“Being in a Missional Community has touched us and everyone around us, we are being submerged in a totally different lifestyle. In return, it leaves us vulnerable sometimes and we find our flesh in constant resistance of what’s necessary. God is using us for His glory and it is truly a blessing.”
— Jeff Pulliam, Missional Community Leader.
Jeff and his wife Dena lead a growing family and have been a part of our Missional Communities since 2013. Jeff was interested in leading a group someday so he began to assist his group leader. After a season it was apparent that he and his wife were ready, willing, and available to start their own group in their own neighborhood. “Leading compared to participating has its challenges.” Jeff said, “It’s definitely trying sometimes, though good. It’s obvious to both my wife and I, that most of the time when we are being attacked by the enemy, it’s because we are doing something that he is in opposition of. It’s a radical change to us. We have invited into our lives something of extremely great influence. God is not only working in us and through us, but also everyone in our family, others in our group, and our neighborhood.”
The Pulliams have had to make sacrifices at times. Jeff said graciously, “Not only giving up our time on Wednesday nights, but also many weekends. Both Dena and I are busy throughout the week, so the weekends are precious to us and our family. We have set boundaries so that we can have our own family time. But we have also graciously found ways to incorporate our family time into mission, making it our lives. What a blessing it is that our children are being raised up in a gospel centered lifestyle.”
Gordon, a friend from church once visited Jeff’s group. He came on a night when they were trying to meet neighbors and enjoy some food outside. Something surprised Gordon. Instead of having the party in the back yard, they had their grill, tables, and chairs set up in their front yard. He was puzzled and asked why. Jeff told him that he wanted their neighbors to know that they were welcome and so that anyone walking or driving by could stop and get something to eat. Gordon has sinced joined the Pulliams and is now co-leading the group. He is currently praying and thinking about branching off and starting his own family of missionaries.
This has not been uncommon in our Missional Communities. A culture of discipleship emerges because people have a place for things that aren’t always found in a typical church setting. Jeff commented that “We have several men in our group that could and should be leading. We have an incredible number of men and women that are in love with Christ that daily dive into His Word. We constantly push each other to go deeper and as a result, from sharing the Gospel to one another and encouraging one another, we are growing in depth. I see a group of people that live life along side each other on mission. I don’t have to charge my brothers and sisters in our group to share the Gospel at all, the desire is there because the love of Christ is there! It’s truly powerful!”
They have space for discussing truths of the bible in a safe place but also to discuss what is happening in their hearts and lives on a weekly basis. Sin so easily creeps into our lives and our time together allows us to have people in our lives that will share the truths of the Gospel afresh each week. The culture is changing in discipleship because there is actually room for people to learn what evangelism can look like and get real-time help. They get to see folks who may be better at serving and think, “oh, that’s what it looks like.” They have people who they know they can call, and do call, because they might be struggling with sin or having difficulty understanding something.
The culture we are hoping to create is one of genuine need for Jesus. Not just for those who don’t know Jesus, but for each person currently following him. This transparency and dependence on the finished work of Christ is creating this culture of discipleship. Jeff and his group are experiencing Kingdom life by encouraging each other not only to follow Christ in their thinking, but in their doing and even more than that; in their being.
Jeff’s heart is easy to see. He says this, “My vision is to mimic the early church in Acts 2. It reads, paraphrased, “that they were praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” Our desire is for Stockton Drive to see who we are day in and day out. That we may find favor with everyone who lives on this street. May we be a public display of what God has done and is continuing to do in our lives and by His grace He will add to our number. By having cookouts in our front yard, we welcomed the neighbors that showed up and gave the ones peaking through their blinds something to see! The coolest thing that I got from our last cookout is that our neighbors stayed later than our group!”