Stories from the front lines – Parker Manuel

In my youth, I ventured on a cross-cultural mission trip, which was the first time I felt confident that my full-time ministry calling would look a lot more like church planting and mission work. Although I didn’t know I would choose to work in North America, I did know I would be pastoring and church planting in challenging places. It wasn’t until just a few years ago that God called me to stay in the States, specifically in the city of Boulder, Colorado.

Two years ago, my wife and I took a trip out West to pray throughout cities in our search for a new home to plant our church. On our journey, we would start by meeting locals and praying through the cities on whether or not those locations would be where our family and church belonged.

In our first experience with Boulder, two words come to mind: favor and peace. We would walk into a retail store, talk to people and gain this instant connection. As we walked out, I remember saying, “Wow, didn’t that feel different?” We even walked into a coffee shop and struck up a conversation with a guy who told us a lot about his story. After getting to know him, we got his contact information and stayed in contact with him and prayed for him. Come to find out, he was the owner and founder of one of the most popular coffee shops in all of Boulder.

All of this was in just a matter of a few hours. We just thought to ourselves, “There’s something weird going on in this city for us.” We felt an overwhelming sense of peace that this was somewhere we were supposed to be. In four days, we met people. Afterwards, we spent about six months praying over it, after which we both looked at each other and said, “Boulder’s going to be home. That’s where He is sending us.”

We are four weeks into our church plant, so of course, we face challenges. Every day is drenched with the unfamiliar. After attending a church for nine years and working for that church for five in a small suburb of Nashville, Tennessee, you are invested in those people. You know their stories, you know their struggles and it’s hard knowing they are still going through them. When we left, it felt as if I walked away from the stories and was no longer able to walk with the people as intimately as I had been before.

But, we’ve said this has been one of the smoothest transitions we’ve ever made, even with the challenges, because we have a major support system of prayer warriors at home. Our families are praying for us, our friends, all of those people we invested in at the church are all supportive of us. Prayer doesn’t advance the journey; it is the journey.

The mission statement of our church is to love extravagantly by risking it all to bring the hope of Jesus to the world. In Scripture, we see over and over again that if we do anything that is not out of love, then it’s not of God. Because God is love. Love has a name, and it is Jesus. In our new church, we wanted everything we do to express that love and have it be the foundation— the core of everything else we do.

Risk it all, and give it all. Risk everything, and give everything you have toward the mission of the kingdom of God. We do this out of an overflow of God’s love for us. When you look at God sending His Son because He loved the world so extravagantly, we see the Father giving it all. Then we see the Son come down to Earth, live the perfect and sinless life, and we see the Son risk it all, give it all, everything he had. As a church and as Christ’s followers, we believe that we are not only called to risk and give it all, but we are compelled to risk and to give it all because of the love shown to us.

When my family and I moved from Hendersonville, Tennessee, to Boulder, Colorado, we made a “risking it all” move. We left everything—our father and mother, our friends, our family, our community, our familiar—to risk it all and bring the hope of Jesus to a lost city. So yes, the life we have been called to has been a “risk it all” life, but in that, we get to live out the abundance that Jesus has promised us.

Published October 17, 2017