Thursday, January 22, 2015

How could the city be different?

I bought Laundry World 11 years ago, while I was working as the City President for MidSouth Bank. My passion for living a significant life because of Jesus spurred this on, so I worked 2 jobs for a season (the laundry job exclusively on nights/weekends, which is work!), Now these 11 years later, I'm getting pretty good a the laundry thing.

What I didn't know would happen when I bought the laundries is how much I would learn about my city. The people I would meet and get to know via having a reason to hang out in a place a lot of lower-income also hung out.  I knew that I would make friends there and expected that part to be fun and rewarding, and it certainly has.

For example, here I am challenging a 21 year old former high school football star to do 10 clap push-up's with me. The other young men did not take me up on the challenge. #Fun

These young men just finished installing these 14 new washers at the Laundry World location in their neighborhood. You should see how proud they are of this accomplishment. One of the young men has worked for me as an Intern for a year or so, on and off. The other three are his friends. He has been talking to them about character growth, about work and how it is better than he expected.

That, my friends, is one important way a city gets different. Invest in one. Then they invest in others, learning that productivity beats idleness or victimhood , every time.

Let's see this kind of move replicated all over the place.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Live a life that leads to "Why?" Giving away 300 BBQ chicken quarters (& some Ribs!) at the Civic Center this Saturday

Last night I had a great time sharing the intro to "The Summer of Friendmaking and Neighboring" at the rockin' Mount Olive Baptist Church. I'll share more about that in a bit.

The end of the evening I rolled out this week's hangout time of Modeling such a whimsical life: We are going to the Civic Center seawall on Saturday, June 28, with the HUGE BBQ Pit trailer pictured below, lighting up the pit and putting on a few racks of SpareRibs and about 320 chicken leg quarters, and giving all that away to our neighbors there that day.


Why not!!  It's fun. It's whimsical. I'm getting pretty good at BBQ, so this is fun stuff, and very tasty!

We'll be there to start conversations and meet our neighbors. No Strings. No Catch.

Why? There's a lot to that question, but we will start at the beginning: We want to life a whimsical life that leads people to ask, Why?  

Because God have loved me, I'm here to love you.

Because serving people is where it's at! We did this same thing, bring this trailer and cook BBQ for a few hundred people (we had never attempted to cook for so many before, but that didn't stop us!) to serve at T. H. Watkins Elementary School this year. We got the 5th graders at the school engaged in helping put on the day, serving their parents for the PTO meeting and school training happening that night.

Because BBQ is tasty, we're getting good at cooking it, and sharing is fun!

Because this whole city, from #Goosport2Graywood, is our home, and all it's inhabitants are our neighbors.

Because everyone here needs a legitimate shot at seeing who Jesus really is. And we think that building relationships is how to see this happen. NOT relationships with an angle, where we are contingent-friends (so long as you come to my church, or so long believe like I believe.)

Because #theCityShouldBeDifferent

See you there.  
Paul Pettefer, 337-794-9891, @paulpettefer,

Friday, June 6, 2014

What is the purpose of
     a move to 
          Transform the city
          Building Capacity for Engagement
So That 
     John 17:20-23 can happen here, now.

OK, that sounds good, but what does that mean? So here is an Example: We have this enormous industrial expansion headed to SWLA, bringing 25,000+ new construction jobs. There are lots of, say, young men in our area who are not meaningfully participating in the workforce, but who could certainly fulfill the unskilled helper jobs that will be a small portion of this large construction workforce needed. What they need to be ready for these jobs is some hope. We, church, are charter members in the hope trade. So, via relational engagement, we let the young men borrow some hope from us, inspiring some to begin working on improving their character and soft skills, getting ready for this meaningful work opportunity. There are a bunch of kickers in this real-life scenario. 1.) The industrial construction helpers can make $15 an hour, and typically have lots of overtime. This scenario really stomps on the gas pedal in this way: a new entrant into the workforce in this situation can save enough to buy a reliable car in 1-2 months! 2.) If we are going to see a thousand young men (that's my vision) pass through this opportunity, we will need a whole-bunch of support systems, meaning mentors, encouragers, soft-skills instructors, rides to work and more. 3.) When we engage with our real-life neighbors, in real-life serving, everyone's character, everyone's faith in Jesus gets a real shot at growing! It's what you call, Discipleship. 4.) When a young man gets a job that can pay $40k a year, they have real options! They can get more education and training. They can inspire those around them to follow them. They can be inspired by those who invested in their life for free and set them up for this situation, and they can help the next group of young men who aren't working get on board. 5.) ...

Are you getting a little glimpse at the picture?

The people who follow Jesus are carrier's of the Hope of the World. We, in the Lake Charles area, have a beautiful opportunity to engage with our community, building relationships and helping lots of people see who Jesus is more clearly.

There is lots more to say, so stay tuned and, if you are intrigued, lean your voice into the mix. Contact Paul Pettefer at 337-794-9891,, @paulpettefer, or stop by the InterGalactic Offices of located inside Laundry World, 2712 Lake St, Lake Charles.

Since #JesusIsAlive, then from #Goosport2Graywood #theCityShouldBeDifferent

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Thoughts...and Action about Living on Purpose for What Matters Most

Ok, for for the next few days, I'm going to put down a Topic and Short Thought, all in the same post. All of them about living on purpose in response to Jesus.


2. Since we live in 2 worlds, Our job is to be a Translator
Jesus left Heaven and entered Earth. Creator hanging in creation. While He was here, he was trying to give us a peek into a New Kingdom He was ushering in. This New Kingdom had it's formal entrance when Jesus busted out of the Grave, conquering death, and giving God the opportunity to send the Holy Spirit to remind us of Jesus and lead us into truth. What an entrance! Now we have the kingdom of this world, influenced by Jesus' enemy, "co-existing" with the Kingdom of Our God, with King Jesus reigning. We know, because Jesus told us, how this story will play out. Jesus wins! But in the meantime, the two competing kingdoms are overlapping.

Our job, with "our" meaning every person who has been transferred from death (old kingdom) into life (New Kingdom) by trusting in Jesus, is to Translate this New Kingdom to those who God loves, who He sent His Son to provide a way out of death for, to those who are in the old one.

It's easier, beloved, to just stay in the trappings of the New Kingdom and avoid all the stuff in the old one. It's easier to just go to church, spend as much time there and with Christians as possible. To, rightly, point out all the things wrong with the old kingdom and turn our backs on its stench.

Trouble with that is there is a reason God didn't put an end to the old kingdom already. The reason is He wants people to be transferred from death to life. And if He ends the old kingdom, then such an opportunity ceases to exist. So He's waiting. He's putting up with the stench of sin, holding his nose while we thumb our noses, ignorantly, at Him. He's a kind, loving, gracious Heavenly Father. And He wants all those son's and daughters of Adam to be bought back by the precious blood of Jesus into right standing with Him!

That's where we come in. Jesus told His 12 disciples to go and as they are going to make disciples. Disciples who would then, in turn, go and as they are going make disciples. And, eventually, that's what they did.

We are here to translate for those in the old kingdom the values, the Truth, the Hope, the Love, of the New Kingdom.

1. Gather and Scatter
I regularly emphasize the need for practical discipleship. That is, learning to follow Jesus is what we are actually doing. Often this includes a compare-and-contrast discussion, comparing the lecture/listening types of training environments that are common in our church life with the doing of being of living an on purpose, on mission life of following Jesus.

I was recently invited by some cool friends to be a part of an intense discipleship class. Multiple hour gatherings per week, very legit peeps speaking, homework and heavy commitment for a couple months. My reaction included a desire for the participants to take it to the hilt, and include a participation component, where we go and do based on what we learn in the gathering/teaching/learning times.

I realized that my responses to our teaching/training/preaching times can lead people to think I am anti-gathering, anti-Bible Study. Not So! We need lots of this, and most people who follow Jesus need more, not less Bible.

What I am saying is that for our discipleship to be whole, to be well rounded and bring about the kind of faith and practice that is city-changing (to keep our key metaphor for discipleship going, that because there are Jesus-followers here and churches full of Jesus-followers then from #Goosport2Graywood #theCityShouldBeDifferent), we need lots of practice in the actual doing. Lots of training like this: you come with me as we mentor a young person, then you learn to do it yourself; you come with me as we cook for folks that weren't expecting it and we start conversations, natural conversations, and include Jesus along the way.

So I'm all for the Gathering. I love gatherings! AND, I'm all for Scattering. Sending. Going. Being salt and light all over the city.

My sense is that we, church, need more practice in the Sending part.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Investments. In Relationships

This young man at T H Watkins is practicing being interviewed
by KPLCTV about his leadership at his school...Yes!

We have been hard at work. Making investments. Investments in relationships with the young, the not so young, and in-between. Tonight I'm just loading some pictures of friends and family, of high-points and things that mark a typical day. We have lots and lots and lots to share about city changing, harnessing the opportunities from the upcoming industrial expansion to activate the unemployable because of lack of character readiness, about deploying the church to support that effort. About encouraging and equipping entrepreneurs to practice a lifestyle of engagement with their businesses. About helping others learn to live on purpose, and growing in our own engagement in the process. More on that soon. In the meantime, we will keep investing in relationships! 

This is in the parking lot, following a 16 hour work day.
We laughed at Buck telling a great story. What a great day!

Our crew at Passion 2014. Investments in following Jesus!

Sam getting ready to play the keys at the 3rd
Annual Celebration of Children's Banquet

Here we are at T H Watkins, Again! #PartnersInEd

Here you get on of the teachers at T H Watkins in on the
action! These boys are growing, and they LOVE It when
adults invest in their lives.

This great friend is practicing the art of the party!
We are wrapping up is rockin afternoon of building
friendships! #GoTrent

I met this young man in 2012, and we've been through
a lot. I have learned much, and so has Nick. 

This young princess made me this hat! #funatwork

Here are several young man working and growing via
our Internships at Laundry World. 

Ms. Victorian, Principal at T H Watkins!

Our 1st 5th Grade led cookout for the PTO at
T H Watkins. The Kids LOVE IT when Adults invest
in relationships with them.  Chuck and Sam are in the mix!

It's how the city gets different. 

These artists held the "Hate Violence Movement" at
Lock Park, and we got to be a part.

Monica Grimoldo from KPLCTV covered our 2nd PTO
Cookout hosted by us and the 5th Graders. We invited her
to come back and teach the kids how to do an interview.
The kids LOVE IT when caring adults invest in relationships
with them! #areyoufindingatrendhere

Ms. Ann Polok has been coming to Watkins for several
hours a week, and the kids LOVE IT! 

Yeah, Ms. Victorian and T H Watkins!

Every Friday morning is Synergy Rally!

I am so proud of these two young men. It's been my honor
to get to be a part of their lives. Here they are working hard
in the middle of the night redoing the ceiling at Laundry World.

Sam and Buck, at work! Learning skills, learning character
learning to lead themselves and others. Work is a great
context for relationship, mentoring and growth in character
and capacity! 

My brother and one of my very best friends, Willie King.
We are at the MLK Breakfast. But you could take a picture
of us almost anywhere!

Here Buck learns a new skill, pressure washing. This task
has several components for him to grow. More on that later.

Welcome to the Princess Party that is my life.
These are my wonderful daughters. My biggest investment!

Buck and I at Passion 2014. #InItToEndIt
The red X is to show that we are in it to end
global human trafficking. 

Mardi Gras at T H Watkins! 

This is Hannah Pettefer. She is Incredible! This was her
3rd year to be a part of the Celebration of Children's
Banquet. Yeah!!!

This is April the Beautiful. She is wise and wonderful.
This is our 21st Anniversary #iloveApriltheBeautiful

This is the Donuts with Dads. I got to speak with dads, and
build new relationships. The PTO is growing and we
so love that!!!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Hate Violence

Today, a new friend, Jarvis Jacob, is organizing a day to take guns and knives out of hands and put in a pen, a brush or a mic. It's the Have Violence Movement rally in Lock Park, Lake Charles.

I'll get the chance to share for a few minutes there later today.  

I'll be telling the story of violence and her origins, and the way out of soul-death.

Oh, and for many, part of the process of walking in a new way will include the need for a real job. God is providing for that, too, with thousands and thousands of new jobs in our area in the next decade.

Stay tuned, more to come on both of those fronts.

Because God's Love is Alive, the from #Goosport2Graywood #theCityShouldBeDifferent


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Give the Kids an Opportunity: Our 2nd PTO Cookout at T H Watkins

UPDATE: We are so grateful to and reporter Monica Grimaldo for covering the 5th Graders and Leaders & Teachers at T H Watkins.  What a great story, thank you!

Look what when we make pathways for kids to serve!
I'm writing you from the keys of my smartphone in the Cafeteria at T. H. Watkins Elementary School at 2501 7th Avenue in is Lake Charles. It's about 4 O'Clock Tuesday, September 24, 2013, and the 5th Graders will be showing up at 4:30. Today is not our first time here. We've come several times already to mentor kids, give a little money for the school's needs, attend a day-long training to implement the Leader In Me (Yeah!), and to get reading volunteers started in 6 classrooms here. There are about a dozen of us engaged at this school, from a couple different churches, with some more friends ready to get started.

Why are we doing this? Well, because this is our city, full of neighbors. Neighbors to serve and befriend. Neighbors to learn from and to share learning a with.Also, Jesus said that little children are way important in His Kingdom, and since we follow Jesus, we say RightOn!
Collin joined in the can smell the welcoming
environment coming off those chicken quarters!

So today our goal is to support the great work the teachers and leaders are doing here, our part being to make the environment here more inviting. Like the aroma from the BBQ pit draws you in, the service of others draws us in. Ms. Victorian, the principal here, told me she has some great parents here, but sometimes it's hard to get everyone at PTO gatherings, so I said, "Hey, I'll cook for them, making it easier for them to come." Then it hit us, since we are doing the Leader In Me at Watkins, let's lead the oldest kids here, 5th grade, to host the PTO cookout!
Mr. Hollier teaches 5th grade, and her kids were fantastic
servants today, soaking up the leadership learning.

So a few weeks ago in August that is what we did. It was fantastic! Kids were engaged and they so impressed us and the staff and the parents.
This awesome dad was the designated rib cutter.
They were fall-off-the-bone, so his station was smile central!

Since they were faithful with first things, we want to give them more responsibility and opportunity. So today we are cooking ribs and chicken for the parents and families for Math Night at Watkins!  I'll post some more pics and story later.

We are doing this because God has already loved us. And now we can love others, no strings, no catch. We are doing this so that our city can have a more clear view of who Jesus really is. The way that happens in my world is through relationships. There won't be any preaching from me tonight, and we're not sneaking gospel tracts onto the rib plates. We are here with an ultimate motive, but never an ulterior motive!
After the parents and kids learned at Math Night, all 200+
of us enjoyed the Ribs & Chicken dinner.  Serving that many
in a few minutes was a bit of a blur.
The T H Watkins team were tireless servants!
Because Jesus is alive, then from Goosport 2 Graywood, theCityShouldBeDifferent.

And the Ribs and Chicken should be way tasty!

Our goal at T H Watkins is to have 50 people from at least 5 different churches engaged at this school this year. The teachers have been asked and given us times and places to go read to the kids there, and let them read to you.  About 30 minutes a week, lots of times available.  We're ready, so get in the game!  or call/text Paul 794-9898, twitter @paulpettefer, or


Paul Pettefer, lead volunteer servant to the city

Serving just takes the Want To - Our 1st PTO Cookout at T H Watkins, Aug 2013

Last year I was able to get to share briefly with the Elementary School Principals of Calcasieu Parish about Engagement and getting more people volunteering to help the schools accomplish their mission.  Ms. Godfrey, Assistant Principal at T H Watkins Elementary School called me and asked me to come to their school and work with a student who had some challenges.  I'm so glad she did!

Several good things have transpired, one of which is we were able to serve the school by providing a meal for the families who attended the 1st 2 PTO meeting this year at T H Watkins.  Even better than that, however, is that we allowed this opportunity to engage the 5th Graders at Watkins in the work.

The 5th Graders help in planning, preparing, cooking, serving and cleaning up.

They were so engaged in the August PTO that we decided to do it again in September. Since they were faithful in the 1st things, they were given more, and the menu went from burgers and hot dogs in August to Chicken and Ribs in September.

Here are some pic's from the 1st PTO in August.  We'll add more to the story tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

"Doing God's Work Outside of Church - Investing in what matters most" Editorial in Today's American Press

Today, we'll just share what others, like our rocin' local paper, the American Press, and our engaged television station, KPLCTV, are saying about people who follow Jesus letting their lives engage with their neighbors in their city...doing God's work.  (The pictures and video at the bottom are from Good Friday at Sunlight Manor.)

Editorial, April 3, 2013

Lake Charles American Press, Editorial: Doing God's work outside of church: Investing our lives in what matters most

Wednesday, April 3, 2013
In the grand scheme of matters, it was a small gesture, yet one with powerful possibilities.
On Good Friday, leaders and members of several churches gathered at the Sunlight Manor apartments and McMillan Park to help salve wounds from a tragedy. Mere yards away nine days before, three young men had been gunned down. Children in the neighborhood heard the gunfire that night and awoke to yellow police tape.
Within steps of where the trio had departed this life, these children, working alongside adults, sawed wood, hammered nails and painted three benches in memory of Jeminskian J. Arvie, 20, Jermaine Galmore, 23 and Fitzgerald Tremayne Guillory, 20.
Two organizers, the Rev. Braylon Harris of Mt. Olive Baptist Church, and Paul Pettefer, pastor of The City Church, sought to turn tragedy into triumph. They decided at a community prayer meeting two days following the shooting to produce an all-day event geared to returning joy to the park and connecting young people with adult mentors.
‘‘The wake of destruction coming from the decline is so powerful, it is sweeping over us,’’ said Pettefer. ‘‘The awful terror in McMillan Park ... like the tragedies preceding it, such as when three people were killed in one weekend in December, are signs for us to do more than just wring our hands, or say, ‘‘Somebody should do something!’.’’
Harris said besides activities such as an Easter egg hunt, tugs of war, jumping ropes and Hula Hoops, organizers wanted to inform area residents about mentoring programs like the Leader in Me and Stop the Madness that helps support at-risk youngsters.
‘‘There is one race, which is the human race, facing one problem, which is evil and destruction, with only one possible solution, which is the love of God,’’ said Harris.
He said to stop the rising ‘‘waters of violence and terror’’, it’s time to ‘‘build a levee of love, from Goosport to Graywood, one handshake, one rice scoop, one bending down to tie a shoe and this week we will do it one Easter egg, at a time.’’
The significance of such an event held on Good Friday was not lost. Good Friday is the darkest day in the Christian world when Jesus Christ was crucified. From that came the most critical day in Christianity, Easter morning when Christ rose from the grave.
‘‘We believe,’’ said Pettefer, ‘‘that a transformation of culture is what is needed in our city, and a huge part of that rests with the full-on engagement of its citizens, led by the people who belong to this resurrected Jesus, the Church, to invest our lives in what will matter forever, which is people.’’
‘‘ ... This is not just a south Lake Charles problem, not just a north Lake Charles problem, not just a white problem, not just a black problem. No, we believe that destruction like this is a King of God problem, and that the solution is that the Church united in bringing God’s overwhelming love to bear.’’
In essence, Harris, Pettefer, pastors of other churches in Southwest Louisiana and their flocks are mindful of the Bible’s Book of James which advises that ‘‘faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.’’
They are proof that what happens outside of the four walls of a specific church is just as important, if not more so, than what transpires inside.
This is as good as time as any for pastoral leaders and their congregations to take inventory and ask, ‘‘What works are we involved in?’’
• • •
This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby DowerJim BeamCrystal Stevenson and Donna Price.

Pictures of Good Friday in Saturday, March 30 Paper

Front Page Story of Good Friday at Park,
Saturday, March 30, 2013 American Press

Link to the text of the editorial:

Lead News Story KPLCTV on Good Friday at Sunlight Manor/McMillan Park

Montage of video clips on Good Friday: Arrival, Egg Hunt, Bench Building

Good Friday at the Park from the eyes of 8 year old Jeremiah!

Prayer and Bench Dedication at Good Friday

At the "Amen" of the opening prayer, the children dashed out to
find thousands of eggs, kicking off Good Friday at Sunlight Manor

These young men are already in a mentoring
group at a nearby church - that's what we're
talking about!

Young people are participating in building the memorial
benches (under very close supervision!)

Our Mayor, Randy Roach, gets in the game on the bench
building (he was quite skilled on the table saw!)

Here is a group of young people who are already being
mentored by the adults at the park on a regular basis!

Bench #1 is completed!
(We still have the 3rd bench to complete, and will do so
in the couple weeks following Good Friday)

These two headed up the kids activities - it was a blast!

More young people participating in the construction of the
memorial benches!

The prayer and bench dedication were moving!

These three young men are remembered.

The walk and Worship Gathering to conclude the day
were powerful!  #JesusIsAlive