When Scott and Sam Weatherford attended their first session of the Nearly-Newlywed Get Trained class at Austin Stone Community Church, they were hoping to get some ideas on how to continue to grow closer to one another and navigate the difficulties of marriage.
The same was true for Darrell and Ellen Westcott. After being unable to attend the first class, they didn’t know if they should even try to make the subsequent ones.
“We weren’t sure if we could make the time commitment. We decided to go, and if we didn’t click, we thought we’d put it off another year,” said Ellen. “It makes me sad to think about what we would have missed out on. It’s scary to think about."
None of the couples expected to gain fantastic relationships with a new tight-knit community, but they got them anyway. However, as the leaders of the class, Nick and Lane Coker had high hopes from the beginning and soon experienced positive change.
“Once we stepped out into things like Get Trained, we’ve seen so many opportunities, so many relationships form,” Nick said. “And now when we go to the Austin Stone, we see our family. By stepping out of your comfort zone, you see that community happens when you are intentionally pursuing beyond Sunday mornings.”
After the Get Trained class ended, the couples decided to form a Missional Community. They committed to one another for at least one year of studying the Bible and living life together, eating meals and taking turns teaching through Wayne Grudem’s book, Bible Doctrine.
“There was an accountability that we never had before. It seemed natural to continue that growth,” Darrell said.
The Missional Community now consists of three married couples from the original class, and an unmarried couple who describe themselves as “on the path to marriage.”
“We have a pretty big responsibility to reach people, so we want to equip everyone so we can be great advocates of the gospel in our workplaces, to our neighbors and to our friends. The intention of this group is to make disciples for the city of Austin,” said Nick.
The group received major encouragement in November when three of its members were baptized together at Emma Long Park in Austin in front of their families, friends and community.
“Random people came up and started congratulating us. They didn’t know us but knew what was happening and just felt the love and wanted to experience the baptism with us,” said Darrell.
“This was my opportunity to stand up in front of all my family and friends and say ‘my life has been changed,’” said Ellen.
Darrell and Ellen had been facing some pushback from their families about how much time they had been spending with the group. The baptism changed things.
“I think we were finally able to break through to our families and let them know what we were doing in Austin,” said Darrell.
While the Missional Community provides encouragement, it hasn’t been without its struggles and sacrifices.
“Before the class started, we were probably sitting around six nights a week,” said Scott. “So when the class started it was hard for us to commit one night a week.”
He and his wife Sam agree it’s not a burden anymore.
“It’s something we look forward to,” said Sam.
The couples have been meeting over a year now, and they have seen major growth both in the missional and in the community aspects of their group.
“If you’re not in a community group, the life change that happens when you surround yourself with a group of believers who hold you accountable is something I can’t live without,” said Darrell.