Kris and I drove down to Indianapolis (home of the Colts) from Chicago (da Bears) Saturday afternoon because I was invited to speak at East 91st Street Church. Quite a set up and we had a wonderful time — the fellowship, the hospitality, and the honor to participate in a church that is (as one pastor said to me) a bit out of control … in that wonderful “what will God do next” sort of way. It was quite exciting to sense the Spirit moving in this church.
We enjoyed dinner with four couples, got back to our room early for an early-to-bed and early-up-to-church. I spoke three times: 8am, 9:15 and 10:45. The entire church is doing Jesus Creed, and I was asked to address “stories of the Jesus Creed,” so I weaved in and out of the lives of Mary, Peter, and John with an emphasis on “it takes a lifetime…” and “we each have a story to tell of God’s story in our life.”
The music and worship… fantastic. The first two services traditional; the third contemporary and about as lively as it can get. The place was packed.
We were deeply impressed with the professionalism as well as the lack of egos; Derek (Senior minister) and Greg (spiritual formation) and Dave and Ned… and their wives … we loved them and felt right at home, like family. This is one solid and healthy and growing church.
What I want to reflect on briefly is simple: Kris and I have experienced the “Church” (universal) in the last two years and I have to record a few thoughts. Most of us go to a local church and that is our primary experience of the “Church.” Most of us in some ways experience more than our local church … maybe denominational meetings or a concert or a conference. But, I suspect not enough of us are able to hang out in churches all around this country, and so as one so fortunate, let me say this: the Church is doing quite well. (My comments are kept here to the USA because I’m reflecting on my own experience; the blogs give me an indicator the Church is doing well elsewhere.)
All around the country preachers are preaching, Christians are loving, teachers teaching, evangelists evangelizing, parents parenting, disciplers discipling, singers singing, worship leaders leading, and I could go on… Everywhere people are working out the gospel in their own way in their own setting for some of their own locally-shaped missional foci … however you want to say it, it’s happening. Sure, there are problems — we’re cracked Eikons and not as transformed as we could be.
I’ve been in mainline churches, evangelical churches, liturgical churches, emerging gatherings, megachurches… I’ve been with the Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Methodists, Evangelical Covenanters, Baptists, Christian churches, Churches of Christ, non-denominationalists, you name it… and they are all doing the hard work.