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On September, 2016

Browsing all posts on September, 2016

World Peace Day (Not In Service)

What do you say when you feel like words have lost their meaning?

Perhaps the naively optimistic among us, myself included, are waiting on some sort of a miraculous dialogue that will heal our wounds. And yet, words by the barrel, blasted into cyberspace, never materialize into anything resembling true conversation.

I long for a word that would quench our thirst for peace like a stream in the desert. If only someone could construct and compose various characters, symbols, vowels and consonants into something coherent that rings of truth and justice. There's a reason we say that truth has a ring to it. It's not something we can always quantify but we know it when we hear it. Even though an ensemble of voices, pundits and echo chambers entertain our ears, the truth stands out.

And yet, even truth has lost its ring to those who have chosen repeatedly not to hear, or to listen, or to learn history, or to stop talking long enough to wait for the faint ring that rings loudest in the presence of silence.

As the pastor of a new church start, the most prominent thing that I do is to speak, but the most important thing that I do is to listen. I know it's Wednesday, but I'm not exactly sure what we are going to do yet on Sunday morning considering turmoil in our immediate community. We're still listening. Perhaps it's time for us as a church to sit in stillness, in prayer, in tears and brokenness beside a candle of hope, and to call out once again to the Word who became flesh. And once we hear, then maybe we can embrace the struggle of living a life that matters as an evidence of our faith. If you are longing for that kind of hope in the midst of a confusing world of noise, we invite you to join us.

notinservice

 

Tale of Two Churches

Yesterday, I had the privilege of visiting two United Methodist Churches in the heart of Charlotte, NC. And while these churches were just three and a half miles apart, my first impression was that they couldn't be more different from one another. One church was surrounded by immaculate homes with well-manicured lawns and roads that were beautifully designed and tree-lined. The other church felt much less like a commercial for the 'American Dream.' It was gritty and raw and real. It was surrounded with broken asphalt, leaning fences, boarded up windows and noticeable signs of impending gentrification.

At one church I felt underdressed and at the other my designer t-shirt and maverick shades made me feel a bit like an uppity outsider.

maverick-glasses

However, inside of both church buildings, the people embodied the spirit of Christ. In both buildings, I met truly humble people who loved God and their neighbors. Their laughter and smiles were as contagious and infectious as their warm welcome towards me. One church gave me the gift of an area network connection, the other church sent me on my way with 18 honey buns, but both were generous with what they had been given.

After some reflection, I'm reminded of what God has been planting in my heart for years. It is something I desperately want to see realized in Reactivate Church as we continue to grow. I envision being a part of a church of those educated in college and those educated in the school of hard-knocks, a church of generous economically disadvantaged people and a church of generous materially wealthy people, a church with hues and shades of every skin pigmentation, a church that listens to one another, learns from one another and leads with one another. Imagine a church where each person is valued for the unique gift that they bring to the community.

Afterall, people are people, no matter where we come from or how aesthetically pleasing our surroundings. We all have fears, failures, hopes and dreams. We all have a story. And Jesus prays for our stories and lives to be united to one another by his grace and for his purpose.

I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith in him is being talked about all over the world. - Romans 1:8

Anywhere & Everywhere :: Guest Blog :: Courtney Hall Lee

This week, Reactivate is on the move. We are reminding ourselves of a guiding principle, that "church can happen anywhere." So this week we will have corporate worship at Erik and Emma's house, a couple miles up the road, in Huntersville, NC. As a new church start, we are reimagining what it would look like for a church to gain mobility and become a movement. Read Courtney's personal thoughts below and engage in the comment section.

- Jesse


Church can happen anywhere.

I have an old friend who has never been very religious.  She has also lived a bit of a wild life.  Every time someone in her family has a baptism or a wedding, she jokes that when she steps into a church that she will probably get struck by lightning.

Her joke used to bother me because I wanted her to understand that God isn't waiting to wallop party girls on the head the first chance he gets.  But now I also know that there was a second problem with her line of thinking: the idea that God is confined within the walls of a church.  Was the only reason he couldn't get access to her to enact his vengeance because she stayed away from churches?

I believe, like most Christians, that God is everywhere.  He doesn't need a steeple to show up.  But I do think that God is pleased when we get together in his name to worship and build community.

My husband and I once had church at dawn beside a canyon in Hawaii.  I've had church with my little girl tucked into her bed at night.  Heck, I even have church on Twitter sometimes.  Maybe this attitude is why I was immediately ok with the idea of going to a church plant in a house in my neighborhood.  It just makes sense to me.

I know that to many people, the idea of visiting with and worshipping with strangers in their living room may seem awkward.  Those large church buildings give us places to hide.  There is no back pew in a living room!

I'm an introvert, so I get it.  I do.

If you are happy in a church that meets in a traditional space, that is a good thing.  But my prayer for everyone is that just like they know that God can see us everywhere, they know that church can happen anywhere.  Maybe even your living room.  How convenient is that?

This Sunday we are going to visit with some great people from Reactivate Church in their living room.  I've never been to their house, but I hear there is a church there.

It is my prayer for you that you get to have church someplace unexpected soon.

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Name: Jesse Smith
Address: 3340 Balsam Tree Drive, Charlotte, NC 28269