Posted by: wrightnowa | September 18, 2010

10 into 24 for 86

I just finished my prayer shift for the 86 Club. We are 10 hours into our first “official” 24 hours of prayer in the Riddle House Studio.  That’s exciting.

At the kick off event Chris shared that he felt like God knew the needs, but He wanted to see our hearts. That was definitely my experience of the time in the prayer room tonight.  I spent most of the 2 hours on the floor singing along to some worship tunes from my iPod and just being with God.

Here are a few pictures of what’s happened so far at the kick off event at the 86 Club and of the shifts in the Studio.

“if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

Praying for the 86 Club to be open

A candle for each of the 24 hours of prayer

Posted by: wrightnowa | September 15, 2010

24 Hours of Prayer for the 86 Club

This Friday night we’re kicking off our first 24 hours of prayer in the Studio.  It’s focused on praying for the 86 Club which is planning to open this fall on Short Vine in Corryville.

Pray for us.  And if you’d like to pray with us – it’s open to anyone and we still have time slots to fill – you can do that in a few ways:

Pray for us where you are.  If you do this, let us know.  It would be really encouraging to hear from you.

Pray with us at the kick off event. Friday night at 7pm at the 86 Club.  Details here.

Take a one-hour shift in the studio.  You can also sign up here.

We’re very excited about our first attempt to have 24 hours of continuous prayer.

We’re already planning our next one in early November that will be focused on “The Orphan and Adoption.” Details soon.

Posted by: wrightnowa | September 3, 2010


Tomorrow is the kickoff event for our 12-month spiritual formation experiment.  Check it out at or join the Facebook group to keep up with what’s happening.  The monthly events are open to anyone and we hope many people participate at many different levels.  Our monthly events will be held on the first Saturday of each month and feature a guest lecturer on that month’s vow.  Tomorrow Dave Nixon will be kicking us off with Soul Keeping.  And on October 2nd we’ll have Will Samson speaking on Simplicity at TAZA coffeehouse at 10:00am.

As for the Riddle House we’ve postponed the full-blown community house concept that we are hoping for eventually, but we’ll be engaging in the practices and tracking with others involved in Formed.

Soon you’ll be able to use the website to engage the daily rhythm of prayer and we’re hoping to even make it an app for your smartphone so you can pray wherever you are.

Be well!

Posted by: wrightnowa | May 25, 2010

The Studio

We spent last July on St. Simons Island in Georgia.  We were on a break and praying through what God had next for us and – at that time – our church.  It was on this break that I realized I couldn’t keep doing things the way I had been doing them, but I wasn’t sure what that meant yet.

It was also on this trip that I had a “Field of Dreams” moment that still seems a little crazy to me.

From the time we moved into the Riddle House there had been an eyesore/hazard/wildlife refuge/shack behind the house we referred to loosely as “the garage.”  We never had the funds to tear it down and build a new one as I wanted to. We stored a lot of stuff in it, so just tearing it down didn’t seem like an option to me.

On the trip, I felt like God said, “turn it into a prayer room.”  I could see the building transformed into an creative arts space.

Now at this point I had little exposure to the “prayer room” concept and I wasn’t particularly drawn to it.  So I emailed my friend Lilly, told her what I was thinking, and asked what and who she knew (she seems to know everyone, thankfully…)  She referred me to a couple people and sites including  Their site regularly features stories of prayer rooms around the globe and at that time of my first visit to the site there was a photo gallery and story of a community in South America.

The pictures of their room eerily resembled what I had pictured the garage becoming.

So I shared this with Brooke and when we got home I began mowing down a field of corn… I mean remodeling the shack.  It took several months and was finished this spring.  You can see the transformation and the current state in this album.

I also ordered some of the 24-7 movement books, like Red Moon Rising, Their Prayer Room Manual, and Punk Monk – their approach to New Monasticism in communities they call  “Boiler Rooms.”

With every sentence I felt they were describing what I had experienced  and longed for from God and ministry, why I was frustrated with our church plant, and what I had hoped for when we moved to Uptown and started.  And to be honest I felt a little late to the party.  Although I trust in God’s timing.  And hindsight is always 20-20.

It was an oddity to create something like this and simultaneously keep a commitment to not start anything new in this season.  So at this point it’s been open to anyone, checked out by a few, used semi-regularly by a handful of folks, and probably mostly a space for me to be alone with God.  Oh and the other day Te (my 5 year old) said, “I want to go in the Studio and talk to Jesus.”  So he did. When he came out a few minutes later we asked what they talked about.  He said, “it’s a secret.”  I love that kid.

My hope is that the new Riddle House community and others will find the space useful for prayer and as a place to create art, music, writing, etc… in a dedicated space.

My ultimate hope is that it is a “beta version” of something more.

But for now I believe prayer – being alone with God (be it in a room, in the woods, in your car, wherever) is key to avoiding vicarious faith.  I have found it helpful to have a dedicated space for that to happen.

The invitation is open.  If you’d like to spend 5 minutes or an hour alone with God in a creative environment, just email you.  I’ll give you the code to get in.  If you want to shape the community that this becomes, email us we’ll talk about being part of the Riddle House come September.  For more info on what we’re planning in September and what being a part of it might mean, look at the “What’s Next” post from a few weeks ago.

Posted by: wrightnowa | May 10, 2010


The practice of hospitality is central to our understanding of the Riddle House.  We practice hospitality by hosting people, sharing meals, including outsiders, and  throwing parties.  During the 12 month experiment we’ll explore hospitality in scripture and through teaching – we have Christine Pohl, author of “Making Room,” coming to speak to our group in April, 2011.

Posted by: wrightnowa | May 1, 2010


Very excited that Will Samson has agreed to speak on Simplicity October 2, 2010.  More details to come.

Posted by: wrightnowa | April 30, 2010

What’s Next

‘The renewal of the church will come from a new type of monasticism which only has in common with the old an uncompromising allegiance to the Sermon on the Mount. It is high time men and women banded together to do this’
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in a letter to his brother

Bonhoeffer died in 1945.   In the interest of full disclosure, I’m not sure when he wrote this.  It’s a quote I’ve come across in a variety of books and websites from groups who have decided it is “high time” to take Bonhoeffer’s call to band together seriously.

And it resonates with me.  It speaks to what I am drawn to these days and what I want to be a part of next:  A community of people serious about loving God and loving others in the context of their everyday life – being real and being the church.

I want more than vicarious faith.  I want more than to watch people get their religious fix off other people’s well told stories, well sung songs, and well organized experiences. Once a week the needle must hit our spiritual veins, or so we believe.

I want more than what we have come to expect of church.

It can only take us so far.  I believe there’s more.

For years I’ve been asking people the question, “what things have actually helped God transform you?”   Pretty consistently people my age or younger say “the mission trip I went on,” “this group I was a part of,”  “this retreat I went on,” or “I had this friend/mentor who…”  but occasionally when I come across someone who seems to have a mature and tested faith I hear them talk about daily practices, seasons of growth, an inner journey as well as an outward life, and rhythms that marry life and faith in the day to day.  In short a “new monasticism.”  We’re not talking monks in robes and chants and celibacy (though we can learn much from them).  But ordinary people engaged in a daily rhythm of prayer, community, work, and mission all to be transformed and be a part of God’s transforming work in those around them (neighbors, coworkers, classmates, friends…)  The goal isn’t to pluck you out of your world, but to help you live more fully in it as a representative of Jesus.

So we’re embarking on a 12 month experiment this September.  We’ll be looking at the following “vows” as what would be referred to by many as a rule of life:

Simplicity, a focused life: In a world that is frantic and overcommitted, we’ll live simple, purposeful lives.

Community, a shared life: In a world full of fractured relationships, we’ll display unity through a shared life.

Prayer, a God-centered life: In a world chasing “self-fulfillment,” we’ll center our lives on God through a prayerful life.

Study, a transformed life: In a world that is force-fed by self-centered advertising and media, we’ll regularly reflect on God’s word and let that transform our minds.

Work, a creative life: In a world drunk on laziness and entitlement, we’ll be industrious and generous through meaningful work.

Service, a generous life: In a world that idolizes power, individualism, and ego, we’ll demonstrates Christ’s way of serving through practical acts of love.

Hospitality, a welcoming life: In a world filled with hostility, we’ll be a warm, welcoming place for friends and strangers.

Justice, an active life: In a world full of injustice, we’ll work at local grassroots level for visible social change and be a voice for justice among the world’s oppressed.

Holiness, a set apart and faithful life: in a world where anything goes, we’ll live faithfully toward God, others, and ourselves.

Sabbath, a renewed life: In a world frazzled by overcommitment we’ll take time for rest and recreation.

Celebration, a joy-filled life: In a world plagued by apathy and anxiety we’ll regularly and joyfully celebrate all that is good, true and beautiful.

We’re working with several other groups in Cincinnati and beyond who will be doing the year long experiment with us .

As we seek to be intentionally formed in community, our rhythm will look something like this:

Monthly everyone in the city who is participating will gather for a large group teaching seminar from someone we deem an “expert” on the subject.

Weekly we’ll have a house meeting to process what we’re reading and learning, as well as worship and pray together.

Daily (likely Sun night through Fri morning) we’ll have a rhythm of morning and evening prayers, and shared meals.

Interested?  We currently have 6 spaces available for the experiment at Riddle House.  We can accommodate singles, couples, or families who are willing to make a year long commitment to living in the house and engaging the experiment.  Email me at and we’ll chat.

Posted by: wrightnowa | April 10, 2010

The Riddle House Attic made famous

Brad Wise and the crew at Vineyard Community Church in Springdale shot this in our attic to use for their Easter services.  The Riddle House attic never looked so good…

Posted by: wrightnowa | April 7, 2010


“We should just get a big house and all live in it and throw parties and just love people and…”  I don’t remember who was the first to say it, but it was an idea that came up several times in our very idealistic 20-something dreams and conversations.  Along with “let’s start a coffee house,” but that’s a story for another time.

It was 2004 and my wife. Brooke, and I were living in a beautiful house we loved in Norwood.  We had spent the previous 3 years completely renovating the Norwood house.  It was actually finished (if you’ve renovated your own house, you know that “finished” doesn’t happen too often).  We were in the beginning phases of dreaming up a church plant in Uptown and also waiting on the arrival of our first adopted son.  We knew the church plant would involve moving at some point, but we weren’t in a hurry to do so.

After many conversations about “the big house” we went to see a house we found on MLS listed in “Clifton” (funny how the directions took us to “Over The Rhine”).  It was a mansion on Historic Dayton street. It wasn’t the right house, but it made the idea become more of a reality in progress.  Our realtor and friend said, “if you’re serious about a community house, I may have something for you.”  She took us to the Riddle House then referred to as “The Peace House.”  It was owned by Rosedale Mennonite Missions. RMM had recently stopped using it as a community house and were deciding what to do with the property.  The house was in need of MAJOR renovation and repair. But they were concerned about what would happen to the neighborhood they had been a part of for decades if the house went on the market and became just another college rental.  In their words they wanted to “transfer the house in a way that would represent Jesus to the community.”

I walked in and was immediately intrigued.  But I shared with my realtor friend that my wife, Brooke, would say, “but I live in a pretty house and this is an ugly house.” And that’s pretty much verbatim what she said when she saw it the next day.  It was in bad shape.  It would take a massive amount of work to bring it back to anything close to beauty.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am always thinking about “what could be.”  I was drawn in by the potential.  The yard was massive for Uptown – almost an acre.  I pictured gardening, bonfires, big parties, kids playing…  There was the potential to have a large living room – perfect for gathering our core team and starting our church plant.  It had housed as many as 17 people at a time – we could take out a few walls and rooms and still have 10 bedrooms for our community house.

So we prayed, discussed, and  decided we would make an offer.  Here was the gist of that offer:

Dear RMM, This is my cute family <insert picture of Brooke, Baby Mac, and me>.  We want to buy your house, renovate it <insert list of major projects and costs>, and use it as a community house and gathering place for our ministry.  We’d like to pay you $50,000 less than it just appraised for, and we’d like to not pay you for 6 months so that we can keep cute baby Mac <refer back to picture> in our current house and so that my wife doesn’t divorce me.  Sincerely, Aaron and Brooke Wright

Their response was to say, “We think this is what God is doing.”  They met us half way on price and let us have the house a few weeks later.  We “owned it” and renovated for 6 months before we ever got a loan or paid them a dime – they didn’t even do a credit check.   We took this as one of many signs that this really was what God was doing.

On a cold Saturday in November 2004 we arrived with a crew of friends and a dumpster and began the process of cleaning it out, removing panelling – lots and lots of panelling and florescent shop lights, and eventually walls, floors, windows, etc…

We had an unfathomable amount of support from friends and people who at the time we were just meeting but who were interested in what we were starting.  My parents, as always, were ridiculously supportive.

Each time something great happens at the house, I am reminded of the people who made that possible.  I’m certain our debt of gratitude remains unpaid.

We began meeting with our core team on Sunday nights long before the house was finished.  We celebrated Mac’s first birthday in an unfinished kitchen in April and we moved in the next month with our initial crew of 8 people.  The house was far from finished.  In fact, the renovation work continues today.  There are always projects in a house that’s 150 years old.   And there’s always something being added to “the list.” But in the Spring of 2005 we began the process of learning how to live together and do ministry together.

That process has looked different each year over the past 5 years.  The only constant has been the indispensible “family dinner.”

We believe it’s about to look different again this fall – more intentional, more mission-oriented, a set rhythm and commitment to spiritual formation, anchored in and motivated by prayer.

And so we begin again.

Posted by: wrightnowa | March 16, 2010

Some Pics of the Riddle House

The Front of the Riddle House

Porch it Up

The Living Room

Kitchen Table

Virtual Community

Our Driveway/Perfect Sledding Hill

Friends The Studio – Just finishedHouse Concert w/ Ellery – AMAZING!Hanging out – Mas Amigos

Hanging out at the Ellery House Concert

2008-09 Crew

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