As I look at the world today, I see tremendous opportunities.
However, along with all the amazing advances of modern civilization, the unfortunate by-product remains rampant issues of consumption, distraction, isolation, and anxiety. These issues are powerful forces that impact us every day.
Consumption defines us by our needs.
Distraction spreads out everywhere and nowhere.
Isolation keeps us alone and segregated even when surrounded by people.
Anxiety erodes our confidence and drives us to fear a growing list of our neighbors.
Without addressing the roots of these issues, we cannot heal the pain of the world, but merely equip people to cope and manage their discomfort. Fortunately, Jesus and the Gospel are not just alternate versions of these cancerous pressures, but the restoration of our full humanity. In the Gospel, Jesus defined humanity differently:
not by our needs, but by our gifts + generosity.
not by frenetic distraction, but by presence + peace.
not by isolation and separation, but by connection + hospitality.
not by fear, but by love + faith.
This redefined humanity is an incredible opportunity for kingdom communities centered around Jesus and His radical love! There is so much room for innovative, new expressions of Christianity that can participate in the healing of the world until it is ‘on earth as it is in Heaven’.
So back to the question, why another church? And really the answer is simple:
We must embody our hope.
As individuals and as communities centered on Jesus we must live lives that demonstrate and declare the love and reality of the hope that we have in Jesus. When we do this together, our unity reveals God’s heart for the world. We are braver when we can be brave with friends.
Like the early church in the book of Acts, we must continue to come together and live out our future reality today. Together we are travelers on a journey to God’s city of justice and light. In the meantime we embody this future city as colonies of hope in the land in which we live.
Most call these colonies ‘churches’, but this is a problematic term for many. While churches should be a haven from the storm of life, for many today ‘church’ has actually become part of the brokenness and a source of pain and rejection. For people wounded by ‘church’ - the word no longer represents loving embrace, but fear and control and abuse and hypocrisy. Even with all this baggage, the word ‘church’ cannot be fully escaped and must be reclaimed (more on this in the future).
At their best, churches are communities founded on the good news that Jesus is King and that His kingdom is one of generosity, presence, love, and connection. At their best churches are colonies of hope, where the future realities of a world set right - as God’s truly wants it - are lived out today amidst the rubble and dreams of our modern life.
It’s a beautiful neighborhood we are called to build together.
We must embody Jesus’ divine love, that never fails and never gives up, in order to bring healing to the nations and to ourselves be healed. We must embody love that runs toward the broken and dark places and does not flinch away from the staggering needs. We must embody love that has room for all of the beautiful things in the world and that celebrates life and love wherever it is found.
We need countless thousands of these colonies because they can be cities on hills gleaming bright, where the truth of Jesus is given a canvas to be painted large in our world today. Christian communities marked by radical hospitality and ‘other’-love, that offer grace to a culture of obsessed with blame and shame.
We need more Jesus-centered communities because in them we learn from each other how to be more human, human like Jesus, and how to love our family, our neighbors and even our ‘enemies’.
No church will ever be perfect - but each new expression of church is a new opportunity to explore what faith and love and community can look like. Each new and unique community provides an opportunity for shelter from the storm for more people. No church will ever be perfect, but we can do better. Better at unity. Better at love. Better at caring for each other and the world of which we are stewards.
For all these reasons, we have set out to embody hope in this way.