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April Update

snowystreetWhen I started writing this update, I was going to share that spring had come to Denver and how we’ve been enjoying amazingly beautiful weather the last few weeks. Well, as I sit here now I’m watching the snow fall outside, and by the time it’s all done we’re supposed to have 1-2 feet of snow! If you can believe it, they say we’re going to be back in the 70s in just a few days. It seems crazy, but we’re learning that this is pretty normal for spring in Denver! The more we continue to learn about our new city, the more we love it.

The last couple months have been pretty busy for the Redden family. If you’ve been following our move to Denver then you know that since we got here we’ve spent a lot of time looking for a house to buy.924southvine We’ve been renting a great house, and we haven’t felt any real pressure to have to buy. But on the other hand, we’ve all felt rather unsettled living in a month-to-month rental house. In fact there are dozens of boxes in our garage that we haven’t even opened. Well, I’m happy to report that we are currently under contract on a great house just a few streets over from where we’re currently renting. The house is a beautiful old craftsman-style house that was built in 1919. It is in great shape but is definitely in need of some TLC projects! We close on the house next week and are looking forward to settling into our new home.

Kate is doing well. She is still enjoying her part-time work as a financial advisor for Ron Blue & Company and her full-time job as a mom. On top of all that she’s taken on managing the design and renovation projects we’re trying to get done before moving in our new house.

Ethan continues adjusting to life in Colorado. He is doing great in preschool and continues making new friends wherever he goes. At a recent parent-teacher conference we were told that he has adjusted great and is really progressing well. While he still tells us he misses Georgia and his friends at North Point preschool sometimes, he is also loving all the great things that come with living in Colorado!

andrew-bcAndrew still keeps us busy and is becoming less a toddler and more a little boy every day. Next week he turns 2, and we’re looking forward to celebrating the joy he is in our life. He seems to be losing most of his aversion to babysitters and daycare teachers these days, which has made dropping him off at school a bit more pleasant!

Stephen continues to stay busy with a variety of things. New Denver Church continues to be a driving passion and all the joy and challenge that he had hoped and expected. The last few months have definitely been a bit of a roller coaster ride, but getting small groups started last month was definitely a big highlight. We started a group in our home with ten other people from the church and are amazed at how God is already working – extending his grace to broken people and allowing us to experience the oneness of community. We also did a recent Palm Sunday Community Gathering where we gathered as a community to worship and share communion together in preparation for Easter. In addition to his New Denver Church work, Stephen has had some opportunities to do some church consulting with a church in Minnesota and another south of Denver. This work has allowed us to reduce his New Denver salary by 20% for now in order to extend the support that we have raised as a church. He is also open to finding a part-time job locally for additional income but more importantly to continue developing connections and relationships in the community. As a family we are so grateful for the friends and family who have supported us in our pursuit of the dream of New Denver Church, and we are doing everything we can to make the most of that support to see that dream become reality.

Our lives are so full these days, and we are grateful for the tangible ways that we see God working in our lives. The truth is that we have probably never been more dependant on him as a family than we are now. This is a wonderful (and sometimes terrifying) place to be, but we sense that we are truly experiencing the abundant life that Jesus promised was available to us. Thanks for continuing to follow us on this adventure.

Meeting with Hugh Halter

hughToday Norton and I had the opportunity to meet with Hugh Halter, pastor with the Adullam church network and author of The Tangible Kingdom: Creating Incarnational Community. I knew a little bit about Adullam, primarily from reading their website (here’s a link to learn more) and talking to pastors here in Denver. Essentially Adullam is a network of home gatherings (“villages”) that meet around the city of Denver. They gather twice a month for corporate worship gatherings, but their main emphasis is leading people to a missional lifestyle.  Now “missional” is quite the buzz word in church  circles these days, but honestly Hugh is the first guy I’ve met who’s not talking about it – he’s doing it. He’s created a network of people committed to living interdependently through villages and reaching people far from God.

Now, there’s a lot that could be said about this missional movement and the things that Hugh and Adullam have done to live out this commitment, and I’d be glad to talk to you about that stuff if you’d like to know more – just email me. But the main purpose of this post is to share why my meeting with Hugh today rocked my world. Here’s a list of things Hugh shared that has my head spinning:

  • Hugh lived in Portland, OR before coming to Denver. I always thought Portland was one of the hardest places to plant churches in America. Hugh says Denver is harder. As Hugh put it, “People move here to play, not to get committed to something.”
  • In the last several years 60-80 church plants have come to Denver. 3-4 have really stuck around. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars, have been poured in by denominations that has resulted in very little church growth.
  • In Hugh’s opinion, “Denver is purely a missionary environment now.” As such really reaching “sojourners” (non-believers, people far from God, de-churched people) requires a different approach than the typical path of creating programs to draw people in.
  • Hugh advocates a three-phase approach to developing a missional community of faith
    1. Engage culture (get a job, meet your neighbors, join community organizations, get involved in service, get involved at your kids’ school).
    2. Form community – Start intentional communities that meet in homes (“clusters of friends throughout the city in which community, communion, and mission unfold as a way of life”).
    3. Structure a congregation – Communities meeting in homes will not sustain themselves. They need to be connected to something larger. They need to gather. This requires structure and organization…but not too much.
  • Hugh strongly challenged us to get jobs and spend as little as we can for as long as we can. Most church plants in Denver have failed, because they just run out of support.
  • Hugh challenged us to raise the bar on leadership. “Spend your time with pagans and leaders…and no one else.”
  • Part of the problem of the church today is that we are mired in a culture of consumerism. “The only way to remove consumerism is to remove what people consume.” In Hugh’s opinion this means the church needs to provide less programs that people just consume.
  • There is very little tolerance for believers who come to Adullam and aren’t fully committed to this way of life. There is a six-month process you have to go through before you can start your own village (home gathering).
  • We asked him about how they deal with kids. They don’t focus much on kids until they’re elementary age, and then they integrate them into the villages. I’m still unclear how this plays out.
  • He laid out what he asserted as the healthy apostolic function of a church. The church should always be sending and should always be gathering. If the church focuses too much on sending (in Hugh’s model, this is creating these missional “village” communities) they spread too thin and momentum won’t be sustained. If the church focuses too much on gathering, the church loses its ability to reach the culture.
  • The last thing Hugh gave us before our time ended was this:

    “Focus on making disciples, and a church will follow. Don’t worry about building a church – leave that up to God.”

This meeting just happened a few hours ago, so I’m still processing it. Writing this post was part of that for me. I’m not sure how this affects what we do or how we can use the wisdom and experience Hugh shared from his time in Denver, but today’s meeting has given me plenty to think about.

One month update

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Time moves by so quickly. It’s hard to believe that we’ve already been in Denver for a month now! We arrived at the end of January, just missing the big winter storm that crippled Kentucky and much of the south and midwest (you can read more about the trip here). Unfortunately our moving company driver wasn’t so fortunate. He got stuck in Illinois, delaying the arrival of our things for three days. So most of our first week was spent in a hotel.

Once our things arrived, we set about the process of getting settled in our rental house…but not too settled. We love the rental house that we are in, but we are renting month to month as the house we are renting is for sale (but way out of our price range to buy). The good news is that this allows us the flexibility to look for a house of our own, but unfortunately it also leaves us feeling a little unsettled still. We found a great house and put in an offer, but unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be, as we were outbid. While house hunting has been pretty frustrating since then, we remind ourselves regularly of God’s provision of the great house we’re in now and trust that the right house is still out there somewhere.

The boys are doing well and for the most part adjusting well to life in our new city. We all went through some adjustments to altitude which made for some restless nights for all of us the first few weeks. Kate spent most of the first week we were here trying to find a preschool for the kids and after a lot of work finally found a place for both boys. Ethan is at St. John’s Lutheran school just a few blocks from our house, and Andrew is at Colorado Christian school less than a mile away. With the boys settled in school, it feels like we’re starting to find a bit of a family routine.

Kate has her home office set up now and continues to work with her clients at Ronald Blue & Company. The woes of the financial markets have made her job more stressful these days as she works to help her clients make the best decisions in these uncertain times.

Stephen has been busy getting things started with the church – meeting with pastors in the area, people interested in knowing more about the church, and putting on our first events. He is also enjoying the flexibility of time sharing with Kate to care for the kids and getting to make the occasional trip to the park with them in the middle of the day!

While we miss all the friends we left behind in Georgia, this first month has been a great confirmation of so many things we hoped for moving here. We love the city, the people, our lifestyle, and the opportunities we have to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. We recently drove up to Rocky Mountain National Park for a Sunday afternoon and marveled at being able to drive an hour to a place we would have gladly traveled across the country to enjoy!

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Thanks so much for keeping up with all that is happening in our life, and as you think about it please pray for:

  • Patience and wisdom as we look for a new house.
  • Finding a balance in our schedule so we can get things done that we need to and still have time to prioritize family.
  • Developing new friendships here in Denver.
  • That God would bring the right people to help us build the church.

Not meant to be

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Today we put an offer on a great house over in the Congress Park area of Denver. Unfortunately we weren’t the only ones who submitted an offer today. We worked with our agent to put together an offer this morning and found out later that there would be another offer coming in later in the day. So we scrambled and adjusted our offer to our “best price” hoping to have a better offer than the other party. Unfortunately it just wasn’t meant to be. We just found out that they went with the other offer.

While we are certainly disappointed (this was by far the best house we’ve seen yet) we have peace. First we know that we made a good offer and stayed committed to the limits we set for ourselves regarding our budget. Second, we know that God has our best interest at heart, and having done everything we could, we trust that things went the way that they were supposed to. So we keep looking for the house that will become our home in Denver. If you think about it, pray that we’d be patient and wise in the process.

Our new house?

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We knew when we moved to Denver that we wanted to rent for a while in order to take our time finding the right house. Kate found a great place that we could rent month-to-month right near Washington Park. The owner was keeping the house on the market so the deal was that either of us could give the other 30 days notice to terminate the lease. This afforded us the opportunity to get to know the city and wait until we were ready. So, two weeks in…are we ready? Gulp. Read more

Building a team, building a church

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When Norton, Jason, and I began dreaming of starting a church in Denver together almost a year ago, one of the things we all shared that drew us to Denver was a love of the outdoors. So when we decided to make some time to do an all-day team meeting while Jason was in town, it only made sense that our first meeting would be somewhere that we could take advantage of our new city. Read more