Church has left the building

Yesterday was a big day for Faith Church.  We left our building.

About a month ago I put a message on our outdoor sign that said “This church will leave the building Oct. 7”.  I never imagined the response we would get.  In the first week one couple that is a part of our church family got a distraught phone call from the husband’s father who lives in Harrisburg, “What is going on with Faith Church, and why haven’t you told me about this?”  A friend of his, who knew his son and daughter-in-law are a part of our church, drove by, saw the sign and called him.  Then neighbors started getting in touch.  “Why are you leaving?”  “Are you closing?”  Two church groups looking for a building approached us about purchasing ours.  Some people from our own church started feeling nervous about the impression we were giving.  They started making me feel nervous.

Then a few days before Oct. 7 the Pennysaver article came out.

What was leaving the building all about?  I hope you’ll read the article linked above, but let me explain.  Yesterday Faith Church, instead of having a worship service in our sanctuary, ventured out into the community, inspired by the love of Christ, to worship the Lord by serving the community.  About 75 people worked on numerous projects.  The church came together and the impact was palpable.  We washed all the local police department‘s cruisers (thanks to Highland Car Wash for donating their self-serve bays and supplies), did childcare, made a lunch, cleaned one of the local Homes of Hope (transitional housing for homeless families), cleaned up at the local community park and the local elementary school, visited one of our shut-in ladies (holding a worship service in her home!), and those unable to work, remained behind to pray and then assembled a mailing for Conestoga Valley Christian Community Services (a great org addressing the serious issue of homelessness in our school district).  It was an amazing morning.

From the early pictures we’ve received, this is one of my favorite: a group of our elementary-age students working hard doing clean-up at their school!

We met back in our fellowship hall for a delicious lunch and a time of celebration afterward.  People shared numerous stories about their morning, and it was inspiring!

So I’d be interested in hearing from you:

Did you participate?  What stories do you have from the morning?

Or maybe you’re not part of a church family. Maybe you have serious doubts about faith and church. Does it make any difference to you that a church would give up a worship service to follow the teaching of Jesus to “love neighbor”?

For those who are a part of Faith Church, how will you worship the Lord by serving in an ongoing way?  We have a worship service 1 hour each week.  If that’s all worship amounts to, it’s a rather anemic expression of serving God, wouldn’t you agree?  So how are you going to expand worship?

Yes, Faith Church will be back in the building this coming Sunday morning, but only for a few hours.  The rest of the week, for many more hours, our worship will continue outside the building.

Church as CAUSE or EFFECT? What do you think?

“Effective discipleship builds the church, not the other way around. We need to understand the church as the EFFECT of discipleship and not the CAUSE. If you set out to build the church, there is no guarantee you will make disciples. It is far more likely that you will creat consumers who depend on the spiritual services that religious professionals provide.” — Building a Discipling Culture, Breen. p. 12

Are we allowed to not have a worship service on Sunday and instead worship by serving the community?

As you may have already heard, we are taking the month of September to prepare ourselves spiritually for The Church Has Left The Building on October 7th.  So we’re pausing our Minor Prophets sermon series, and we’re learning from some events in the life of Jesus, primarily in the Gospel of Luke.

First and foremost we need to answer: are we even allowed to do this?  What about Sabbath?  And in particular, what about not working on the Sabbath?  These are important questions.  What is so interesting is that the Pharisees asked the same questions of Jesus.  Jesus response is very surprising and informative.

I would love for us to discuss it further, if any of you would like to.

Do Christians really have to follow all those weird Old Testament laws?

There are loads of laws in the Old Testament.  Some of them are really bizarre, and for the most part Christians don’t follow them.  We like the 10 Commandments though.  So we say “Jesus came to fulfill the Law” and happily decide we don’t have to obey the weird commands like not eating shellfish, not getting tattoos, or having to build parapets around our roofs.  But, we still say the 10 Commandments are binding.  Why those 10, but not the others?

In preparation for our Church Has Left The Building Sunday on October 7, we’re taking a break from our Minor Prophets series, and I’m starting a sermon mini-series that will look into the mission of God.  Our first step is to attempt an the question, “Are we allowed to leave the building on a Sunday?”  Don’t we have to sit in pews, sing songs, hear sermons, and do all that other churchy stuff?  Isn’t that what keeping the Sabbath is all about (see #4 of the 10 Commandments)?  At the root of this discussion is learning how New Testament disciples of Jesus should interact with all those Old Testament Laws that God gave to Israel.  There are numerous responses, and I have found Dave Dorsey’s to be superior.  I encourage you to read his article, and then lets’ discuss!

The end is near!

How did you react when you heard about Harold Camping’s prophecy that the end of the world was going to be on a specific date last year?  There were loads of interesting responses.  Some people cashed in their life savings and signed up to travel cross-country telling people to beware.  Some people ignored it completely.  Some were captivated by the ample news coverage.  Some people were confused.  Others had a lot of fun teaching us a new word: rapture-bomb.  I downloaded an old REM favorite and played it a couple times: It’s the End of the World as we know it and I feel fine.

I’ll admit having a creepy feeling that day.  So maybe I didn’t feel 100% fine.  Actually, many of us don’t.  In preparation for Worship in the Park, and our study of book of Joel, I encourage you to read it.  Post your thoughts and comments here.  Joel has some surprising things to say about The End.  How does it make you feel?

Committing adultery against God

If God asked you to start dating and marry someone who, guaranteed, would commit adultery, would you do it?

Maybe the better question is why would God ask that?

Read Hosea and then let’s discuss this further.  What happens when we read Hosea’s story is that we put ourselves in Hosea’s shoes.  We feel his pain.  It hurts bad when someone betrays your love, leaving you with raging emotions and unanswered questions.  While God certainly wants us to see that pain, which is really his pain, his message to Hosea is that we should put ourselves in Gomer’s, Hosea’s wife’s, shoes.  We are the adulterous ones.

Have you committed adultery against God?  Have you attempted to find satisfaction in lesser things?

Does God feel distant?

Does God feel distant? Have you wondered if he has abandoned you? Or maybe you’ve abandoned him? It’s a common experience, that inward fear that you and God aren’t doing so well. Why does this happen? Why do we allow ourselves to get to that point?

As we prepare to start a new series this weekend, I hope you’ll take time to think about these questions and discuss them here.

The new series is the 12 Minor Prophets, those short books with the funny names at the end of the Old Testament. We’re going to study one per week, and rather than going verse-by-verse through each book (some are over 10 chapters long!), we’re going to take a wide-angle approach, looking for themes, seeking the heart of God.

So as you discuss the questions above, also take time to read the book of Hosea, a surprising and beautiful message from God.

How long have you been waiting?

Is there something that you are waiting for?  What is it, and how long have you been waiting?

Are you going through something difficult that doesn’t seem to end?

I was in seminary for 8 years, and that seemed like a long time.  For the first 4-5 years it seemed like there was no end in sight.  Ever been there?  Know what I’m talking about?

Would you be willing to talk about it here?  If so, comment below.  Then read James 5:7-12 in preparation for this Sunday.

Paying our workers

So to continue where we left off, you are rich, and you are not paying your workers fair wages!  Yes, you.

Take a look at the tag on the shirt you are wearing right now.  Where was it made?  What is the name of the person who made it?  Chances are they were not paid fairly.  How about the toaster you used this morning?  If it wasn’t made here in the USA, it is highly likely the worker was not paid fairly, might have been a child, might have been a slave.  Is that okay with you?

Maybe you’ll consider reading what James had to say in James 5:1-6.  Then continue the discussion here.  What can we do about this?