Member Spotlight

Member Spotlight | Fighting Cynicism

Throughout our “Personal Liturgy” series, we’re interviewing members of our church family to hear how they are impacted and actively fighting against the “joy killers” in their lives. This week, we hear from Matthew Travis, a college senior and member of our Business Council, as he shares with us how his fight against cynicism looks like in light of the gospel.

How does cynicism show up in your life?

Cynicism shows up in my life when I focus on myself and my struggles, rather than on Jesus. This specifically looks like praying for something and then moving on with my day without being attentive to how God might be at work in my day. Then, when the prayer is answered, I think, “that probably would have happened anyway.”

A large part of it is also fear - I tend to shy away from things that scare me. I think I will be my best protector because I have my best interest in mind. In those moments, I fail to realize that the Lord loves me so much that He gave His only Son to redeem me into His own family. He loves me better than I ever could imagine, which means verses like Psalm 27:1 can reassure me that I can live fearless because the Lord is my God and my Protector.

A very real example of cynicism in me is in seeking to be in a relationship simply to avoid being single. Until recently, I had not been aware of how much weight I was giving to finding someone to date. I thought I had to take the situation into my own hands because God obviously didn’t want the best for me. So for years, I had so much anxiety about being single and knew that I was the one to blame, because the situation was, in my eyes, dependent on me. This is cynicism - not trusting that God is working in my life or believing that He has a beautiful, abundant plan for me.

Where have you seen personal growth or victory in this area?

I have seen growth in overcoming my sin of cynicism by being upfront and honest with people in my LifeGroup. It has been a huge relief to be able to go to the guys in my group and tell them how real this struggle is. They speak gospel-truth over me and reassure me that God is moving and working in my life and that He has not overlooked me.

Since starting to use the Personal Liturgy app back in January, I have begun to notice cynicism in my life. It has made me aware of how much I tend to doubt God’s presence in my life and His active movement in my circumstances. Without the app’s daily encouragement to think through my thoughts, emotions, and feelings towards God, I probably would not have noticed this sin in my life as something that needs to be addressed.

How has your understanding of the gospel specifically impacted how you deal with cynicism?

Cynicism attempts to attack my identity in Christ and tries to tell me that the truth of the good news of Jesus does not apply to me. The gospel shows me that because of Immanuel, God is always with me and never leaves me or forsakes me. Jesus gave me the Holy Spirit when I became a believer and assures me that because of His love, I never have to be insecure ever again about whether or not He is active in my life. This is the confidence the gospel gives me.

What are practical steps or habits you practice to fight cynicism in your life? Have there been any scriptures, books or teachings/sermons that have been particularly helpful as you have dealt with cynicism in your life?

Honestly, the best tool for me to fight cynicism in my life has been to turn to Scripture and read the truth about how the Lord loves me personally and how He will never leave me. He is faithful. When I am not faithful, He is still faithful. It’s beautiful to know that the Lord’s faithfulness is not dependent on me.

  • Hebrews 13:5-6 has really helped me. This references Psalm 118:6 which states that since the Lord is on my side, I have no fear. Hebrews 13:5-6 says that the Lord is not only on our side, He is our Helper!
  • Exodus 3:12 says that the Lord Himself will be with us.
  • Deuteronomy 31:8 says that the Lord Himself will be with us. He will go before us and not leave us nor forsake us.

One important characteristic about cynicism that has been hard for me to understand and grow in is that the presence of cynicism doesn’t depend on how much I know. Simply knowing Bible verses and being able to recite them is not enough. I am fighting to live in light of these verses, instead of just knowing them in my head. This takes active, pleading prayer to God for help to make these verses change the way I live in light of the gospel.

What encouragement would you offer to others in our church family as they seek to fight cynicism in their lives?

If you notice yourself leaning towards cynicism in your life when you think about God, I would strongly encourage you not to try to hide this from other people, or quite frankly, from yourself. Being open and honest with personal struggles is a healthy way to live life. I think it is really easy to say that doubting God is normal and everyone has those thoughts, when in reality, God desires for us to talk about those thoughts and believe in Him more and love Him more as a result of those conversations. Please don’t miss the beauty and the power of other believers encouraging you through your sin and struggles (Hebrews 3:12-13).

I would also say that there is joy in remembering that the Lord is sovereign over all things, including cynicism in your life, which means we can now approach every situation, no matter how hard, frustrating, or seemingly impossible they are, with hope. This hope in Jesus that He has conquered the grave and our sin allows us to fight cynicism in the grace that He has already provided for us. This is good news!

Member Spotlight | Fighting Self-Reliance


Throughout our “Personal Liturgy” series, we’re interviewing members of our church family to hear how they are impacted and actively fighting against the “joy killers” in their lives. This week, we hear from Midtown Lexington’s Vision and Teaching Pastor Michael Bailey as he shares with us how the spiritual discipline of prayer actively guards him in the fight against self-reliance.

How does self-reliance show up in your life?

You could say that self-reliance is often my default mode of operation. For example, when something breaks in the house or on my old F-150, I find no greater pleasure than being able to avoid calling the repairman and doing it myself. It’s probably fine for me to be self-reliant in those ways, but this mentality often bleeds over into my spiritual life, too.

The most common symptom of my spiritual self-reliance is prayerlessness. I think, “Oh, I don’t need to pray for this. I just need to figure out the solution. In general, my first response to problems is to plan instead of pray. This only increases with particularly stressful seasons. Instead of turning to God with my anxieties, I just aim to keep my head down and work my way through it. I would never say that I don’t feel like I need God, but my actions tell a different story.

Where have you seen personal growth or victory in this area?

On my own, stress was always a prompt to problem-solve before anything else. While I still problem-solve, I’m fighting to see feelings of stress as prompts to ask God for help and guidance before I try to just fix things. Stress is becoming a reminder to me that God is God and I am not.

How has your understanding of the gospel specifically impacted how you deal with self-reliance?

I’ve learned to see that self-reliance, in many respects, has its roots directly in the Fall of man. Life ruled by self was mankind’s original sin and subsequently lays at the root of all sin. The gospel directs my attention to the reality that attempting to do life on my own is precisely the thing Jesus came to die for. It’s not merely a personality wiring or a work ethic malfunction, but a sin - and at the heart of all sin - that required the cross.

What are practical steps or habits you practice to fight self-reliance in your life?

I’m type-A. So, if I don’t have structure, it doesn’t happen. To fight self-dependency, I created a “prayer spreadsheet” where I periodically list the things I need or want to see God do. I track the date that I prayed for it and the date God provided an answer. It might sound tedious, but this process has been such a help:

For one, the task of writing down my prayers reminds me I ultimately need God’s Spirit to do the heavy lifting regardless of how confident I feel in my abilities to accomplish things. It forces me, even for just a few brief moments, to confess to God my need for Him to act.

Secondly, it gives me a practical medium to actually turn over to God the big things that stress me out. Before, I’d believe theoretically that I needed to “hand things over to God”, but never really had a framework for how to actually do that. Sitting down and typing out my prayers has become the tangible way to say to God, “Okay, this thing? I need you here. And this problem? I can’t solve it without Your guidance.”  

Lastly, it puts God’s faithfulness front and center. When He answers my prayers, I can’t avoid it. I can’t simply write it off to coincidence or what would have happened regardless. It’s a one-to-one relationship. I prayed and He acted. I can still remember the first time I checked off a prayer that God answered. I thought, “Wow…He really did it!” And the more of those prayers that get checked off, the more I’m encouraged to trust in God’s abilities over my own.

Have there been any scriptures that have been particularly helpful as you have dealt with self-reliance?

Yes, specifically Psalm 127:1-2 which says, “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.”

What encouragement would you offer to others in our church family as they seek to fight self-reliance in their lives?

I’d assume that for many of us who struggle with self-reliance, we don’t really consider it to be a sinful issue. We take pride in our work and our abilities to accomplish. The dark underbelly of our position though, is that it often leads us to feeling like the weight of our world is consistently on our own shoulders. So, my biggest encouragement to others would be to realize that it isn’t. He’s powerful enough to handle what you think you’ve got to do on your own.

Living in Light of Eternity


During our “You Are Here” series, we examined common beliefs and phrases in our culture, and compared them with truths presented in the Bible. The series concluded this week with the saying, “You only live once.” This common phrase is often used to encourage reckless, self-gratifying behaviors or to encourage people to live in the moment. As well, it taps deeper into the truth that we were not made to sleepwalk our way through life.

In Ephesians 5:8-17, the Bible affirms the idea that we need to wake up and actively live our lives but rejects the idea that our pleasure is the purpose of life. The ultimate motivation for us is setting our minds on  Jesus - both His sacrificial, selfless life, and  the eternal life promised in Him to all who follow Him. Following Jesus comes at a cost, and living a life with eternity and God’s kingdom in mind looks very strange to our culture. 

In this member spotlight, we are highlighting  a few of the many people in our church family who are leveraging their lives for the gospel in beautiful ways! The work of Jesus in their hearts is clearly seen in how they live life sacrificially and in light of eternity.


Caroline Faucette

In the Classroom

Caroline is in her third year of teaching at a low-income middle school here in Columbia. Though not originally from Columbia, Caroline enjoyed her time at USC and with Midtown while she was in college. She decided she wanted to stay and work in Columbia after listening to parents in our church family who were concerned about the public education for their children but still desired to live and be involved in their downtown neighborhoods. God showed Caroline how her school is her mission field, not only to serve her students, but to serve her students’ families and the community. It made sense to her to be a part of the solution and help parents see that there shouldn’t be a conflict between giving their children a good education and loving their neighbors well.

Exciting as it may be, Caroline has definitely faced many push-backs. There are times when she interacts with frustrated and exhausted coworkers who are not always eager to hear about the hope she has. There are times when it’s difficult to build relationships with students and relate with their parents. During these moments, doubts and lies creep in, and it’s hard for Caroline to justify working where God has her when she has co-workers telling her she’s limiting her professional and career growth by staying here. However, Caroline has seen God fueling her hope and passion to teach and serve her students as best as she can. 

If you want to join in on the work God is doing in our schools, pray for Caroline and other teachers in our church family who are loving and serving the students in our city.


Dave and Karen Brower

On the Mission Field

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Dave and Karen are going to Africa  to support  missionaries currently working there in the field. In addition to local outreach, As a nurse, Karen will help missionaries in the area navigate the healthcare systems, find appropriate aid for themselves, and ensure they stay healthy. Dave will be connecting and working with a team reaching the lost there and doing some part time IT work remotely for CIU. After going on a medical mission trip to Africa, Karen realized how little she knew about health and went back to school to get her nursing degree with the desire that God would one day call her to go and serve in this field. Dave and Karen have thought about doing missions over the years, but timing and the Lord’s will only made it happen now, in their 50s.

Uprooting their lives at an age when others are looking into retirement has brought its share of difficulties, but God has used those to shine all the more brightly. The Browers were most worried about selling their house that they invested time and money in, but they didn’t even put their house on the market before someone expressed interest, viewed it, and wanted to buy it right away. It is painful for Dave and Karen to think about the memories they won’t be able to make with their six grandchildren, and giving and selling their belongings has not been easy, but they are all the more aware of the cost of following Jesus and aware of how little they need the things of this world.

To support Dave and Karen, pray for them as they prepare for missions and transition into moving overseas.


Kent and Ana Bateman

Church Planting

The Batemans, along with other members from our church, set out to plant a church in Knoxville, Tennessee in the summer of 2016. Starting a church from the ground-up is no small task. Much of the Bateman’s time and energy goes towards building relationships with their core team and new locals from Knoxville who are coming around their church. Kent, one of the pastors at City Church, says that ever since he met Jesus and began living life alongside other followers of Jesus, he wanted to create that same type of community so more people could experience that. Ana, who never thought that she would be a church planter’s wife, always wanted to be a part of a church plant and make Biblical family available to clients, coworkers, and anyone else she came across.

It’s been challenging for Kent and Ana to adjust to having a smaller church family and circle of support, when they were so accustomed to having an extensive church family back in Columbia. Despite the challenges, God has been working by bringing in young adults and couples from all walks of life: people who’ve been searching for a Jesus-centered church, people who have been suffering and in need of community, and even people who want nothing to do with church. These people have all been welcomed in the church with their passion, hurt, or questions, and God has been actively redeeming the lost and bringing more people into His family. 

If you’d like to support City Church and the work that Kent and Ana are doing in Knoxville through prayer or financially, please check out City Church’s website.


Dalisha Shingler

Education Reform


During her graduate studies at USC, Dalisha found a disconnect between the research addressing opportunity gaps within underserved low-income African American communities and the action done to see change happen. Dalisha has since taken these concepts and theories and has been applying them within her specifically designed Residency role with Midtown. She wrote a plan of action to aid in increased literacy rates at Carver-Lyon Elementary, the closest school to Midtown Two Notch and a school with historically low reading scores. Through reading culturally relevant literature to engage students in reading, she hopes that the students’ reading ability and test scores will increase. The Serve the City partnership, known as Hearts4Schools, was formed, with Dalisha leading up the charge in building relationships with students in a time where they are most vulnerable and in affirming that they are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27).

While Dalisha would like to see action and results sooner, she has also realized the importance of pausing and praying for the staff and administrators she’s in contact with at Carver-Lyon. She has recognized the need for patience and care with them, as they are vital to seeing change happen in the school, and ultimately, with the students. She is excited for the partnership with Carver-Lyon and praying that the students get educational literacy, but she is also praying that they come to know Jesus and form relationships at Midtown Two Notch. Ultimately, Dalisha’s desire with the program is that the gospel is both portrayed and proclaimed to the students and staff at Carver-Lyon Elementary.

To support Dalisha and the Hearts4Schools partnership, pray for the volunteers who will be reading and building with the students at Carver-Lyon Elementary. 

What makes it worth it?

Lastly, here are what each of these members answered when asked, “what makes your work and decisions worth it?”


“I know that I may never see the fruits from my students' lives as they grow and mature, but what makes it worth it is knowing that I have been deeply loved by Jesus and that He gives me the strength to follow through with His plan to save Columbia.”

Dave and Karen: 

“We just want to follow Him on this adventure. We feel His peace and presence in our lives. After all, isn't that what's it all about, Him?”

Kent and Ana: 

“If you factor in the good news of Jesus–that Jesus sacrificed everything to make us his own–moving to another city makes tons of sense. Actually, in light of that, why wouldn't we?”


“Education helps provide human dignity. That makes it worth it. We are affirming the imago dei of individuals and helping them walk in God's design for them. ”

Trusting God When Bad Things Won’t Stop Happening

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Member Spotlight: Courtney and Allen Tipping

Allen and Courtney moved to Columbia in 2005 to help plant Midtown Fellowship. The past decade of their lives has been marked with much suffering. The first year they were in Columbia, Courtney’s father passed away unexpectedly. Two years later, after months of battling with infertility, Courtney and Allen found out that they were pregnant with sextuplets. In March of 2009, at 22 weeks, the babies were delivered into the arms of Jesus. Eighteen months later, the Tippings joyfully delivered a baby girl: Zoe. However, in April of 2014, Zoe was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, Wilms tumor. The cancer had already taken over one kidney, the lungs, and an artery running to the heart. After several months of chemo and radiation, Zoe underwent surgery at St. Jude’s to remove one kidney and as much of the tumor as the surgeon was able to reach. Currently, all MRI and CT scans are stable. A year later, the Tippings found out they were pregnant again, only to learn a few months later that their daughter had a condition called acrania. While she would be full of life in the womb, she would more than likely not survive once delivered. Baby Mia was born in November of 2015 and lived ten minutes before she too went to be with Jesus. In addition to Zoe, the Tippings have two other living children: Sadie and Toby. 

Throughout your suffering, how did you deal with fear or anger towards God? What have you learned about expressing those feelings? 

Allen: To find out we were pregnant with six babies after struggling with infertility is a hard feeling to describe. So then to make it to 22 weeks only to lose all six of them, I just didn’t understand. We could have avoided all of this. A lot of things hit me after discovering Mia’s diagnosis as well. We were pregnant and it was so exciting and then the news just felt crushing. Even thinking back to Zoe—she was an incredible gift after the six, but she was born with cancer. The mental stuff starts going and you start asking, “Why are you doing this to me?” It felt like a personal attack. I think the biggest question I wrestled with was, “God, do you love me?” 
Courtney: I think the hardest time for me was after we learned about Mia’s diagnosis at our first trimester ultrasound. I still didn’t feel like life had gotten back to normal after everything with Zoe’s cancer. So with the news that we were going to have a daughter that would most likely never live outside the womb, I began to deeply question how we were going to sustain through all of it. 
Allen: One freeing thing that Courtney said to me was, “We are not okay and that’s okay and there’s no rush to get better.” I needed that freedom. I knew I needed to get better, but I didn’t know how to pick up the pieces. For an entire year after losing the six, when I prayed, I used the phrase “God is good” because I didn’t know if I believed it. So I just said it enough until I could believe it. I just had to take little nuggets of truth and hold onto them. I realized that I could not let my current circumstances color my view of the cross. The cross had to be the lens through which I viewed my suffering.

How were you able to have hope in the midst of tragedy?

Allen: The hope happened with every tragedy when we got to see church family be present and do very tangible things to love us. Knowing that people were praying for us was the way we saw the Lord’s endurance for us.
Courtney: When we were in the hospital right in between losing the first two babies and then starting labor with the remaining four, I got to a point where, physically, I just wanted to give up. I desperately wanted to keep fighting and so I asked people to read scripture and speak truth to me as I was in labor. I knew that was the only thing that was going to get me through. And I remember praying that somehow God would be seen clearly through something as awful as losing the six babies. I had a similar feeling about a month into Zoe’s longest hospital stay. On a particularly difficult and emotional night in the hospital, I broke down, unsure how we had the endurance to get through it all. And in the middle of the emotions, I knew that the Lord was giving us the endurance and that somehow He was going to be seen and glorified through all the grossness. 
Allen: I also had to come to grips with the reality that my life may be a tragedy. I just don’t know. I have no backing to say, “It will just get better.” Ultimately you just have to hope for heaven and when Jesus comes back and makes all things new. One thing that was helpful for me was the reminder in 1 Peter 5:9 that people are suffering all over the world in different ways. Some days, I needed the reminder that I wasn’t alone in my suffering. So I would remember that, and I would hope for heaven, and I would look to the cross. Those three things helped me push through. There’s certainly a desire for pain and suffering to end but the only way for that to stop is for Jesus to come back and when He does, judgment starts. So it’s God’s grace to call more people to Himself and not end things now. That was very helpful for me—to remember that what I would love to see happen (my personal suffering ending) would mean others don’t get to experience God’s grace. 

How have you seen God use the suffering in your life for His glory and your good?

Courtney: One way is Toby’s adoption story. Tiffany was one of Zoe’s nurses in the hospital. We formed a relationship with her when she worked weekends at the hospital. Then, in 2016, she met Toby’s birth mother at an elementary school talent show. They got talking and Tiffany learned that she wanted to put her son up for adoption and Tiffany reached out to us. Three weeks later, we were in the hospital, experiencing the birth of our son, Toby. 
Allen: I know of two Midtown members who both became believers after hearing Adam’s sermon on suffering the week after Zoe was diagnosed with cancer. One of the people is now a resident at our church and she recently told me that sermon and experience was one of the main things God used to save her. I don’t want to hurt just so God can use it, but at the same time, it does help—knowing that God can use even the worst of things for good. I don’t want my daughter to have to go through cancer for it to happen, but I’m glad that God uses it. 
Courtney: One sweet way that we see the Lord use the things that are super tough is the continual favor we have with the children’s hospital and ongoing relationships we have with the staff and other patients’ families there. Because we were so deeply loved by community during our stays in the hospital, I have a desire for other families to experience a picture of that type of community as well. We do monthly dinners with the moms who have children battling cancer and it’s just a time to say, “I know a little bit of where you’re at and I’m here.” We’ve also been able to form a Serve the City partnership between Midtown and the Children’s hospital. And at Palmetto Health’s last employee rally, Allen and I were interviewed for a video and had a chance to share our story and we got to talk about Jesus and suffering to every Palmetto Health employee. 

What were the most helpful things that people said or did to come alongside you in your suffering? Any advice for other people as they try to walk well with friends who are suffering? 

Allen: Presence is what matters. Just try to avoid all the clichés. They are unhelpful. Give me the promises that I can hold on to if you are going to give me anything. Mostly, I just wanted people there who would cry with me and let me know they cared. Another thing that was really helpful was when a person would ask if they could do a specific thing for us, like cut our grass. Often, people throw out a more general, “let me know if there’s anything that I can do to help,” but when someone’s life is falling apart, they more than likely don’t even know what they need. 
Courtney: I’d encourage people to not be scared to be present when people are hurting. That’s what I felt like the Lord really used in my life—He uses other people and He uses me when I just show up and I’m available. The other thing that has been really important to me is to have people not forget about the babies we’ve lost and the suffering we’ve gone through. It means so much to me when people want to talk about the babies or see pictures or allow me to talk about Zoe’s continuing journey with cancer. Remember to ask people questions and love them well through it all—even after the first couple of weeks of trauma. 

What good news were you clinging to in the midst of your suffering that you’d like to share with others?

Allen and Courtney: Psalm 62:5-8! Our souls find rest in God alone. 
Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
    my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
    he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
 Trust in him at all times, you people;
    pour out your hearts to him,
    for God is our refuge.

Member Blog - Throwing a Neighborhood Cookout

In our Member Blog Series, we hear from Midtown members who are working to apply the Bible and what we’ve been teaching on Sundays into their everyday lives. The goal is to provide you real-life, practical insight and inspiration as you work to do the same.
For today’s Member Blog, we’re interviewing Christian and Steph Boehm who have been around Midtown since November, 2016. In response to our recent Home series, Christian and Steph worked with their LifeGroup to throw a neighborhood cookout.

Q: Tell us a bit about your neighborhood. How long have you lived there? What kind of relationships do you have with your neighbors?

We live in Friarsgate, a very large, established neighborhood in Irmo. We actually just bought our first house here in August, and it just so happens to be three doors down from one of Stephanie’s childhood friends who still lives there. We took Christmas cookies around to a few of our neighbors to meet them, but had not spent much time with them other than saying “hi” when getting the mail or doing yard work. Our relationship with our neighbors echoed the our culture unfortunately— mostly just say hello but keep to yourselves.

Q: Were there any particular scriptures or sermons that specifically motivated you to throw this cookout for your neighbors?

The HOME series really inspired us to reach out to our neighbors and build community, especially the sermon by Brandon Clements - “A Home in the Hands of a Loving God.” He encouraged us that even when it’s awkward and it’s easy to make excuses, God calls us to be hospitable anyways. Neither of us were really close with our neighbors growing up and we decided we wanted to change that. We often host parties for our friends, but have not been really tried it for people we don’t know.

Q: How’d it go?

When we delivered invitations to our neighbors, most of them were very excited about the fact that we were hosting a neighborhood party. Many of them are older couples whose kids grew up here, but once their kids moved away, they haven’t really been hanging out with each other anymore. Some of them have lived here for 15 or 20 years and didn’t even know the name of the neighbor right across the street from them. We were very encouraged with how many people came, and how well everyone got along. It was so cool to not only meet our neighbors, but see them getting to know each other too. We grilled burgers, had a bonfire to roast hot dogs and played yard games like corn hole, giant jenga and croquet.  We had great conversation around the bonfire and everyone seemed to have a great time and were very appreciative.

Q: Did you see any specific ways God provided for this party to go well?

Once we had the idea to have this neighborhood cookout, our Life Group gladly jumped in and offered to help. There is a wide range of ages in our Life Group and we felt like that was helpful to be able to relate with our multi-generational neighbors and encouraged more conversation. Because some of our Life Group family were there, it also naturally led to more conversation about Midtown which then transformed into people sharing their own personal church backgrounds and talking about Jesus. Because Christian and I are only two people, it was great having more of our church family there to help welcome those who came.

Q: Any plans to do it again in the future?

Yeah! We’re planning to throw these neighborhood parties once a month or so. Our hope is to invite more and more neighbors every party so that we can extend our reach through more of our neighborhood. The parties will probably not only be cookouts, but will change with the seasons and holidays as we may invite them over to watch football, or have a Christmas cookie exchange, for example.

Q: What advice would you have for members of our church family who want to throw a similar party to connect with their neighbors?

Keep it simple. You don’t have to be a gourmet chef or have a house that looks like Southern Living. The party decorations don’t have to look like they came straight off Pinterest. Just use what you have, borrow things from friends, get a $15 bouquet of flowers from Costco and accept the help when people want to bring food or help you decorate. 

When you invite people you don’t know it seems in your mind that it will be super awkward, but it’s really not that bad. People are longing for community, family and friends. Most people probably want to know their neighbors but are scared it will be awkward. Who knows what kind of opportunities we are missing just because we’re afraid of being turned down?
Use what you have, and make it work in your stage of life. Another family in our LifeGroup was inspired by the HOME sermon series to start Saturday Swim days. They have an open invitation to anyone in our Life Group who is getting to know someone (especially those who don’t have a church or are non-Christians) to use their pool on Saturdays during the summer.  Another lady in our LifeGroup has a beautiful screened in porch, and has invited many people to use it as a place to pray on Thursdays. People may come and go as they please, and she has Bibles and other books that people can read if they want. My sister-in-law just hosted a baby shower for a friend, but as she has three little kids, it’s hard to prepare a large amount of food by herself, so she asked everyone to bring something to share. 

These examples have really helped me to understand that hospitality doesn’t have to look the same for everyone, and it doesn’t have to look the same at different stages in your life. I have to remind myself sometimes that it’s most important to 1.) be present in the moment, 2.) to be observant of people’s needs and to 3.) create a safe and loving environment. That’s so much more important than every little detail being perfect. God made each of us with different gifts and I just love seeing how people can be so creative in how they help others feel welcomed and loved. 

Thanks to Steph and Christian for their time and insight. We hope it’s encouraging to you as we all continue to pursue offering God’s warmth and hospitality through our homes!