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The following is part three of a message given at Wildwind Community Church on January 29th, 2012.

Over the last couple months, I have been trying to figure out how to articulate the vision for our new church. And even with all of the unknowns involved in taking on an adventure like this, I think I’ve honed in on three things that will help to explain the kind of church we want to be.

But before I begin to explain these three things please know that our goal is not to do church better or more imaginative than Wildwind or other churches out there. A lot of the heart behind our church is to pass on much of “the Wildwind way”. It’s just that we feel called to do that in another context; the place where we live our lives.

Keeping that in mind, I want to share three ideas that will help to focus our efforts. What are those three things? We want to be a missional church, an incarnational church, and a discipling church. Let me unpack these a little.

Being a missional church means that we want to serve those who are not currently served by a church. We don’t simply want to gather a bunch of folks from other churches. We want to build a faith community of people who are not yet connected to a church. To me this is very similar to what Wildwind has done in being a church for people who don’t like church. Of course, we hope to have a core team of people that are passionate and committed to helping bring this expression of church into existence but Lisa and I have been talking a lot about the idea that we want to be missionaries to our own community. To us, this is what it means to be a missional church.

Being an incarnational church comes from the example of how Jesus came to dwell among us, where we live.

John 1:14 (NIV)
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

The Message translation says, “the Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.” Here the Word refers to Jesus; the already-present-in-this-world, God-with-us Jesus. God moved into the neighborhood.

Being an incarnational church means being present to what God is already doing where we live. It means being a presence in my community. I live near Downtown in the College Cultural Neighborhood where is a renewed sense that the people who live where I live love their city and want to be involved in helping the city to thrive again. I believe that this is God at work. Lisa and I are seeing God at work in our own backyard and we want to be a part of that.

Being an incarnational church also means entering into the culture around us. There is a rich culture of art, music, creativity, and diversity in and around Downtown. It’s this sense of culture springing up in a place considered to be ugly and broken that initially made me fall in love with Flint. But we don’t simply want to consume this culture. We want to help contribute to the culture, creating culture and engaging in meaningful conversations pointing out those things that are good and beautiful and true that we believe ultimately come from God.

Being an incarnational church means listening to others in our neighborhood and helping connect their stories with God’s story. And it’s this connecting to God’s story that leads us to want to be a discipling church.

Being a discipling church is about helping the people we come into contact with to become more like Jesus in every area of their lives. It’s about helping people  learn the rhythms of life that Jesus lived. It’s about practicing a way of life that leads to hope and wholeness and peace and love and security in the arms of God.

There are people out there, who are a lot like the me I used to be, that are unfortunately, never going to walk through the doors of Wildwind Community Church.  I believe there are people out there who have something of their own “A Young Rebel Jesus” popping up in their lives, trying to get their attention, trying to give them a new picture of who Jesus is.

Paula D’Arcy said “God comes to you disguised as your life.” He did for me. He came disguised as a campy velvet-Jesus painting. And in conversations with friends over coffee. And in music. And in a beautiful woman who didn’t give up on me. And in a faithful couple who made some amazing sacrifices to build the kind of church that I’d want to be a part of. And in a community of people who have encouraged me to develop my gifts and gave me their blessing to follow my dream. As God has continued to show up in my life I can see where he wants me to go next and I am starting to see how he wants to use all of the experiences of my past for shaping my future.

But I have been talking a lot about me and my dream for this new church. And if it sounds like something you are interested in hearing more about I’d be glad to talk with you about it more in the coming months. But I don’t want this to be all about me. I hope that my story can help you look back on your own life and help you identify those places where God has been at work.

I hope that in the next few moments in worship, and even in the coming days and weeks, you will ask yourself the question “Based on where I’ve been and how God has been working in my life, where is he leading me next?” What are the key experiences that have shaped your life? How have they held you back? How are they urging you forward? What have these past experiences taught you about who you are? How has God been coming to you disguised as your life? If you don’t know where to look, grab on to whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable and start there. I hope that when you dig around a little, you’ll find that in your own story you can figure out a little bit about what God is up to.

  1. February 1st, 2012

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