I just wanted to document some of the things I have been learning. Some have been of my choosing and some of God's. I intended this to be a shorter post but like Mark Twain said, "I intended to write you a short letter but I didn't have time." (I've actually seen that linked to Twain, Voltaire, and Pascal. So let's just say those quotation marks are used lightly. Thanks.)
Martin and I have had a desire to reach our community for years. We have wrestled with how that looks and what we should do. The easy choice for me was to move somewhere else and start over. But God, who is ever so patient, has slowly shown us how to live missionally right where we are.
One of the major steps we made in this missional living is leaving our church.
Yes, we left our church. We have been struggling with a discontentment for almost a year and half. We loved our church but couldn't put a finger on what was wrong. We decided to get more involved with not just one small group, but two. We also stayed on the missions committee. But the restlessness was still there. We visited some churches in downtown Philly and God showed us that going even further away wasn't what he wanted.
A few months ago, my coworker told me about her church. She said it was small and simple, meaning no programs. Then she said something that got my attention, she told us it was in our town. She encouraged us to visit with no strings attached.
I had nursery one Sunday so Martin decided to go and visit by himself. He text me and said they were having a baby dedication. To be honest, we aren't big fans of baby dedications. Most of them feel like christenings and well, we're just not into that. But he then text again saying it was for adopted biracial twins and the whole dedication was really simple and cool. That got our attention. We desired to be at a place that had diversity (which our town has) and having adopting parents in the church, well that was a BONUS (there just aren't that many of us around, people).
I was counseled to be cautious and take our time as we're looking for a new church. One day, as I was telling a friend about the church, I was explaining that we were taking things slow and something struck me that I had not thought of. Could it be that God simply brought us right to the place he wanted us to be? Can't he be merciful and gracious?
We made an immediate connection with the pastor and his wife and it just so happened he lived in our neighborhood. He shared with us his vision of missional living and how he has been praying for people from our neighborhood to start coming to New Life.
God has brought us to a church in our own town that speaks the language our soul has been crying for. It's not because it's better or cooler. It's because it's where God wants us to be and we're sure of that today.
We are praying and thinking about how our life is not about us 6 and a half days a week. It's about Christ and what he did for us and for the world. It's about us talking and getting to know our neighbors. It's about getting messy. And it's about not simply talking about it but actually putting feet to our faith.
That couple that was dedicating their babies, well they live in our neighborhood too. And we adore them. They have the same heart we have and we're working on starting a gospel community group. Not a small group or a Bible study. But a group where we can invite those around us and getting together may mean doing things outside of our houses. It's walking through crap with them and they with us. It's about hanging out. It's about opening God's Word and walking through it. It's about praying for our neighborhood and each other. It's about eating together. It's about laughing, a lot of laughing. It's not about us huddling in our houses all week (although we're doing that way too much right now). It's not about talking about getting together, then not. It's not about saying with our words we want to change, but then doing nothing.
The hard part is waiting on the change. I want everything now. But I have seen God transforming me in small ways. Honestly the ways are probably small because I don't truly want change, but he's so good and patient with my ever wandering heart.
Our pastor showed us a video. It was about a pastor who did a church plant in Washington state. His vision for the church is missional living. And he said this:
A lot of churches have just become orphanages. They know how to have babies and they have a couple of dads and moms for the babies but not nearly enough to care for them well. And they don't send them off to start new families. So its a perpetual orphanage that they created. I think a church committed to multiplication will have great leaders because they have to train them up to raise their own family some day.
I have chewed on that for weeks. In my laziness, I am drawn towards someone else doing the work of Christ. But thanks be to God that I am not a girl who has to continually live a Romans 7 life. I am a girl that gets to have the victory of Romans 8.