Our Continuing Invitation

    As a married couple in our thirties, my wife Emily and I have received our fair share of invitations over the years. Be it an invitation to a wedding, baby shower, or birthday party, the experience of surrounding the invitations has always been the same: Upon receiving the invitation, we confirm with the host our attendance; we show up to the event; we visit with friends, celebrate, and maybe exchange pleasantries with strangers; and then we go home. In short, the invitations were brief--a single experience and then back to our regular life.

    But our invitation to Missio was different. We were first “invited” to Missio by our long-time friends, Alex and Kendal Keyes. They told us about this new church they were a part of and how much they absolutely adored the pastor and his family. They casually hinted to us that we should attend. In all honesty, our initial reaction was skepticism. We had been to a number of churches in the area throughout the years but never found one to call home. Additionally, we had never been big fans of church plants, which Missio is, because we saw them as groups of outsiders coming into others’ communities without understanding the community’s roots.

    After the initial invitations from the Keyes’, we did not immediately attend Missio gatherings, but Alex and Kendal continued to invite us. Over the proceeding weeks, we noticed something different in Alex and Kendal through their invitations to us. Their invitations were not like any others we received before--their passion for Missio appeared to be emanating from a deeper place. We recognized this difference, still not fully grasping what was happening, and decided to give Missio a try.

Our first experience with Missio was an Easter party hosted by Alex and Kendal. Per usual, we accepted the invitation, showed up, and visited with friends (i.e., Alex and Kendal). However, we did not exchange pleasantries with strangers. Certainly, we did meet and talk to new people. But this too was different; they did not feel like new people. After several hours of fun, we eventually returned home . . . perplexed.  

It took us a while to figure out why that invitation felt different. Then it struck us. At that Easter party, we didn’t just meet a group of acquaintances or strangers. We met a community, and we felt like we had always been a part of it. The church community that we had so often sought but never found was finally here. It all made sense. Because of this experience, we continued to attend Missio events and eventually became regular members. Missio is our home.

And to this day, we still feel that strange invitation to Missio. It is an invitation that continues to ask us to go deeper, to engage a community, to feel at home.


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Jeremy Ciarabellini