20 Years of Living Beyond Ourselves

by Mark Smith

As part of our 20th anniversary celebration, we’re reflecting on our church’s values through the stories and experiences of our Chets family.

I moved to Jacksonville in the fall of 2005 as a freshman at the University of North Florida. It wasn’t long before some other students told me about Chets Creek Church. They said it was casual and met in an elementary school, very different from the traditional church that I had grown up in. The experience of visiting Chets for the first time is still very memorable to me.

Someone went out of their way to invite me. I was picked up in front of my dorm, driven to church, and shown around. There was coffee, juice, and donuts. Any fear or intimidation that I had about going to the College LifeGroup was short-lived because everyone was so welcoming. And after the service was over everyone jumped in to help stack the chairs in the cafeteria. Even the pastor!

I couldn’t tell you what songs we sang or what the sermon was about that morning. The things that stood out to me the most from that Sunday 13 years ago are the same things that still amaze me about our Chets family. This group of people knows that this life is not about us.


There’s nothing within me that is genuinely selfless. Don’t believe me? Just ask my wife. It’s only because God sent Jesus for me that I’ve experienced unconditional love. As a follower of Christ, I’m to love others in response. It’s stretching and often uncomfortable. But when I remember how much God loves me and see others as people who deserve to be loved, my priorities change.

It’s easier not to care. To do things the way we like rather than consider others. Everyone needs to know that they matter to God and be given the opportunity to respond to His love. But often people don’t believe that they matter to God until they know that they matter to someone else. I have been overwhelmed watching our Chets family show people that they matter. Both here in Jacksonville and around the world.

There’s no telling what my life would be like today had someone not taken the time to invite me and help me find my way. Lives are changed when we commit to living beyond ourselves. I can’t wait to see how God continues working through the people of Chets Creek Church.