I have never been more uncomfortable, and I have never felt more alive. As it turns out, God is using tension to show me something rather beautiful in the midst of brokenness.
Two years ago, I got a call from my friend, Darren, which completely changed the trajectory of my life and ministry. Darren is a longtime friend that seamlessly transitions between his passion for entrepreneurship in both the business world and non-profit space in our community. “I’ve got a property that I want you to look at for your church. However, it’s not where you have talked about wanting to be in the heart of Uptown Charlotte. It’s just West of the city. There’s a businessman, Casey Crawford, that has purchased a 40,000 square foot property and he’s turning it into a non-profit hub, but they also want a local church in there that has a heart for the community.” I agreed to check it out.
Two years later, we are actively involved in the West Charlotte community, having renovated an 8,000 square foot portion of this warehouse into five classrooms and a 300-seat multiple purpose venue. Our church uses this on Sunday mornings, but in reality, that’s not the main event. Life is being lived in collaboration with people seven days a week in this building. The kingdom of God has no logo, and no church has a holistic grip on the fullness of the Church (the body of Christ). However, I’m grateful our church family gets to play our part in the beautiful symphony that he’s conducting in West Charlotte.
Each day, our building is full of kids from Ashley Park PreK-8 School, which is recognized as the highest poverty school in North Carolina. High school students from the community have been employed through UrbanPromise Charlotte to tutor, mentor, and befriend elementary school kids that are working hard and laughing along the way.
The Harvest Center (one of our partners in the building) has become a lighthouse for our homeless friends in the community that arrive on campus looking for a hot meal and leave realizing that there is hope for their future through Jesus.
Each Wednesday, our venue is full of friends from across the community that choose to pray together from 12pm-1pm. Pastors, non-profit leaders, business folks, and Jesus-loving men and women from our community gather and pray for God to establish the beauty and peace of his kingdom in West Charlotte as it is in Heaven.
In the past two years, I’ve never seen or experienced a more beautiful expression of the Gospel.
I am going to start processing some of what I’m learning in this space. Even though this blog has my name on it, I’m only one small piece of a great story, and I want to share this story with others. I’m praying that you’ll be encouraged to embrace the tension in your own life in regards to the division that has come across racial and socio-economic lines, both in Charlotte and around the world. After all, we’re not as different as we may have been led to believe.
I am so grateful that Darren called and that Casey bought this building. I’m overwhelmed in the best way that we were invited to the party. We all get to play our part, no matter how unqualified we feel. I feel that every day, and my life is better because of this tension. I have never felt more uncomfortable, and I have never felt more alive.
I hope you’ll join us on this journey.