Today kicks off a Monday blog series that I am extremely excited about: So You Say You’re a Church Lady: An Interview Series with Powerhouse Women. I am a pastor’s wife, and I am passionate about what God is doing in and through the many local churches that dot our nation and our world. This series is one where you and I will get to hear from women who are changing the world through their local churches. Most are pastor’s wives, and all of them are following Jesus with passion and purpose.
Today we are hearing from Christie Otts. I’m starting with Christie for two reasons–first, I love and admire this lady. Secondly, she is our lead pastor’s wife! My husband is the associate pastor to Chris, who is her husband. I know her life and her walk with Jesus up-close, and this woman is the real deal. She lives sacrificially and honestly as she serves Christ and our church. Her words here stir me up–and I hope they do the same for you. (Read past the interview to find out how you can support the Otts family in their upcoming adoption!)
1. Tell us a bit about the church that you are a part of.
My husband is the lead pastor of Antioch Community Church in Wheaton, IL. Our church is a part of a network of churches all over the US and the world. We have both been connected with this movement of churches since we were in college, and we absolutely love serving in the Antioch movement! Our church is all about loving God, loving people, and changing the world. We truly believe that the Church is the hope of the world.
2. What does it look like, in your life, to be an active part of your church?
We’ve always been “active” church people…whether it was leading in the youth group when we were in college or leading small groups or being in the discipleship school our church runs. When we came on staff with the church plant in Wheaton almost 2 and a half years ago, we were simply finally serving in a full time capacity. Instead of my husband working a full time job and then “doing ministry” on top of that, we were now doing ministry exclusively. It was so great to see my husband finally do what he was most passionate about…which was grow God’s church.
Personally, I’ve always been discipling and walking with women in some capacity. We highly value discipleship in our church and so I’ve always been walking with another woman in order for both of us to grow in our relationships with Jesus. We hold each other accountable, we pray for each other, we process out hearts. My life was changed because someone showed me how to follow Jesus day by day and I’m passionate about leading other women in that as well. So, I actively disciple women in our church, my husband and I lead a family lifegroup on Friday nights (our church’s name for small group), I help plan women’s events, and I have input into children’s ministry. I’m also very passionate about things like adoption/orphan care and anti-trafficking initiatives and work to input those things into our church culture. There’s a million small things in between those roles as well, but really my main investment into our church is my investment into my husband. As he leads this church and carries the weight of that calling, I’m his safe place. I’m his sounding board and I’m his biggest cheerleader. THAT is my biggest job.
3. How are your unique gifts and abilities strengthened by being a part of a local church?
I think it was within the context of church and community that I really started to even learn what my strengths and giftings were. As I grew in Jesus and pressed into community, I began to see more clearly how God had uniquely created me. I was able to recognize things like comparison and insecurity in my life that were hindering me from seeing myself rightly—seeing myself from God’s perspective. As He healed my heart, I could then walk out in all he had made ME to be. That has been so freeing and it’s still something I’m in the process of learning. When the Church comes together in unity, we can empower people to step into the giftings that God has given specifically to them. When we’re not always fighting to be something we’re not, we are free to be who we are. And when the Church sees that happen, we can be most productive for His Kingdom’s work. The local Church alongside the Spirit of God can uncover our unique strengths and then empower us to be on mission for His will.
4. How has being a part of a church challenged and changed you?
God is so gracious to have given us this amazing gift of His Church. It’s a tool to save us and then commission us.We come into the family of God and choose to lay our lives down for Christ. We press into relationship with each other so that we can be refined and matured. And we tap into the destiny that God has placed on all of our lives…which is to make Him famous. The truth is that NO ONE can follow Jesus alone…it’s impossible because He didn’t create us that way. He created us for relationship because He is a triune God who exists within relationship. Lone Ranger Christianity is not possible. We were made to walk this out together because iron sharpens iron and we want to be the most powerful and effective tools for His work. I’m challenged every day when I hear a testimony of what God is doing in my church and also in the nations of the earth. I’m challenged to stay on mission, to stay focused, and to keep my eyes on Jesus. The Church is where it’s at! It’s not a dead place for solemn Christ followers to simply pass the time the church is ALIVE because Jesus is ALIVE!!! And God is using His Church to change the world!
5. Why do you value church? What do you love about church?
EVERYTHING! The good and the bad…it is all wonderful! The Church isn’t perfect because we aren’t perfect! People are people and sometimes we hurt each other because of our own brokenness. It is not a place to avoid pain or conflict. It is a place to speak truth in love and receive feedback into our lives that allows us to look more and more like Jesus. It’s a place to be real and authentic and to let all of our “stuff” hang out! It’s not a place to hide…it’s a place to come clean. Because we have received the abundant grace of God, we as the Church should be the most gracious and generous people on earth! We should be a refuge for the hurting and broken and rejected in our cities. They should know that we’ve been with Jesus because of our great love. I value the Church because it’s a safe place for people to come and encounter the love of Jesus. It’s a place for followers of Jesus to become more and more holy. It’s a place to be commissioned from and dream the big dreams of God’s heart.
Thanks, Christie! I love your heart for the church and your passion for seeing God’s purposes play out through the local church!
Also, Christie mentioned this in her interview, but she is passionate about adoption and foster care—and the Otts family is in the process of adopting right now! There is an Instagram auction this week that starts on Wednesday 5/28 to help them raise the funds they need. Click the Instagram button on my blog or follow me @annswindell to get the details, bid, donate, and help bring their daughter home!
And come back next week on Monday to hear from our next Powerhouse Church Lady, Christine Hoover of Grace Covers Me.