When Kristen and I came to Auburn a little over seven years ago we made a commitment to stay at least three years with a goal of five. That might sound silly, but we were 24 and 25, we had been married about five years at that point and had moved every 18 months or so since we were 18. It seemed like a worthy challenge to at least double our time and investment in one place, and we thought five years would be a miracle.

At 18 months we sort of looked around like, “Hey, we’re not going anywhere. This is where we’re supposed to be. This feels strange. Strangely normal. And nice.” When we reached three years, we thought we’d really attained something. And when five years came around, we had our first son, and we were talking about what forever meant.

briansfamilyWe had no idea what was ahead. We had no idea how the next two years would unfold with the launching of a site of Cornerstone at the Irish Bred Pub, finding out we were going to have triplets, having them arrive 12 weeks early, and spending two and a half months in Birmingham, opening up our home to family, friends and strangers to help us out on that journey, and so much more. There were so many moments that drove us to worship, more to prayer, and occasionally questioning if we could handle anything else. I sometimes wonder if we haven’t learned more about being a family through this last year than the previous ten combined.

Through seven years of spiritually maturing in this community, with this family of believers, through difficult moments and joyous ones, we’ve heard Jesus say to us over and again, “Lean into Me, trust Me.” Every step where we have had to grow in new ways and see our faith expand, every time we’ve had to follow him in a way we haven’t before, this is what we had to do, lean in and trust that His plan was greater than ours. He continues to be faithful in affirming His plans and helping us grow as we lean in more and trust more.

Now He’s asking us to lean in and trust Him again as Jesus is calling us to move onward in a new work of ministry in Kansas City with Westside Family Church. In this new role I will be leading worship and helping guide a global mission team. We have arrived at this decision through much prayer and council by family and close friends that have discipled us along our journey including our senior staff team here at Cornerstone. Kristen and I have both said this has been the most difficult decision we have ever had to make.

This next step we’re taking is not one that we took lightly, nor one that we sought out. It was an opportunity that came to us, and we laid at the feet of Jesus and said, “What is Your will and Your way?” We spent many months waiting for clarity, desiring to be fully obedient and certain that we were not making a decision to stay or go forward based on our own emotions and feelings. Through the painful awareness of the sense of loss our hearts feel in leaving such deep community, He has been clear to say, “Follow me. I will unfold the fullness of why I’m calling you as you take the journey. Lean in. Trust me.”

Though the situation is completely different, I was reminded of the scene of Acts 20 that in some ways captures what we’re feeling in our hearts. There, Paul is departing Ephesus and heading to Jerusalem. He thanks the church there for the deep investment they have made in him and he encourages them to press forward in the work of the Kingdom. They weep together and they embrace. There is joy and sadness. They are not mutually exclusive. They often go hand in hand. There is joy in celebrating the obedience of God’s call. There is sadness in the parting of deep friends. Above all, there is a peace in knowing that Jesus is setting a way forward, and we’re all a part of His story and each other’s story. And as we learned in such a profound way with the birth of triplets, “No one does this journey alone.”

For our family, Auburn will be our first real home together, the place where we traveled through our most difficult days so far and the days where we celebrated the most. It will always hold a special place in our heart, and one we hope to return to as often as we can. We’ll forever be grateful for the friendships forged here, the grace extended to us as we matured, and the love that was so freely lavished on us and that we so deeply felt. Thank you Cornerstone for serving our family so well and allowing us to serve along side of you.

Brian Johnson
Site Pastor, Bred Pub Site

It is right that I should feel this way about you because I have you in my heart. For whether I am imprisoned, or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you are co-sharers of God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. This is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in real knowledge and discernment so that you may be able to approve what is best and may be pure and blameless until the Day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1.7-11