Sacrament's Next Adventure: Pie Town Here We Come!


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I am so excited to announce that Sacrament will be moving to 618 Ewing on June 17th.

Last month, we announced that Sacrament was looking for a new home as we have had to quickly transition from Sparkworks Union. We have found the right place, and it is beyond what we even hoped for! 

Sacrament is excited to partner with the owners of 618 Ewing and Flavor Catering in an elegant, beautiful space with kids room, convenient parking, on-site storage, and the potential for midweek activities. 

Set-up and tear down will be simplified as we hang speakers, projector and screen; we are also in the process of streamlining our sound system for plug-and-play capability. This place will give us room to grow, opportunities for outreach in an lively area accessible to most of Middle Tennessee.

What’s the Transition Timeline?

Here’s what the next few weeks look like for our community:

May 27th- Trinity Sunday @ Sparkworks with special guest Dr. Chris Green

June 3rd- Second Sunday after Pentecost @ Sparkworks with special guest Pastor Deborah Jackson.

June 10th- Outdoor Gathering @ at nearby park (stay tuned!).

June 17th- First Sunday @ 618 Ewing

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Where is this Place?

618 Ewing is easily accessible from East Nashville via Korean Veterans Boulevard. After crossing the bridge, turn left at the roundabout on to Lafayette, and then a right onto Ewing (at City Winery). The building is on your left, right next to Hot Diggety Dog. It is also easy to get to from Highways 65, 24, or 40.

Wait...That’s not East Nashville.

Well…you’re right! Those who have been around Sacrament for awhile know that we have always considered ourselves an East Nashville neighborhood church. So, the decision to move away from the Eastside has been tough.

When Ashley, Lucy and I moved to Nashville five years ago, we had the neighborhoods of East Nashville firmly in our sights. At the time, there were not many new churches in these neighborhoods. As the neighborhood has grown and changed, several young churches have moved in, which is awesome!  

Also, over the past year, we have wondered if the Spirit was gently encouraging us to other possibilities. While we still have a core of people who live in East Nashville, since moving to Sparkworks, most of our new members do not live in East Nashville, with congregants driving from Germantown, Antioch, Madison, Hendersonville, Old Hickory, Murfreesboro, Springfield, and Greenbrier! We wonder if a more centralized location may be the right next step for us. And, this new location is just a few minutes from the old location on a Sunday morning.

We are excited to dig into the neighborhood of Pie Town, home of Nashville Rescue Mission and a wide range of socio-economic conditions. A creative neighborhood, Pie Town is also home to City Winery and Third Man Records and 618 Ewing is right at the intersection of the Pie Town, SoBro, and Gulch neighborhoods.

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Kick-Off

We will step into our new space on June 17th! Join us for our “Intro to Sacrament” lunch after service to learn more about the vision of Sacrament! 

We are reminded once again of God’s great faithfulness to his people, and we are confident in His mission.

Grace and Peace,

Preston Sharpe  

Lead Pastor 

Sacrament Church

Posted on May 24, 2018 .

Sacrament Transition

Hello Sacrament Family, Friends, and Partners

The adventure of church-planting is often about change—the kind that is exhilarating and beautiful, and the kind that is treacherous and difficult. We don’t always know what is in store, but we do believe that the Holy Spirit goes ahead of us. 

Yesterday we announced that Sacrament will be moving out of Sparkworks Union in June.

When we first moved into the space last September, we knew that there was always the potential that Sparkworks would find a full-time, long-term tenant and that would mean that we would need to find a new meeting place. Of course, we always hoped that this possibility would be sometime in the distant future.

We only found out about this move a couple of weeks ago, and did not expect such a short turn-around, but we are facing the next steps with great hope and trust.

And there is a lot to be hopeful about! During our time here at Sparkworks, we have made some great friends, one of them being Liza Kawaller, the property manager at Sparkworks. She speaks very highly of our congregation and is helping us find a place that may be an even better fit than our current location! Through Liza’s connections in the event space/real estate world, we have identified 15 potential new homes for our church. We are now in the process of contacting, vetting, and conversing with each of these places. We already have at least one solid option and we have made some great progress in just over one week’s time.

The possibilities have allowed us to dream in some creative ways in the midst of this transition as we look for a place in the urban core of Nashville that will be welcoming and have great kids space in a neighborhood where our church could grow and serve.

 Here’s how you can help:

    1. Pray for Sacrament. Prayer helps to align our priorities with God’s voice. Please pray that we would listen for the voice of the Spirit and sense his desire for our congregation.

    2. Keep your ear to the ground. Do you know of a place? It just might be the place. Let us know! 

    3. If Sacrament is your home, we ask that you would do all of the normal “church member” stuff: attend regularly, tithe, join a volunteer team. This stuff is especially important/valuable in times of transition.

Here is our Transition Schedule:

May 20th- Pentecost Sunday @ Sparkworks. We celebrate the giving of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church. Everyone is encouraged to wear red as a reminder of the fire of the Holy Spirit.

May 27th- Trinity Sunday @ Sparkworks with special guest Dr. Chris Green

June 3rd- Second Sunday after Pentecost @ Sparkworks with special guest Pastor Deborah Jackson.

June 10th- Outdoor Gathering @ Sparkworks.

June 17th- First Sunday in a new space TBD

In the scriptural story, God’s people often find themselves in transition: wilderness wanderings, exiles, and missionary movements. It could be said that God works in a special way during these seasons. Let us choose to lean into this and see what He will do.

Grace and Peace,

Preston Sharpe

Lead Pastor

Sacrament

Posted on May 14, 2018 .

Reflections on Five Years of Church-Planting

Five years ago, Ashley, Lucy, and I moved from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Nashville, Tennessee to plant a church. We are so glad that we did. Ours is a “parachute” church plant, meaning that we did not have a pre-established root system in the city, and we only knew a few people We moved in, planted roots, and started gathering people. We have made a ton of mistakes, our character has been refined, and we have been so incredibly blessed. 

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Over the years, I have learned a few things that I would like to pass on to church-planters. First, a few of disclaimers: 1) I am not an “expert” in any way (e.g. our church is still very small). 2) every situation (city, neighborhood, support system, demographics) is different. These are “tips,” not formulas. 3) These tips are for you and your heart/mind. There are so many great resources about how to care for your city or your congregation. There are fewer resources about your own formation. I am convinced that fruitful ministry must come from a heart centered on identity in Christ.

So, here it goes... 

1. Decide How You Will Measure Progress

Something you have to come to grips with: as an church-planter, your church growth will be slow, often painfully so. There are a variety of factors associated with this including but not limited to:

  • We live in a world where more and more people are resistant to church. In this sense, church-planting is “against the tide” culturally. This movement is even stronger in urban areas and is exacerbated by the fact that urban areas are full of younger people with transient lifestyles.
  • Because you are a transplant, you will more likely connect with “transplants” to your city (I wish I could say more about this…), and this means that there will be fewer “family systems” to naturally connect with your church.

There are, of course, examples of church-plants who have grown exponentially in a short period of time, but these are the outliers. Let me say it clearly because others may not: you need to assume that this will not be you.

So…decide what you are going to measure/value when tangible progress seems non-existent. How is God changing lives in your congregation? Who is that person who is part of your church who had previously given up on church all together? Focus on the enthusiasm of your leaders.

I decided that I was going to focus on formation, the daily act of gathering a congregation and pastoring them. I focused on showing up, loving people, preaching and serving communion, etc. I have two resources that I pick up whenever I am feeling discouraged by lack of tangible results: One is Eugene Peterson’s autobiography The PastorI pick it up, read a few pages, and I’m quickly in a much better place. The second is this documentary. Both resources focus on what it means to pastor a people in a place. 

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2. Hold People Lovingly And Loosely

Another scary but true statement: Everyone will leave your church at some point. And they will all leave sooner than you would want them to. We have found that this happens more poignantly in urban areas, but it true for a lot of church-plants for a few reasons: 

Young couples and singles tend the be the primary demographics drawn to church plants, and their lives tend to change quickly. Planting in a city, we found that when couples have children, the draw to the suburbs becomes much stronger (space, cost of living, etc.) as well as the draw to attend churches in the suburbs. In all church-plants, you will have singles and couples in your church who feel like they need to join a “grown-up” church after awhile.

But people leave churches in general for all kinds of reasons. People will leave your church for a church that is just a little bit more trendy; people will leave your church for a church that is nothing like yours and you will be baffled; people will leave in the most kind way possible; people will just leave and never say a word. People are complex.

Also…people will leave faith altogether. You can’t blame yourself for that. One of Billy Graham’s best friends left the faith and Graham couldn’t do anything about it. Billy freaking Graham. 

We have to learn to love people fully, but not put our hope, or the hope of the church, in them. It’s not a balance. It’s seeking to do both. Be kind when they leave; send them and aggressively try not to harbor bitterness. Because, here’s the thing…at some point, you will leave too, and you want to create a sending culture. 

3. Embrace Simplicity

 In church-planting, you are making a conscious choice to live simply. We moved into a tiny shoebox apartment in the middle of our city. That feels romantic in the beginning, and it is fun! But, over time, you start feeling the limits of your space. Almost five years later, we still live there.

Realize, that in 21st century America, you are a missionary, not a CEO. Ask your friends who are missionaries overseas about their lives. They know more about this than we do. Resist “keeping up with the Joneses” and avoid consumerism like the plague! You have a different calling.

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We sold all of our stuff when we moved to Nashville, and bought cheap furniture from IKEA. Of course, you can replace it over time when there is more stability in your life. You will probably move to a different place eventually. But simplicity should always be an aim. Resist messages saying you have failed because of your housing situation/simple life.

With that, make a practical choice regarding your car. Will you have a car? In NYC/Chicago you may not need or want one. In Nashville, it’s pretty much a necessity. We started out with two, tiny cars. What to consider:

  • What is the parking like in your city? You will be in and out of coffee shops, office spaces, hospitals, etc. Tiny cars are great for this!
  • Carrying the inevitable church stuff around. Big cars are good for this; we became very dependent on people in our congregation with trucks.
  • You will make a lot of road trips, especially your first year. You will go back home, go on fundraising trips, trainings, and networking meetings. You need something reliable. 

There is not a right or wrong answer here. After almost five years, we now have two large vehicles, but I think having one of each would have been wise.

4. Get an Office As Soon as Possible

I always thought of having an office as a luxury a church-planter could ill-afford. What a waste!…I thought…Coffee shops have free internet, and let’s be honest, I’m going to go there anyway...I thought...Or, I can just work from home!...I thought.

Get behind me Satan! This is a lie. Let me beak down this counterfeit message:

Yes, coffee shops have free internet, but it’s inconsistent, and in the city, power outlets and seating are limited. You can’t make private phone calls (think about all the things you have to tell your mentor/coach/bishop that you do not want the world to hear), or meet with anyone without others overhearing your conversation; plus, you usually end up having to purchase two beverages a day, which gets pricey. 

You could work from home, and if you are blessed with a medium-size to large home that is probably a good option; but most church planters aren’t blessed with this. If you have young children, this is a non-starter. They will want to be all-in-your business all the time. Our second year of planting, I walked into our living room and my wonderful two-year-old daughter was slamming my iPad on the concrete floor (cracked it). I realized…I have to do something different.

Office space is expensive, so you have to get creative. Is there another church that would let you rent an office from them? How about a company? The best answer for us has been a co-working space. Usually, coffee, internet, and copying are included on some level at a co-working space as well so no more overpaying at Fed-Ex/Office Depot to print church bulletins! 

Do what you have to do (if coffee shops are your only option, you’ll have the grace to do that), and find out what works best for you.

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5. Have Close Pastor Friends; Don’t just go to a lot of Pastor Events    

We are blessed in Nashville with a variety of pastor networking opportunities. I love them and have attended a lot of them. However, I found early on that I could easily fill up my schedule with pastor networking events.

What has been the most life giving to me are the few close relationships that I have with pastor friends. 

 Networking meetings and events are good to compare notes, learn strategies, and help each other. All great things! But, it is important to have a few people with whom you can be completely honest without fear that they will judge you or that you are complicating a pastoral relationship. 

I have been blessed with one very close friend who pastors in Middle Tennessee,. Our hearts for ministry are consistent, but our contexts are radically different. He’s been someone I can call regularly.

Other than that, cultivate friendships outside of your city. You need people who you can call at the drop of a hat, who will celebrate victories and grieve losses with you.

 

6. Remember: The World is Your Parish  

 John Wesley once said, “the world is your parish.” Don’t just limit love, care, and ministry to those in your congregation or potential “recruits.” Love the people in your city. You will get to know people at the coffee shop who will never visit your church (notice a coffee theme I got going on here?). You are not wasting your time with them. Love them! Pastor them! Care for them! 

Volunteer at your local school. Be-friend local business owners. You are not “recruiting,” you are loving and pastoring them.

 

7. Be Vicious with Social Media

Social media is the church-planter's (or humans?) greatest friend and greatest foe. It is an amazing way to meet new people and get a sense of what’s going on in your city. You can friend people when you meet them and keep up to date. You can join community groups and find out about events going on in the city.

BUT, it will be tempting to measure your worth and success as a church-planter on social media. How many likes/followers/friends/shares/posts you have can actually drive you crazy. 

The truth is, social media gives you a very small snapshot (thumbnail?) into the life of your church. It does not measure your health or success. And, it can kill your confidence and vision. 

Most people don’t think about church throughout the week like you do. They don’t use social media the same way that you do. Facebooks algorithms are changing constantly so your views of your community will change. DON’T BE ROCKED BY THIS.

In fact, have disciplines for your social media consumption. Maybe only use it during office hours or on certain days. It’s not worth giving up your sanity.

 

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8. Be Rigid with your personal and Family Rhythms; Loose with your work rhythms

Yeah, this one may be controversial, but as a pastor, your personal and family rhythms are more important than anything else. I once had a friend tell me that my only goal in the early days of church-planting should be to make sure I take care of my family. That sounds extreme, but this foundation is key. I am sorry to say, I have failed at this constantly.

Have personal devotional rhythms that are unwavering. I pray the Daily Office twice per day. I fast a meal once per week. Don’t let that slip, and when you do, just pick it back up again. I am not advocating legalism; I am saying that your habits form you. We must be formed by the right things.

Fight for Sabbath, one day of doing nothing but worship, rest, healthy play, and family time. This is going to be tough because you will probably be juggling two jobs yourself, your spouse’s work and childcare. But you have to fight for it. 

Be there for your spouse and your kids. If they need you, its ok to cancel that meeting (I know, it means you miss a networking opportunity/pastoral care responsibility). It’s ok to drop your sermon prep and go home for the day. They are going through as much, if not more, transition than you are; just be there.

Bring them coffee from the coffee shop that you are working at…maybe every time. Try to stop at the Dollar Tree and get a $1 toy to surprise your little one with when you walk in. Take your kids to work with you (sometimes), so that they can see what you do. Many of my first meetings about the church were with a baby carrier in my hand.

As a pastor, most of the things that we do can wait until tomorrow. They are important, but not always time-sensitive. Mess up your schedule for your family.

See a counselor, spiritual director, support group, etc. All of it. Do it.

 

In Conclusion…

I hope this is helpful! I met with a spiritual director recently who said, “Church-planting is THE hardest thing to do in the world.” Ok, this is hyperbole, but it helped me a lot. Keep your head up. Keep moving forward. God is at work and you get to join Him!

Posted on May 8, 2018 and filed under Musings.

Sacrament Turns 4!

Sacrament is celebrating four years as a church! 

The season of Easter is a time of celebration. On Easter Sunday in 2014, Sacrament Church was launched. God has been faithful every step of the way. 

Join us for brunch, a service where our focus will be "Trust and Obey," and other activities. 

    Let's celebrate God's faithfulness in the past and look to where he might lead us in the future.

    All are invited to bring Energy Bars for the Maplewood High School Football Team as they begin summer workouts.

    • Sunday, May 6, 2018
    • 10:00 AM  11:30 AM
    • Sacrament Church935 East Trinity LaneNashville, TN, 37207
    Posted on April 30, 2018 and filed under Events.