Resurrection Life Church first met for a worship service on October 12, 2014. We met in our newly purchased home. Since then, we have had quite the journey together. Our core team has stayed mostly intact, but we have certainly experienced our share of what I shall call ‘Triangle Transiency’. We live in what is historically and affectionately called ‘The Triangle’ (Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill). Exponential population growth has transformed what used to be small southern cities, but along with this growth comes transiency. People come, but people also go. When I consider our own neighborhood, only one family has remained while all the others have either moved or are in the process of moving. One home has had two families move in and out already. I trust that this transiency has nothing to do with us being their neighbors, but has more to say about our culture.
Triangle Transiency has also attracted a particular ‘type’ of person moving to this area. Many are young professionals who work very long hours. They are expected to be availability 24/7. Many of them can work from home or they spend significant time each day sitting in vehicles listening to podcasts or Audible. Their online ‘communities’ created through social media maintain their connection to family and friends further away, which creates the illusion that face-to-face relationships are not as necessary. The transiency, hesitancy to commit, and the volunteer time needed to give to a church like ResLife create challenging obstacles for us as we seek to reach out.
So what are we doing to combat these challenges? We are purposefully being counter-church
cultural. We are keenly aware each Sunday that the church is made up of people simply due to our size, and so that begins with being intentional with people. For example, our small group discussed many of these sociological dynamics by reading ‘The Gospel Comes with a House Key’ by Rosaria Butterfield this past spring. Rosaria, who just so happens to live in Durham, NC, challenges the church to experience radically ordinary hospitality. She experienced a radical conversion to Jesus by regularly experiencing radically ordinary hospitality by a Christian family. It was through that hospitality that she was drawn into a deep relationship with Christians who loved her where she was at and loved her to where God would eventually take her.
We are combatting these challenges by remaining steadfast to worship, discipleship, and mission. Rather than cater to the challenges, we want to counter them by creating clear margins within our days for purpose-driven relationships. Throughout the summer, we will be putting radically ordinary hospitality into practice through what we are calling ‘The Fellowship Project Part II’. We will be challenging people to practice hospitality together this summer while offering corporate events with the church as well.
Finally, we are combatting these challenges by reminding ourselves what belonging to the church really means. We are currently going through a sermon series on church membership, a way in which we can preach through concepts like belonging, covenant, commitment, accountability, and love. We are intending to have ‘Membership Sunday’ on Pentecost, the first step we need to begin the process of nominating and then training elders and deacons.
Some of the sociological and cultural challenges affirm for us all the more why God called us to this area. The concept of ‘church’ we are offering is different, and in that difference, there is beauty, growth, and true community. In sum, I love my church and what we are accomplishing together in faith.
As you continue to pray, please pray that the Holy Spirit will use us to grow in depth and breadth. Pray that we will gather the strength to keep pursuing those who need Jesus as their King so they may experience the values of the Kingdom within ResLife. Thank you for these prayers, and may the Lord bless you and keep you in your respective ministry contexts and the challenges therein.