It was summer 2016, and Jason and Kelly Norcross were sitting across from newly announced E96 campus pastor, Aaron Lutz.

“The first time we met with Aaron, we went in saying, ‘this sounds like a good fit for us, but we’re not sure about the family commitment,’” Kelly said. “Specifically the hesitation was with [our daughter,] Laynie, who was coming right off of having some health issues related to anxiety.”

The new E96 campus was slated to set up near Jason and Kelly’s neighborhood and would target the schools their children attended and would attend in the future. It seemed like a perfect fit.

But, after the Norcross family spent several months fostering, and Kelly had undergone a surgery that hadn’t gone as smoothly as planned, 10-year-old Laynie was feeling stretched to her limit, and her parents worried that a big change wouldn’t help.

“We were still dealing with that, and because she was our biggest concern we were thinking, how far do we shake her, right now?” Kelly said. “So we told Aaron, ‘this sounds good. Thank you. But we’re going to pray through this for a season.’”

Jason and Kelly went home and talked to their four kids about the possibility that they might start to attend a different campus. They explained that the new campus was a startup – a church plant of sorts – and that it would provide them a better opportunity to bring their neighbors and friends from the community to a church nearby.

Tyler, the eldest of the Norcross children at 12, was immediately onboard. He had previously expressed interest in the idea of being part of a church plant, and this seemed right down that track.

But Laynie wasn’t quite so eager.

“I think that what you don’t realize is the bonds you really make over time,” Jason said. “So for us, our core set of friends are mostly at Egret Bay. And that’s the case with our kids too. And we’re adults and we can cope with that and move on, but it is a bit more challenging and seems like a bigger step for Tyler and Laynie.”

Laynie doesn’t go to school with many of her school friends and so taking her away from a place of spiritual growth, comfort, and familiarity seemed challenging at best, and cruel at worst for her parents.

“Her personality is that she connects as much to adults as she does to kids,” Kelly said. “So the people in Creek Kids, small group leaders, and even our small group friends from Egret Bay, she kind of sees as extended family. And, that was our biggest concern. How is she going to feel about leaving that? So that became our prayer.”

The Norcross’s talked as a family about the possibilities attached to E96, and then left the issue to see how it would settle.

Not long after they presented the idea of E96 to their kids, Laynie came home from school one day with some interesting news.

“She came home one day from school and said, ‘I invited my friend. She says she’s Christian, but she hasn’t found a church home – her and her mom – and she wants to come try the new campus,’” Kelly said. “That was like a complete 180 in Laynie’s heart. She was on board from that point on.”

That was proof enough for Jason and Kelly that God was affirming their decision to go to E96.

“Not that we completely want our kids to lead the way,” Kelly said. “But knowing that, that was our main concern and prayer request and then watching God work in her heart through the prayer and through her asking and kind of jumping out there and inviting friends, it was just kind of a peace for us to be like, ‘Yes, this is going to be the right fit for us.’”

“The things making us hesitate were primarily based on our kids,” Jason said. “So now it’s like, okay they’re more adaptable than you believe they are, and they can get on board with this. And if they’re willing, then why not us?”

 


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