Sunday, January 18, 2009

Church Done Right

Acts 2:42  They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 

COMMENT: Something wonderful took place today. It happens every week when we gather in homes (and some days we meet at the beach), and I lead a Bible study with 15-20 friends (some of whom are biological family, all of whom are Family)! One of the great things about this gathering is that we break bread together every time we meet. Everyone brings food and we share a meal - casually, leisurely, yet intentionally - because something wonderful and amazing happens around the table... conversation, laughter, encouragement... it is family time and God chooses to be present in the midst of it all. 

After our meal (it was blueberry pancakes this morning), we open the word together - and it is a conversation around the word, not a monologue about the word. Today it was lively, as the text (the baptism of Jesus in Mark 1) probed us and opened us up, challenging our assumptions and doing its transforming work in our hearts. It is both preaching and teaching for me - and I come away from those sessions with a deep sense that we have been a community that gathers around the Word and really is listening to what God is saying. It is powerful! We share in prayer together. And today, we collected food and gift cards for a needy family that one of our group told us about - yesterday (email is a wonderful thing).

I can't help thinking that this is one of the ways God had in mind for the church to exist and grow together in love... assembling together in Jesus' name, paying attention to God's word, sharing life with one another, and reaching out in caring love to the broken and hurting world. We have no buildings, no budgets, and no boards... but it is church done right - loving God, growing in love for each other, and extending God's love to the world. Yes, there are some things that are missing from traditional church - but the preparation we make each week to encounter God in word, table fellowship, and personal interaction is focused and intentional. 

I picked up a book in Nashville last week, entitled: Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations... They are:
1. Radical hospitality
2. Passionate worship
3. Intentional faith development
4. Risk-taking mission and service
5. Extravagant generosity

I am seeing these practices lived out in a non-traditional way with this "congregation." We have much to learn as we continue to walk in the way of Jesus. But we are doing church right in one sense - our focus is relational - we love God and we love one another... I seem to remember the Lord of the church having something to say about those two qualities and their relative importance (something about the greatest commandment)... and when we gather each week in his name, attend to his words, and practice his love with each other and those in need, God does show up! And when God shows up, good things happen, blessing and grace are poured out upon us, and we are empowered by the Spirit to live as Christ's ambassadors in a world gone wild. Now that... is church done right!

Soli Deo gloria

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