I have decided to follow Jesus
No turning back, no turning back.
Today, we celebrated the spiritual birthday of Max Mandrell, age 8. He recently received Jesus as his Lord and Savior. A small group of believers gathered beside Bear Creek in Colorado, to witness the event. It was a special day. Thank you to everyone of you that has invested in his life, bringing him to this point of decision. He wrote a letter to those who listened, explaining that he is not ashamed to follow Jesus.
Hey Storyline family and friends:
As I shared earlier this week, we are having an informal gathering tomorrow at 10:30AM at O’Fallon park past Morrison! We would love for any and all to come and join us.
The park is on Hwy 74 in Kittredge. You can find it on Google. Bring a blanket and a picnic for you and your family. You may also want to bring a fold out chair! The plan is to have some light bible study, to share in our son Max’s baptism in Bear Creek, and to enjoy the great outdoors and great company.
If you have any questions, just shoot me an email at email@example.com.
See you tomorrow!
Ben and Lynley
Hey Blog Family and Friends:
It has been FAR too long since I have sent word about the happenings here in Denver. My apologies. Life has been full and the church planting action is picking up.
God has been blowing our minds with His goodness and His provision in this time of planning and praying. We continue to stand amazed at the things that He is doing behind the scenes, preparing the way for Storyline Fellowship’s launch on Feb. 8, 2015. I’ll try to regain my focus and share more on the blog in the weeks to come.
The purpose of this post is to invite any and all to a special informal gathering of Storyline Fellowship this Sunday at 10:30 AM at O’Fallon park near Morrison, CO. We now have a great group on the ground in Denver, and the Lord has blessed us with many new friends in the area. That being said, this Sunday, bring a picnic lunch and a blanket and join us as we eat together, enjoy a brief time of Bible Study, and witness the baptism of our son, Max! He is so excited about being baptized in a real life river/creek. :)
Here’s a picture of the two of us, sitting at McDonald’s this week, talking through “how to have a daily devotional.” He’s a little sponge right now.
If you live in the Denver area and would like to come and meet our family and some of the team members of Storyline Fellowship, please send me an email and let me know that you’re thinking about joining us. I would love to connect with you: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great week and hope to see some of you this Sunday!
When a boy takes a hunk of Play-doh and starts molding a skyscraper, it looks a bit blobby and shapeless for a while. As he continues to mash his thumbs in the stuff, his vision and architecture begin to take form. He feels a growing delight as the thing takes on a life of its own. At Storyline Arvada, we are beginning to feel like that little child. Countless things are starting to fall into place, the vision of the church is beginning to take incredible shape, and roughly 50 people are searching for a way to relocate to Denver to invest their lives in the startup!
Sadly, we know that most of our friends and family would love to join us on this journey, but for one good reason or another, are unable to make this kind of seismic move at this time. That’s OK, you can still be a HUGE help and a member of the team. Could I suggest four ways that you could make a significant impact in our new church start?
Help Us Start Storyline
1. Spread the word by retweeting and sharing social media.
We now have regular updates through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. When you retweet and share, you give Storyline an opportunity to reach out to all of your contacts and friends. It has been amazing how many people have relatives and friends in Denver. Connections are being made nearly every time we send out a message.
2. Lead your church to become a partner with Storyline.
On August 19-20, we are hosting a Vision Tour for pastors and churches who are seriously exploring a partnership with us. These special invites are for select churches who are searching for a national mission focus and feel prepared to invest with both time and funds. If your church would be interested in joining this exciting coalition, contact me at email@example.com. Let’s talk!
3. Give a one-time gift or commit to a regular gift.
It takes well over $1,000,000 to start a new church over the first 3.5 years. Most people don’t realize how costly it is to find space, purchase equipment, hire administrative help, send out mailers inviting the neighbors to come…etc. It has been an eye-opening experience! With your financial gift, you make it possible for us to invest in the community and to share God’s message of grace. You can give online or you can mail a check to our P.O. Box. Just click here.
4. Pray for Storyline.
Soon, we will start a prayer newsletter that will keep our supporters up to speed on needs and breakthroughs. Watch the website, www.storylinefellowship.com, for more details. Also, if you do not receive my regular, personal blog updates into your inbox, use the simple tool bar in the righthand corner of http://www.benmandrell.com to sign up. It’s so encouraging to Lynley and I to know that people are still praying and following what God is doing in our lives, family, and church.
Any way you feel led to serve Storyline is an enormous, humbling blessing. We love you all, and thank God for your friendship.
Ben and Lynley
Blessed is the man whom God corrects;
So do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.
For He wounds, but He also binds up;
He injures, but his hands also heal.
It seems that Ben and I like to roll into a city while they are in the midst of major weather patterns. We moved to Colorado in January amidst a major blizzard. We barely made it through. Our moving truck was not so fortunate and got delayed for three days. Skip ahead two weeks and we head to Orlando…just in time for a two week, rarely heard of, monsoon. (I could be exaggerating on the monsoon part but it helps for effect.)
During this time, we got a good taste of our new reality. We were brand new to a major city in which we knew where nothing was, and we knew no one to help us find said places. The rain finally subsided and I was thrilled that a neighbor stopped when driving down the street to seemingly greet me. I was so ready to meet a friend. She rolled down the window long enough to ask me if “all those kids were mine and if I was Catholic”? Ummmm…
Enter here the first blind spot the Lord began teaching me, Lynley, specifically. It was during these two weeks of isolation that I began to understand the true meaning of hospitality. As I did some research, I found that Webster’s dictionary defines hospitality in two ways:
- a generous and friendly treatment of visitors and guests : hospitable treatment.
- The activity of providing food, drinks, etc. for people who are the guests or customers of an organization
Ironically, the lesser of importance (#2) is the one I put all my efforts into. I believed the act of hospitality was entertainment based. Now…my entertaining stronghold isn’t formal and fancy. Paper plates were my choice “china” when hosting families in our home. And we loved to host families in our homes! (Another point of conviction was that there wasn’t enough diversity of families but that’s another story.)
What I missed out on in “hospitality” was genuine, generous, and friendly treatment of visitors and guests. As I sat in our new mission home in Orlando, lonely and ready to throw Siri out the window for giving me roundabout ways to get to seemingly nearby destinations, I wondered how many people had moved into Jackson, our former neighborhoods, or our church and felt the exact same feelings?
I am ashamed to admit that I did such a poor job of even trying to understand or sympathize with this pain. Many sweet families joined the staff of EBC during our 7 years and I did little to nothing to specifically welcome them. We had guest speakers and missionaries visit and it’s likely they did not even receive a card of welcome or appreciation. New members would join the church and there was “no time” to give them. (I’m not forgetting that I couldn’t do all this in a church our size…I could have done more though!) This embarrassment led me to make a list in my journal of “what hospitality means to me” and resolved that I would implement this list in the future. The top of that list holds the verse, “Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Romans 12:13.
You see, for the Mandrell family, living in Jackson was not difficult in this aspect. Invitations were plentiful. People were so gracious to have us in their homes frequently. We received so much that we lost the art of giving it back. The Lord was actually being so gracious to let us experience life on the other side.
As I think about our new ministry in Denver, I feel the Lord calling me to lead out in the area of hospitality. Romans 12:13, rendered by the Holman Christian Standard Bible, reads “pursue hospitality.” That means we should be proactive in showing care for new people, not passive hoping they find their way around. As Launch Team members, mission teams, and even new staff members arrive, I hope that I can practice the ministry of hospitality and set the tone for Storyline. God has shown me how vital it is to be known and loved.
Congratulations to Jordan Easley on being named the 8th pastor of Englewood Baptist Church. With Jordan beginning his preaching ministry tomorrow, a springtime atmosphere is surely felt. It’s a new day, a hopeful time of anticipation. We thank God for his faithfulness through this time of transition. Scripture says that there is a time and a season for everything on the earth. Lynley and I celebrate this new season for EBC and look forward to watching the fruit come forth through Jordan’s leadership. We trust that the upcoming season for Englewood will be one of unity and growth.
The transition to Denver has been frought with danger! First, we drove into the city last Wednesday as humongous hail stones were being hurled from the heavens. It sounded like 500 major league pitchers throwing fastballs at the vehicles as we crawled along I-70 through Denver. We arrived at our house safely and immediately thanked God for keeping our windshields in one piece. I felt like I needed a two-hour nap.
Yesterday, we were convinced that Lynley had come down with the stomach bug. She laid in the bed all day, grimacing and holding her belly. Last night, after the kids went to bed, I brought her to an Urgent Care here in Denver and soon discovered that her appendix was ruptured. She was taken by ambulance to the hospital and put under the knife immediately. Again, we praise God for giving us the sense that something was seriously wrong and getting to the hospital before things grew worse.
As I write, my mother-in-law is heading to the airport to come to my relief. Since Lynley will be in the Lutheran Medical Center in Westminster for a few more days, I swallowed my pride and begged for reinforcements. I’m grateful for the help. Ava, who has a fascination with nurses, is sitting beside momma’s bed and helping me tend to her. I can’t help but wonder if she is already a nurse-in-training.
Finally, I want to thank God for our brand new neighbors, who have jumped in and loved on our boys today. Colorado hospitality is seriously underrated. We are so grateful to have new friends who have already become a support as we start this new life in Arvada. We appreciate every prayer as we persevere in this transition. Our God is faithful.