Archives For City Community Church

For those of you that may not have heard, my life is taking a new twist. I’m stepping into a new role, a new arena of Kingdom building as part of a mission-minded non-profit called Community Reinvestment Foundation. This time has been the definition of bittersweet for us, but the excitement and anticipation is palpable. The future is bright.

This past Sunday, I had the honor of preaching my last message as an “official” City Community Church staff pastor. If you ever take the time to listen to anything I’ve ever said, please listen to this. If you only remember one thing about me, I hope it’s this message.

Click on the imbedded player below or download it to your computer or mobile device by clicking here.

Take a few minutes, over lunch, on the drive home, in your early morning hours, and let this truth of the Gospel sink into your soul. Grasp this message. It’s a game changer. It’s changing me.

If you only remember one thing I’ve ever said…..

What do you think? I’d love to have a conversation. Start it in the comments section below!

Sixteen years ago, right about now, I met a guy named Nathan LaGrange. I’ll never forget the first day he and Trish walked into our Sunday School class at the church we were attending and where would eventually work on staff together just a few short years later.

He wasn’t like me. At all. (We would have made great reality TV).

But something in our diametrically opposed DNA just clicked. Our spirits intertwined. Our families became each others’ families. Meeting Nathan LaGrange changed my life. And I’m quite confident to say meeting me played a big rolling in transforming his as well.

Sixteen years later….

70 songs co-written (a few of which deserve to be heard).

472,586 cups of coffee.

Australia.

Holland.

Israel.

Honduras.

We played a 10,000 seat stadium.

Deeply offended an international recording artist.

Talked philosophy like we were smart.

Made stupid YouTube videos.

Cared for each others’ kids like they were our own.

Celebrated achievements.

Mourned losses.

And over the last three and a half years, we launched a church in downtown Indianapolis.

Together.

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In church circles, we refer to these as “David and Jonathan” relationships.

“After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself.From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return home to his family. And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.”

-1 Samuel 18:1-3 TNIV

Jonathan was the son of the king. David was a shepherd (the slayer of Goliath) and future ruler of Israel. They were from different worlds, different perspectives, but their friendship transcended all obstacles. And the obstacles were many. When circumstances dictated their journeys would part, the pain was unspeakable.

“…David got up from the south side of the stone and bowed down before Jonathan three times, with his face to the ground.Then they kissed each other and wept together—but David wept the most. Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace,for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.”

-1 Samuel 20:41-42 TNIV

And that’s where Nathan and I find ourselves today. After a decade and a half working together, our paths are diverging. Our callings separating. And while we’ll continue to drink coffee (this is a non-negotiable), talk shop, and share a deep abiding friendship, things are undoubtedly going to be different.

So like David and Jonathan, we weep. (We’re not so much on the kissing, but we definitely weep).

Pain this deep can only emerge from deep love. Sometimes it seems safer not to love than feel the pain. To shut people and things out of your life in order not to encounter the hurt.

Don’t do it. Please, don’t do it.

Love deeply. With reckless abandon. Give you heart. Allow your lives to become intertwined. Feel it all. It’s what you were created for. And beneath the sorrow is a priceless treasure. Today, amidst our unbridled anticipation for the future, our sadness is deep.

Because our love is even deeper.

Some days are a mixed cocktail of joy and pain.

Hurt and hope.

Wounds and dreams.

Sometimes all these emotions collide simultaneously. And that’s where our family finds itself today.

On September 7, we will be stepping off full-time staff at City Community Church. The church we helped plant alongside our forever-friends, Nathan & Tricia LaGrange. The church that has become our home. The church where lives have been changed (a few even beyond our own so I’ve heard).

No pain could be greater. Yet at the same time, our anticipation is full-tilt!

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I’ve been asked by my dad and his board to come on staff at Community Reinvestment Foundation, a non-profit my father quietly helped build and has served as President for the last 20 years. CRF is a housing organization. They own and manage lower-income multi-family apartments across Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio. They’ve greatly improved the quality of life for their residents over the past two decades. But to top it off, the founding purpose of this organization is to generate profits for missions projects around the globe.

It’s an unbelievably beautiful organization, and an absolute honor to be asked to join the team.

I’ll initially be helping to launch some new initiatives both globally and locally, and then over time, slowly acquiring more and more of my dad’s day-to-day leadership responsibilities (he’s the youngest 68 year old I’ve ever met, but human is human).

I’ll be unfolding more details here on the blog here over the next week or so, but if you’d like to hear the whole story now in my own emotional words, here is what I shared with our church community.

Our heart remains with CityCom, and we will continue to love and serve in whatever capacity is helpful to the leadership there, regardless of where we draw a salary.

So please pray for the LaGranges and the entire church community as we all walk through this transition together. The future is bright, I know it. Like a muscle, sometimes the Kingdom of God has to tear to expand.

The pain is as real as the joy, and today we embrace both of them together.

More updates soon.

He doesn’t wear skinny jeans.

He doesn’t have a soul patch.

No blog.

No Twitter account.

He’s not on Catalyst’s short list for speakers.

No congregation to call his own.

No books to his name.

His glasses aren’t all that trendy.

(Although he does still have a great head of hair).

He’s my father-inlaw – Rev. David Wigington. Former pastor. Thirty year district leader for the Indiana Assemblies of God. Bionic man (his right arm is prosthetic from the elbow down). Grandfather (we say “Pa”) to my 3 kids. And my current landlord (rent’s cheap) while we wait to move into our new house.

A few weeks ago, I was thinking through an upcoming message I was going to preach at CityCom. I was wrestling with the process, so on a whim I asked my father-in-law a question I had (embarrassingly) never thought to ask him before:

“How do you prepare your sermons?”

An hour later I had uncovered treasure – inspiration, a few practical tips, and a goldmine of stories that deepened my faith in how God works through us, as well as my respect for a man I already greatly admired.

I’ve read the books. I’ve been to the conferences. I subscribe to the blogs. I share best practices with my peers. All important and empowering things! But I never thought to explore one of my greatest assets. A man I share meals with a few times a week. A man with 40-plus years of ministry experience. A man who trusted me enough to let me marry his daughter.

Call it ignorance.

Call it stupidity.

Call it pride.

Something blinded me from a treasure that I already had. Which got me wondering:

What gifts are sitting right there in front of us that we simply can’t (or choose not to) see?

The older I get, the more I awaken to the wealth of wisdom in the people around me, and the more I regret not realizing it sooner.

Are you still looking for something you might already have? Share it below. You just might help someone else awaken to something they’re missing, too!

Last year my sister in-law did something crazy (no, no….she married my brother 4 years ago).

She and her dad jumped out of an airplane. On purpose.

I’ve always wanted to skydive (theoretically), but the story that unfolded from the skies just outside of Houston, Texas gives me great pause. Britney’s dad, while plummeting to the earth at 125mph, encountered your worst possible skydiving fear.

His chute got tangled and didn’t completely open.

Thankfully, his tandem partner–the expert strapped to his back–was able to pull out a knife, cut away the worthless chute, and deploy the emergency backup just in time to bring them in for a safe (albeit somewhat harder than normal) landing. Best they figure, 30 seconds later and this story would have had a whole different ending (and point).

Free falls like this are why most people will only daydream of jumping from 10,000 feet. They’re also why most of us choose to stay locked up in assumptions about ourselves and God that simply aren’t true. The fear of the free fall outweighs the misery of the lies we’ve chosen to desperately cling to.

I’m unlovable.

I’m unqualified.

I’m the only one that struggles.

I can’t change.

God hates me.

I have to do it alone.

This is just the way I am.

I’m unforgivable.

We all claim to want freedom, but the responsibility that comes with it is often more than we can handle. It’s easier to be a victim than to embrace the identity God designed for us before the foundations of the earth were laid.

Trust me, I know.

Life can wound us (for some the trauma is horribly deep). Wounds are painful. So we fabricate stories, make vows, and construct an impenetrable fortress to protect ourselves from the hurt and shame. It’s natural. Understandable even. But these self-protections are lies that keep us enslaved. Unchecked, they become idols that we worship. Imposters of the one true God and false projections of our real identity.

Jesus offers liberty. Forgiveness. Hope. Life. But we have to let go of the lies. Repent. Risk the free-fall. And trust that in Christ, we have a tandem expert that ensures a safe landing. On free ground. In the truth–of who we are and Who He is.

You just have to find the courage to let go.

We’re talking about this for the next two months at City Community Church. You can hear my co-pastor Nathan LaGrange open the series by clicking here. You can also catch each week’s message on the CityCom mobile app, or even check in with us live online each Sunday at 11AM by clicking this link. Come free-fall with us.

What lies do you need to let go of? Start the conversation.