This past week Neale M and I have been hosting 41 youth leaders and pastors from Youth Vision Australia on a tour of Melbourne Christian Churches/communities/gatherings/expressions/eccleisal meetings/congregations/faith groups…and what ever else we heard what Christians call themselves.
We visited (and had ‘conversations with’);
- Planet Shakers City Church
- St Pauls Anglican in Emerald
- Youth dimension Base
- Telstra Dome and the Chaplain to the Demons
- Connection Church of Christ
- Northern Community Church of Christ
- The Living Room – Daren Rouse
- Kardinia Christian Church
- Urban Neigbours of Hope (UNOH)
- Waverly Christian Fellowship/City Life Church
Such a contrast between them all. I could not say that there was any theme…well – Jesus?
Some were all about ‘soul winning’, one church said ‘what’s soul winning? I have never heard that expression’
Some were all about community transformation.
I guess there was a noteworthy trend toward actions and demonstrations of the love of Christ in community. A move away from programme and toward ‘out there’ love and action. This was impressive.
Some of the churches had the good old ‘submit to the senior pastors vision at all cost’ deal, others were more of an empowering nature – ‘you go before the Lord, find his vision for your life and ministry and we the pastors/leadership will come along side and equip you for the task’.
Some, like UNOH, tended to just be the people, the full incarnational deal. Man, was that an emotional day for me. These people enter into the lives of refugees, disabled, poor etc etc. They don’t just ‘love bomb and leave’. They stay. They take a vow to only earn the poverty line or below of their local community. (About the equiv of 2 days wage). They were broken by the lives of those they advocated for. These people are modern day heros in my mind. They will no doubt never be famous, and certainly will never have seats saved for them in the front row of a massive Christian conference! They can’t afford to leave their own street, or past a good bike ride, not to mention getting to a conference! I stood and wept as we watched photos of their community life.
The other moving time for me was hearing Darren Rouse of the Living Room share his story and the story of his experimental community. There was no building to meeting in so we borrowed one, a contrast to the recently extended (at a cost of 6 mill) Waverley City Life that we toured.
Funny the contrast was just a bit too much for me. I just had to leave the City Life tour and wander out for a walk to process my thoughts. It’s odd that we (me included) get so facinated and impressed by fancy buildings and the latest sound recording equipment, the big auditorium etc. I wonder what Christ, or one of the apostles would think of us wandering corridors of multi million dollar buildings and gauging our success by them. I have to say, amny good things happen in these buildings, lives are changed forever – WONDERFUL! I mean it. I just sit uncomfortable at the moment with some of this. (I am understating this a tad, just to keep peace, and acknowledging that it may just be me and a stage I am going through and al that stuff)
One church expression grew with 80% coming from other churches.
One church did’nt know how many people were involved at all, he said we don’t measure that stuff, just how we are doing against our core values based on Micah 6:8 (justice, mercy and walking with God) etc.
I recommend this kind of thing to any person or group serious about Kingdom issues and faith communities. If you want to chat about this or ask questions then make a comment or email away. I will answer… after the snow next week!
Well the Eagles just won and are into the grand final and Neale has just offered me a beer so I am gone!