- Phone: 563.210.1232
- Email: info@sacredcitychurch
- Office: 2816 Eastern Ave. #12 Daveport, IA 52807
- Gathering: 2822 Eastern Ave. Davenport, IA 52807
Jesse and Melissa Korns were searching for a feeling of community. They had just moved from the St. Louis area to the small farming community of Aledo, Illinois, Jesse’s hometown. Living in a small community often means being aware of and taking care of other people’s needs, so that was bred in Jesse from a young age. But Melissa’s background was a lot different--she grew up in the city, so moving to Aledo was a big change.
“There was nothing that was normal to me,” said Melissa, “no Starbucks, no Target... you know, the things that I would normally gravitate to. I remember the first week of being there just crying. I was so broken over not having anyone and feeling so alone.”
Nevertheless, the Kornses felt the pull to move back to Jesse’s home town, put down roots, and have him start his career as a family nurse practitioner. This position in the community created an ideal opportunity for Jesse to get to know the families that came in and out of his practice and even visit them in their homes for check ups.
“I remember hoping we’d find some community at Sacred City Church, meet some great people there, and feel connected to them,” said Melissa. “But Jesse was really good about encouraging me that we also needed to step out and meet people in our neighborhood.”
But living on mission hasn’t always been a simple and clear cut process for the Kornses.
"I think it’s easy for us to make justifications in our mind as to why people aren’t worthy of our love."
Reflecting on their own heart level struggles, Jesse said, “I think it’s easy for us to make justifications in our mind as to why people aren’t worthy of our love. The people that are really open, sociable, great neighbors... the people that are always open to do things like barbecues and walk the dogs together... we need to be on mission to them! But it’s the mean old ladies, the recluse neighbors that stay to themselves, and the people that are different than us that we tend to justify as unworthy of our love. We have to remember that none of those people are unworthy of our love.”
Convicted that living on mission is something the Gospel calls us to and not something that is optional for the believer, Jesse and Melissa put one foot in front of the other and started to think about what it meant for them to be good neighbors and live out of that missionary identity. Initially it took the form of something they called Donut Saturdays--an idea they took from a friend from St. Louis--where they would go door to door, inviting people over for donuts and coffee at their house.
“This created a comfortable space for people to come to,” said Melissa, “because the one-on- one right away can be so hard.” This idea broke the ice, and neighbors who were strangers became acquaintances.
“At that point we decided that--at least once a month--we needed to invite someone over to our house for dinner. We eat dinner every night!” Jesse said with a smile. “There’s no reason we can’t involve someone else in that. So we just started going down the block again, one house at a time, inviting people over for dinner.”
Those neighbors eventually came for dinner a second, third, and fourth time. Three years after their move, Jesse and Melissa have started getting invited to their neighbors’ homes.
Jesse explained, “This is where you can start to get down to the nitty gritty details of what’s going on in their lives and find out ways to serve them. But, in a lot of ways, we end up getting served by our neighbors as well! This isn’t just a one way street where we pour our lives out to the people around us and share their burdens, but they also start to do the same for us.”
There was one lady in particular, an elderly widow, who the neighbors warned Jesse and Melissa to try and steer clear of. They gave the Korns the list of how to stay on good terms with her and avoid some issues they had experienced.
“We came into our relationship with her with preconceived notions of why she wasn’t worthy of being on mission to. We felt like we could skip her house”, Jesse lamented.
Then one day Jesse and Melissa had an eye opening experience when they brought their son, Josiah, home from the hospital. They had had no interaction with this woman, and to their surprise, she walked over to their house and gave them some baby clothes she bought for their new son.
“This whole time she was monitoring what was going on in our home and looking for a way to reach out and bless us!” said Jesse.
Instances like this seemed to slowly peel back the hard exterior around the Korns’ hearts toward their community in Aledo. Melissa said, “The more we are able to be open and vulnerable with people, the more that becomes a natural rhythm of their life. The things that we would naturally come to expect from our Sacred City Missional Community, like stepping into difficult areas of our life and sharing each other’s burdens, we started to see happening with our community of neighbors in Aledo.”
Viewing their neighborhood and city through the lens of the Gospel lead to more missional opportunities. It allowed them to be there for a couple during a pregnancy, bringing that baby home, and even to encourage that couple to get married. In fact, this couple asked Jesse and Melissa to stand with them at the courthouse on their wedding day.
The Kornses found they were able to really start sharing the Gospel once they were past the surface level with their neighbors by meeting with them, doing life together, helping them move, and counseling them in the broken areas of their lives.
“When we started talking with them about the Gospel, we already had a really solid relationship. They cared about us, and we cared about them. So when we brought up Jesus, they took us seriously. We weren’t just the weird people from down the street that knocked on their door trying to share Jesus with them.”
Living like a missionary in our neighborhoods can be difficult, and Jesse and Melissa now believe that when it comes to being on mission, we don’t need to do anything with a specific agenda. Just doing normal daily life with the people who live around you--whether it’s going to the store, on a walk, out for coffee, or to the park- - creates the perfect space to enter in to meaningful relationships. Doing those things with people that live around us gets us involved in each other’s lives and gives us practical ways to serve them.
"Our lives are so much more enjoyable when we have other people involved in them.”
“We think that lives lived very individualistically or self focused end up being incredibly dull. But, the rabbit hole that you jump into when you simply walk across the street and invite someone to dinner makes your life so much more interesting and ends up being a blessing to you and to other people. Our lives are so much more enjoyable when we have other people involved in them.”