The Wild Goose Chase Continues...

The Call to Move

Blog from Jenn Tendero May 9, 2007: 

Dear Stockbridge Boiler Room family,

“In the midst of rethinking how to live out a vow to be kind to others, true to Christ and to take the Gospel to the nations, Tony and I have been praying over our next steps in making the Boiler Room a reality. We have said we won't move until God shows us where, or how, and that we're willing to scrap everything we've planned in order to follow his leading.

“The past weeks have been a trying time of discernment for both of us; a sense that God is calling us to something unknown, inviting us to live closer to Him. We have waited on him. In a sense, we believe we'll be waiting on him for the rest of our lives, but we've been blessed with unity in seeing the next step, and we're ready to move.”

The Celtic Christians referred to the Holy Spirit as a wild goose, one that cannot be tracked or tamed and leads us into exciting and sometimes dangerous places.  Jenn and Tony heard the call of the wild goose that beckoned them to move out of a tenured career as a professor and toward the dream of the Stockbridge Boiler Room in 2006 with Count Zinzendorf’s order propelling them: to be true to Christ, kind to people, and to take the gospel to the nations.  


In 2006, Jenn and Tony heard the call of the wild goose in the dream of the Stockbridge Boiler Room, propelled by Count Zinzendorf’s order: to be true to Christ, kind to people, and to take the gospel to the nations.  


This vow was always stabilized by three pillars:

  • Prayer - praying as a community daily and inviting others to pray.

  • Mission - telling people about Jesus and learning what it means to follow him.

  • Justice - caring for the poor, addicted, and ignored on the Westside.

 

From the Porch to the House

 2007: From the Tendero's window, the view of the Boiler Room house before it was occupied by interns.

2007: From the Tendero's window, the view of the Boiler Room house before it was occupied by interns.

It started by simply praying on their front porch… every night… and the Lord moved powerfully as they prayed and served those the Spirit brought to them.  

The two unit house across the alley became the home for the people who became Interns - walking in prayer, mission and justice in everyday life with one another.

Neighbors like Dave L,  James, Joe O, Steve, Chip, Mary, Dave G, Marvin, Wendy, Scotty, Don, Martin, and countless other friends experienced the love of Christ and responded to it. At the same time, young people: James, Brad, DanMike, Sarah, Chelsea G, Michelle, Brooke, and many others, were drawing near whose passion for the Kingdom was kindled by the Tendero’s faithfulness.

 2008: A snapshot of daily life within the Boiler Room house with Jen discipling Sarah amongst the neighbors they had invited to live with them. 

2008: A snapshot of daily life within the Boiler Room house with Jen discipling Sarah amongst the neighbors they had invited to live with them. 

There are countless stories of the sometimes simple and other times dramatic moments of these few committed missionaries loving neighbors:  

  • Every room in the house being filled with someone trying to recover from addiction

  • The Love Feast starting in the garage… moving to the yard… then moving to the banquet Hall next door because more and more neighbors came to experience hospitality and belonging.

People were prayed for, fed, encouraged and baptized into God’s family.

 2008: The Love Feast quickly filled the garage and began to spill into the yard each week. 

2008: The Love Feast quickly filled the garage and began to spill into the yard each week. 

The Call to Be Family

After several years of this intense work; seeing many recover and some relapse, others coming and going, the Tenderos and Interns felt a call back to their first love: prayer, and for all the ministry to flow from that place.  

And we also felt the call to walk more fully in our adoption as God’s beloved children and to be the family of God on the Westside.  

We’ve always understood ourselves to be part of the Church - the people of God loving others and inviting them into his family, but this began a shift to understanding ourselves as both a prayer community structured as a church family: valuing strong rhythms of prayer with spiritual parents as the Oversight Team. 


We’ve always understood ourselves to be the Church - the people of God loving others and inviting them into his family.


In 2010, we began gathering on Sunday mornings and inviting others to join while the daily work continued:

  • Emily serving and giving rides to Chris and Mary

  • Jordan continuing to develop deeper relationships with Romeo and Matt.

  • Charis bathing a homeless friend after she’d been drunk and taken advantage of

  • Chelsea cutting hair for folks at Love Feast

The call to make disciples as a missional church community continued by engaging prayer, mission and justice in this neighborhood.

 2012: Charis helping Chris down the stairs after Love Feast. 

2012: Charis helping Chris down the stairs after Love Feast. 

The Call to Move… Again

Around 2012, the Tenderos began to feel a call back to education (both having a background in teaching).  This first seemed to be a call to start a charter school on the Westside, but, through a series of events in the fall of 2013, turned out to be a clear move to Arkansas to serve at a school down there. 

Tim and Brooke Collier having been groomed the last few years to take over leadership and Jordan and Charis Cooper returning from Kansas City to be a part of the Core Team were the leaders to whom the Boiler Room family was entrusted.  In January of 2014, they were commissioned as the Oversight Team, to take over leadership from the Tenderos.  

 2015: Mark T. praying for Esther after her baptism.

2015: Mark T. praying for Esther after her baptism.

The Lord continues to be faithful to bring fruit, but through a new cast of characters:

  • Michelle faithfully pursuing a friend with mental illness who practiced witchcraft

  • Caleb and Dan walking with a newly believing neighbor, Eddie in an accountability group

  • Curtis turning away from addiction, being baptized, living and serving in the community house

Since then we’ve continued to be a missional community that pursues prayer through daily rhythms or seasons of 24/7 Prayer, justice through the Love Feast and offering hospitality in our homes and mission through discipling interns and guiding the church community.  

As we keep discovering more and more of what it looks like to be the Church on the Westside we’ve realized the essence of it comes back to the original work: to be true to Christ, kind to people and to take the gospel to the nations.


The call to be true, be kind, and go has continued to build in our hearts as we feel the Lord expanding our vision of the Kingdom and what the Church is called to be.


A Family Grows

This call to be true, be kind, and go has continued to build in our hearts as we feel the Lord growing our understanding of the Kingdom and what the Church is called to be:

It is a Kingdom in that begins with transformation at the heart of every person.  It doesn’t matter how great the systems are, if the human heart is not transformed there will still be injustice and oppression.  People need to be reconciled to the Father and reconciled to all creation so they see their value and purpose in Christ as a part of his family.

As these families are continually transformed and become a means of transformation in the places God has called them, more people experience the transforming power of Jesus leading to the family growing and expanding to new places so that every sphere of society is renewed as the Spirit empowers people to seek the Kingdom. A picture of God’s people working together to express the reign of God in all creation.


It is not just the multiplication of individuals, but the multiplication of families, that are being transformed and seeking transformation where God has called them.


This is the vision God is growing in our hearts: To see every person, family and neighborhood in Grand Rapids transformed by Jesus to live fully and joyfully in reconciled relationship!  It God’s people working together to participate with him to see his Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven!

Though we feel him expanding our imagination to see Grand Rapids (and beyond) filled with these transforming and reconciling communities, we feel him focusing our work to accomplish this more effectively:

First, we will mobilize prayer toward unity and mission within the church of the city.

Second, we will equip disciples to be means of transformation in both our shared mission field (the Westside) and our personal mission fields (our families, friends and workplaces).

Lastly, as our church community is committed to this neighborhood, we will train leaders to extend the work by planting missional church communities in other parts of Grand Rapids, all working together to bring transformation in our city.  

.   .   . 

We are very much at the beginning of this journey, but building upon the foundations of prayer, mission and justice we’ll continue to adapt in order to pursue this work of mobilizing prayer, equipping disciples and training leaders to see God transform Grand Rapids.

From the beginning we’ve simply stepped out in obedience to the Lord, seeking to share the love of Christ with others and we invite you into the next chapter of this unknown and exciting journey of following the “wild goose.”