Find Your Tribe

As I move toward graduation in the next few days, I’ve been really emotional. If you’ve ever completed a long road to achieve a goal, you probably know what I’m talking about. You get to the end, and you’re excited about finishing, but you’re also not sure what you’re going to do when you get tossed out into the world. Even if you do know, change is scary.

I’ve also been emotional because this journey has been a little different. When I was in college the first time, I fell by the wayside. I was in a world where I was meeting people of all different faiths and ethnicities, didn’t have to go to church every Sunday, and was able to see a world beyond the little town I came from. Unfortunately, part of the world I saw was ugly and full of darkness—and I was hooked. By the time I realized it and tried to fix not being in church—which I thought was the real problem—I was lost.

I didn’t understand one very big concept: if you really, really want to feel supported, loved, and cared for, you have to have a relationship with God. I didn’t really know what that meant, and I struggled over many years to find out. I bounced from church to church trying to find a community that would help me “figure it out”, support me, and hold up the mirror that would show me who God thought I really was. While church isn’t the end-all, be-all, in order to have a relationship with Him, you have to find a community who will love you through it and your flaws. Since I couldn’t find that, I gave up on it, and worst of all, I gave up on Him. Every time I tried again, I was met with the same result, leading to the same frustration and feeling like no one really cared. I was looking for the right thing (a relationship with Him), but hanging it all on one thing (the wrong thing and the wrong thing to do).

"To know who God really is, you have to find a community who will show you who God really is."

Now we circle back to why I’m emotional. When I started this latest journey in my education, I knew how the story would play out: I would probably stop going to church due to lack of time, no one would care, and I would give up again. As God usually does, He pleasantly surprised me. By this point, I understood what having a relationship with Him was, so I knew that even if I wasn’t going to church, I would at least know that He wasn’t giving up on me and that I could trust Him to hold me up. But that’s not what happened. My City Chapel friends and family reached out to me, told me they missed me when I missed long periods due to mountains of schoolwork, never guilt-tripped me, and most importantly, they never let me go. That’s what I call love. However, to know who God really is, you have to find a community who will show you who God really is. He is love, and His people should be also. And it’s beautiful and it’s overwhelming and my heart is so full it brings tears to my eyes.

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As I was writing this, I kept hearing, “fishers of men”. Now, I don’t claim to be a true bible scholar or interpreter, but when I think of that phrase, I think of two things: 1. A tribe that reflects who He is: love, and 2. A fisherman who hangs onto his catch instead of someone who throws his catch back because it wasn’t _______ enough (fill in the blank however you see fit). A true community will love you through the good, bad, and ugly. They will keep you humble, but celebrate you. Because let’s be real: even fish who make the cut have flaws, but regardless, God couldn’t imagine a world without youor any one of His fish, or his childrenin it. And in the words of a friend that I was describing my experience to, “when you find a community who’s excited about you, that’s your tribe.” And she’s right. That may or may not be City Chapel for you. However, be sure that wherever you go, the tribe celebrates Him by following His greatest commandment: love.

So, City Chapel family, I want to thank you. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for knowing just when I needed you, and most importantly, thank you for reminding me who God really is and that I’ve never been alone. Thank you for never throwing me back. Diploma or not, finding and knowing Him is the greatest accomplishment of all—and you have been a big part of the greatest journey of my life. 

- Cassie


The Branhams


The Branhams

2 years ago, the Lord brought together an incredible team of people in South Austin. We shared a common goal: to plant a life-giving church here. This has been an uphill kind of thing. Of course, we saw the slope of it before we started climbing, but still, what a climb it has been! So why did we do it? Well, we believe that people are worth it and Jesus deserves it.

One of the families that was with us from the beginning because they shared that belief was the Branhams: James, aka "T Bear", Suzy, Gabe, Glenda (and now Sophia, Ryan and Emory). I met T Bear in 2000 and through many experiences (doing ministry together, both of us getting married a month apart, moving to Texas together, serving on staff at PSM together, etc.) I have come to love him and his family. I always thought, "Wouldn't it be cool if we planted a church together?" Not that I like to brag, or point out when I'm right...but I was right, it has been incredibly "cool".

That's why it's so difficult for me to say goodbye to the Branhams as they are moving to Dallas at the end of this month (Suzy and kids moving on the 20th). They have been such a part of who we are, that it's difficult to imagine City Chapel without them. I will miss my friends. I will miss my climbing partners. They have helped so many people along their journey through worship leading, counseling, pastoring, kids ministry, small group leadership, deep friendships, real conversations, preaching, and the list goes on. I guess the real impact of their presence is only really known by those who have been touched by them. So, if you're a part of City Chapel, please join me in letting them know how much they are loved and how they have blessed you. Also, please pray for them as they make this big move for their family. May God continue to lead them and open every door that He would have them walk through. 

Join us this Sunday (December 18th) as we pray over the Branhams and celebrate them.

- Pastor Harry