Shoveling & Loving DC

Snow In Chinatown.jpeg

I’ve had a lot of time to think the last few days.  Most of it has come while shoveling.  I’ve been thinking about snow, our city and the mission of God.

As one of my neighbors said at some point over the last few days, “snow brings people out.”  It’s true.  We got to meet a neighbor who moved in three doors down two months ago and hasn’t been seen since.  I found out a neighbor I always thought was a jerk is, in fact, a really nice guy.  People are genuinely happy when you help them shovel and there were many chances to make people happy in our neighborhood.  There’s more waving on my street these days and more smiles.  We’re greeting each other by name.  It’s all rather pleasant.

It’s also an incredible demonstration of how we’re called to love our city.  Our hope of reaching DC is directly tied to our willingness to relationally engage and sacrificially serve.  It’s a beautiful thing when the church gathers.  And it’s a powerful thing when the church scatters, if we’re scattered with the mandate to engage and serve.  You don’t need to fly somewhere to take a mission trip.  You need to walk out your front door.  

My love for this city has only deepened in the last few days.  It’s filled with extraordinary people doing their best to get by in a city that can be really lonely and overwhelming at times.  There’s no other place I would rather pastor.  But I don’t want to just preach to the saints on Sunday.  I pray we would be the best neighbors on our block or in our apartment buildings.  I pray we would be the relationship builders and I pray we would be the servants.  It’s funny.  When we’re willing to engage and serve, God opens doors to share. Yes, He’s what our city needs most.  It’s our job to make Him as visible on our streets as He is in our sermons.

Restoration City, we’re a people on mission.  We aren’t creating a comfortable gathering for us.  We’re fighting for the good, the life and the salvation of our city.  Don’t sit on the sidelines!  Engage, serve, share.

It’s how streets get shoveled and lives are transformed.

College/Intern Community Group Meets Tonight

Over the course of the week, I have become increasingly convinced tonight is going to be really significant in the story of Restoration City.  Our first ever college/intern community group is going to be meeting on the campus of George Washington University.  God has done some amazing things to prepare the way for tonight and to draw students to this time.

If you are a college student or intern in DC this summer, we would love to have you join Joey Schwartz for this Community Group tonight.  They will meet every Thursday during June and July from 7:30-9:00 p.m. in the Potomac House Study Lounge (2021 F Street NW, Washington, DC 20052). If you know any college students or summer interns who would be interested in joining this community group, please have them contact Joey at joey.schwartz@restorationcitydc.com.

DC is a college town and there’s no where near enough happening on our university campuses to make Jesus famous.  I’m praying tonight is the start of a wave that sweeps the campus of DC for the glory of Christ and the good of our city.

Restoration City Loves College Students

GW Campus

One of the dreams in planting Restoration City was creating a vibrant, intergenerational church that brought college students, singles and families together.  Oftentimes, churches reach 2 of those 3 groups but rarely all three.  Being truly intergenerational takes intentionality and sacrifice.  It’s not easy to create an environment that is welcoming to an 18 year old guy, a 28 year old professional and a 38 year old mom.  But it’s so worth it! Intergenerational interactions are a growth accelerator in our walks with Jesus.

Right now, the missing leg of our triangle is college students.  That’s just not okay in a city that is home to 155,000 university students during the school year.  The future leaders of the world come to DC to be educated and the nations are represented on the college campuses of our city.  We’re missing a huge opportunity to sow the seeds of restoration into future generations if we aren’t being intentional in reaching college students.

That’s why I’m so excited to have Joey Schwartz joining our Restoration City team for a summer internship with the mission of engaging college students in the DC area.  I’ve repeatedly told Joey I’m praying God uses him to leave us with a really big problem when he heads back to UNC in August – namely, a bunch of college kids running around the church in need of a leader!  Would you join me in praying the same?

Joey is leading a summer Bible study on GW’s campus, where he’s living for the summer, every Thursday night in June and July.  The first one is this Thursday, June 11th at 7.30PM in the Study Lounge of the Potomac House dorm.  If you are a college student in DC for the summer, we would love to have you!  Thanks to the generosity of some Restoration City members, we’re offering pizza every week.  If you want more information or want to get connected, email Joey.

Lord willing, this summer will be the start of something huge in DC – waves of college students connected to a gospel centered church that believes in them and wants to partner with them in bringing restoration to their campus.  Who knows how God will use all of this but I know this…Restoration City loves college students!

For The Good Of Our City

September 2014 ServeDC Team

September 2014 ServeDC Team

I loved being at Windmill Hill Park in Alexandria, VA this past Saturday morning as part of our first ever ServeDC experience as a church.  It was insanely hot, humid and fun!  As our team was busy power washing, scraping and clearing brush, I kept silently praying “Thank You, God” over and over.  I loved seeing so many from our church plant serving.  I loved how hard everyone was working – we seriously would be an amazing landscaping crew!!  I loved how much fun people were having and I loved seeing new faces.  To top it off, we were able to have several conversations with people from the neighborhood and county staff about who we are as a church, Jesus and the gospel.  It was a great day!

It’s also very much in keeping with what God calls Israel to do during their exile in Babylon, “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” (Jeremiah 29:7)  At Restoration City, we want to live this out as people God has sent to DC.  We want to pray for our city and we want to seek the welfare of our city.  We want DC to be better because we exist as a church.  We want to be a blessing to our city and show DC the kind of grace we have received from Jesus.

Yes, our ultimate prayer is for spiritual awakening in this city – the kind of awakening that comes only through the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We love preaching that gospel in our sermons and in our daily conversations.  We do it joyfully and without apology.  But if we preach it without living it, we shouldn’t be surprised when our city takes little notice.  ServeDC is one small way of living the gospel we preach; the gospel that makes dead men come to life through faith in Jesus.

DC has plenty of critics and haters.  I love being a part of a church that loves this city and seeks its good.

RCC Launch Team Meeting Tomorrow

With each passing week, I get more and more excited for our RCC Launch Team Meetings.  A group of individuals is fast becoming a team and we’re all developing a sense that God is doing something unique through our little, embryonic church.  So, I’m filled with expectation for tomorrow’s meeting!  And I love that there are now 3 ways for you to connect with a Launch Team Meeting.

1.  In Raleigh-Durham.  Tomorrow we’re going to be meeting at The Summit’s Brier Creek Campus in the Volunteer Headquarters Room (which is Suite 111 in BC North).  There’s still time to join us – you don’t need to RSVP.  Just show up at 1PM.

2.  In Washington, DC.  I can’t tell you how much I love the thought of our team already having a presence in DC!  Our DC meeting is at the exact same time (1PM) and you can get all of the details and RSVP here.

3.  You can also watch a good portion of the meeting online via Livestream.  We do this for three reasons.  One, it’s the service we use to link our RDU and DC meetings together.  Two, we know some of our launch team is traveling on any given weekend and this provides a way to stay in sync with the team.  Three, we have a few people living in other parts of the country and other parts of the world who are going to be joining us in DC this summer.  Yes, that’s right…our launch team is international at this point!  So if you can’t make one of the meetings in DC or RDU, feel free to join us online at 1PM EST tomorrow.  You just have to follow my Livestream account here.

All of our meetings start at 1PM tomorrow and all are open to anyone interested in learning more about RCC.  So, feel free to join us if you’re interested in learning more.

See you tomorrow,

John

Reflections On Vision Weekend

This past weekend was absolutely amazing as we got to host our first public vision meeting for the planting of Restoration City Church in Washington, DC.  We had about 40 people show up and express interest in joining our team!  That’s crazy when you think about it – 40 people from Raleigh-Durham showing up to talk about how God could use them in planting a church in Washington, DC. Unreal!!!  My heart is still so full and I am so excited for what God could do through this team.

I don’t know that I have one big summary thought from the weekend.  At this point, it’s more a collection of random thoughts.  But here they are:

1.  I love planting a church!  There is absolutely nothing like seeing Jesus be faithful to His promise to build His church.  It’s thrilling to watch God work and I love seeing Him bring something new to life.  I can’t imagine doing anything else right now and am so grateful this is what God has called me to do.

2.  It feels really good to use your gifts.  As I was driving to church on Sunday, I realized it had been well over 6 months since I had gotten to be in a room of volunteers and cast vision for what God is doing through a ministry.  That’s not a complaint about those months…I just hadn’t realized how long it had been.  And I had forgotten how much I love it.  If you can’t get inspired by people showing up to see how they can leverage their lives for God’s glory, I don’t know what would fire you up!  It’s just amazing and I love times like those.

3.  I’m so grateful to our team.  We had a small team of people who helped pull the whole meeting together and they did a great job.  They served so well and I’m so grateful to call each one of them friends.

4.  This is only the start.  Our goal isn’t to host a successful vision meeting.  Our goal is to plant a church that God uses in a powerful way to reach the lost in Washington, DC.  This isn’t the time to sit back and congratulate ourselves on a good start.  This is the time to pray bigger, trust more, work harder and believe all the promises of God.  This is a time to prepare for what’s ahead…but I do love the first indication that it’s going to be an incredible ride!

Now starts the really fun part – seeing Jesus turn a room full of strangers into a team that loves one another and is determined to see restoration come to Washington.  When I think about that, it really does seem like the best is yet to come!