It is hard to believe that our family has been living in Brooklyn for a year now. What a ride! What a God we serve! What a life! As I look back at what we’ve experienced, one term echos in my mind: Sentness.
“Sentness” is central to the life of every follower of Jesus Christ. My personal definition of sentness is “The prompting of and obedience to the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian to join God in His mission of spreading His Kingdom’s influence on Earth”. God is ALWAYS at work all around us and there is no greater calling in life than to be down with his plan. Sentness looks different in the lives of individuals and churches, but make no mistake about it, there is no such thing as one who is NOT “sent” by God (Matthew 28:18-20, Psalm 96:3).
For the Fernandez family, sentness took the form of us moving back to New York City in 2016 to be on mission with God. Our hearts were burdened for the place where we were born and raised. We strongly felt that God wanted us to go back as a family that was indigenous to the city to be used to contextualize the faith to those living in such a unique place.
Before we got to the city and for the first few months after our arrival, we were dead-set on planting a church in the Bronx as soon as God would allow us to. We had plans to spend 12 - 18 months serving at Bridge Church in Brooklyn, learn everything we could learn, then keep it moving up north to the borough of my birth. Once we arrived in the BX, we would lead many to faith in Christ. Simple plan right? No sweat right? WRONG! Or as I would say SIKE!
I mentioned sentness in the beginning of this blogpost because the Lord, in his loving-kindness, has consistently reminded us that as we are sent it is His plan and not ours. HE IS THE SENDER, therefore, HE HAS THE AGENDA. During our walk with him and our discovery of His will, we have felt an incredible love from Him. He has not only sent us but is tenderly taking care of our family. He has not allowed us to come off of the rhythm of what He is trying to do in us and through us. If it were up to me, I would have rashly gone off to the Bronx, done things on my own strength, on my own agenda, and maybe would have destroyed my marriage and family in the process. It’s a long story. I’ll just say that through my wife, the wisdom of my friend James Roberson (lead Pastor of Bridge Church), as well as other pastors/church planters that I know, we’ve remained “in rhythm” with the Lord. What does that look like, you ask? Allow me to unfold the goodness of God and what He has us doing one year after arriving in Brooklyn.
On September 17, I was ordained as Families Pastor of Bridge Church! This role encompasses three main responsibilities: directing the children’s ministry, starting the church’s first youth ministry, and supporting families in keeping Christ at the center of their homes. I’m beyond excited about a role that will strengthen households in the middle of trying to raise children in this unique city. I believe this is an especially important role as Bridge Church transitions from Park Slope into the neighborhood of Flatbush (where we now live!). My desire is to lay a solid ministry foundation in preparation for the many families that will join our church as we serve our new community. Nancy has also been doing GREAT things at Bridge Church. So much so that I’ll let her tell the story herself in another blogpost.
So what about planting a church? The fact of the matter is that I have not lost my passion and desire to do so, there just isn’t a timetable for it right now. Even so, I believe that we are EXACTLY where we need to be. In speaking to so many church planters, I’ve never heard anyone say “I should have waited less time to plant that church”. The Lord knows that i’m available for him to do that when He sees fit. The main goal, however, remains the same: making disciples and bringing a taste of the Kingdom down to earth. We are elated to be a part of it all!!!
How about you? Is there a healthy sense of “sentness” in your life? In your household? At your job? At your school? Feel free to leave a testimony in the comments to encourage others who might read this article.