chaplain, and Tiffany is volunteering in patient mail delivery.

atmalogy-header

With so many college students, and around the clock shift workers in the hospitals, local coffee shops
abound. So a part of our rhythm of life is frequenting these coffee shops to work on OneLife projects, connect socially, and soak in the culture. One of the coolest coffee shops is Atmalogy, an old historical house right across the street from Vanderbilt University. We currently rent a meeting space on the first and second Tuesday nights of the month. The first Tuesday night is focused on the atonement, and the second on discipleship.

parthenon-towersThe actual neighborhood that immediately surrounds our apartment is quite diverse. We have mid and upscale condos that house college students and young professionals, as well as a public housing complex, the Parthenon Towers (pictured to the left), that houses elderly and disabled residents. There’s also a homeless population that frequently spends the night under a pavilion next to the Parthenon Towers. We are currently building friendships with a few homeless individuals that hang out at certain places in the neighborhood.

One of the things we love about this area is its cultural, social, and economic diversity. A 1/4 mile to the left of our apartment is the 28th/31st Street Connector that crosses over Charlotte Avenue, a historical boundary marker that had effectively divided the black and white communities of North Nashville. When God told us to move to Nashville, we asked him to place us in a borderland, a spot that would give us spatial proximity to an intersection of diverse people and places. God graciously answered our prayer by locating us at a place where multiple cultures are represented, and are somewhat rapidly colliding.

There are so many possibilities for ministry opportunities, so please pray for us as we discern how to stay in step with what the Spirit is doing in and around us at this strategic location.

* A big thank you to Jason and Susan Gayton for supplying us with a GoPro cam for filming!