Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.
The Yanceys like to laugh and spend time with people, and we have done a lot of both over the last 15 years of marriage and ministry. My wife, Liz, and I met at college in North Carolina, moved to Johannesburg, South Africa 6 months after we were married (living there for 7 years), and have been living in Maryland for the past 8 years. We returned to the States so I could attend Reformed Theological Seminary and work at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, MD.
We have two boys: Ben (10) and Will (7). Ben was born in South Africa and remains fascinated with all things international to this day. Will was born right when we moved back to the States. They keep themselves (and us) busy with swimming, basketball, baseball, and soccer. Liz and I view these guys as the most important disciples God has given us.
How long have you and your family been in the DC area? Why do you feel called to plant here?
As a family we have lived here for the past 8 years, but Liz grew up here. She was raised in Rockville, MD and made her way across the river into Virginia on a regular basis for tennis lessons and matches. (She would never tell you, but she was an all-conference tennis player in college)
God has given us a heart for this city. He has equipped us through experiences and blessed us with relationships. The D.C. metro area has over six million people. Fairfax County alone has over one million. While there are a good number of sound and fruitful churches, the harvest in this area is still plentiful. We are firmly convinced that God’s primary way of reaching the lost and expanding his kingdom is through the local church and that the starting of new churches is an extremely effective way to see this happen.
Before we were even familiar with McLean’s vision for church planting, Liz and I were already dreaming with some of our closest friends about what it might look like to see a movement of church planting in this area. That’s why after my first lunch with David I sensed that this is where we need to be. McLean is committed to and investing in what God has placed on our heart.
What resources and scriptures have most influenced your call to ministry and the way you approach ministry?
The challenge of Christ in Mathew 6:33 to, “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” was one of the initial passages God used to move me towards ministry. The summer after my junior year in college I went on an 8-week missions trip to do campus ministry in South Africa. During the plane ride over I listened to a talk by John Piper called “Doing Missions When Dying is Gain” and I read his book Let the Nations be Glad. Both of these resources have had a significant impact on the way I have lived my life.
Liz and I have become convinced that both spiritual formation and evangelism happen best when believers are doing “life together” with believers and unbelievers. We see this throughout the scriptures, especially Acts and the instructions of Paul’s letters. Intentional life-on-life discipleship is also something that God has used to influence us and we believe it is critical within the life of the church. We believe that Paul’s instructions to Timothy, “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.”, should be happening in various ways throughout the life of the church.
You spent several years organizing and leading a campus ministry with Campus Outreach in South Africa. Tell us about that experience and how it shaped your ministry today.
The seven years we spent in Johannesburg taught us countless lessons about life and ministry. If I were to highlight two particular areas where we were stretched and shaped they would be contextualization and our dependence on God.
Ministry among university students in South Africa forced us to study the culture, discern their worldviews, and to try and identify their societal narratives and counterfeit gods. We spent time in townships discussing such things as ancestral worship and lobola (dowry/bride price). In all of this, the aim is to clearly communicate how the gospel of Christ speaks into these things, informs them, and confronts them. This process also helped us identify the false idols and counterfeit gods of our own American/Western culture too.
During our time in South Africa we also learned how to depend on God in ways we could have never imagined. We had to depend on him to provide all of our financial resources for our personal and ministry needs. At night when I would drop Liz off at the girls dorm before I would head over to the guys dorm, we would pray and confess that unless God worked, we had no hope for our labors in sharing Christ that night. We learned to depend on God for protection in one of the most dangerous cities in the world. We learned to depend on God for wisdom and compassion as we worked with students who had been abused, exploited, and abandoned. We have no doubt that we will continue to grow in these ways as we move into church planting.
You find yourself with a free weekend; how would you spend your time?
Here are my top 5 things I would do with a free weekend:
1.) Go on a date with my wife (preferably dinner in Georgetown and a concert at the 9:30 club);
2.) Have a family game night (where there may or may not be meltdowns and fighting, but it’s still worth it);
3.) Go fly-fishing (the colder and wider the river the better);
4.) Head to the reading room at the Library of Congress or the Peabody Library in Baltimore and read. (All Day Long);
5.) Watch the North Carolina Tar Heels play basketball (You may know them as the 2017 NCAA National Champions).