(Corey prompted this post in an email a couple of weeks back. Sorry it's taken me so long to get around to it.)
I moved to Waco in July of 2000 to work at Baylor and be closer to friends who were also leaving ETBU to attend Truett. It was kind of an impulsive move, but one that would end up being possibly the most transformative decision of my life.
By the first of August I had visited three churches. As I'm sitting here thinking about each one I find it kind of funny that each of the three was a kind of mirror image of each of the churches I had been a member of as an adult. Antioch was Prairie Creek, the pseudo-charismatic church I joined as a reaction to being an 18 year old kid in, what I called at the time, a "dead" church. (The word "dead" indicating that hands were not raised and drums were not present. I was such an idiot.) Brazos Meadows was Port Caddo, the small and charming country church I used as a refuge of healing after experiencing the alienation that comes from being in a church (like Antioch) where the goal is to become the spiritual elite. Columbus Avenue was Central in Marshall, the more mainstream Baptist church that has been a presence in the downtown community for years and has people who dress nice and have a little more money than the rest of us.
I honestly enjoyed visiting each one, but I never gave much thought to joining either. They were all good places, but not for me.
By this point Jason was working in the University Ministries offices at Baylor and attending meetings with church leaders who worked with college students in the community. After one such meeting he came over to my apartment with a sheet of paper that explained the philosophy of ministry and core values of a church, UBC, where the meeting was held.
(At this point I'm going to have to paraphrase a conversation I had with The Stumbling Runner, who described a meeting that helped him make the decision about which seminary to attend.)
As I read the words on that sheet of paper I felt that for the previous few years I was making my way through a thick forest and there were people off in the distance singing a song, my song. The song was calling me, and I followed.
So I visited UBC and, to tell you the truth, I remember very little, really nothing, about my first visit. I can't remember David Crowder and can't remember Kyle Lake. I remember the music being loud and the preacher sitting on a stool, but the details have escaped. I think I was probably a little shell-shocked with the whole experience.
I do, however, remember the bulletin. Most evangelical churches worth their salt have handouts that say how you can get involved and ask for your personal information. In UBC's bulletin there is a box where you can check "I would like to meet with the pastor."
Isn't it amazing how our lives can turn on really small moments and decisions that seem insignificant at the time?
My small moment and decision was looking around the pew (we had pews back then-- I miss those ugly orange things,) for a pen to fill out the form. I checked I'd like to meet the pastor.
I'll be honest, I was expecting a phone call, maybe even a letter in the mail. Instead I got to work on Monday morning with an email that said "Hey Craig, it's Kyle Lake. Would you like to meet me for lunch sometime this week over at La Pettite France, this little deli downtown?"
I was extremely surprised. Actually, I was a little baffled because I forgot the name of the pastor at UBC. Who in the world is this? Then I remembered and replied "Sure."
So we met. I remember the day being Wednesday. I also remember wearing a white long-sleeved Gap shirt. (Isn't it weird the things you remember?) He walked in looking around the way you do when you meet someone you've never met. I recognized him, introduced myself, and our friendship began almost immediately.
Here's the funny story from our first meeting: Anyone who has ever spent any amount of time in the Christian Subculture has experienced the dilemma of praying over meals in public. At ETBU it was just what you did, but growing up I never remember doing it. Being new to the Baylor-Waco stem of evangelicalism, I just didn't know. The food came, then the awkward pause. I wanted to grab my fork, he wanted to grab his fork, but neither of us knew the other's position on the great pray-over-meals-in-public debate. He relented and offered to pray for the meal, and we laughed about it every time we revisited the restaurant, (now The Olive Branch.)
The conversation immediately went to "Where are you from?", and stayed there for most of the meal once we realized that the house he grew up in was only 12 miles from the one I grew up in, which brought on a great wave of "Do you knows?" and "Did you ever go to this event?" We came to the conclusion that we knew a lot of the same people and went to the same things and marveled that we were only then meeting.
I now remember the date. It was August 17, 2000. The reason I remember is because I told him we'd have to do this again and suggested the next week. He said the next week wouldn't be good because his wife was almost due. Three days later on August 20 the beautiful Faith Avery Lake was born.
The next week Kyle emailed me and set up another lunch meeting. But in the meantime he had something he wanted me to look at. This pastor he was acquainted with sent him the manuscript of a book he had just finished. Kyle told him he wouldn't let it get out, and then once he finished reading it he wanted me to read it. The pastor's name was Brian McLaren and the book was A New Kind of Christian.
(Wow, that last sentence was dramatic, wasn't it? Like there should have been drums pounding in the background.)
Needless to say, I started gong to UBC. That first year we were good acquaintances. It sounds cliche', but we really became very close after September 11 and when the boys were born the next summer, me and the Lakes were inseparable.
And that's how we met. Corey, thanks for prompting that. Writing through it helped me remember stuff I don't want to forget.