A baby church is like a baby boy or girl. It takes a whole lotta stuff to get going! When a child is born, loved ones “shower” the new parents with all manner of happy packages. Bottles, diapers, bibs…even toys and cribs! It’s always fun to see the joy of the new mom and dad as they peel back the boxes and discover what’s inside.
Storyline Fellowship is now being showered in like manner. First Baptist Church of Orlando has organized the event, inviting their members to participate, but we also wanted to ask all of our friends and family to consider helping us launch our new church. The first preview service for the community will take place on Nov. 2 and that date is coming fast. We need kids ministry stuff, bibles, nursery items, tables, coffee supplies, everything from Lysol spray to crayons to extension cords! Every little gift helps us tremendously, even a $5 or $10 gift is money that we save and can use for building ministry here in Denver.
If you would like to participate, please click here and see our online registry at Amazon.com! We are BEYOND grateful for your support and sacrifice.
Ben, Lynley, Ava, Max, Miles, Jack and the whole Storyline team!
P.S. Below is a picture taken at the Harvest Festival Parade in Arvada. We packed and passed out 3000 baggies of candy that contained a Storyline Preview Service Invite card.
On August 19-20, twenty-one churches from around the country gathered in northwest Denver for the first Storyline Fellowship Vision Tour. It was an unbelievable time of dreaming, partnering, and sharing. Lynley and I were humbled beyond words as we watched the Lord add to our number. As you see in the photos above, the vision tour concluded with a special time of prayer over the land where we feel called to launch this exciting, new church.
As I continue to process our surreal summit, a few thoughts come to mind…
1. We can’t wait to attend someone else’s vision tour.
Being brand new church planters, Lynley and I find ourselves in a humble spot. We are asking others to support us through the first three years of ministry. We look forward to the day when Storyline Fellowship is up and running, aggressively growing the kingdom by helping other planters get their start. It’s more blessed to give than to receive.
2. Partnership is powerful.
There’s a reason why Jesus prayed that his people would remain “one army” in this world (Jn.17). As these big-hearted churches arrived in northwest Denver, we felt as if the cavalry had been called in. Reinforcements had arrived. The spiritual and emotional lift was enormously felt as we were surrounded by friends who share our passion for the Kingdom.
3. Every church can help plant churches.
It was amazing to watch how the Lord moved every church to be involved in the Storyline dream in some way. Smaller churches, though tight on money, offered to send teams, to form prayer circles, to send along whatever unexpected funds the Lord might provide over the next year. Some larger churches, with more abundant resources, pledged financial help for 3.5 years and committed to pray and to share equipment, graphic design help, and other specialists. It was unbelievable the way that God is sending help.
We still pray for more strategic partners ! It takes a mighty coalition of strong churches to help a baby plant grow into maturity. If you or your church would be interested in joining forces with Storyline Fellowship, to spread the Message throughout the great city of Denver, please contact me! email@example.com. I would love to chat with you and pray with you.
Lynley and I are so grateful for every gift, every prayer, every note. We thank God for you, our friends.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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: email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.