According to Barna Research Group (see attached article), Burlington, Vermont is the #1 most UNCHURCHED city in America! What better place to rethink how we do church and offer a collaborative opportunity for communities, families and churches to come together for the sake of their teenagers and young adults? We are not seeking to abandon existing churches but, instead, to provide a unified, off-site, setting for students to build friendships, receive love, encouragement and hope. We will also provide a judgement free environment for students to explore the outrageous claims of Christ with honest, unfiltered curiosity! These types of opportunities are difficult in smaller church, youth group, settings.
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Today many people across our country and throughout the world will find themselves wearing green and eventually drunk all in the name of ‘saint patrick‘. Yet, most are clueless as to who he was, what he really did, and why celebration began…
First, a few misconceptions about Patrick:
Patrick isn’t really a Saint with a capital S, having never been officially canonized by Rome. No, Patrick was protestant and a few trips to Belfast, Northern Ireland (as I have done many times) will clearly remind you that this is a touchy subject. Also, there’s the “snake myth” – ha – Patrick couldn’t have driven the snakes out of Ireland because there were never any snakes there to begin with. He wasn’t even the first evangelist to Ireland (Palladius had been sent in 431, about five years before Patrick went).
Patrick isn’t even Irish. It is believed by many that he was from what’s now Dumbarton, Scotland (just northwest of Glasgow). And, he definitely didn’t look like this picture!
Lent has arrived. When I was a little kid, I called it the “fish season” – for unlike most kids, I love fish and prefer it to other meat. So, this time of the year always made me happy because every fast food chain had fish sandwiches and most restaurants had fish dinners. They even served fish sticks in school lunch…Yum! I wasn’t being disrespectful – just being a kid… As I got older, I began to understand the significance of lent and Ash Wednesday through the lives of many of my Catholic friends and other Christians.
Lent is viewed in churches that observe the season as a time of spiritual preparation for Easter. Fasting, doing penance, and abstaining from worldly amusements are seen to parallel the passion and suffering of Jesus prior to and during the Crucifixion. I commend those that whole-heartedly observe this time of reflection, repentance, sacrifice and communion. Fasting is powerful and pleases God. Holiness is the Lord’s hearts desire for His children. I too believe in fasting, repenting, and avoiding the temptations of worldly activity. My challenge is that self-denial and sacrifice would be a lifestyle rather than just a special effort once a year. Allow times like Lent to provide an opportunity to search our hearts and provoke us to greater service.
Letter to my Friends and Family at Courage Church
Sunday, January 25, 2015
I love Courage Church so much! I also love Detroit like no other city I have ever lived!
I’m still totally amazed at all that God has done in and through my family since following the Lord’s leading to Detroit. We have lived in three different houses and led our church to four different locations (often more than one at a time). And, now here we are stronger, healthier and more united than ever before. Praise God! He is always so faithful!
As we have recklessly abandoned ourselves to the cause of Christ; He has led us from miracle to miracle. You can never, ever, go wrong by obeying God — no matter how ridiculous it may sound to you or others. And, I have learned that God’s will is always about more than just me or you. It impacts all of us who are in relationships together.
God is calling us, yet again, to radical obedience! As most of you already know, for the last year as I have continued to serve as the Lead Pastor of Courage Church, I have also served as director of church planting and networking for Mount Hope Church in Lansing. I’m so grateful for the way God has merged our churches together and provided Courage with a parent church that provides leadership, encouragement and family. We are blessed to be considered the Detroit Campus for Mount Hope!
As God continues to strengthen this relationship, He has called me to make a radical transition from being Lead Pastor at Courage Church to joining Mount Hope Church, full time, as Pastor of Campus Development. This next step in obedience will require my family and I to move to the Lansing area. As part of my new responsibilities, I will serve as an overseer and board president for Courage Church — which affords me the honor and blessing to remain part of your mission and vision. In fact, I truly believe that I will be able to provide new blessings from this position that I could not by remaining here.
Words cannot express how much I love each of you. You are my friends, my family and my heroes! Your sacrificial and joyful approach to ministry and outreach has literally impacted every place where we have served. We have been honored by 2 mayors and are continually involved in our community, schools, neighborhoods and beyond! And, I have no doubt that the best is yet to come.
God has placed a very unique apostolic calling on my heart and this new position will enable me to continue to plant churches, raise leaders, disciple students and impact cities. At the same time, it opens the door for new vision and fresh anointing to continue the work that has begun and is thriving here at Courage Church. We are already sensing that God is raising up leadership that can truly take this body of Christ to the next level! I look forward to being a blessing and resource to Courage and it’s leaders any way that I can. Each of you, now, have the opportunity to step up and be the church at a greater level.
It has been my greatest joy and highest honor to be the founder and pastor of Courage Church! I have had a front row seat to watch God transform people’s lives. I am a living example that the Lord uses imperfect people to do His will. It’s been so thrilling to worship with you, marry you, dedicate your children, baptize you, share God’s Word with you, pray for you and LOVE YOU!
God has been SO good and SO faithful to us. Because He IS good! We can be confident that his heart, purpose and love will continue to grow and abound through each of you! And KNOW THIS: Greater things are ahead! Like Elisha following Elijah, I am believing for a double-portion of anointing in the days and years to come! It’s SO exciting!
One of my life verses has always been Acts 20:24, “But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.” This passage was spoken, in part, as Paul’s farewell to the church and elders in Ephesus (see Acts 20:13-38). It is this purpose that leads me forward and also requires each of us to examine our own hearts, lives and purpose. God’s will is always best. And, to obey is better than sacrifice.
I will remain as Lead Pastor through Easter Sunday. I will also remain active in the transition process for Courage Church through this time and beyond. As mentioned already, I will continue to provide active oversight and assistance. I also plan to visit several times this year and I also look forward to continuing to lead “4Days Detroit” again this summer and beyond.
Through this process, the leadership of Courage Church will also be very active and available to each of you. We met this week and truly sensed God working and preparing Courage for greater things! My executive team is Mohan and Freddie Karulkar, Anthony and Erin Gancer, Andrew and Kathryn Jump and Zachary Platt. Please pray for them and seek ways to serve with them.
You are more than my church, you are my family. And, I love you! My family and I are so grateful that we will only be 90 miles from you. We are also so excited that our two churches will continue to do ministry together. You are part of our lives FOREVER!
Thank you for your patience, kindness, prayer, hard work, grace and love. You are the best! You are part of the reason Detroit is changing! You each have purpose, calling and destiny! I will always love you, cheer for you and pray for you! The best is yet to come!
So, my dear family and friends, I close this letter with these final words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you. 2 Corinthians 13:11
I’m ROARing for you!
Chilly Chilton (and Family)