Every year my family travels down to Jonesboro, GA for our Thanksgiving get together on Black Friday. While everyone else is unloading their big screens and midnight deals from their morning adventure, I’ve already downed an entire can of black olives (not exactly the wisest choice). All twenty plus aunts, uncles, cousins and significant others circle up and say grace before we sit down to a meal that will guarantee some form of turkey coma later in the day.
This picture of family has been ingrained in my mind for as long as I can remember. As we pulled out of my aunt and uncle’s driveway I always wished we lived closer so that we could get together more often. A few times a year just isn’t satisfying enough.
What if somehow I was able to create this “family” feeling wherever I lived? That’s the question I felt God ask me in an upstairs youth room in an urban church in San Francisco. There have to be others like me who are searching for this feeling or have never even experienced the joy that it brings.
On second thought, what if my family all served the same city and people we love whenever an opportunity arises? What if this family wasn’t limited by numbers, but grew as people welcomed others they know, love and that desire to have a relationship with God?
This is and has been my vision for the church. As much as someone desires the spiritual gifts or longs to see healing, I want to see two strangers grow to love each other like brother and sister. In all my prayers I want the people I know to care about each other on the same level that my God and parents care about me. I want it to be the same biblical level as the first believers in Acts 4:32.
Revolutions don’t just happen. Is this too revolutionary? It happened in the Bible. Couldn’t some form of this at least happen now? Without a big budget, rented space, a piece of land, great children’s programs or even a Sunday morning service, could anyone in a community create a Christ-centered family in their community?
We knew that God wanted to use us to connect with people in our city and invite them to be a part of our family. Sharing what is happening in our lives, what God is telling us and what we’re doing about it isn’t just strategy, it’s how you build relationships.
That’s what we desired. We wanted to eat together, serve together, grow together, cry together, celebrate together and worship our incredible God together. So is it possible? I know it’s possible because we’re doing it. It wasn’t random or some elaborate plan. I meet another man, Merle, who had the same vision as me. We began meeting together and praying for this. The two of us soon became four, four became six, six became twelve, twelve became eighteen and so on. And our church, Windborne Church, was born.
Windborne hasn’t just happened. God knew that people in Athens, GA were longing for an extended family. He spurred us on to find others who felt the same. God sent us out into the community to be involved together, be missionaries in the city we love and to invite the lost into our homes.
The Thanksgiving with family isn’t just once a year now. It’s every Thursday at 6:30 at Merle’s house and we’d love for you to come eat with us if you are ever in the Athens area.
Andy Slagle is recently married, an aspiring chef, computer nerd, teacher and church planter in Athens, GA. He worked along with his wife, Kristen, in campus ministry for two years before being a part of WindborneChurch. You can find more information here.
How do you create community where you live? Share with us!