Today I sat with three of my brothers in Christ to plan an event that is to happen soon in the Shoals area. Last year we held this event in the park and we finished the day baptizing people in the Tennessee River. There were 13 total who were baptized. Our goal this year is to double the number of people giving their lives to Jesus.
The wonderful thing about this kind of event to me is the unity amongst people of like faith. That speaks volumes in our area. In this area one can hardly turn onto a street without passing a church building. This would seem like a blessing to see so many who are believers, yet I cannot help myself to think of all the division represented by these churches. Though there are many good people in those churches, the reason for most of their existence is one person or a group of people became angry at others and left to start their own. Sad, but true, that we tend toward division rather than multiplication.
There is something, however, stirring in the hearts of the people of God in this area. There is a spirit that is attempting to bring together the people of God who are sick of the whole “religion” thing and are ready to step outside their traditions and heritages into a whole new world of unity and love. I hear it everywhere I go. People are saying things like, “If the church is ever going to be heard in the name of Jesus, she is going to have to get outside the walls of the buildings.” No longer are people coming into our meeting houses in search of anything. In fact, the meeting houses are part of the problem. Millions are spent on buildings and salaries in order to maintain the people we have meeting in our fortresses. And we have made them just that–fortresses protecting us from “the world.”
It’s time for the church to step outside and notice the world around it. We must take the message of Christ into the places where Christ would go and to the kind of people who will listen to His message. People who’s marriages are falling apart and need healing. People who are addicted to God knows what and need to be set free. The sick, poor, lame, blind, deaf, abused, and neglected. The church needs to experience first hand in order to appreciate where these people are in their walks of life.
I am so proud to have met my new brother and friend Tim Weakly from Faith Church who has a vision for the community that is bursting from within himself. Today I sat with a new-found friend Bill Williams from the Florence Methodist Church who has such a heart for worship and for the God we serve. I sat with my Brother Mark Maybrey at Macedonia with a not so dry set of eyes and prayed with these men as we plan Fam-Fest, an event to reach out into our community and just love on people. I wept because of the years I’ve missed these kind of relationships. I wept because of the freedom I felt in that room. I wept as I felt open to the leading of God and not stuck in some kind of church system of rules and regulations.
Let us all look deep into our hearts and find a place of love where we can open our hearts to all people, get into their mess with them, get our hands dirty working for and serving our community and watch our God get glorified like never before and see how strong the people of God can become in a community. Now that’s KINGDOM living!! That is a community of brotherhood!!