Monday, January 5, 2015

Pocket Change and Spare Time

"but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,"
(1 Peter 3:15 ESV)

For those of you keeping score at home, we have been in Philly for just under two months.  One question that we get over and over again is some form of, "How are you adjusting?"  This question just makes sense when anyone moves, but it seems especially appropriate for us.  We moved a family of seven who has spent the past decade in rural Mississippi to the city of Philadelphia, PA (the 5th largest metropolitan area in the country).  And I mean, we are IN THE CITY.  

There are a million things that are different here.  Just the other day, we walked to the neighborhood diner for lunch and Madi asked, "Why does everyone say water wrong up here?"  For those of you not familiar with Philly, most people pronounce "water" like "wood-er". 

But, it's not the local colloquialisms that get me, or the cold weather, or any cultural differences.  It's the parking.  There is none.  Parking lots rarely exist in the city and when they do, you have to pay and pay a lot.  Where there are no parking lots, you must resort to street parking. 
Street parking is a hassle and has presented two real problems for me:

1)  MONEY.  You still have to pay for street parking, and in my neighborhood, it is coins only.  This is a problem because I haven't carried change in my pocket in 15 years.  I put change in the basket on top of my dresser.  I NEVER use change.  I cannot tell you how many times I have parked only to realize that I had no change to feed the meter.  At this point, I usually just go home, not willing to risk a parking ticket. 

2)  TIME. If you have known me for any amount of time (and as my family and former students could surely point out) I am an extremely punctual person.  Punctuality is very important to me. Some of the worst arguments Christy and I have had revolve around my obsession with being on time.  Street parking has put my timing all out of whack.  I have been late more in the past 45 days than I have in the past 15 years - and I'm not exaggerating.  First, I have to FIND a parking space. This may require several trips around the block in traffic.  Second, I have to actually be able to wheel my big ol' Expedition into said parking space.  And finally, the space is usually a block or more from where I actually want to be, which requires a bit of a walk to my final destination.

As a result of my parking dilemma, I have had to make adjustments.  I never leave the house without change in my pocket, now.  I also refuse to use any change that may be in my car for anything other than parking (sorry Mr. drive-thru window attendant - you are going to have to make change for my bills from now on).  I even have a large ziplock baggie of coins in my vehicle.  I also have to plan differently.  I now leave an extra 10 minutes for parking and walking to my destination.  If I get there early, I utilize the extra time to pray, or catch-up on some emails. 

As I have wrestled with my parking problems, I realized that I often times fail to engage others with my faith because of poor planning on my part.  Sometimes, being intentional with our faith takes some adjustments.  Here are two, that I need to work hard on:
1) BE PREPARED.  Peter says that the key to preparedness is to "honor Christ the Lord as Holy" in your hearts. That means there is nothing else that holds a candle to Christ.  Your heart, your desire is set on Him because he is unique to everything else in the world and in life.  In short, HE is worthy of all our affections.  When we are not focused on Christ, we are not ready to engage our culture with Christ.  This brings us to the second adjustment.

2) TAKE TIME TO ENGAGE.  Just like I have to leave a little early to find a parking space, I need to make engaging those around me with Christ a priority.  This means that my schedule revolves around intentionally sharing the love of Christ wherever I go.  This looks a lot different than squeezing Christ into my relationships when I feel like it or when it is convenient.  When there is an opportunity to "give a reason for the hope that is in me", do I take it?  Planning on my part, may mean not filling my schedule so full that there is no opportunity to build relationships with people.  For me, it is communicating with my wife and children that there may be times that I am not home exactly when they expect.  If that happens they can expect that I am taking the opportunity to give a reason for the hope that is in me and they can be in prayer.

I am resolving to always have some spiritual pocket change and spare time with me in 2015.  Will you join me?     



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Why Watershed?

  1. 1.
    an area or ridge of land that separates waters flowing to different rivers, basins, or seas.
    "the Schuylkill River watershed"
  2. 2.
    an event or period marking a turning point in a course of action or state of affairs.
    "these works mark a watershed in the history of music"
    synonyms:turning pointmilestonelandmark
    "a watershed in the party's history"

    For us, watershed has several layers of meaning as we begin a new journey.  First, the Philly neighborhood in which we are planting a church (Roxborough/ Manayunk) is, quiet literally, a watershed area.  Manayunk is built on the side of a hill, bordered on the south by the Schuylkill (pronounced skool-kəl) River.  Roxborough runs along a Ridge at the top of the hill bordered by the Wissahickon Creek in the valley to the North.  All the rain that falls in this neighborhood drains into one of those two waterways.

    Second, and perhaps most importantly, it comes from scripture.  
    "On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”-- (John 7:37-38 ESV)
    Encountering Jesus and making Him Lord of your life is a turning point.  Everything begins to change at that moment.  We are changed from the inside out.  We become a watershed, drinking deep of Christ and flowing living water to the world around us.

    Our vision for Watershed church is that we will drink deep of Christ and proclaim God’s great renown through men and women conformed to the image of Christ.

    Will you pray with us that the spirit will fall upon us and our community and flow out into the city around us?  Will you pray with us, that we will see this vision come to life in our new home, Philadelphia?  

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Food For Thought: Why Urban Centers Need Christian Families

"Christians are not yet close to matching the pace by which the world is moving into the cities . . ."

When we tell people we are moving into a major metropolitan city, they look at our five kids, look back at us, and shake their heads.  There are lots of challenges involved in moving into the city.  The closer we get to our move date, the more aware we become of what exactly we are getting ourselves into.

Emily Morrice wrote an excellent blog post on urban churches and the challenges that we will face in that setting.  She captures our heart for the city and the struggles we foresee in our future.  Please keep our family and the city of Philadelphia in your prayers.  (LINK BELOW)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Photos, Fun and Prayers

As far as picture days go, this one was one of the best.  Christy's good friend and fellow photographer, Teresa Russell, agreed to do some family shots for us to use for prayer cards.  Teresa was so professional and made the kids feel at ease.  We had a blast as a family and ended up with memories we will cherish forever.  Plus, we were done in 45 minutes ( a dad's dream come true)!  If you would like to see photos from the shoot check out the Teresa Russell Photography blog.

We will  hand out these cards as reminders for people to pray for us, our new church plant, and the city of Philadelphia.  If you could pray for us, we would appreciate it.
Here is how you can pray:
1.  Pray that God brings financial partners to help us make planting a church in Philly a reality.
2.  Pray that we are able to find city housing that meets the needs of our large family.
3.  Pray that God will begin to prepare the hearts of people we will meet to receive the Gospel.
4.  Pray that we will show the love and grace of God to our neighbors and community.
5.  Pray that we will share the gospel with boldness.

If you would like info on becoming a prayer or financial partner with us, email me at 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

We Are Planting a Church in Philadelphia...Wait! What?

In a lot of ways I can't believe we are doing it.  There is excitement, fear, anticipation and peace all jumbled together.  More than anything, this is a humbling experience.  Christy and I fall short in so many ways. We are not worthy to be called children of God, let alone to be a part of His mission for reaching the lost.  But the church is God's plan, we are his children, and at every turn there is grace.

For those of you who don't know (and most probably don't), we have been praying and researching the prospect of church planting for almost a year.  At first, it was a curiosity, prompted by the Holy Spirit.  I was taking a class on the book of Acts and felt that first prompting to check things out, but I ignored it.  Then in another class the professor posed this question: "Is Jesus worth it?"  For me, the answer to that question is an emphatic YES.  He IS worth it!  Despite the level of comfort my family has grown accustom to, Jesus is worth any level of perceived discomfort we may face by following and serving Him.

As Christy and I talked and prayed about the idea of church planting we knew one thing right away - we were being called to the darkest places, spiritually.  Having lived up and down the East Coast in the past, I was aware of the spiritual climate and had a burden for that region of our nation.  It soon became clear that Philly was the place.

There are approximately 6 million people living in the Philly Metro area and of those only 5.9% consider themselves to be evangelical Christians.  In most areas of the city there are  very few, if any, evangelical churches.  As you can see the level of spiritual darkness is very high, but the presence of real lighthouses is extremely low.

So, we are doing it.  We are planting a church in Philadelphia, PA.  This blog will chronicle that journey.  It will be a place to share blessings, burdens and everything in between.  For those of you partnering with us, we invite you to subscribe to the blog by entering your email below.  This will keep you up to date on what God is doing and how you can pray for us.  If you want to know how to partner with us, you can do so in 3 ways: PRAY. GIVE.  GO.  To get more information on what partnering looks like, you can fill out the "contact us" form to the right.  God bless you all!

For HIS Glory,
Eric and Christy McMahon