The Big Question

So what are you going to DO with it? It’s the only question we are getting.

And my response has been consistent.

Whatever God wants us to do with it…

We’ve been referring to the little church as our future studio home. And it is. At this time I am taking story submissions from women of any age and families who wish to make a public profession of their faith in Jesus through a photo session. We’d LOVE to help you share your story! Our session fees are a small investment into a very big story – the greatest story you’ll ever share is your testimony of your faith in Jesus!

We believe in the power of the personal testimony to advance the Kingdom of God.

We offer a custom designed printed version of your story in magazine and book form as well as everything from 4×6 prints to a folio box. We currently have NO DEBT in this building so all profits go right back into it’s restoration! I CANNOT WAIT to begin photographing these sessions in that little church! But our plans go WAY beyond that. I’ve been writing down notes and ideas for months now since it became very clear that we were in fact going to be “given” this property. Our heart is to completely restore it. We want it to look like it did when it was originally built in 1915, and serve people not just on Sundays but ALL week long!

It’s not just going to serve as a studio space.

I thought I would share some of the ideas God has placed on our hearts as we have walked this road to “owning a church building”.

Serve walkers, joggers, and cyclists on the South Creek Greenway

The property is just a few steps away from the trail. In fact the first time we saw this building, we were walking the trail behind it. How wonderful it would be to serve snacks and cold water to people on the greenway trail on hot Saturday afternoons? What a blessing it will be to provide a place with tables and chairs in the shade of our trees! I’m thinking we will hear a lot of stories from a lot of people if we are willing to hand them a cold bottle of water and a granola bar on a hot day. We have learned that the Ozarks Greenways hopes to someday extend the South Creek trail all the way to Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield. If that happens our little church will be the mid-point on the trail!

Sunday morning… afternoon, and evening

Jason and I have no plans at all to “start a church”. As far as we are concerned that happened nearly 2000 years ago when Jesus Himself became the Cornerstone. We want to BE the church though. And what that looks like on a Sunday morning for the Stratton crew involves cameras. (My heart starts beating really fast when I think about this!) We want to open up our building late on Sunday mornings and welcome in the “newly engaged” Brides who said “YES” to Jesus earlier in the day or the week. We want to hear them tell their story, welcome them into the family, photograph them, and provide them with a tangible story in book form that can be shared and serve as a precious reminder for years to come! This is the ministry I’ve been working towards from the beginning. It has to start with the established Bride as an investment if it will ever reach the “new” Bride as a gift.

As we wrap up all the sessions for the day we will take a break to reset for “testimony nights” on Sunday evening. The doors will be opened as we will host those who want to come and share their story – there is nothing more powerful than the public profession of faith in Christ Jesus! So whether they made the decision that day or 40 years before. This old story NEVER gets old, does it?

Go to the Dance with Jesus

We see a big opportunity to minister to high school girls attending dances in girlfriend groups. We want to provide a place to hang out with friends before and possibly after the dance, have fun pictures taken, and possibly even find a dress to wear. There is so much potential to speak life into girls who are searching for their identity in their image as high school students. I can’t think of a better way to introduce a girl to her perfect Husband than on prom night, in a little white church.

Writing Workshops, Counseling, and Study Groups

So many girls struggle to find the words to tell their story. All the question forms are simply overwhelming and they don’t dare sit down to a blank screen and just start typing – thoughts of the past tend to paralyze them and make them doubt themselves. These girls need to talk through it with someone who knows how to write and counsel them through the emotions. We will open our doors to small groups of girls who are working towards a goal of sharing their story on The Grace Mask blog. A variety of groups facing different challenges from weight loss to hard-to-navigate family situations will be able to meet in a safe place with writers and counselors who will not only help them WRITE their story, but also help them become confident in sharing their faith in everyday life. Doesn’t that sound amazing!!?

So YES, we want to minister to our community!

We would LOVE your help! Will you let us help you share your story? In all reality, Dear Bride, this place is for YOU. It’s a place for you to discover, to rededicate, and to declare your story! So I will leave you with this question…

What are YOU going to do with it?

In the words of one of my favorite songs by OneRepublic… “I need another story…”

All eyes on The Groom!

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