For this blog post, we wanted to let you hear from the Antals–our first team members on the ground in Knoxville. Hayden and Alyssa have been living in the city since June 1. Below, Hayden updates you on how things have been since the move.
On June 1, my wife Alyssa and I packed up and moved to Knoxville as the first members of City Church to hit the ground. Our biggest motivation for the move was giving the gift of going second to all of our friends also making the move. My favorite analogy to what we’re doing is borrowed from my friend Jeff:
“You know how in Planet Earth they show the shot of all the penguins huddling at the edge of a cliff, and they’re all just nervously waiting for someone to jump in, and then one slips and tumbles down into the water, then ALL of the other penguins accept the invitation and jump in? You guys are the penguin that falls in.”
That’s an incredibly accurate description of what’s happening. Tumbling into an unknown city with unknown people and an unknown future. And while it’s terrifying, it’s also incredibly exciting.
Forming relationships has been pretty easy, actually. Our neighbors are great, on one side a super sweet older woman, and on the other an engaged couple in their 30s with a few kids. The engaged couple is always outside and we’ve helped each other out with moving furniture and yardwork. We’re having them over for dinner next week, we’re excited about where that friendship could go.
Literally the day after moving in, I was looking for a new desk for my freelance video work. I found one on Knoxville’s Craigslist and when I picked it up, struck up a conversation with the seller. When I told him I was new to the area, he invited Alyssa and me over for a steak dinner and was super helpful in sending us cool things to do in Knoxville. It’s been really cool to see how even through such small interactions, Jesus can do work.
I joined an ultimate frisbee summer league and have gone out for drinks and food with the guys I met there a few times. Overall, relationships have formed pretty naturally.
The Worst & Best Part of Moving
The most difficult part of moving has been the gospel goodbye–saying farewell to people in Columbia for the sake of the gospel advancing in a new city. It was so hard to leave our best friends in the world, and the most healthy church family we’ve ever been a part of, even though we knew we’d see a lot of them again soon. But the reason it was hard to leave was also the biggest reason for leaving–we want to help open the door for the people of Knoxville to experience how good church family can be.
As we make more friends in the area and get used to Knoxville it feels more and more like home. The team back in Columbia is great about keeping us up to date with what’s going on back in Columbia, Skyping us in to LifeGroup meetings and just talking to us. The support we feel from them makes the challenge of moving more bearable and reinforces the reason we moved in the first place.
What I'm Excited About
I’m really looking forward to more of the team making the move to Knoxville. Knoxville is great, but it’ll be even better with the team.
As silly as it sounds, I’m really excited for The Walking Dead to come on. In Columbia it was one of the most missional things we did, having a big get together for people to hang out and watch, and I would love to continue that tradition here.
I’m excited to see how Alyssa and I will grow and mature through this process and how Jesus will use us to impact the lives of our neighbors and friends, and to see those neighbors and friends become our family.
Hayden is also helping us with our City Church Instagram. We'll be posting updates, photos from Knoxville, and photos of our team over at @cityknox.