Erik has been the Lead Pastor of Real Life Community since 2008. He formerly served as Young Adult/Preaching Pastor in Jackson, MI. Erik is an ordained elder in the Church of the Nazarene and holds a Bachelor's Degree from Olivet Nazarene University, an M.A. in Theology from ONU and an M.Div. from Nazarene Theological Seminary. Erik is passionate about people coming to know a God who is passionate about them. He is married to Ashley (our Worship Leader) and together they have three amazing children.
Welcome to Real Life Community
We’re glad you’ve stopped by
You’ll hear us talk about three important areas of engagement for any person interested in walking with God. We hope you’ll take every opportunity to connect, grow, and share. The starting point for every one of us is a vibrant relationship with God in the context of community. On Sunday mornings, that’s what we’re all about – helping those connections take place. God loves you just like you are…but He has great dreams for who you will become in Christ! His goal is for you to reflect the likeness of Jesus with your life.
One way to start that process is by joining a Life Group. In Life Groups, we purposely help each other along the transformation process. God has shared His life with us in Jesus and by sharing His Spirit with us. That great gift is too special to keep to ourselves. The life God has shared with us is meant to be shared with the world through sharing our time, gifts, offerings, and story of life change with others. We’re constantly creating opportunities to help you share God’s life with the world.
Our Church, Your Home
We believe in the radical optimism of God’s transforming grace.
Get caught up on our most recent messages
What on earth are you here for? What's your unique purpose in life? This week we begin a series of exploring who God made you to be and how you can contribute to his Kingdom purposes in the world.
Living out this Christian life often times isn’t easy, but it is rewarding.
Because regardless of how much we learn about God’s creation, it was still God who created it and who continues to hold it all together by his powerful word.
Because we were made to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus – the author and perfecter of our faith.
You’ll have many chances this week to be a troublemaker or a peacemaker with the way you speak with others and about others.
It reminded me of the joy the Father takes in seeing his children, who have begun faith in Christ, putting down roots in the faith, becoming strengthened…ready to produce fruit.
Because we have such a tendency to mold our lives around what we see in front of us, we have to sometimes change what we are viewing.
You and I were made to love and worship God as our absolute priority.
If perfect parenting made perfect Christians, Adam and Eve would never have sinned.
Seriously, who better to set the priorities than the one WHO MADE ALL THINGS in love and who longs to see us healed, restored and whole?!
When you get right down to it, your actions have an importance but your intentions are vastly more important.
The reality is that you are fiercely loved by your Creator.
What would your life look like if you truly believed that the LORD has gone before you and really is with you?
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Taking the Next Steps
GROW together in a Life Group
We’re excited about our combined city-wide youth ministry that will meet at Real Life every Sunday night at 6 PM. Students will be led and taught by Sam Hattaway. This weekly meeting will serve as the foundation for other youth activities throughout the month.
We’ll have a full slate of Children’s programming every Sunday night at 6PM at Real Life organized by Ciara Cunningham. Nurseries will be available for birth-2 years. Discipleship groups will be available for pre-school through Elementary age children.
Led by Tish Ladd and Phyllis Petty, this Young at Heart group will meet on Tuesdays at 10am and First Church of the Nazarene. They will be studying the book “Come Thirsty” by Max Lucado.
You’ve been created with gifts and passions to use
Become a Volunteer
Devotionals from our members
Written by Erik Gernand
One of my favorite children’s authors is a guy named Mo Willems. I think his best story is one called “Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs.”
“Wait. What story is that? I thought it was about a girl and some bears.” You might say. And you’d be right to catch that something is not quite right about this story.
It’s the story of three dinosaurs who decide to trap a little girl in their house so they can eat her. They plan everything [...]
Written by Ashley Hoffner, missionary in Argentina
Well, the dew is actually frozen…making it frost. But I’m trying to be positive in the freezing weather! (See what I did there?) It’s actually been a very cold Fall so far here in Argentina; reaching down to 29°F (-2°C) and it will surely get colder in July and August.
Over the past several weeks, I’ve been doing a lot of my office work (in Finances and Short-Term Teams) and also being able to travel with a [...]
There’s this great line in 1 Peter where Peter is reminding Christians that they are a part of something larger than themselves.
They belong to the Christian community.
He writes these words to them,
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” – 1 Peter 2:9
Chosen, royal, holy. God’s special possession. These are great descriptors of the community of people God has [...]
My great-grandson was born four months pre-mature.
My son and I had just gotten back from my mother’s funeral. We were about a block away from his driveway when he got the call that Maggie may lose the baby. After a couple of days, she gave birth to little Julien; he was one pound, six ounces. He looked like a normal baby, just so tiny.
The grief Hunter and Maggie had felt turned to hope, joy, and the deepest love I have [...]
Written by Bryan Holmes
I have been going through a journey in life recently…maybe you could even call it a pilgrimage. One of the things I am learning through this journey is that I have 2 doctrines at play in my life. One doctrine- we can call this one the conscious doctrine- is the one in which you say you believe. The other doctrine- we can call this one the subconscious doctrine or true doctrine- is the one in which your [...]
Written by Ashley Huber
“My favorite definition of evangelism is “telling someone into a better story.” We all have a story. Evangelism is love in action, listening to their story until we can name God into that story, enabling them to see the hand of God reaching toward them even before they knew it. Their story merges with the story of God, rooting them into a saving reality that began in the creation of the world. Through conversion, they now belong [...]
When I was a kid, every school year after returning from Christmas break we had some sort of assignment that included writing out our New Year’s resolutions. Maybe you did something similar. Then, either as the years progressed or as I grew older I heard more often of people that weren’t setting New Year’s resolutions because “they never stick to them anyway.”
In the last few years, it’s become more common to choose a word or phrase that represents what you [...]
Written by Erik Gernand
When I was growing up, I remember my church hosting this group called “The Power Team.” If you grew up in church, maybe you’ve heard of them. It was a gimmicky thing that some super strong guys did to create an avenue to try and share faith. But the stuff they could do was incredible: tearing license plates in half with their teeth, bending steel bars, breaking concrete blocks and on and on.
My personal favorite was blowing up a 2 [...]
Written by Bryan Holmes
I was having one of those quiet and reflective prayer moments this past week inside our family prayer room. There are times throughout the week that I try to go to this place and spend time with the Lord. As my quiet moment went on, I suddenly heard the loud “BANG, BANG, BANG” of the piano coming from the downstairs living room. The prayer room is on the other side of the wall from the living room, [...]
Written by Erik Gernand
As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. – Ecclesiastes 11:5
And I found myself thinking this morning, “…except that now we do know the path of the wind and how babies are formed in the mother’s womb. So what does that mean for our understand of the works and ways of God?”
These words in Ecclesiastes were written [...]
Written by Bryan Holmes
How do you handle disappointment or bad news when it comes your way? In life, there are multiple moments when things just don’t end up your way…and some moments when you hear news that shakes you to the core. I know in my own life, there have been times of disappointment. Sometimes, frustration bursts through the surface and I lash out in anger towards the situation. Other times, I am able to keep my calm. One of [...]
Written by Erik Gernand
When I was growing up, I remember the days of learning how to mow the yard.
My dad took me out with him a few times and we followed the good old model. At first I watched my dad, walking alongside him and learning how the mower worked. Then he’d let me take a couple of passes while he walked with me. Before long, though, I was out there on my own.
I wish I could say I was [...]
My daughter gets in the car after church and is so excited to teach me what she learned.
Real Life Community has helped me push the ‘reset’ on my faith. Real Life challenged me in the way I needed it.
The people at Real Life gave me renewed hope and energy in my faith. I saw examples of loving ‘the least of these’ and welcoming everyone regardless of their past.
Real Life has given me opportunities to strengthen my relationship with God and allowed opportunities to minister and serve our church family with many ways for us to be involved.
My sons were baptized here last year. Real Life helped me draw out of my ‘shell’ to be more active as a leader in the youth.
Real Life has been the place where I have learned what it means to have faith as an adult. I’ve learned to put faith into action and what it means to serve God and others.
Real Life gave us a new place to call home. One Sunday here and we knew it was where we should be. We look forward to growing into this family.
Real Life and its people allowed me to be involved even when I was not worthy of being involved. That, in turn, allowed me to stay long enough to get better.
Real Life has given our kids a wonderful environment and Christian education that they can take out into the world…AND THEY DO! The volunteers in the church make it easy to be myself and challenge me to volunteer as well.
God has used Real Life to heal my heart through several individuals’ love and hospitality toward me. This church meets you in ‘real life’ – where you are and what you’re facing at the moment.
I have found that attending Real Life has given me a fresh new outlook concerning my walk with the Lord. I appreciate the freedom I feel in worship and being accepted.
Real Life Community is full of servant-hearted, loving, helping people that truly long and give 100% efforts to live out God’s kingdom in their everyday life. I’m so thankful that God placed this church in my life. It feels like home to me.
Real Life has been about authentic worship for me. It has been absolutely wonderful to know that if everything else is crazy in my week, that time on Sunday is when I can melt into the God who loves me.
Real Life is a community of people who genuinely care about each other, and I felt that immediately. I am thankful to be part of a church that continually looks for ways to serve the community of Murfreesboro.
Real Life has been such a life line for me. It has helped me to keep myself accountable for my actions. I am so thankful for Real Life and the feeling of nonjudgmental and unconditional love.
Real Life has gotten us back into church every week. It has also given us a community in which to get involved.
Real Life has been my second family through pregnancy and starting parenthood. It’s helped me return to God from a strange period in college where I couldn’t find a church home. I’ve also been able to serve which I always enjoy.
The community is encouraging and uplifting continually. God has used Real Life to provide a group of people that keep me wanting to be near God in a time in life where it would be easy to move on to other things.
Real Life gave me a new life in my Christian faith, got my family back to church and brought us closer, and got me excited about coming to church again.
We were drawn to Real Life because the message is real life. The message always relates to what we go through in life and also to the Bible!
What Real Life has done for me is to help me to try to walk like Jesus.
I came to Murfreesboro with no church family and ever since the first day I stepped in, this church has claimed me and reminded me of what a real church body is.
A couple opened their home to me and kept me from becoming homeless.
Real Life just felt like home to us. Kinda like going to Grandma’s for Sunday dinner – felt like family. It has been a wonderful place to watch my children grow up.
Real Life has welcomed me with open arms. Real Life has also helped me teach my daughter about the Lord and for that I will be forever grateful.
Real Life has shaped me to have the heart of God, to care about what He cares about, share how He shares, serve as He serves, and love as He loves.
Real Life gave me connection with others, new friendships, and the opportunity to learn from others. It also gave me the chance to make a difference and to share life’s challenges with others.
I love the friendliness of Real Life’s people. The messages always enlighten and challenge me. It’s a giving church that supports its neighborhood, community, and world missions.
Real Life is intellectual yet comfortable, is interested in others and respectful, gives glory always to God, inspires us to love day to day, and radiates Jesus.
Real Life has impacted me by being relational, small, missional, spirit led, and grace filled.
I have family here: people who care about me and want the best for my family. When I’ve been gone, I can’t wait to get back and be with my family.
The Sunday morning worship times are real and raw. Also, the Real Life family has held me up during a time of grief. It is so comforting to know that I am not alone in the dark time.
This church has become my second home where I can worship. I really like all the people here. They are so nice and friendly.
Real Life has opened many doors to give me and my family opportunity to express who we are…having a heart to serve others.
The warmth, love, and humility of this church drew us into relationships that have been meaningful both in this life and in the Kingdom.
I’m very grateful for this church to be in my life. I absolutely have loved this place. Through this church, I grow closer to Christ all the time.
Real Life has provided a place for my family to continue to grow in love for God.
God has used Real Life as a place where I’ve been able to serve with joy, and He’s helped me to be able to experience a great local expression of the body of Christ here on Earth.