Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Church in a Prius: Part III

          Until now the stories of conducting church from my 2007 Prius have been complete sugar and spice.  I must admit it seemed so surreal to witness the sudden expansion of Commission.  However this past Sunday was my wake up call and I have to say it left me shaken,  even terrified.   I may not have been as stunned with the events that occurred last Sunday if things had not been going so well at Commission.  One should not misunderstand;  our church is doing capitol all things considered,  but I realize that this journey is no longer a fairy tale.  Fairy tales practically always conclude with a happy ending.  However this week I was reminded just how fragile our future really is, and how much faith it will require to see Commission through.

          Easter week passed and we had 65 people in total attendance.  It was such a refreshing time together.  Everyone seemed to have truly enjoyed themselves from the worship to the egg hunt.  As usual we did not advertise our Commission and we were still experiencing growth in attendance.  65 people may sound trivial to many pastors,  but for a church that has a goal of planting many small congregations with each having a goal of a weekly attendance between 20-50 people (including children) we were thrilled.  I was even beginning to get nervous about the potential need to multiply our community sooner than expected.  Then something happened that brought my thoughts crashing back to earth.

          Things moved along as usual and this past weeks attendance was low due to the poor weather.  As my leaders will happily tell you "people are still hungry when it rains" so thanks to my wonderful team we have a concrete rain or shine policy at Commission.   Things were going as well as they could in undesirable conditions and then something caught us off guard.

        What started as a friendly gesture between two homeless people somehow evolved into a potential  brawl between them.   To be honest I still do not understand what caused these two to almost harm one another.  Death threats and excessive profanity filled the park.  I noticed that one of the aggressors had his hands in his pockets while making promises to "bleed" the other.   This made the situation even more frightening especially with small children present.  I handled the situation as calmly as I could and luckily one of the perpetrators left the premises before the situation exploded.  I was disturbed to say the least. 

"What do I do now?" I thought to myself.  "What happens when things get out of hand?" I asked myself.

           I do not remember a time in my life were I felt so unqualified.  I mean I have played guitar and sang for the past ten years of my career.  Music was the extent of my "ministry".   "Why would God call me to do this?" I questioned.   I mean I was happy just being the music guy where my life was secure and my music was adored.   In "church"  things are so ... safe,  and shelter was honestly sounding attractive.  I truly missed the traditional church model and being in the spot light for a brief moment.  After all sitting for an hour listening occasionally to some middle aged socially inept pastor desperately trying to be hip in order to connect with the twenty somethings is much safer than my idea,  and it pays!  Then I remembered  something I read a long time ago.   "What kind of faith does one actually possess without risk of personal detriment,  or failure"?  I understood at once that if I am not going to bleed for a cause than it is not a cause worth standing for.   So I await the pain, I welcome the falls, and I accept the failures.  I will take the mockery, accept the danger,  and embrace the criticism.  I lay it all down;   my ambitions,  my comforts,  my preferences,  my pride,  my legacy,  and even my life.  It is a gift to the one who gave the same for me.  I do not care if anyone supports me in this endeavor or if they think me less of a "christian" or even a fool.  I don't care if I die in the process because I am finding life in risking it.  I know that I have a mission and I do not have time for fear and doubt!

-For The Kingdom




Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Church in a Prius: Part II


   I left off our story last week by explaining that our Co-mission had located a public park to utilize for our outreach. Washington Park is located in one of Beaufort's poorest quadrants.   Houses are literally falling apart and the crime rate in the area is substantially higher than the rest of the county.  To find someone in need you can simply begin a conversation with any one of the residences surrounding Washington Park.  Our team chose this space because we were aware that Beaufort  county currently has almost 600 homeless people living within its jurisdiction and that deeply moved us to action.  This is because we feel strongly that the church described in Acts was centered around those who are poor, broken, and oppressed and we believed that these people are meant to be the heartbeat of ALL Christ's followers.  Using this knowledge we structured an event for the broken in this area.  We remembered that there is no soup kitchen in our city so we decided to prepare and serve a free hot meal weekly on Sunday afternoons at 1:00PM for anyone who needs it.  We also decided to integrate our feeding event with a public worship service.   Anyone was free to attend worship with us or only partake in the free meal,  meaning our worship was not mandatory to receive assistance.  (on a side note: required attendance for aid from "Christian" organizations REALLY PISSES ME OFF,  but I digress)

         The following week I purchased a portable sound system to use for our liturgy that we would conduct before the free lunch.   I was so excited to begin our feeding.  I had always wanted to worship God in a weekly service with music, communion, teaching, and fellowship while serving the community simultaneously.  For me this approach aligns with the greatest commandment "love God with all of your mind, body, and soul and love your neighbor as yourself". This concept was so appealing but until this moment I had never considered it's implementation.

            The first week we expected a maximum of 15 people to attend,  including ourselves.  We were excited to proceed but we wanted to take things slowly in order to get a process established, so we thought it best not to advertise for our feeding event at this time.  Instead we personally communicated the time and location of the feeding to a few needy individuals in the surrounding area and hoped 1/4 would show up.  God,  it would seem had a different plan.  What happened that day surprised my entire team and gave us tremendous hope for Commission's future.

          Our first Sunday to our amazement 45 people attended the event and most of them were not the people we had personally invited.  I was utterly shocked by this occurrence.  These people (most of whom I had never met) began flocking to our location.  What was more encouraging was that most were not just there for a free meal.   They worshipped with us and gladly participated in the study of scripture and communion.   It appeared as though they were more excited than we were about the service.  I remember looking around at my core group as this amazing spectacle began to occur and the apparent look of astonishment was obviously displayed on every one of our faces.

     We concluded the worship service and were satisfied that everything had gone extremely well.  As our new friends were departing we questioned them as to how how they were informed of our service event.  The only certain thing that we were able to conclude was that "someone" informed them of our service,  but no one knew specifically who this person was.  To this day I still have no idea who marketed Co-mission,  but one thing was certain... God was moving!  Our journey did not end there,  but that is another story.

To be continued...

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Church in a Prius: Part I

            I know I have been out of the blogging world for far too long and I apologize for my absence . I am pleased to report that I am back in the writing saddle again.   My absence was caused by repeated conflicts with my schedule.   Unfortunately my hours had gotten quite out of hand and for the past six months I had not been able to focus on my truly important purpose in the world of discipleship and writing (well it is important to me anyway).

Since October of 2011 I actually attempted to be a Honda car salesman to support my family while planting Co-missions and in so doing I found the line between business and being a follower of Christ too difficult to morally navigate.  Supposedly some people can accomplish this with ease and if so I respect those individuals, but I am not capable of such a task.  In the past six months  I witnessed God moving in our Co-mission and I knew when I saw His presence in our midst that what He was doing in our community would require much more attention.

          This story would be much more meaningful if you understood the context .  For five years I have had this burning desire to see the church found in Acts to be recreated in our culture.  I tried desperately to fight this battle from within the confines of the American Church infrastructure but sadly this was a complete failure.   It was far too frustrating to nurture a model that seemed so out of touch with the original construct found in the scriptures.  My frustrations turned into questions which lead to research,  which then lead to theories,   which spilled into every crevice of my reality.  The concept of redesigning the American church entirely consumed my thoughts but I was still hesitant to make the first move in implementing this model.  Two years ago I started loosely designing what I believed to be Gods orchestrated steps in this recreation.  Last year due to an inciting incident I was forced to plant this model.  It was much sooner than I would have liked to have launched and not in the location I wanted, but my desires are obviously secondary to God's will.   For 10 months our core group began to meet in homes.   Their focus was studying scripture chapter by chapter and growing closer together as a unit.  The embryonic stage was full of trial and error and I would be lying if I told you that I did not want to give up.   In the midst of our journey something unexpected occurred that has given us all hope.

        My elders and I were sitting around enjoying an import beer (yes,  we are those pesky transparent Christians) when something amazing happened. My leaders informed me that they were frustrated with our church... and with me.  This may sound peculiar,  but I am quite fond of constructive criticism because it is a sign of trust and an opportunity for growth.  They told me that "this idea you have for church is great and it is really compelling,  but we are not actually doing it...or anything for that matter and we want MORE than this."  I knew the instant that this desire was uttered that my leaders were right on target.   I had been foolishly hesitant to fully launch our efforts because of other factors that were occurring but I knew I had to immediately confront my fearful tendencies and take this conversation seriously.   It was just,  one of those moments when you are convinced God was speaking to you through His followers.

       We discussed ideas for a few hours and made plans to adjust our course in ministry.  The next week we began making and delivering bagged meals in my Toyota Prius and my friends Ford Escape to people who were in need. We had no idea where to start or even where to search.  We found 5 needy citizens the first week. Our group was so excited. In the grand scheme of things we had not done much,  but at least we had done something.  This was the first time since we launched our church that we began to see God using our community in an amazing way.  The next week we found and fed six people,  then 12,  then 15,  then 20,   and eventually 40.  Then one Sunday we decided to try something different.  We located a park in one of the poorest areas of my city, and the vision that God gave us caused our life stories to blossom into something beautiful... something with meaning.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Audio Taster

So it is official, I am a part time entertainer/worship leader, part time student,  and a full time activist. This is a leap of faith and if you are interested in using me as a musician and/ or worship leader please contact me at (843) 478-0209 to discuss the possibility of our collaboration.  I hope that we can work together very soon.