Intro to Watsonopolis

There was one who once said crazy things like, give your possessions to the poor, let your light shine, go to the ends of the earth, love God, love your neighbor, serve, pray, die and live. Those words, the words of Jesus, have gripped and shaped our lives.

Because of Jesus’ life, challenge and love we are propelled into an amazing life journey; a journey that most often finds us pitching our tent among the poor and those on the margins of our world, serving, living, teaching, learning and loving there.

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Monday
Jul152013

The Watsons go to Washington

On June 2nd, Lisa and I stood in front of a church that we love, in a city that we love, and announced that we were moving.  Below is the text of what we read on that day.  With tears in our eyes, joy in hearts and excitement in our guts we set our sights on Washington, D.C. - to the glory of the one who made us and saved us.

___

June 2, 2013

To the faithful saints of Living Hope Church:

It is with both heart felt joy and gut churning sadness that I share with you that I am resigning my position as Mission Pastor and Lisa and I and the children are moving away from Memphis. 

But before I fill in details of the why’s and what’s next, I want to say thank you.

I have been shaped – my family has been shaped – and not just shaped but conformed more fully into the image of Christ because of this church, its elders and the wonderful pastors that I have had the privilege to serve alongside.  My life is richer because of you, my family loves more passionately because of Living Hope and our faith more faithfully reflects the heart of God because of the Spirit’s work through Living Hope to us. 

There is so much for which I’m grateful.

Of the many things that Living Hope has ingrained into me is the central role of the church in the proliferation of the gospel in a place. 

Even before coming to Living Hope I had a love for the local church.  I am a product of a local east Dallas church that sent the church bus into our apartment complex to pick up kids for Sunday service; similar to how Living Hope sends the old McLean Baptist van into Vollintine Apartments now. 

But Living Hope has furthered that passion, showing me and teaching me that the primary way the gospel moves forward and affects people and places is through the local church. 

That bedrock belief is the primary reason why Lisa and I are standing in front of you now.  Lisa and I, after a tremendous amount of prayer and discernment, including a discernment community made up of other pastors, elders and members of our small group, sense the Lord’s leading to move our family to Washington, D.C., where I will join the pastoral staff of The District Church as a church planting pastor in order to further the mission of reaching DC with the gospel of Christ through planting neighborhood based churches throughout the city. 

Those are incredibly exciting words for me to share and yet, carry a gut-level sadness as well.  I love Memphis.  I love Living Hope.  I love the elders and the amazing pastors that I have served with.  I love the family that the Watson’s have become in this place during this time.  And yet, one of the things that Lisa and I settled over a decade ago was that we would ever and always say yes to Jesus when we sensed His call.  It was that love that compelled us to leave Fresno, California, another place we dearly love, and settle on the banks of the third bluff.  And it is love again that compels us to move to the nation’s capital in order to see churches, rooted in the gospel of Christ, planted, and grown to maturity and planting other churches rooted in that same gospel. 

The church we are joining, the church we eventually will plant out of into a new DC neighborhood – The District Church -  is a young church, just 2 years old, was planted by some dear friends of ours and is in the Columbia Heights neighborhood in the heart of DC.  The church has found resonance with those who have moved to Washington from the four corners of the country in order to make some difference in the world.  In the District Church, Capitol Hill staffers, Int’l Nonprofit leaders and long-time hard-scrabbled DC natives are hearing the gospel and having their lives changed. 

During our time of discernment and in conversations with those discerning with us, our hearts have warmed to D.C. and the work of The District Church and their vision to reach D.C. through the planting of neighborhood churches.  We’ve also resonated with their heart to be a bridge for the ‘two D.C.s’; a city that has the highest education levels in the country and the worst public schools in the country.  Lisa and I want to be a part of planting churches that embody gospel-centered reconciliation across race and class; churches that serve as a prophetic picture of a different Kingdom than the ones often pursued in a place like D.C.  We want to make disciples, shepherding those working on the Hill or in other places of power and influence, walking with them towards Christ-likeness even as they faithfully serve, living out their own calling in D.C.  This is what Lisa and I sense God calling us to in Washington, D.C. 

It is very, very hard to leave Living Hope and Memphis.  So I’m not going to do it just yet!

I will remain on staff through the end of June to ensure that current mission projects are seen to completion or handed off to other pastors or leaders.  The month of July will be a time of final transitions and final trips to Central BBQ and Gus’s Fried Chicken before arriving in DC towards the end of summer.

In between now and then please be praying for us.  Specifically,

Pray for the kids’ school situation.  We’re not entirely sure where the children will be going to school and our options are a bit limited and each with a set of challenges.  Pray for God’s wisdom and for open doors to the schools of preference. 

Pray for the logistics of our transition. Packing up a house and figuring out what to do with our things as we move into a down-sized apartment in a DC row house will be a lot of things but ‘fun’ might not be one of them.  Pray it goes smoothly and in a God-glorifying way. 

Pray for our transition into the District Church.  As Church Planters, we will soon begin raising prayer and financial support and turning our full attention to what God is doing in DC and what specific neighborhood He’d have us root in.  Pray for God’s specific direction regarding neighborhood and for the District Church as I join their team. 

So much of who we are and who we will be in D.C. is shaped by and because of Living Hope and Memphis.  We are proud of Living Hope and what God has done through our church.  In many ways we feel like we’re leaving just when its getting good! 

But the Apostle Paul’s life and words in Acts 20 have begun to find deep resonance with us - “And now compelled by the Spirit I go to Jerusalem”.  Just as he was compelled to go to the spiritual capital and later the capital of the empire - Rome, so too do we find the Spirit’s compulsion to go to our nation’s Capitol for the sake of the Gospel and to the glory of God. 

With a full heart,

the watsons

 

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