Gospel. Community. Mission.
Tonight I attended the newcomer's dinner at the Hanley Road campus for The Journey Church here in St. Louis. God has been calling me to get back into a more traditional church community after a few years without a home church. I have been dragging my feet...to put it lightly. I do love the church and believe it is still the primary means by which God calls and saves the lost. Yet, memories of my last experience in what had become a close church family have been difficult to overcome even after much healing has taken place. There certainly was some selfishness in there as well as I do like freedom on the weekends to do as I please. It's sad that I know in my head that God's way is better than mine yet I have not fully embraced that truth with my heart and life.
I am blessed to have family and friends who have gently held me accountable to being obedient to God's desire for me to be part of a church community once again. They understand my past experiences but don't let me use that as an excuse to drown out the Spirit's calling. But then again...how does one drown out the Spirit? I can't. The Holy Spirit has persisted in this command on my life and my heart has been restless because of it. I am thankful that God is relentless. I am thankful that He allows little peace when I am not walking the path He has laid before me. The worst case scenario would be that He would simply go quiet...that He would become passive. I pray that never happens.
What I appreciated about tonight was the compelling simplicity with which this church operates. They are not big on programs. They aren't big on meetings. You won't find a Tuesday morning men's group. I am OK with that. I already have a men's small group that I greatly cherish. I was wondering how I would juggle multiple groups. Given the fact that their community groups are only opened to new members a couple times a year and space is usually tight, I probably won't have to be concerned with that for awhile.
Yes, some meetings are necessary within a church. It's also true that the more programs you have the more meetings seem to become necessary in order to manage them effectively. What I learned at my old church is that not all meetings are created equal. Some meetings happen out of habit. Some happen because someone is trying to promote a personal agenda. Some are not God saturated. To the extent those kinds of meetings are taking place, I want no part of it. That culture can be debilitating to the hearts of individuals and to the mission of the church.
Tonight I heard about a church that wants to be a place for the sinful, for the skeptics and for those who have been wounded by other churches. Preaching the Gospel and discipling others to live transformed lives is paramount. Another reason why programs are minimized is because they want you spending that time in your community and in your circle of friends, discipling others and being an ambassador for Christ. After all, if you are spending all of your spare time in programs at the church, how many non-Christians are you really interacting with? That makes it kinda hard to live out the Great Commission.
I asked for discernment from the Holy Spirit before I arrived tonight...that I would know whether or not this is where God is calling me. I was given enough conviction to sign up for a membership class that commences at the end of this month. It's been a long time in coming but it is the right step...out of the boat...and onto the water.
Lord...increase my faith and trust in you to not look down.