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Outside The Walls (By Nate Smith)

Originally posted on Nates Blog Here

I struggled with going to a traditional church.  I made the swift to a home church network in January 2012, which I have fully enjoyed.  There was still a wrestling in the heart.  Home church is ideal.  It is an area of peace that our neighbors are invited into or maybe we are invited into their homes.  What happens if a person is not comfortable there?  Or how well does one need to know someone to feel comfortable going to a stranger’s house?  Also, is it not odd in our culture to go into a person’s home for a church group?

I am not strongly opposed to any style of church as long as the Gospel is being preached.  My soul was stirring for something more.

In the Old Testament, the Israelites were told to bring others into the Kingdom.  In the New Testament, we are to go and share about the Kingdom that is here now.  We have continually been brought back to this model of inviting others to come into my area of comfortability and peace.  Should there be safe places for spiritual discussion?  Yes.  But the outsider will never come to glean our purpose of bringing the Kingdom down if we are not moving outside the walls of comfortability.  This hiddenness of how church is being done.  I felt like I was hiding and moving from church program to church program.  How can the world engage in a  conversation about Jesus when I am always inside those comfortable walls?

The Holy Spirit has been moving in my heart about the need to start some sort of conversation in coffee shops and bars throughout the city.  These are places people gather to strike up natural conversation.  It is also a place where others go to be alone, people watch and listen in on others.

Wednesday night, a couple others and myself decided to go to a coffee shop and start a church.  It is in the north end of Lexington consisting of persons with poverty and/or academic intelligent.  We sat to discuss our frustrations of church and what it meant to have church.  The conclusion was simply this.  Each week, we will say that none of us are the pastor or leader, Scripture is our authority and belief in the Gospel that transforms us.  Second, a honest discussion of what God is doing in our lives, what we are learning and/or struggling with.  Third and last, lots of prayer.

Our first Wednesday was nothing less than interesting.  One of the others bought a guy a couple sandwiches who strolled up on a bike.  We had a small discussion with him.  He came back some time later to say hi and that he was heading downtown to talk to people.  There is not much to do when no one would hire someone straight out of jail.

We were finished praying when a gentleman at the table behind us engaged us in conversation.

Were you praying?  Are you Christians?

Yes.  We are.

Where do you go to Church?

We just had it.  You actually just saw the first service.

He opened his heart in one of the saddest stories I have heard.  This older man probably would have never engaged in a conversation about faith otherwise.  He has been texting us off and on about remembering Bible verses he sought to forget five years ago due to some life circumstances.  This is someone who would have never walked through another church door.  He said it himself.  Wednesday night was nothing less than God-ordained.  The Holy Spirit was there.  He even texted that he surrendered his life to God last night.  Praise Jesus!  Please, be in prayer that he comes next week!

This is what it is about.  We do not go to preach and yell.  We simply had church so others can openly see what a community of Christ followers is like.  They do not have to sneak into a back pew of a church to see it happen.  Nor do many feel welcome to do so.  Why would they when a lot of believers are continuing to leave the church themselves?  I got home last night and texted the two others about how humbled I was that anything happened at all.  Jesus is the purpose.  He is the center.  We live in expectation that the Kingdom will come as it is in Heaven.  An open air conversation and prayer, so others can openly engage with us.  This is how people are welcomed home.

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