that little guy is new cousin Griffin...
thanks to Joey being sick, I don't have a picture of the wellsbrothers with NEWEST cousin Kallie yet
We want to thank you for sharing this journey with us over the last few years - it has never been easy and doesn’t seem to be moving in that direction any time soon, but your friendship, encouragement and prayers have played an enormous role in keeping us moving forward.
Since my last update in August we’ve been getting into the groove of the new school year. Conner is doing great in 1st grade. He continues to amaze us with his brilliant little mind and unbelievably sweet heart. Recently we had a conference with his teacher who shared that he is not only one of the brightest kids she’s ever taught, he also displays a rare and much appreciated combination of leadership and compassion. She told us that Conner often reads books to the class when she needs to step out for a moment, he is one of the first to help other students. What brought me the most pride was when she noted that while he is quick to share what he knows with others, he never appears condescending or prideful...just sincerely happy to help someone else. Awesome.
Joey and Micah are both doing well in preschool and I think that Rachel has really enjoyed teaching there - if for no other reason than she gets glimpses into their day. However, as you can imagine, Rachel has been a tremendous blessing to the kids in her class and their parents...even if she won’t admit it! The schedule has been a pretty big adjustment - especially with me still making occasional trips to OKC - but I think its definitely been worth the added hassle.
Speaking of OKC...that beast just refuses to be slain! I’ve pretty much finished everything, but little frustrations have kept me going back up for a couple days most weeks. This little experiment didn’t turn out as we’d hoped, but there were some good things that came out of it. In the midst of our conversations with different churches regarding their roofs, we met a minister at a Lutheran church who turned out to be quite interested in the concept of missional church planting.
Teresa has become a good friend. I had the opportunity to spend one Saturday with a group of folks from her church talking about living a missional life: what that means and what it might look like even in a very structured church context.
As you might have heard, I’ve been preparing to start my major doctoral project (the DMin version of a dissertation) which officially begins in February, following my FINAL class! The project (called “Communitas” - a word referring to community that is developed through a shared struggle, ordeal or mission) is developing a process for missional leadership training and spiritual formation. I’ve decided to focus not so much on seminary students or people preparing to plant churches (though this process would still be appropriate for them) but rather on groups of “normal” church folks. Our pilot program is doubling as a leadership development process within Christ Journey.
I’m already in conversation with several groups about participating in Communitas once I’ve completed the “beta” phase and made revisions. My hope and prayer is that this, in conjunction with teaching in the Academy for Missional Wisdom at SMU, will provide an opportunity to equip others to engage in whole life faith and missional leadership in the midst of their community...without having to leave the own congregation to do so. Along with that, we are praying that this will provide long term financial sustainability for our ministry in this area, without me having to work so many hours in other job settings.
We’re currently launching a web platform at www.missionalmonks.com that will serve as the “classroom” for instruction - which will depend heavily on processing together through dialog and then immediately implementing what we’re learning into our neighborhoods or other local contexts. Hopefully, the website will also serve as a place for ongoing dialog about whole-life faith and discipleship, some guest articles and devotionals and also as a central location to host the “Missional Monks Podcast” that Chris and I have been doing since this summer (you can also find the podcasts by searching missional monks on iTunes.)
These podcasts consist primarily of interviews with thinkers, church planters and authors from all over North America - folks who are engaged in some amazing ministries. The conversations have been very helpful for us - and the comments we’ve received from all over the country suggest that they’ve been so for others as well.
As you can see, we have been very busy lately! There are several new families who have become integral parts of the Christ Journey community and we continue to find opportunities to serve and connect with new friends in the Burleson area.
As I prepare for 2011, I’m realizing that it is going to be very difficult to dedicate the necessary time and energy to Communitas and Christ Journey while also working 50 hours a week in roofing. I am arranging some conversations with churches and groups of ministers and leaders to discuss supporting us for one year as we get Communitas off the ground - and also consider having a group of folks go through the Communitas program when it is ready to go in 2012. We have a pretty great plan for how to effectively take an entire congregation - even a large one - through this process without folks simply becoming anonymous spectators.
If you have been supporting us financially, Rachel and I want to once again thank you. It has meant so much to us that God has used a group of friends - many who are in tight financial situations themselves - to keep the door open for us to share the life of Christ with those who previously only thought of church in negative terms. There are people today who have come to or come back to faith in God because you chose to partner in the gospel with us.
If you think your church or another group might be willing to help us financially as we launch Communitas and continue planting the gospel in this area, please pass this along or help me get in contact with them. Likewise, if you know of a group that may be interested in hearing more about how Communitas can help them more fully live into the gospel in their neighborhoods and community, I’d love to talk with them.
Again, you can check out and join the (active, but still under construction) web platform for Missional Monks and the Communitas Experience at www.missionalmonks.com.
Grace and Peace,
Bret, Rachel and the Wellsbrothers.