The church that meets together at my home each Friday evening to share a meal, encounter God and minister one to another is an improbable assembly of believers and even not-yet believers. We cut across races, cultures, nationalities, social status, and so many other lines – producing a rich tapestry of interwoven lives.
It reminds me of Adullam’s cave, where “every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented” went to flee from Saul. While there, God began the process of forging them into leaders who eventually established and became pillars in David’s kingdom. 1 Sam. 22:2.
Likewise, if you saw us you would laugh and wonder, “what can God do with these people?” Yet, isn’t that God’s way: to establish his Kingdom on earth by transforming lives, cultures, nations and history not with the ordained, but with the ordinary?
Lately, God’s been unleashing among us – in ever-increasing and profound ways – the freedom to fully minister one to another, to be the church rather than go to church, and to share our passions and our needs.
Gone are the vestiges of church being a passive spectator sport, or the place where we go to see the “God show” that we pay the “professional” Christians among us to put on each Sunday morning from their stand-apart podiums – while we “fellowship” for an hour with the back of the head sitting in front of us.
As these vestiges have fallen away, our times together on Friday evenings have become so powerful that words simply fail. And I’m seeing the same thing happen at our other fellowships that meet in other extremely improbable places, like the jail.
I can’t even post what’s happening without it looking like promotion. But it’s not. It’s hope for the hungry. It’s authentic Christianity as God intended through deep, deep redemption and vibrant, seven-day-a-week community — where we become engaged with each other in this wonderful but often challenging journey called “life” by sharing the life that only God gives.
I urge you to look again at my blog from last September on Participatory Church. When I wrote it, we were just beginning to see the contours of where God was leading us. In the short time since then, we’ve been seeing more and more fulfillment – and it’s been wonderful!
Even so, we are very much a work in progress and are still learning and experimenting as we remain open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit on what “church” is suppose to be.
May God forgive those who have so distorted “church” that it now looks nothing – and I mean nothing – like what we see in the New Testament. I have now begun to taste the real thing, and there’s no going back.
This post is dedicated to Ken Hornby, who succumbed to cancer on February 16, 2010. Our journey into improbable church would not have been possible without him gently and graciously helping many in our growing network of small, participatory fellowships find emotional health and spiritual wholeness. Although he personally wasn’t able to cross the Jordan river with us, we couldn’t have done so without him.