I never thought we would plant another church. And then we fell in love with a community on North Patterson Avenue.
See below … the story of a new gospel community that is forming in Winston Salem, NC.
“Could this be our new home?” It was the summer of 2021, and Dara and I had recently discerned that our season in Charlotte was coming to a close. Our hearts were open to whatever God had next for us as we traveled to thirty-one states sharing the message of Jesus during the previous eighteen months. In each new town, we would ask ourselves (and God) this question.
We never would have guessed our new home would be an hour away in Winston Salem.
One step that felt completely clear was to join the family at Winston Salem Christian School. Our kids fell in love with the school immediately when we drove on the campus. Dara and I were drawn in as Dr. Bryan Wolfe (the head of school), told us about his vision to offer Christian education to any family, no matter their financial situation or background. He described a community that has students from every continent except Antarctica. The school feels like a glimpse of the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.
Our hearts aligned with Dr. Wolfe’s vision so much that he gave me a key to the building and offered me an empty office. “I believe in what you’re doing,” he said. “Come up whenever you want and work from here.” His act of generosity opened a door to an entire community of faculty, staff, administration, and students who welcomed us with open arms.
The architectural centerpiece of the campus is a seven-hundred seat church building with a steeple that reaches over one-hundred feet into the sky. “The church building isn’t used in the evenings or on the weekends,” Dr. Wolfe said. “Feel free to use it for anything you want.”
The clock was winding down toward another victory for our girls’ basketball team (ranked number one in North Carolina and number six in the nation) when God opened my eyes. The gymnasium was full of people that we had come to know and love. Many of them were open to matters of faith but would not profess to be followers of Jesus. There are over five hundred churches in Winston Salem, but for whatever reason, many of our new friends did not feel connected to any of them. Some were disinterested. Others were simply done with church, but still found Jesus to be beautiful.
I sent a text to a small group of friends. “What if we just start making breakfast on Sunday mornings for the students who don’t have family in Winston Salem?” I continued, “Then we can do worship and teaching for anyone who wants to stick around after we eat and hang out for a while.”
The response was unanimous. “Let’s do it.”
We have gathered three weeks in a row on Sunday mornings. It’s a simple gathering of family and friends who are choosing to explore what it means to build a gospel community. We are gathering around five elements: meals, worship, prayer, teaching, and neighborliness. We have a church name—Winston Salem Community Church—but we haven’t even shared that publicly until I just typed this sentence. We are a new community of friends who are choosing to do life together and share the message of Jesus with anyone who wants to come alongside us on the journey.
I have a picture in my head that I long to see come to life. The auditorium is full of people worshiping God. Miracles are happening because our faith is high. We gather for worship and then are sent out into our community as a people called and anointed in our vocation, school, and whatever makes up our daily lives. We are a blessing to the community surrounding our school that has been overlooked and marginalized for far too long. We are the people of God, called to a particular time and place, among a particular people. I can see it so clearly when I close my eyes.
When I open my eyes, however, we are a group of 30-40 people on any given week, meeting in The Campus Grill on the Winston Salem Christian School campus. There are no bells and whistles. Just breakfast, friendship, and the presence of Jesus.
We fell in love with a community on North Patterson Avenue. The same community that welcomed us into their arms is now welcoming others, as well. If you’d like to be a part of the early days of this gospel community, we would love to have you with us. What we lack in fanciness we make up for in a sincere desire to love God and neighbors.
I never thought we would plant another church. Turns out, the church was here far before we arrived on North Patterson Avenue.
If you want to join us, we meet every Sunday at The Campus Grill (lower parking lot) at Winston Salem Christian School. Breakfast at 9am. Worship and teaching at 10am.
If you want to support our new church family, tax-deductible donations can be made online at www.wscommunity.church. Physical checks can be sent to Winston Salem Community Church, 3665 North Patterson Avenue, Winston Salem, NC 27105