Guest Blog: Who Do You Call When Your Car Battery Dies? (Lauren Mowrer)

Posted on September 18, 2013

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One of the things that I love doing with this forum is to be able to introduce important people in my life to those that visit this blog. Lauren Mowrer is on our leadership team at Center City Church and is one of the most uniquely gifted leaders I’ve had the privilege of working with in my life. Her love for life and genuine care for people inspires me. She’ll be heading to Paris, France in the next year for a two year term as a missionary associate. I asked her to share some thoughts on the past few years that has led to this exciting upcoming season.

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Community is a funny thing; it means many things to so many different people. To the yoga instructors on the greenway that teach free yoga, they think we are in their ‘community’ by participating in their class; they also think the runners running nearby are in their ‘community’ (the runners do not seem to agree). For the suburbs in Charlotte, your ‘community’ is the people in your neighborhood even though no one talks to anyone or knows each others’ names.

Many of my friends consider themselves part of a ‘coffee community’, which is a group of people that prides themselves on tasting notes in coffee and being able to recognize good latte art. Of this I am guilty and if you want to stop reading here, I understand. There are communities that form around food, music, craft beer, sports, religion, everything you can imagine! Everyone loves to be a part of these subsets of society, because for many it’s where they find their identity.

I also love being a part of these groups and living alongside many of these people. I would say that I define my community as the people I see and interact with on a weekly basis. Some of these people are coffee people, some of these people are roommates, some neighbors, some coworkers and some friends. This is my community, I love spending time with these people. It refreshes my soul to sit and talk to people about the happenings of their days and weeks. I love to hear about their stories and where people come from. I love to come up with ridiculous ideas with them and dream up big plans for the future. All of this to me is truly a community.

These are the same people that I will call when I am sick or am in need. These are the people I will call on a bad day or when something goes wrong. These are the people I will call when my car battery dies. These are the people I will call to celebrate good news. These are the people I will call to eat dinner with. And these are the people I will want to avoid if I don’t want to talk about what’s really going on, because these people know me. These are the people that I trust and these are the people that I know God has put in my life for a reason. It is not lucky or random that we were brought together. I really do believe there is a purpose behind these relationships.

When I first moved to Elizabeth, my current neighborhood in Charlotte, I was driving home from work and stopped at the bike shop. When I started to leave, I realized my car battery had died. I had just moved to Elizabeth and was not near family nor did I really have any good friends nearby at the time. I remember stopping at that moment and wondering who I would call to help. I couldn’t think of anyone. I was caught in a brief moment of panic without a community nearby. I realized I had a friend that had just moved to the area that could probably help me and he did. It was a moment of relief and realization: we need each other. We need community. We need an identity.

Soon after this time, I came to be acquainted with a small community called Center City Church. It was just finding its feet in the neighborhood and I knew the pastor and his wife from my previous church. It was a place of safety for me. A place of building community amongst believers who really, genuinely cared for each other and loved God. I soon realized most of the people in this community lived within a two mile radius of me. I realized that God was orchestrating it all. I learned to be in community with people, living daily life, while also re-discovering my identity in Christ. It was refreshing and encouraging. This is the community that I am still a part of and I truly consider it a gift.

During the past three and half years since my initial encounter with Center City Church God has done a lot. God has given me a space to learn, grow and heal from being burnt out in ministry and with church. During this time, I have also learned how to jump back into ministry in a healthy way. I am aware of the importance of saying no and not taking on too much. I realized the importance of prayer and small group Bible studies.

In these areas is where I have learned and grown the most in my own faith. I have also always known that I would be a part of missions in some way. I have felt my heart lean towards mission work since I was 15. I never really knew exactly what that would look like or what that meant, so I decided until I could figure it out I would just keep moving along with whatever was before me.

In April of this year, I met some missionaries to Paris, France. They were telling me about the work they were doing in Paris and how God was using them to build communities and plant international churches in the heart of Paris. I got really excited about it and wanted to know more.

They invited me to join them and I just could not pass up the opportunity. For me it was taking a step of obedience, a step to explore working in missions,  a step to explore what was before me. So, as of this month I am officially a missionary associate through the Assemblies of God and beginning my fundraising. It is a really intimidating and seemingly long road ahead, but I am excited about the possibilities of what ministry in Europe will look like. I am excited about building community and finding my identity in Christ alongside my neighbors, friends and coworkers in Paris.

Peter wrote to the early church in 1 Peter 2:10 ‘Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.’

Although the Christians of that day were suffering much more than we are here in the U.S. I do believe that God gives us all a new identity when we meet Him. It is a continual, daily choice to pursue that new identity and this is where I believe that community plays the most critical role. Your community can push you towards that identity or tear you away. Is your community challenging you to be more Christ-like, to be more gracious, more forgiving, more patient or are they keeping you from that? I hope they are challenging you and I pray that God will continue to use me in places where I can challenge and be challenged in my identity in Christ.

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