Eagles Ministry Update: Low and Slow, God’s Kingdom Grows.

What do Karate and Soccer have to do with Jesus?

“Low and slow” is a phrase we often use when referring to how we do relational ministry here in the neighborhood. We borrowed this saying from the kitchen. In the same way that you might cook a piece of meat at a low temperature for a long period of time, we set out to build relationships in a similar manner — low and slow.

We say “low” in that we meet people where they are. While soccer is nearly the perfect relationship-building juggernaut, we recognize that sometimes we have to pivot and adapt to the culture around us. My friend, Matt, experienced this first hand when soccer turned into a karate lesson. Without skipping a beat, Matt jumped in and began punching the air like Chuck Norris. At the end of the day we like soccer and we do it very well, but if getting to know my neighbors requires me to learn karate-sign me up. Friendships cannot be forced or coerced. Spending time playing sports or roundhouse kicking the air is a great step in the direction towards building these friendships.

We say “slow” because it helps ground us in the present moment and not put the cart before the horse. I often want to hit fast forward and skip over the time it takes to build the trust that allows me to enter into the lives of my neighbors in a meaningful way. I want to jump into Bible studies and have the relational capital to enter into deep relationships without always doing the work of establishing trust and deep relational ties. Low and slow is the reminder I need to be faithful in the tedious and time-consuming work of getting to know my neighbors.

Getting our Story Straight

“There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!” — Abraham Kuyper

I love this quote by Abraham Kuyper because of how all-encompassing the reign and rule of Christ is. He lays claim to every person, place, and thing. Scripture tells us creation is eagerly awaiting the time that Christ restores the world, until then all of creation groans in anticipation (Romans 8:18-22). From cover to cover the Bible tells us God’s rescue plan for the world. We may not have all the details, but we know the end of the story. God’s glory will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea (Habbakkuk 2:14). We are invited to improvise the middle part of the story. Knowing God will ultimately make all sad things untrue (Revelation 21:4), what does it look like in your little corner of the world to participate in this story? How can you and I extend the rule and reign of Christ in the places where we live, work, and play?

In my world, it’s looked a lot like dropping a soccer ball, learning Spanish, and even picking up some karate moves. I have moved into a neighborhood called Hidden Valley that’s full of people God loves. Much of the work I do is mundane and insignificant in the eyes of the world, yet when offered to the Lord it becomes imbued with significance. Every car ride driving kids to and from practice, every conversation with a kid whose never had an ear to listen, and every encouraging word given to a teenager who only ever hears how much of a failure he is — extends the kingdom of God here and now.

I get to live in the ‘already’ and ‘not yet’ of God’s Kingdom in my backyard. On the one hand, my neighborhood is a place bursting at the seams with wonderful people, places, and things; on the other hand, it is a place wrecked by drug abuse, crime, prostitution, homelessness, and human trafficking. The beautiful thing is that God looks at it all and cries, “mine!” The One whos making this claim “Mine” is not distant or cold toward the world He created. Jesus is at work bringing light to the dark places and hope to the hopeless in Hidden Valley and in our world. We have the greatest news to offer a lost and dying world (John 3:16)!

The Gospel invites us to see our world with a redemptive lens. A lens that recognizes that we are all wicked to the core yet loved to the utmost (Romans 3:12). We have been forgiven much therefore, we can forgive large offenses and be people who bring healing and restoration (Ephesians 4:32).

Low and Slow — Off we Go!

This summer I have moved into this neighborhood in North Charlotte that’s quickly feeling like home. I have been running pickup soccer games for kids in the middle of the apartment complex for about a month now. Through consistently showing up and spending time with kids and families, I have gotten to know the names of 31 kids. (edit — 39 names as of today) These are names that I pray over daily. Kids that I hope to walk with and befriend. I am connecting with a lot of great people, organizations, and churches that want to see needs met in our community. Northside Baptist Church has been incredibly generous to offer resources and support towards our work in the neighborhood. If we are going to see the people, places, and things in our neighborhood restored, then we have to be committed to the work of mending relationships. We get to do the ‘low and slow’ work of building trust and loving our neighbors well.

If you are reading this and are partnered with me through praying, giving financially, or giving of your time and talents — Thank You! I am so grateful for your generosity. I am only able to do what God has called me to because of your willingness to give and support me. I am always looking for more people to join in the work here and I would love to share more with you if you have any interest in joining my team. No soccer knowledge or skill necessary.

Prayer Requests

  1. That God would move in our neighborhood so His name would be known and highly esteemed. For people’s hearts to be softened so they could hear and believe the Gospel story.
  2. For more workers to tend to the fields. We believe the harvest is here! We need people to join us. Specifically, be praying for our organization to hire a female staff member to coach the many girls in our neighborhood.
  3. That the Lord would continue building my support base and meet our financial needs in order to press on in the work we are doing. Our ministry is about 80% funded. I need to raise about 6,000 more dollars to meet my fundraising goal.

Contact

I’ll be posting and sending out updates from this blog. I’d love for you to follow along here! You have permission to share this blog with anyone and everyone.

Feel free to contact me for more information. I’d love to hear from you!

Email: csmith@charlotteeagles.com

Here is a link to join my support team. I would love for you to consider jumping in and being a part of what God is doing in NCLT!

bit.ly/csmitheagles

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