What motivated you to plant your church in Philadelphia?
Shortly after we were married, God began to break our hearts for the urban centers of our country. After several months of seeking God, He gave us a burden for the Northeast, and a supernatural love for the city of Philadelphia. We were drawn to the underdog stories that flow out of Philly and driven by God’s Spirit to start a reproducing church where spiritual underdogs can experience God and transform the city from the inside out.
What do you love about your church and community?
We love the diversity of South Philly. Every kind of person you could imagine seeing anywhere in the world lives in our city. Through God’s grace, our church has grown to reflect that diversity, showing a skeptical culture that the Gospel can produce a vibrant community out of people from every kind of racial, religious, and socioeconomic background.
What has been one of your greatest moments since planting your church?
Six months ago, we moved into our first permanent building—an $8 million facility that God gave to us for one dollar. It was the miraculous culmination of seven years of hard work and sacrifice by our faithful dream team. Because we patiently focused on people, no matter where we had to be to reach them, God gave us a gift far beyond our wildest dreams.
What has been one of the toughest moments you’ve experienced in ministry?
We lived in Philly for one year before publicly launching City Life. We were a long way from home, separated from friends and family, and building relationships from scratch. It was an intensely lonely season with little fruit and lots of resistance. But God used it to clarify our identity in him and to define us as a church that would always focus on the one.
What is the biggest change you’ve seen in yourself since you planted?
Philadelphia has become our home. We honestly wondered if that could ever happen. But God surprised us, giving us joy to live in the city, and a vision big enough to keep us here. And an epic Super Bowl championship didn’t hurt—Go Birds!
What do you want to share with someone thinking about becoming a church planter?
You’ll only make it as far as the quality of your relationships. You need pastors, friends, and a committed team walking this journey with you, praying for you, speaking life over you, noticing your blind spots, and encouraging you when you want to give up.
How has being a part of ARC impacted your life and family?
ARC gave us the tools to get our church going, and the relationships to sustain it. ARC gave us a picture of the kind of fruit that’s possible through church planting. Furthermore, our best friends in ministry are other leaders we met through our training process with ARC. Because of ARC, we never had to feel ill-equipped or alone.