Wow, it’s been so many weeks since I’ve posted and a lot has happened in our lives.
One, as you know, is our family’s choice to adopt internationally from Ethiopia. Whoa, this ride is just getting started and it’s already bumpy! This story you can follow in more detail at http://www.brownethiopiaadoption.blogspot.com/ .
And the other major life change being our home church, Fellowship of Believers, merged and became a part of the church family at H2O Church here in Ada where I’m serving as their Missions Outreach Pastor.
Why such a thing? Why would churches merge? Who does something like this? In an era of American church that clings to the sign in the lawn to the point we’ve have forgotten how to let go and remember its Jesus people need to connect with not our name – well, a merger of two churches is taboo!
After praying several weeks we felt we could come together, take a couple things that each of our churches are good at and turn into something a church does GREAT! And that thing being missions outreach with an emphasis on our city.
What does that look like or how does that happen you may ask?
Is it or will it ever work you may ask?
Ah, you tell me?
We met a guy during the community Christmas dinner that came to our home church, has worshipped with us ever since and bought into the idea of churches coming together right from the get go. His past is something that you’ve only read about in books and seen in movies…seriously you don’t hear stuff like this in Ada! Seriously! Did I say seriously? But 13 years ago he turned his life around and gave it to Jesus and ever since he’s been on a mission to win others to Jesus through his everyday life. He truly believes he is “the bridge” from what the churched world looks like to the unchurched world. He feels God has called him to bridge the gap permanently where he lives, works and worships.
So what happens when The Bridge calls up the week our churches merge and says, “Hey, no sense and letting the grass grow under our feet! If we’re gonna to get to reaching people in this town then I wanna have a BBQ in my front yard. No better way to reach people than for my church family to meet my friends!!” “They need to see what I’ve seen. You know, that you guys are normal.”
I knew exactly what he meant but it made me chuckle. I loved it! He actually thinks we are “normal” because we are in church when in reality we’ve just gotten good at hiding how jacked up we really are just long enough to get through our Sunday dinner with friend (dinner = lunch for some of you). Anyway, that’s a post for another day – the how jacked up we are that is, not the dinner/lunch debate.
So what happens? We have a stinkin’ party is what happens!!
The Bridge has about 40 he’s going to invite and we plan on bringing about 25 from the church so we don’t overwhelm anyone.
Is it in a part of town we would normally go or hang out? No.
Is it with people we would normally invite to our own party? No.
Hmm, didn’t Jesus go to a party like that in Matthew 9? I think so!
What I’m starting to find out is people and places that make us uncomfortable are exactly the places that God wants us.
What do you do when you commit to throwing a party in one of those uncomfortable places and with people you don’t know?
First, the week before you plan food for 75 BUT pray for at least 40 so it looks like a decent showing.
Second, the day of the party when God shows up with 100 other people, you humbly say a prayer under your breath for forgiveness because you actually doubted the power of God again. Goes something like this, “Hello God, it’s me slow learner again. Yes, I will eventually take you at your word and realize just how much smarter you are than I am! I know, you don’t have to remind me again that you created the ENTIRE world, which includes me who lives in it, so next time we throw a party with you in mind I won’t be shocked when it explodes! Amen.”
And finally, after a few minutes you find there’s nothing at all uncomfortable about making new friends, building bridges, listening to stories, and dishing out a little healthy serving of love and hope where needed! Nobody got preached to! We were just the church being the church and all acted, “normal”.
I’m totally robbing this phrase from a lady I heard speak who’s heavily involved in city missions in Baton Rouge, LA but get used to it cause I’m gonna start using it a lot more , “We took the doors off the church” this weekend!! It was awesome!
That is why two churches would come together, yes it is working, and God gets all this glory because He is smarter than we are and gives us the courage to do things outside the norm of what church looks like today!!!