gccc loves high schools! loving our neighbors in tysons, fairfax + arlington county, dc, and beyond

This piece in the New York Times on teen suicide was a sobering reminder of how much we need to be reminded that our identity is in Christ, and not our achievements. Frank Bruni writes:

And while mental health professionals are rightly careful not to oversimplify or trivialize the psychic distress behind them by focusing on any one possible factor, the contagion has prompted an emotional debate about the kinds of pressures felt by high school students in epicenters of overachievement . . . the situation isn’t so different in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., where a separate cluster of teen suicides in recent years forced educators and parents to re-examine the messages they give teenagers, intentionally and unintentionally, about what’s expected of them and what’s needed to get ahead in this world.

Fortunately not all of our kids are affected by the pressure-cooker environment described in the article, but it seems to generally be part of the culture in the DC metro area, known for attracting high achievers. May our church be a testimony of people who are not afraid to admit our brokenness, for God’s power is “made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:19). What an upside message that we all need.

As we get ready to (literally) do ministry in a high school, lets be reminded of how Christ has come to be a healer for the sick and a comfort to the weak–including us! He loves high schools, which are full of confused kids trying to figure out their identities. Hopefully our church will be an appealing place for people looking for somewhere to find rest and be reminded of what’s most important in life.

transitions and wise lessons from peter scazerro + karate kid I

Hello from the Tysons Launch Team! It’s a lovely sunny and slightly brisk day in the DMV. Who’s ready for 69 degrees on Thursday? (Okay it’ll be raining, but at least it’ll be warm!)

Here is a picture of a chunk of the Launch Team at Marshall High. Who are these good looking people?!

 tysons launch

From left to right, we have Fang(welcoming co-lead), Dennis (AV/worship team equipment guru), Jeff (moving/transportation/logistics), Melissa (launch team co-lead!), Dan (worship team point person), and the lovely Denise (welcoming co-lead). Not pictured are General Sooj, myself (Julie–communications), Peter (other launch team co-lead), Kandace (children’s ministry), and countless others who are helping out behind the scenes. All of these awesome people are juggling these responsibilities on top of full-time jobs and in some cases, kids! (7, in the case of Kandace!) So if you see them around, thank them for their service and keep them in your prayers.

As we approach June 14, the start of the Tysons Service and new time for Arlington Service, there’s a lot of excitement and momentum building in the church (how could there not be, with hoodies on sale?!). At the same time, we can feel honest that sometimes we feel a whole mix of emotions–excitement, but also some sadness that with two services, we won’t have “everyone” all together, every Sunday. Our close-knit community has been such a huge strength of the church, creating a sense of family in a big, fast-paced city/area. We’re very excited for how Tysons Service will open up a new witness and opportunity for the Great Commission, but transitions can be challenging and disorienting at the same time. How do we deal with these emotions? Last month Melissa sent me this great quote by a very smart guy, Peter Scazerreo, author of some books on emotionally healthy spirituality:

Why are endings and transitions so poorly handled in our ministries, organizations, and teams? Why do we often miss God’s new beginnings, the new work he is doing? In part because we fail to apply a central theological truth—that death is a necessary prelude to resurrection.  To bear long-term fruit for Christ, we need to recognize that some things must die so something new can grow.  If we do not embrace this reality, we will tend to dread endings in the same way our wider culture does, as signs of failure rather than opportunities for something new.
But for now remember this: the reality that Jesus is risen from the dead enables us to affirm that endings are always a gateway to new beginnings – even when we can’t discern that anything redemptive could emerge from our losses.
This quote reminds me of a few things. #1, the reason for moving to two services is not convenience or b/c it’s exciting to get “bigger,” the core of our desire is to bear “long-term fruit for Christ.” However, any growth also requires some pruning, which can be hard–but all for a greater goal, to bring glory to God. #2, the radical message of Jesus is that “to die is to gain.” When we give up certain things that are precious to us, Jesus always fills us and meets us with more, even more than we can ask or imagine. #3, God is always working for our good, even in times of uncertainty or when there is no immediate fruit. We don’t always know how things will turn out, but we can take risks in faith, knowing that God can work, even through our failure.
So yes, I will be a little sad I won’t see certain folks on Sundays (although I will at small group and church events…and lets be real folks, we have a lot of church events hahaha). And yes, starting Tysons Service is a lot of work. But it’s exciting to look forward to these new beginnings–both for GCCC @Tysons and GCCC @Arlington. I’m so excited to see what God has in store!🙂
[Side note…I personally am not a big fan of moving/transitions, but every time I’ve moved to a new city, I think of the scene from Karate Kid 1 when Daniel is whining that he wishes he could stayed behind in Jersey…and his mother reminds him of the summer he didn’t want to move, but that ended up being the best summer of his life. Could Daniel-San have anticipated all that would happen in the Karate Kid–meeting Allie, his relationship with Mr. Miyagi, and victory over Cobra Kai–when he was looking at that dingy empty swimming pool at his apartment complex in Reseda? No! He was just focused on missing New Jersey. Fortunately he soon met Mr. Miyagi, who opened his eyes to a whole new world. The point being–transitions can be scary, but it’s also exciting to think that you are just around the corner from meeting new people who might change your life!]