Thursday, June 21, 2007
Sunday, June 10, 2007
What would happen if a church were willing to give up its individual identity, building, programs and vocational staff, and simply lived within the communities as the Body? They would still gather together in homes or in rented location from time to time, but the actual body life took place in the market place by running into one another in a business or walking on the street. Friendships were made with business owners, neighbors, city officials and civic groups. Believers intentionally developing community in their neighborhoods by identifying locations throughout the neighborhood that they support and frequent in their day-to-day lives. There is no agenda other than to love people and create a livable community within their neighborhood that leads to shared experiences with those who live there. These relationships soon providing opportunities to share the gospel. The Body, being the Body and enveloping anyone who had a heart for the community at large. Evangelism through community development. Truly organic, almost totally undefined, holistic, life as the Body of Christ as lived out IN the community. In short, the neighborhood becomes the church building, our neighbors are the congregation, and the believers become the BODY.
I’ve heard the saying, “We need to have a church, without walls,” but I’ve never seen anyone do it until recently. I’ve fallen in love with a little community of faith in Downtown Tacoma, WA. This little community doesn’t really define themselves other than calling their gathering “Zoë.” Their model for ministry being in large part what I’ve just described above. Zoë is truly a movement that is emerging past the “emerging church movement.” As I met with the leadership of Zoë this past week I realized that they held a couple of the missing pieces I had been looking for. God had given me a vision for Belltown, but I was missing a couple of key components. Paul Sparks, Mike Ott, and Josh Ott of Zoë helped me see what those pieces were. Although Zoë is designed specifically for Tacoma, and would never attempt to recreate it in Belltown, I’ve seen the light in regards to what “Tapestry” has been called to be.
For several years now I have been struggling to silence a voice in my heart that has been telling me that there is something more for the church than what I have seen. I’ve read the books, taught the classes, and even spoken at workshops on the emergent movement in the church and yet I still had a sense of discontent. The emergent movement is profitable and I respect and admire the men and women who are leading it into the coming years, but I’ve been looking for something different, something that would be “real” by my standards. I’ve been searching for more than a reorganized model of church and my spirit tells me I’ve found it.
I’ll blog more this afternoon and in the days to come, but I’m excited to finally feel as if God as shown me His will, for His Church, that He has given me to shepherd.