Over the past few weeks, we have had about 30 people coming into our home on Sunday mornings. We have a host of children, which is a wonderful challenge to have. More families are committing to this ministry. Just this week I am faced to answer the ‘membership transfer’ question, which is something I have to sort out now. I was also asked, “So where do I give my tithe?” This question brings such spiritual satisfaction after raising funds for 2 years. Other updates include an answer to prayer regarding our really young kids. We have been praying for people to take care of 3 children aged 2 and under. Someone from Christ the King Presbyterian has volunteered to help out on a regular basis. How glorious it is when Christians are working effectively and lovingly across denominational divides. It is a taste of the new creation!
The types of people attending and committing are mature Christians on board with the vision of this ministry. Some have already been part church plants and understand the difficult road ahead. Others are just chomping at the bit to invite friends and neighbors to an open worship service. I am looking forward to that day when we have the space to open it right up for anyone.
I am still constantly being asked, “So how many people do you have and when will you be meeting in a building.” Part of the reason why I include numbers in this blog is because numbers are important. What’s more important are the types of numbers. Right now, I’m thrilled with the mature Christians ready to see Resurrection Lifecome to life. However, if you are reading this and following our path of church planting, keep in mind that it is crucially important that we grow depth before we grow breadth. I have mentioned this more than once, but it’s important to articulate again (for my sake more than anyone else). We need a committed team, and as we move slowly but surely towards that committed team, the goal is to do so in unity with the vision.
And the question about when we are going to meet in a building is another regular question. This question is, once again, quantitative rather than qualitative. But I’ll answer the question anyway, and I’ll do so by indirectly quoting a fellow church planter: We’ll be meeting in homes until people are screaming to get out. Why? Simply put, buildings cost a lot of money. Lots and lots of money. We have to grow smartly. I’m not suggesting we grow cheaply. When we do rent or buy, we will do it right. But growth will only be as good as the number of strangers we are comfortable inviting into our own homes. We desire to grow this way because we want our growth to come through ‘hospitality in homes’ and not merely through ‘invitation to a worship service’. Emphasizing the Biblical root word for hospitality (lover of strangers) is an exciting way to grow a church. The front door of our church is through the front door of where our members live.
Is your front door a place of hospitality? If so, when does that love for the stranger move to showing them the love of Jesus?
I’m writing this blog on Sinterklaas Day: December 5. As a child growing up, this was the day my family opened presents. My parents retained this traditional holiday from their Dutch heritage, and so December 5th was the day we mentally prepared for every year. Great food! Amazing presents! I’ll never forget opening presents like roller blades or my first blue plastic snowboard. We anticipated Sinterklaas Day like college football fans anticipate the national championship. My parent’s hope was that by getting the whole ‘presents thing’ out of the way earlier in the month, we could properly prepare for the real meaning of the Christmas for the rest of it.
Our small group this Sunday will focus on Preparing for the King. Before we celebrate communion together, we will focus on words from John’s Gospel. The context here is Pontius Pilate arguing with God’s People about what to do with this ‘criminal’ named Jesus. Of course, these verses aren’t focusing on preparing for a babe in Bethlehem. This was a different type of preparation for the king:
Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” (John 19:14-16a)
It’s no small detail that John mentions that the day of Jesus’ trial was the day of Preparation of the Passover. He’s recalling how families were supposed to be preparing slaughtered lambs for the family meal of Passover. Instead, they fill the streets preparing for the slaughter of the Lamb of God. Rather than prepare for the biggest day of the year- recalling their redemption via Egyptian Exodus- they were zestfully preparing for the death of their Savior.
But God takes our participation of that day and takes it with him to the cross. We got it wrong, but like all things, God draws straight lines with crooked sticks. The type of preparing we are called to during this season of advent is to recall the Lamb who was slain. Let’s properly prepare together to remember the man called the Slain Lamb and the Lion of Judah. The preparation we are called to do now is to await the Return of the King.