I’ve been staring at a blank screen for the last several days trying to come up with a witty or heartwarming story to introduce the things God has been doing behind the scenes here at (in)courage. I wanted a clever way to illustrate the vision He’s been stirring since the day Lisa-Jo announced she was passing on the baton of leading this beautiful community.
This morning as I was reheating coffee, adding a generous helping of sweet cream to transform the black liquid into a luxurious golden brown, I heard a simple whisper in my spirit: Just tell them plainly.
Friends, what a relief that we don’t have to fancy-up the work of God.
So here it is: I believe God is calling (in)courage into a new promised land where we will seek to proclaim, grow, empower, serve, and unite.
As I prayed over this new season, again and again I found myself in the Book of Colossians. Reading familiar passages with fresh eyes. Seeing the clear, beautiful truth of the gospel and instructions for living out God’s purpose as believers.
Press in here, I sensed the Great Plan-Maker say.
From Paul’s letter comes our new focus verse for (in)courage:
“I want their hearts to be encouraged and joined together in love, so that they may have all the riches of complete understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery — Christ.” (Colossians 2:2, CSB)
The NIV says it this way: “My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love…”
It’s a scriptural bridge between where (in)courage has been and where He’s calling us to go.
As you may know, (in)courage was started in 2009 by Holley Gerth and Stephanie Bryant as “a home for the hearts of women.” For the past nine years, (in)courage has been a place of faith, connection, and friendship! A space where women take turns pulling up a chair to share their stories of what Jesus looks like in their gloriously ordinary, often messy lives. (in)courage is a place where you can find yourself among friends right where you are.
This is our beautiful legacy. It’s God’s hospitality at work. It’s one of my favorite things about this online space! Bridging the gap between strangers and sisters with the gift of a shared story is the heartbeat of (in)courage. This will continue.
But I’ve also been pressing my ear to the Lord on behalf of (in)courage, and asking Him one primary question: God, where else are you working and how do you want us to partner with you?
His answer came through Colossians and this call to proclaim, grow, empower, serve, and unite. It’s what makes up our new —
(in)courage Pillars of Purpose:
Friends, we have no greater purpose as God’s daughters than to point others to the love of our Father, which has been poured out for us through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, our Savior. I’ve got a fire in my bones because He’s calling us all into deeper relationship with Him so that we can make a greater impact for His kingdom. I believe (in)courage is a tool He wants to use to accomplish this. But God doesn’t expand our territory to make us more comfortable. He expands our reach so we can offer His comfort, hope, and peace to others!
Yet, we can’t do this by ourselves or by our own strength. We were made for community — to commune, link arms, and walk life out with both God and His family. “Better together” isn’t just a catchy hashtag; it’s God’s very plan hashed out through humanity when we give our best to and for one another. When we bend low, listen long, offer what we have, mourn, celebrate, ask forgiveness, and extend grace upon grace upon grace.
This is what it means to serve, unite, and be empowered by Christ.
It’s our desire to lean in even harder to authentic community. We want to be a fuller, more beautiful representation of the body of Christ. We want (in)courage to be a place where we hear reflections of our own stories, as well as learn from stories unlike our own in order to grow in compassion, understanding, and unity as God’s daughters.
This is what it means to mature as life-linking sisters, empowering each other to do our part to proclaim Christ and grow the reach of the gospel.
Oh, what a great storyteller God is. I love that about Him! After all, the power of words was His idea. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (John 1:14) I love how He invites us to partner with Him, using words to weave stories about His fingerprints and glory. But, a good story isn’t the end of the Story. We don’t want you to come to (in)courage and just nod “me too” and be glad someone else understands your brand of struggle, chaos, or delight. Connecting over shared feelings and experiences is great, but that’s just the beginning of God’s best. Beyond connecting, we want to empower, inspire, and activate. We want to harness the power of this community built through stories to share our love and courage with a hurting broken world.
So what does this actually mean? you may be wondering.
It means that as your (in)courage staff and contributors, we’re going to keep pressing our ear to Jesus and sharing out of the overflow of the work He is doing in our own lives. It means we’re looking for ways to serve our (in)real life communities both locally and globally, and we’re going to be asking you to link arms with us to be the hands and feet of Jesus to women who need Him. It means we’re going to be bringing you more stories and empowering content in fresh and fun ways. Stay tuned for more details, and know that we’re super excited about these plans!
Like the Israelites getting ready to cross over the Jordan, we don’t know exactly what the landscape ahead will look like, but we know He has promised new territory. We don’t know the precise path we’ll take or challenges we’ll face, but we know God’s goodness waits for us. We don’t know who we’ll meet, but we know who goes before us and is with us.
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
You, dear friends, are the reason why (in)courage exists. It is our pleasure to provide this online space of connection, and it is our privilege to serve you.
Will you join us on this next leg of the journey?
I invite you to dive into Colossians too! Press your ear to the Lord. Ask Him to help you listen to His voice. Ask Him where He is already working in your life, family, neighborhood, and workplace. Ask Him how He wants you to partner with Him.
I’ve got a hunch I’m not the only one with fire in her bones to see God do incredible things in 2018 and beyond. This vision, these pillars of purpose, they aren’t just for me, for the (in)courage staff and contributors. They are for all of us! Let’s dig deep, trust big, and live like the sisters we are — encouraged in heart and united in love.
We’re so very thankful you’re here. I can’t wait to journey forward together.
(Oh, and come back on Wednesday for a BIG announcement you won’t want to miss!)