So much can change in just one year. In July of 2018, church planting was the last thing on my mind and far from something I thought I wanted to be involved with. I was a long-time member of the United Methodist Church and an active member in a thriving congregation, but I had always thought that anyone who wanted to be involved in church was already there. I did what I could to show the people in my life that the Christianity I believed in was about love and healing, but I knew that the world was full of reasons not to be involved in organized religion. I knew I loved my church community, I knew God loved me, I knew God loved everybody unconditionally, but I did not know how or exactly why to share this love with others.
Kindred, before Kindred ever had a name, gave me the how and why. Ironically, it was my doubt and lack of understanding that motivated me to join a discernment team at University UMC to help the church council decide whether or not to approve a church plant project. I was fully prepared to listen and subsequently critique the idea of opening a new church, but my heart quickly took a new direction after just one meeting. The facts we reviewed regarding our local community made it clear: thousands of people who could and needed to feel loved by a church family were not being reached.
This heart-wrenching realization was swift, and similar epiphanies just kept coming. The survey results and demographic data that got my attention at first transformed into actual people that I met in the first few weeks of attending Kindred events in January 2019. At the root of the huge variety of life experiences that brought us all together, I discovered a few common desires: to love and be loved by God; to feel unconditionally accepted by other people; to be intentionally invited into a meaningful community. I can no longer assume someone without a church home does not need one–these desires run deep and carrying them alone, unattended to, is too heavy. It is a burden that Kindred has been able to help lift, especially if other church experiences haven’t been able to.
The already countless hugs, tears, and laughter are reminders that building relationships take time and patience, but they are always worth it. July 2019 finds me in a much different, a much more optimistic, frame of mind about church planting. I am energized and revived by the stories being shared, the lives I see changing, and the potential impact of even just this one church plant. God can change so much in just one year.