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Rediscover The Forgotten Joys Of Christmas Caroling

photo 3People often debate the merits of modern Christmas traditions, but there is one tradition that, while less common than in past years, is alive and well among Sojourners: Christmas caroling.

Sojourners love getting together in groups, walking around our neighborhoods and singing of our savior’s birth. And it may surprise you to learn that many of these neighbors love it too! Here are a few testimonies from this past Wednesday’s Sojourn caroling, around the Midtown Campus neighborhoods:

• At least three groups had folks come out of their homes and finish the caroling routes with them, to sing to their neighbors. A couple even came back to the church building and hung out with us as we ate cookies and drank hot chocolate.

• A neighborhood lady who we’ve struck up a relationship with came to sing with us. Despite intense back pain, she walked the whole route and joyfully sang every note with us. She said she “wouldn’t have missed it.” She also knew many of the folks we were singing to, including her brother, who began to call the rest of their family and tell them what was happening.

• According to one Shelby Park Sojourner, one of her neighbors was literally jumping for joy when they started caroling.

• One elderly woman told a group, with tears in her eyes, that she hadn’t seen anything like this in 40 years.

These stories are just a few of the reasons why I’m glad that caroling is a yearly tradition at all of our campuses. We certainly have enough community group leaders and families to cover some serious ground.

Tips for caroling:

  • Be friendly, Christmas is a time of celebration and these songs are to enjoyed.
  • Go as a good-sized group (6-15) that’s not overwhelming. Showing community like this is attractive and gives opportunity to show God’s love in relationship.
  • Have a short practice session indoors beforehand with copies of music lyrics available so everyone can learn together and also get to know each other.
  • Communicate with the houses you carol at clearly. If they enjoyed your group, have something to leave with them about your church, service times, location, contact information, etc. Our Christmas Eve invites (available each Sunday at the Welcome Table) will work great.
  • Write down address and names after your time caroling. Hopefully, you will have further interactions if they are your neighbors. Remembering names is great way to show compassion and intentionally.

What are some of your ideas or best practices in caroling? Any stories of how God has used caroling in your life or neighborhood?

A Call To The City

Today I invited Pastor Nathan Ivey, founder of our Seed ministry, to tell you about one of the new things I’m most excited about in 2013: Sojourn Urban Experience:

In the summer of 2013, Sojourn will begin equipping the next generation of church-led community developers through an innovative Leadership Development Program called the Urban Experience. God’s given us a picture of where he’s taking us. It’s not just an idea, and it’s not just some kind of fantasy. It’s rooted in solid conviction: a conviction that God’s glory, God’s beauty, and God’s mercy must advance. We believe this advancement begins right here in our backyard in the neighborhood of Shelby Park.

The Urban Experience is an opportunity for individuals to commit a year of their life to relocating into this community, training to live in the city, and effect spiritual change that produces social change. A once thriving place to live, Shelby Park has in recent decades experienced increased crime, home dilapidation, broken family & single parents households, resident transience, and drug and gang presence. We believe that the hope for this neighborhood is the gospel, proclaimed through the local church: men and women who are being shaped, formed and fueled by the good news of Jesus Christ.

This is a call for 6 men and 4 women to join us in the physical and spiritual revitalization of inner-city Louisville by moving into renovated houses, living missionally among the marginalized, and training in Biblical leadership. Participants of the Urban Experience will be developed in a 45 hour per week program including 15 hours of training and 30 hours on the front lines of the church’s effort to fight homelessness and the sex industry. These leaders will catalyze neighborhood renewal not just through practical ministry but also through being equipped to mobilize the church and local residents into action.

We encourage and challenge you to apply for this opportunity: you can do so at by March 15th. For additional information, or to sign up to attend one of our Exploration Weekends on February 2nd-3rd,16th-17th, & 23rd-24th contact us here.

All the Single, Married, Working Ladies

This Saturday women have the opportunity to gather together for the 2012 Sojourn Women’s Conference and think through what it means to be a woman in three different places: the workplace, the home, and the church. Preachers usually don’t have a hard time teaching about the role of women in the home or the church, but for some reason women in the workplace are left out.

One of the best reasons to attend is to hear Carolyn McCulley, who will talk about women in the workplace. Caryolyn is a biblical, church-based, and provocative woman. Here is a preview of her thoughts on what it means to be a working woman:

As I research my current book project on women, work, and the gospel, I’m struck by how little we discuss some of the most obvious passages about women’s work in the Bible. Childbearing is definitely a major component of the dominion mandate given in Genesis 1:28 to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.” But it has only been within the last 200 years that we have separated other forms of productivity and industry away from the household and its child-rearing activities. For most of history, women worked very hard at two important tasks in addition to bearing children: providing food and textiles. These were not shopping expeditions. These were complex tasks that involved much skill and many people, often providing various amounts of household income in addition to whatever the family needed for its own consumption.

From her blog post, Success and the Single Woman

Are you single? Are you married? Do you have kids? Great! God has something for all of you this Saturday. Scripture has little to say to women in singleness, but much to say about working women.

It’s not too late to sign up for Sojourn’s Women’s Conference this Saturday. Click here to register. We hope to see you there!

Guess Which U.S. City Is Best At Luring And Retaining Young Creatives …

Hi friends, I’m Bobby Gilles, Sojourn’s Director of Communications. Daniel and Mandy Montgomery have been out of the country visiting missionary partners. Pastor Daniel will be back with new posts here next week.

But has the headline left you curious? If you guessed Portland, Seattle, Dallas or Pittsburgh, you came close — those cities rank #2 – #5 in a new study by Portland State University. Louisville finished in the top spot, which is no surprise to me.

Louisville has a revitalized downtown, a vibrant arts community, delicious restaurants, innovative colleges and a cost of living that is much lower than most American cities and regions. So I’m thinking, if any of you young creatives (and the not-so-young, for that matter) are also thinking about moving here, you should come to Sojourn. You’ll feel right at home.

And for any of you who may be ministry-minded:

At Sojourn, our vision is for the fame of God to fill the whole earth through the formation of people into the likeness of Jesus, as they live out Jesus’ Great Commission. Come be a part of something bigger than yourself.

An Easy Way To Help The Homeless At St. James Art Fair

Jesse Eubanks is a Sojourn deacon, and one of our founding members. He’s also the Executive Director of the Jefferson Street Baptist Center, Louisville’s oldest gospel mission. I’ve seen first-hand the enormous good that Jesse and everyone at Jeff Street have done for our city and for many of our neighbors who have lost their homes (over 8000 people find themselves homeless in Louisville each year).

Now Jesse and Jeff Street are hosting the Second Chance Yard Sale on October 5-6 during the St. James Court Art Fair, to raise money for the fight against poverty. The Second Chance Yard Sale is located at Third Avenue Baptist Church at 1726 South 3rd Street, Louisville, KY 40208. You can help Jeff Street by:

  • donating household items. Furniture is particularly welcome.
  • volunteering to serve at the yard sale.
  • shopping at the sale.

Over 200,000 people will attend St. James, which is one of my favorite city festivals each year. This is a great chance to increase awareness for Jeff Street and raise the money they need to continue their service to Louisville’s homeless.

For over 130 years JSBC has providing shelter, food and a path forward for those trapped in addiction and poverty. In 2010 and 2011 combined, Jefferson Street Baptist Center did over 22,000 loads of laundry for free and gave out over 33,000 toiletry kits to their homeless guests. Jefferson Street Baptist Center is a mailing address for over 2,500 people – an important need in order to receive mail or fill out a job application.

Jefferson Street Baptist Center’s residents complete over 325 hours of classes (which use the Bible to teach life skills and character) and over 325 hours of job training. Jefferson Street Baptist Center partners with Sojourn and other local congregations to provide a whole-life support system for residents and guests that help them pursue employment, friendship and education.

Let’s represent, Sojourn. You can drop off donations at Jefferson Street Baptist Center, 733 East Jefferson Street, Louisville, KY 40203. If you need to make pick-up arrangements for large donations, contact Kiana Bullard at 502-584-6543 or writing to

Learn more about the Jeff Street yard sale here.

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