Memphis. We’ve been gone for two years. Thanks to the wonder of voice memo, I’m “writing” this as I drive back to the 901. Let’s just call this blog verbal processing!
How can you miss a city? Who is “Memphis”? Memphis is every person I’ve interacted with during the 29 years I’ve called Memphis home. Memphis is the people I’ve fallen in love with as we had the privilege to serve in the city. Memphis is the other pastors and leaders of every race, denomination, and zip code who we stand shoulder to shoulder with to chase away the darkness. Memphis is the complicated combination of the beautiful grit and grind and the pain of our city’s tragic past. The black eye of Dr. King’s assassination in our streets is not what God wants this city to be remembered for. He has a better way.
God’s writing a new story that we want to be a part of. And as we absorbed the events of 2020 from Cleveland, we longed for the Lord to let us return our little light, and our commitment to be known by love, to the people of this city. We’re so grateful He spoke!
On a personal level, as we come back to the city we love, I do have a little apprehension. I think of the way Satan likes to work. Silence, half-truths and division are three of his favorite weapons. In relationships, we often fill in gaps of silence with distrust. We take conjecture and speculation and create a new narrative that divides. It’s the same familiar formula that destroys friendships, families, cities, and countries. We assume the worst about each other and then build our walls.
We’re coming back to start One City Church. We can’t shake from our hearts the role that we believe the church should have in the city’s healing. There are other jobs out there to pay the bills, but our calling is to pastor. So, we start over in faith. We’re also launching Race for Reconciliation – both a local race and a national education platform, designed to gather every sector of the city together to bring healing from the past, honor in the present, and hope for the future. We want Memphis to be the birthplace for a movement we pray helps cities across America.
Whether you ever set foot in One City Church or not, we’re excited to link arms with the people of Memphis again. It will take all of us to overcome some of our city’s struggles, but I think of the people who have labored in this city in churches, nonprofits, schools, and businesses to make a difference. We’re looking forward to being back in the trenches with you!
If you see me, please come say hi. Our only desire is to love well.