By Dave & Karen Howard, MBC Arlington Attendees
Our decision to attend MBC Arlington was a lengthy, sometimes bewildering process. We had been members at MBC Tysons for several years and were serving in Marriage Mentors and City Impact. However, when we moved to Crystal City as empty nesters in 2011, it became more difficult to be involved in events at the Tysons campus outside of the worship services. We loved MBC but felt called by God to plant ourselves in Arlington; unfortunately for us, the only MBC ministry in Arlington at that time (Frontline) was for those in their 20s & 30s! We did a search and visited some other churches in Arlington, yet our quandary was that our heart was for MBC and also to serve closer to our new home; it just didn’t seem possible to do both.
Then God revealed what He was doing. In early 2013, Lon Solomon (MBC’s Senior Pastor) announced a new focus on discipleship and the opening of all campuses of MBC to be multigenerational, including MBC Arlington! We saw that God had been preparing us for this new direction and we attended MBC Arlington one Monday night to check it out. Immediately we felt at home there and set up a meeting with campus pastor Nate Keeler that week. Nate told us that the church did not have much to offer in the way of services targeted to our generation, but could use some mentor couples to help the church grow. This perfectly lined up with what we felt the Lord had called us to do and we assured Nate that we did not come to be served, but to serve in any way the Lord directs.
Soon we were asked to lead the first small group for couples. Over the years of our marriage we have often been involved as a couple in discipling others in various ways, especially in helping young couples with preparing for and establishing their marriage on a strong footing; this is why we had been drawn to serve as Marriage Mentors while we attended the Tysons campus. Intentional discipleship has always been the main focus of our ministries together as a couple and even when we have served individually. So this role fits right in with what God has been doing in our lives!
Since transferring to MBC Arlington we have been welcomed by the leadership team and by so many others in the church family. We enjoy the fellowship with both singles and couples in the church—our friendships and relationships within the church are a great joy. We love facilitating our small group and seeing the growth among the couples involved, and they give so much back to us by inviting us to walk with them on their journey. Just as we have seen over and over during the many years of our marriage, each couple in our group is uniquely gifted and blessed, with their own strengths and struggles. As we journey together with them, God blesses us and He ministers to all of our marriages. Involvement with other small group and ministry leaders in the church is also a blessing—iron sharpening iron as we work to smooth out the rough spots in each other, sharpening and polishing the strong areas for the Lord.
Discipleship is intended to be a way of life for every Christian. It is the natural process of growing and maturing together. Discipleship is sometimes thought of as a specific process to be accomplished in a small group or in a personal one-on-one relationship between two believers. However, just as with parenting, we have found that discipleship is not a certain set of actions or a course of study but rather the right word boldly and lovingly spoken, seasoned with grace; an offer of a listening ear and praying heart; the willingness to speak out and hold others accountable in love; learning from each other as we pass through trials and joys; and drawing strength and encouragement from seeing our brothers and sisters walk faithfully through life. Discipling occurs in and through us as we honestly live our lives for God in context with those around us. And we believe that life lived this way makes the Father’s heart sing.