We are literally down to our last few weeks in Norman. This is what our remaining timeline looks like:
May 4 – Pack moving truck.
May 5 – Closing.
May 7 – Prov Road Baptism Service.
May 7 – Drive truck to Huntsville.
May 8 – Unload.
May 9,10 – Huntsville Church Planting Cohort # 2.
May 17 – Longview Fundraiser.
May 21 – Brister Send Off Sunday at Prov Road.
May 22 – Ellie’s 2-month pediatric appointment.
May 23 – Move to Alabama.
We are preparing ourselves for May to be an emotionally and logistically crazy month. We have a lot to do and not much time to do it in and we have to begin saying goodbye to our Norman family that we have done life with for the last 5 years. We’re excited about the future but we are not looking forward to this part.
In terms of fundraising, we have raised about 80% of what we need for our residency year in Huntsville. We need $10,000 to meet our goal. We have received gifts of thousands of dollars from Acts 29 partner churches and we have also received checks of $7 from college students – honestly we’re not sure which one means more…
If you want to financially invest in our church planting journey, please visit our Partner page to learn more.
A lot of life has happened in the last three weeks. Our second child, Eleanor Jane, arrived at 8:01 a.m., March 26, and weighed in at 6 lbs, 3 oz. Ellie and Cara Jane are both healthy and doing great. Two weeks after coming home from the hospital, we accepted an offer on our house in Norman. Both of these things were huge milestones for our family and the top 2 items on our “to do before moving to Alabama” list. The following week we celebrated Bo’s second birthday. He is a full-blown toddler now and is absolutely oblivious to all the recent changes. He’s beginning to acknowledge to his baby sister – after being pretty content to ignore her the first few days, he now almost daily asks to hold “Eddie.”
We’re still in the process of nailing down a rental home in Huntsville, but hopefully those details will solidify this week. Cara Jane’s mom (who we cannot thank enough) actually drove to Huntsville and checked out a dozen houses for us – comparing our online research with in-person neighborhood visits. Our host church (Summit Crossing Community Church) has also been amazing. Not only are they financially investing in our church plant but they have also been incredibly generous in checking in on our new family before we even share a zip code.
With these past three weeks behind us, the magnitude of what we are about to embark on is beginning to set in.
- We’re a family of four now.
- We’re moving to Alabama in five weeks.
- We’re planting a church.
- We’re going to have to say good-bye to some dear friends.
- We just reserved a moving truck.
This is actually happening. This is no longer a hypothetical reality or even a future goal. This is really happening. There is still a lot of fear and anxiety. Lots of unanswered questions. Lots of unknowns.
That is part of what made this past Easter weekend so profound. Not only was there the realization that this is our last Easter celebration with the church we helped plant five years ago but there was also a unique appreciation of Holy Saturday this year. We tend to focus on the weight of Good Friday and the celebration of Easter Sunday, but I was reminded that Holy Saturday is proof God is directing, providing and moving, even when we can’t see the end result.
Despite the uncertainty of what lies ahead and the sadness of what we’re leaving behind we can confidently say the Lord really has provided for us. Ellie’s here. The house sold. God knows where we’ll live in Huntsville. He knows the money we need to raise and exactly the kind of team we need to recruit. He even knows all the things we haven’t even considered yet.
He always has been, and will continue to be, faithful.
My primary position over the last several months could accurately be described as overwhelmed. There has not been one day in which I have not thought to myself that we have bitten off way more than we can chew. We are moving 800 miles and 5 states away from our friends, family, and the church we helped build from scratch. We currently have less than 50% of the money we need to make ends meet, and my wife could literally go into labor any minute with our second child.
Our objective is to plant a church that is intentionally multi-ethnic in a part of the country that literally fought a war to prevent that from happening. Our primary strategy for this church plant is to engage college students and minorities, two people groups not historically known for their financial stability. Furthermore, I am convinced that my skill set and personality are nowhere near sufficient for the task ahead. There is nothing on my resume that suggests our church plant will be wildly successful. I’m not trying to be self-deprecating – I believe I’m both qualified and called to this task – I’m simply trying to express the enormity of what is on the Bristers’ plate.
On the bright side, desperation and spiritual poverty seem to be what the Spirit is attracted to (Matthew 5:3). Continue reading “Prayer”
As of today, we are two weeks away from the due date for little Ellie Jane and three months away from moving to Alabama. Our house in Norman has been on the market for six days now and we have already shown it four times. These last few weeks have been incredibly hectic as we try to juggle these different priorities, but we’ve resolved to take things one day at a time. I’m honestly just really ready to meet Ellie and introduce her to Bo.
Because CJ could go into labor literally any day now, I have backed off of traveling and fundraising for the time being. However, a few weeks ago Continue reading “Financial Support Update”
Since I recently blogged about our relationship with the Soma Family of Churches, I wanted to do the same with the Acts 29 Network. Acts 29 is an interdenominational network of churches who are committed to global church planting. I have been a part of Acts 29 churches for the last eight years and have found a theological and philosophical home there. Continue reading “Acts 29”
Cara Jane and I were recently invited to the Soma Pastors’ Retreat in San Diego, CA. With the fast-approaching arrival of baby # 2, the selling of our house, fundraising, and finishing up the semester in Norman hanging over our heads, three days in southern California did not require much arm-twisting.
Soma is a family of churches under the umbrella of the Acts 29 Network. It began as a few churches on the West Coast, but now their distinctive theological and missiological emphases have spread across the country and has been, in many ways, the primary influence on our church planting journey. Continue reading “Soma in San Diego”