Philly and Back

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  • February 11, 2008

775 miles. 17 hours traveling. 6 rest stops. 4 days. 2 tanks of gas. 1 weekend in Philly.

We got back into our apartment at 12:30am, exhausted but excited. 2008 marks a really important year in the planting of 7 Mile Road Church. A huge part of that is that our crew will begin meeting more regularly. This weekend was our first attempt to gather monthly until we move to Philadelphia in the summer to begin the “pre-launch phase.”

On Friday we hung out at Winson & Asha’s. After wrestling with whether they should move from Philly to pursue medical missions, Winson & Asha sensed a calling to stay in Philly and be a part of planting 7 Mile Road. So just a few weeks ago, they bought a home in the area and have dug their roots deep in the city. Very cool. Friday was great. No agenda. Just a time to eat, laugh, talk, take turns holding Hannah, and play cards. We got to bed late but woke up early ready for a long day.

Saturday was spent at Saju & Anu’s. We ate breakfast together and 9 hours later, we had covered a lot of ground. We talked through things like applying with Acts 29 and the 4Cs, raising money, sending out proposals, connecting with other churches, our plans for the pre-launch and launch phase, and a bunch of other details.

The bulk of our time was spent on fostering community within our group. On giant sheets of paper, each of us drew out a timeline of our lives. We each took turns walking the group through the story of our individual lives…major events, people who influenced us, seasons of sin, experiences of grace, coming to faith. We came away affirming that God is gracious, we are great sinners, and Christ is a great Savior. In this coming year, by God’s grace, we’ll be working hard at getting past the surface and mining deep in our relationships with one another. This weekend was a great step in that direction.

On Saturday night, a few of us headed to Bensalem, PA to meet with a group of folks who were interested in hearing more about 7 Mile Road. Great group. They’ve been meeting regularly to pray about what God would have them do in ministering to 2nd generation Indians and the people of Philadelphia. They’ve been doing that for about a year! I was so encouraged to know that God is doing something much bigger than our individual church plant. Again, we got the sense that God is doing something in Philadelphia and is sweeping us up into the current of His redemptive work. We presented our vision and answered a bunch of questions. I talked about how I was excited about the possibility of some of these folks becoming a part of 7 Mile Road and strengthening our team. I also talked honestly about my fear of adding more “churched Christians” when our vision at this point is to grow 7 Mile Road with “churched non-Christians” and “unchurched non-Christians.” However, if God wants to grow our group with folks who love Jesus and are committed to our vision and mission, sounds good to me.

All that in a weekend. I need a nap.

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About Ajay Thomas

Ajay lives in Philadelphia with his wife Shainu and their kids Hannah and Micah. He is responsible for preaching and vision as a pastor at Seven Mile Road. He loves God, family, food, and football - in that order.

2 Comments

  • Great idea with the timelines. This is definitely a season for knitting souls together. For some reason I am thinking that Seven Mile Road Philadelphia will be the odd church plant in which we don’t have 85% of people who there at the start bolt before year 2 is finished. This will be due not just to the fact that you have long-standing friendships with these folks, but that you are being real careful to clarify/articulate mission and distinctives now so that no one can say “oh, wait, nobody told me we were going to be like that.” Boston came out of the shoot going 1 mile an hour and all crooked, all my fault. Philly is coming out 40 miles an hour and a ton straighter. Praise God for that. Real excited about these monthly visits.

  • Rob Burns says:

    Ajay,
    Excited to hear that things are moving forward! But don’t ever come to Philly again without hooking up with the A29 brothers!! (kidding…kind of)
    Drop me a line sometime when you get a chance, I would love to hear what is coming up and when you will be in town next.

    -Rob

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