At church we are in the midst of realizing our dream of opening a meeting place that is the base for our community’s desire to reach our culture with the gospel. I recently finished putting together a “vision” sheet for it… here it is:
Imagine you have just set foot for the first time in a remote tribe in West Africa. You are a missionary who is hoping to bring the life-changing message of the gospel to a culture that so desperately needs to know of the life offered through Jesus Christ.
Where do you begin? What do you? Maybe you start by asking a few questions…Do you even know their language? What kind of god do they worship? You start thinking, ?Should I start preaching in the middle of town? Should you build a church building??
As you continue to walk into town you come to the clear realization that these are very different people. You are no longer in middle class suburban America! It?s clear that in order have them even listen to you, you are going to have to really get to know who they are, what they are about, what moves them and guides them, what they exist for and why they live. You are going to have to spend some time getting to know the culture and the individuals that make up this culture. You realize that standing on the street corner preaching (they don?t even have street corners!) just might not be the best option.
Take a quick jaunt over the Atlantic ocean to the Philadelphia suburbs. You have come to America as a foreign missionary from Asia (yes, this very kind of thing is happening all the time these days!). What do you do? Where do you begin? You start by getting to know the culture. You find out what is important. You find out if this secular culture believes in God. You find out what kinds of things are important to this culture and begin to look for ways to help people meet God through them.
Again, imagine you are a missionary in Philadelphia…. Wait, don?t imagine?you are one?.
If you look around today?s American culture, it does not take too long to realize that this world is a very different place. Blame it on the media, the government, drugs, the internet, no prayer in schools, the decline of the family, modernism, postmodernism, relativism?blame it on whatever you want. This world is different. We realize that if our church community is going to faithfully live out the missionary nature of God, we need to start asking fresh questions that missionaries ask every time they step foot in a new culture.
As we look for things that our changing culture holds important, we see coffee houses, concert venues, places to hang out, places to belong, places where we can express ourselves creatively, places where we can just rest, read, or just be still with God, places where we are both productive and rested. This is our dream for ?church,? a place where everyday-life and spirituality come together, a place where a community can honestly and passionately seek to live out the hope of the gospel.
We believe that ?The Well? is the kind of meeting place that effectively lives out our overall vision: Jericho Valley Church will be a missional community of faith that is engaged in honest and thoughtful dialogue and action about how we can be a church that demonstrates the love of Jesus in meaningful and practical ways that bring the reign of God to our community and ultimately the world.
Purpose for The Well: ?Our gathering place exists to introduce Christ to our community and to encourage a relationship with Him and others through incarnational ministry.?
Here is a small picture of what ?The Well? will ?look? like:
– A central place for our spiritual community to gather and build authentic relationships (imagine times for stay-at-home mothers to get together and build relationships with other moms while someone watches their children, reading times for children, a place for small groups to meet, prayer nights, worship nights, book studies, Bible studies, etc.)
– A safe place for our church family to bring their friends to build redemptive relationships and interact with their friends in a casual, ?coffee house? atmosphere (imagine good coffee, wireless internet access and genuine conversation with real people).
– A place for us to reach out to local musicians (Christian and secular) by hosting weekend concerts (We dream of establishing a place that is known as a quality small concert venue).
– A place to hold faith-centered art shows and exhibitions. (A few of our talented artists are passionate about using art to communicate their faith ? we look forward to a place where artists can express themselves in a safe environment).
– A central place for the current ministries of JVC to continue to grow. Our current ministries (Sunday morning worship gatherings, small groups, family nights, spiritual formation classes, etc) will finally have a permanent meeting place. This permanent seven-day a week location will also enable us explore even more meaningful ways for us to study, teach and be together as we seek to lives faithful to Jesus.