Parties on Earth, Parties in Heaven

We’re not sure what other churches do when they’re just getting started, but in Baton Rouge, we party.

Tailgates.
Birthdays.
Bonfires.
Game-watching.
Election-watching.
Homework parties.
Afterparties. (and sometimes, Before-parties.)

Even our Sunday church service feels like a big party. People come early, stay late and have fun doing it. We love that our church is like this because that’s what our city is like! Baton Rouge knows how to have fun and we love to show people that following Jesus and being a part of His Church is the most fun they’ll ever have. And the best part? In the midst of all the partying, people’s lives are being transformed. Last week alone, four people made a decision to follow Jesus for the first time in their lives! We can only imagine the celebrating that’s been going on in Heaven.

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This is an excerpt from our e-newsletter this month (in mailboxes today). If you’d like to receive our monthly updates, click here to sign up!

A Word is Worth a Thousand Pictures

Every time we sit down to write a blog post, we hope to somehow paint a picture for you of what life is like in Baton Rouge and all that God is doing. We wish you could see our pastor’s house on Sunday, full of people who are bringing their friends and their friends’ friends. We wish you could see people sitting across from us at lunch, so thankful that someone is interested in knowing them. We wish you could see the way people are experiencing God like never before. It is too much fun!

But since you can’t really SEE all these things, we’ve put together a list of some of our favorite quotes from people who have become a part of our church. We hope they encourage you and give you a closer look into what God is doing here in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

“After Sunday, I look forward to lifegroup on Tuesday. And after lifegroup on Tuesday, I look forward to church on Sunday.”

“I don’t want to party anymore. I just want to be a man of God like you.”

“What I love most about Antioch is that everyone knows my name.”

“This isn’t church; this is a house party!”

“When I came, I felt like everyone wanted to be my best friend. No wait…no one had even talked to me yet. I just wanted to be their best friend.”

“I love Antioch and I love bringing friends. But what I love most is when my friends love it, too!”

“Everyone keeps talking about Antioch and they all keep saying, ‘Wow, those people at Antioch just really love Jesus.”

“I don’t really know much about following God. I don’t know any of the Bible stories. But what I do know is that God found me once and now that you guys are here, I feel like God has found me again.”

No News

We always start to feel bad if we haven’t blogged for a while. We imagine you with our blog pulled up and hitting refresh over and over again. And although that is probably not the case, we want to apologize nonetheless for leaving you in the dark for a month! We have been running full-speed ahead since we officially began the church on August 1st and so we wanted to pause and fill you in on what our day-to-day life looks like here. And as you’ll be able to see, it isn’t lack of material that has kept us from updating. It’s the opposite.

Team

We meet as a team for two hours, three times a week. We spend this time praying and planning for what we are doing during the week.

Like every other church, Sunday is a big work day for us. We host a Sunday evening service and also serve a meal afterwards. The girls have fun cooking all afternoon while the boys transform our Pastor’s house into a “church auditorium.” We have had about 20-30 different people each week and these gatherings have continued to be a great time of fellowship where people are being knit into a church community.

Lena is on the Communications Team so she has worked a lot on getting our church’s website up and running (coming soon!) and is now in charge of our church’s Twitter account–a bigger job than she realized.

We will also begin hosting a tailgate as a church on LSU Game Days and we have been scheming for how to make our tailgate the place to be–also a bigger job than we realized. Try competing with people who have chandeliers and big screen TVs!

Work

We are both still working at The Chimes and are determined to whittle our way into people’s lives there. Lena works for 15-20 hours a week as a hostess and Blake works 20-25 hours a week as a bus boy. We have had some meaningful conversations with our co-workers and have had our first person express interest in visiting our church!

College

We LOVE doing college ministry. After just three weeks since school has started, we already have a core group of about 20 students. We have stayed up past midnight many-a-nights having long talks or watching funny YouTube videos with everyone. We’ve had prayer nights, game nights, lunch dates and workout times. (Can you guess who did which activity?) Blake was just asked to join an intramural flag football team at the UREC on campus with some friends from high school and is excited to rekindle those friendships and get to spend more time with them.

It has been so much fun to live life with the people God has brought in our path. We don’t just see them at a weekly gathering, but they really are becoming close friends. But each week, we try to find a way to meet new people as well and we’re excited to see how God extends our influence and relationships on LSU campus.

God is moving in our city and through our church! We could write pages and pages of testimonies and stories and hope to do just that in the weeks and months to come.  But in the off-chance you don’t hear from us again for a couple weeks, it isn’t because we don’t have anything to say! It’s just that we are running to keep up with what God is doing. These days, no news is good news!

 

Real World: Baton Rouge

Image

This pictures pretty much sums up how I felt headed to my first day of work last week.

Moving to Baton Rouge, I decided I wanted to work as a substitute teacher for my part-time job. Nothing too scary about that, just a room full of 8-year-olds whose opinion of you doesn’t matter all that much. You might say “hello” or “goodbye” to other teachers or chat for a bit in the teachers lounge, but if things get awkward or you don’t quite fit in, all you have to do is avoid accepting a sub job at that school for a while. After all, I love teaching, I’d make good money and I could just reach out to college students when school got out around 3pm. It was a good plan.

But God had something better. Scarier, but better.

The idea to apply at The Chimes, one of the most popular restaurants in town and right on the edge of campus, popped into my head out of the blue. I had already applied to a couple of schools and was excited about being a sub. However, Blake and I thought the idea could be from God, so I applied to be a hostess and make minimum wage. Twenty four hours later, I was hired. Next thing I know, I am in an entirely different world.

People in Waco say there is a “Baylor Bubble.” They are correct. And Baton Rouge is the giant finger that popped the bubble for me. All the other hostesses at The Chimes are girls that go to LSU and my day consists of 6-8 hours of talking to them, while seating tables in between. And when I say talking, I really mean listening. They don’t really talk to me much yet. Just to each other while I’m standing right there. I don’t blame them though. After all, all they really know about me is that I’m 24, I’m married and that I moved here to start a church. Yeah, that makes me weird. Not to mention that when the conversation turns to getting drunk, doing drugs and living with their boyfriends, I don’t have tons to add to the conversation. These conversations happen regularly throughout the day and are usually accompanied by a variety of cuss words.

And one more thing…I love it there. Although I am still nervous and feel pretty insecure every time I drive to work, and although I feel like a permanent outsider during the day, there is no place I’d rather be. I love how real and honest the girls are. There is no pretending you have it all together. There is no faking a relationship with God. There is no bubble. I am honored that God trusted me with these people. He trusted me to love them like He does and to show them there is another way to live. I want to be the most kind and loving person they have ever met. I want to know their stories and know their lives. And I can’t wait to tell them that once upon a time, I used to live a life a lot like theirs.

Wanna Come Over?

Were you wondering what happened to our blog? Well, fear not, we are back!

We have spent the last month getting settled in our new house/new city/new life. And after a anniversary trip to New York (get it? NEW), we are back in BR and ready to roll! And ready to blog!

We’ve put together a little virtual tour for you so you can see what hours of unpacking and many dumpster dives have gotten us so come on in! And check back semi-weekly for the latest update.

Have Church, Will Travel

It’s hard to believe it is finally here, but move week has arrived! The next few days will be filled with boxes, goodbyes and maybe (probably) some tears. We will have a going away party on Wednesday, pack our U-Haul on Thursday and hit the road early Friday morning. We are so excited about what is to come, but we can’t believe we are leaving this place that has become home to us over the last five years.

As we’ve reminisced these past few weeks, Blake and I have been listing what we will and will not miss about Waco, Texas. Sometimes we add to the list with fly swatter in hand killing the 100th fly in our house. Sometimes we add to the list driving away from a dinner realizing we have the best friends. No matter the emotion behind the addition, the lists have only made us realize how much we love it here.

What We Will Not Miss About Waco, Texas

  • Alternating between two main dining options: Pei Wei, Chipotle
  • Sharing our home with flies
  • Requiring multiple lemons to mask the taste of the tap water
  • Washing all our dishes by hand
  • Being chased by stray dogs when out for a walk

What We Will Miss About Waco, Texas

  • Being able to drive 50+ MPH down 17th and 18th
  • Getting from one end of town to the other in 15 minutes
  • Seeing someone you know every where you go
  • Cheering on the Baylor Bears
  • Going to a passionate, life-giving church
  • Being a part of people’s families
  • Celebrating a birthday, engagement, wedding or baby every weekend
  • Living life with the most loving, gracious, fun, authentic people we’ve ever known

We live a blessed life here. And although looking at these lists could make us sad, it is actually what motivates us. We want the people of Baton Rouge to experience what we have experienced. Our lives have been changed by the way we’ve experienced God. Our lives have been changed by the people who have walked with us along the way. Our lives have been changed by sitting around dinner tables, babysitting kids, repenting to each other, laughing together, crying together. That is Church. And that is what we want to see created in Baton Rouge.

So we’ll keep answering “yes” to “Are you guys sad?” But the sadness comes with expectancy. What we have loved about this place, we know we’ll get to experience again…among a new group of people who we don’t even know yet. And for them, we pack our boxes, say our goodbyes and take Church with us.

No Relocation Necessary

We are heading to Baton Rouge in just six weeks (eek!) to start a CHURCH! We will go from a city with 10 restaurants to a city with 100. We will go from being able to cross town in 15 minutes to being able to get lost in just 5 minutes. We will go from church attenders to church leaders. We will go from being Bears to being Tigers.

We are excited for what our new life will hold but we don’t want to go alone! So, between now and then, we will be pulling together a team of people to “go with us.” Don’t worry, no relocation necessary.

Our first stop was Blake’s hometown and we are still in awe of what an amazing time we had. We spent the week meeting with people, catching up and talking to them about what we’ll be doing in Baton Rouge. We left feeling beyond loved and encouraged and we are now counting the days until we get to come back to Louisiana for good. We are so thankful for the kindness and graciousness of our friends and family there. You are our dream team! If you’d like to see our presentation again, we finally learned how to insert it below.

If you live in Dallas, we’ll be headed your way next so don’t peek! If you’d like to meet with us, let us know on the “Join Our Team” page. We can’t wait to see you!

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