I am very wary of telling other people’s stories online, but I imagine for everyone reading these will be sufficiently anonymous to protect identities…
So here are two very different stories…
Back around Christmas time one of our Upstream crew invited his next door neighbour to come to church at Quinns – quite a strange thing to do because the neighbour was an outlaw biker and had shown himself to be extremely antagonistic towards anything to do with faith.
However he came… and then he came again… and he came every Sunday for about 4 months. He didn’t enjoy it very much, but still he came. He would roll in after the singing and stay for the teaching and the conversation. He had his own reasons for coming – which didn’t have much to do with faith. Sometimes he would engage with people and other times he would just walk around and look menacing.
I dropped in to see him one afternoon and stayed for a few hours. We connected and got on pretty well. He is a very
straight shooter and likes to tell it like it is. I don’t mind that and I don’t mind giving it back either. To his credit he takes it as good as he gives it – so we have had some mighty arguments. I have learnt a heap from this bloke from the other side of the tracks and to his credit he cops it on the chin when I challenge him and he has changed also.
He would now say that he has been ‘re-born’ and has signed up for faith, but he still doesn’t like church. He still says naughty words… often… but he is on a whole new trajectory now.
Surely it is beholden on us as the church to consider how we gather to connect with 43 year old single men who are struggling with life? He is no mug and tells me that he will never fit in church because its all about ‘families’ and apparently ‘happy shiny people’ who are often full of excrement. As a single bloke he is on the outer and always will be.
We are currently considering how we can love him and help him grow in faith – but it has less to do with entering a Sunday service and much more to do with being part of a family. With regular meals at ours and another family’s home he is able to connect, grow and become more like Jesus.
But I heard tonight that he is finished with ‘church’…
By contrast, over the weekend we had two baptisms in our church, both sisters from a non-church background who had got to a place in their lives where they wanted change and wanted to find God. They rang a few churches, but no one wanted to pay them attention. Then they rang our church and our youth pastor met with them.
On their first time at church they both said that they felt they had ‘come home’… no church background, no clue at all, but they felt they belonged. They have been around for nearly a year and have come to faith in that time and this weekend were baptised.
They like ‘church’ as we do it on Sundays and would be there rain hail or shine.
It works for them… and its great to see people finding faith and family.
Last week we had Phil McCredden come and visit with us and he shared the way NCCC have developed multiple congregations to reach multiple people groups and how that has allowed different people to find a church environment that connects with who they are.
My hope is that we also can develop multiple expressions of church community as a way of recognizing that one size does not fit all and that God works in many strange ways…