When we moved to St. Louis in 2014, we didn’t expect to be here very long. We had plans to finish graduate work and then move on to the next stop on the journey toward being a college professor. The life of an academic would be comfortable, life would be simple. But then, God sidetracked our plans.
Our first impression of our city was that there were a lot of hurting people here (we arrived the week that unrest began in Ferguson). And during the first several months of our being in St. Louis, we experienced a lot of hurt too. While I wrestled with PhD course work and Hayley experienced a major anxiety and depression attack, everything was compounded by the fact that we didn’t have a community. We had no one to walk with us, no one to help us make sense of what was going on in our lives, no one to support us.
When God led us a church home in 2015, we found a community of support. But the lessons of that difficult season never left us. The church we connected with happened to be a church plant—a relatively new gathering of Christians who were trying to make a difference in their community. We were fortunate to see this church’s ups and downs, to get some on-the-ground experience loving broken people. And through that experience—and through much prayer and conversation—it became clear I needed to give up my dream of six-figure salaries and academic tenure to pursue the vision that God had placed on our hearts, the vision of planting a church in St. Louis.
And not just another church. But a church for people who are experiencing the difficulties of life, for those in our generation who are facing overwhelming challenges to faith and life. Our dream is to plant a church that is a community of conversation and growth for those on the fringes of faith.
Arise will be a church that takes Jesus seriously, but doesn’t take itself too seriously. A church committed to the truth of the gospel, a church that embraces the mere Christianity necessary to reach a postmodern society. A church where people can have authentic conversations about life and the questions they have without having to engage in the posturing of having all the answers. A church were the rising generations can meet Jesus, again or for the first time. A church that shows its love for God and love for others through its commitment to radical hospitality and service to the community. A church where people don’t just belong, but where they are transformed.
So firm was our conviction of the need for a church like this that in 2017 we began meeting to discuss starting such a church. Then, in 2018, God answered our prayers for partners in this journey by leading us to Rooftop Church, a church that was all about the things we were passionate about and just so happened to be looking for a pastor of church planting to lead such a community.
At every step in our journey, God has showed up in amazing and unexpected ways. The next step in this journey is to assemble a launch team—a group committed to leading and serving at Arise. Our prayer has been that God would assemble an amazing team of people to make this vision a reality. Are you the answer to this prayer?