I have the greatest joy to be the father of these two!
Why We Must Succeed
The Baltimore metro region needs the Gospel of Jesus to penetrate hearts now more than ever before. What I'm about to share is not unique because other areas need the gospel less or because of the examples I will provide. What is simply unique is my passion and calling to the people of my city. My prayer is that if you represent Jesus anywhere in this world that you too develop a burning passion to see the gospel of Christ transform lives and therefore communities in your region.
What you may know about what we're doing is that we're attempting the impossible. We're starting a church outside of the beltway that will have a presence inside the beltway to bridge two distinctly unique areas of our region in an unprecedented fashion. I will not go into the many hurdles we will encounter or the interactions I have had with a few doubters along the way. What I will tell you is that Jesus has been proving himself time and time again. I'll also say that we continue to get amazing people to buy-in and partner with us.
Recently we've been faced with obstacles regarding our facility outside of the beltway in an area called Timonium. This location will become the hub for our future work so from my limited human perspective, it MUST succeed. And it will.
This is the backdrop for what I want to share with you.
We must succeed because of what is on the front page of The Baltimore Sun today.
The Sun reports that 18 people were shot in an evening of violence primarily resulting from feuding drug gangs. The most horrific of the shootings happened at a backyard cookout commemorating the passing of a young man last year. In that incident a 2 year old girl was shot as well as a pregnant woman shot 3 times.
In addition to that shooting there were several others in the same evening. All of these shootings happened in East Baltimore just blocks from the site of our inner city East Baltimore Church location. See Map.
What we are doing (we as Christian Pastors) must work. What we as people of God who want to share the love of Jesus with the world must work. Right now all across the city there are people mourning, angry and even moving away because of the violence. Many have lost trust of governing authorities and their ability to handle the situation. People all over this city are searching for answers and meaning and purpose. The gospel of Jesus is needed here as much as any war-torn area of the world.
It is my prayer that the 'Church' at large takes a serious look at their investment over the long-haul into reaching people with the Gospel of Jesus in urban centers around our nation. For too long we've been comfortable ignoring the front page of city papers. We have hundreds of thousands of people who need the gospel and we must give our best effort to bringing that message to them.
Please join us here by supporting TheBaltimoreProject.com. If God is speaking to you I implore you to act. Much depends on our (you and I) commitment to sharing the message of Christ.
As you pray for us please also pray for my friend Ellis Prince who pastors another new church in that area called "Gallery Church". Ellis is a great man of God who is also working to see Jesus made famous in that area.
Matt Willmington Likes Nice Tea
Matt Willmington from TRBC was in town today checking us out as we launch Captivate Church. We had a great visit together and ended our time with lunch at the Towson Town Center. Matt stopped off after lunch for a nice cup of tea and I pulled out the camera to give him a hard time :)
While I joked with Matt about this high-end treat I must say that he and other leaders like him are what keep me going. I'm honored to know Matt and am thankful for his voice in our work here. Thanks for the visit Matt.
Keep Moving Forward...
"If we are to achieve results never before accomplished, we must expect to employ methods never before attempted."
By: Sir Francis Bacon
Broken Bone and Trash Talk
I played ball last night and had some fun talking trash. There's just something about street ball that requires you to school the other team when they want to talk. It's a part of the fun. When the other team starts talking I like to talk back. Phrases that came out of my mouth after I scored were things like: "Get off of me." , "You can't guard me." , "I couldn't hear you, the net was too loud." All in fun.
I had fun but somewhere in the first game I may have broken a finger on my right hand. Whatever I did, it doesn't look right. I'm thinking it's not broken b/c it doesn't really hurt but I may have strained a ligament or something. The tip of my middle finger isn't straight. It's like it is supposed to naturally be straight but it isn't.
We had a good time playing ball but my hand looks gross and it makes it fun trying to type quickly. I've done some damage to myself over the years but I've never broken a bone. Have you ever broken a bone?
BTW- I have no idea why I said COGI. :)
Captivate Online Live
Today we added a Live Stream feature to CaptivateChurch.com!
Check out the feature below. Also check us out tomorrow night at 7pm when we'll be streaming live from our "Cook Out & Dig In"... tomorrow it's our first Baptism service! I can't wait! See you there!
Cook Out & Dig In
We've been blessed to make a great connection among the college community here in the Towson area. God provided an opportunity to connect with a group of students last semester and they've championed a college bible study we call Cook Out & Dig In.
Check out a few pics below to get a feel for how God is using us to impact this community. If you're not friends with us on Facebook just search for Captivate Church and add us. You can keep up with what's going on there almost daily.
Cook Out & Dig In kicks off each week with a cookout. Pictured above is our grill master for this week- Drew.
Andrew testing out the backyard games.
Once we've finished up outside we come together in my den for bible study. We're studying through the book of Acts verse by verse.
Ashley is picture above as students fill out a contact card we provide each week. On the back the students are able to share praises/requests or just communicate with us privately. As a team we pray for the students each week.
Our format encourages interaction so we've seen people open up and add value to the conversation. Sometimes it's someone who has just come to the faith while another answer may be someone who long ago knew Christ but doesn't have a church home.
Every week the students are able to hang out after the study for an hour or so (9:45 p.m. is exit).
Most weeks conversations and hanging out carries to apartments or activities the students initiate themselves. Each week we've literally had 5-6 new students. The facebook group approaches 60 members.
Friendships are forged and solidified through opening God's word. We're pumped to provide a place for students to grow in their faith.
A ton has been going on here in Baltimore as we work to Captivate the city. These updates will not do our efforts justice but will give you an idea of how God is at work.
1. We held a block party for the first time in our inner-city location. The block party was complete with games and food as well as three Moon Bounces. Well over 200 people came out with next to no marketing. I personally had a dozen people ask us when we'd be starting the church in their neighborhood. There is a thirst for something real.
2. We also held an Upward Basketball camp in the city for the same neighborhood. We had over 70 boys and girls come out to participate in the basketball and cheer camp. We shared the gospel many times during the week and two children responded with professions of faith. Additionally we were able to show Jesus' love in very practical ways as nearly 30 adults were able to invest in these kids and give them a model of the church that is far different from what they may see in their neighborhood day to day.
3. Our block party truck is out and about in the Towson/Timonium areas. We're holding events around town where we can make contacts and cast vision for this new church coming to the area.
4. We're gearing up for our first baptism next Tuesday night. We have two guys from our College bible study being baptized after their profession of faith. We're looking forward to throwing a party!
5. We're praying for a few more partners. God has given us favor with churches and individuals who are supporting our effort and we heard of a few groups actively interested in getting on board. For this to happen would be amazing. We're in a position where a few partners could make a huge difference. Please join us in praying for favor with the people God has brought our way.
6. Ben Arment came in for an on-site consultation over the last two days. Ben was able to provide some solid observations that will help us down the stretch as we prep for our first year. I hope to get to a post about the visit but I will encoruage you to give Ben a call if you're doing any type of endeavour where you could use some outside 'eyes'. He has the ability to encourage and nudge in a way that others have buy-in. Ben is certified in Myers-Briggs personality types and was a huge help to various team members and communications among our team. A final note is that your team and community will feel comfortable telling an outside guest something that they wish they could tell you directly. A consultant like Ben is able to respond to them and/or pass the information along to me. Ben isn't the first 'outsider' I've had in and he will not be the last.
7. We're praying like crazy about our facility situation. Please join us.