The following post is by Emily Holladay about the work of Mosaic of Clayton, a CBF church start that was featured in the October/November issue of fellowship! magazine. This post is part of a series on CBF church starting and church starters. Check back throughout the week for posts about individual church starters, starting a church through CBF and how to support church starts. Visit www.thefellowship.info/churchstarts to learn more about CBF’s New Church Starts Initiative.
I have lived in Atlanta for three years, but there are places in this city that I haven’t been – streets I have been careful to avoid. A couple weeks ago, I found myself driving down one such street. I put the address in my GPS and drove to the Georgia Avenue Community Ministry’s Food Cooperative without a clue as to where it would take me.
A couple turns into my drive, I realized I was headed to “the wrong side of town.” You know – the area they tell you not to go when you’re visiting Atlanta. I saw run down building and passed multiple people walking down the streets aimlessly.
Where were they sending me?
I pulled up to the church that hosts the Georgia Avenue Food Cooperative and wished I had brought another CBF staff member with me. I stepped out of the car and walked aimlessly down Grant Street trying to find Andy Hale and Mosaic of Clayton.
Mosaic of Clayton is one of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s church starts, and they came to Atlanta for a week to do mission work in some of the most undesirable places in the city. My mission was to take pictures of the group and get out as fast as I could.
But it wasn’t that easy.
I found Mosaic in the sanctuary of the church learning about the Food Cooperative – how it works, what kind of food they give, who gets the food… To my surprise, everyone in the group seemed enthralled by the conversation. I would come to find out later that the church did not just come to serve for a couple days and leave – they hope to use Georgia Avenue Community Ministry as a model for a food distribution ministry they plan to start in Clayton, N.C., where they have a community garden.
When the conversation ended, I walked with the group downstairs to begin packing boxes with food. And there was a lot of food!
Each person from Mosaic stepped up immediately to help, taking food boxes from the kitchen, wrapping blocks of cheese in plastic wrap or separating food into boxes. Within a matter of seconds, everyone had a job to do, and Mosaic members were working seamlessly with Georgia Avenue regulars.
And, when I say that everyone had a job to do, I mean everyone! There were at least four children in the group ranging from 2 to 12 years old, and none of them were left out. They broke down boxes, divided cans of food and wrapped cheese along with everyone else. Not a single person was left out.
Because that’s Andy’s vision of the church – where all people are vital the community, all people contribute to the beautiful mosaic that is created when we come together to do Kingdom work. And that extends from the first moment of a worship service to their TV watching gatherings to weeklong mission trips.
Honestly, if I didn’t know who Andy was from his role as a CBF church starter, I wouldn’t have known who the minister in the group was. Everyone worked so hard with such a deep passion, they were all acting as ministers in their own right.
That day, I saw a vision of what CBF church starting really is all about. It’s about one person coming to a community with a desire to reach people and bring hope to a community, using the people’s strengths and dreams to make real change happen. It’s about that person helping to bring all kinds of people together to form a community – a family. And, it’s about the community growing, learning and deepening their relationship with God together.
Mosaic of Clayton emulates what its name insinuates. Each person, each act and each moment they spend together are like little tiles that come together to create a beautiful picture.
But the picture isn’t finished yet. They haven’t finished writing their story. They came to Atlanta to learn how to add the next tile. They came to my town and journeyed to a street I often shy away from to learn more about how to be God’s people in their community.
Seeing them work, listening as they asked questions and hearing their dreams, I was reminded that being the presence of Christ involves going to the scary places. Changing a community involves being in a community. And that when I add my tile, I help create a more complete vision of this mosaic called the Kingdom of God.
Click here to learn more about Mosaic of Clayton and their ministry in North Carolina.