It’s an historic week for our church. This Sunday we LAUNCH weekly services at Ooltewah Elementary School. That’s right. We’re launching a church in a school.
If you’ve never been a part of a church plant, that probably sounds a little weird. It sure did to me years ago when my friend left our “established” church to go on staff with a church that met in a school.
I remember thinking to myself, “Why wouldn’t he go on staff with a REAL church?”
At the time, I was ignorant. I thought “church” was a building – a place you find on Google Maps. A church has to have a steeple and red plush carpet. There have to be thrones up front for the pastor and jr. pastor to sit and uncomfortably sing as we stare at them during organ-led worship.
And where would they store the miniature pencils that God is apparently so fond of without pews?!
That’s church, right?
Yes. At least it was for me.
That’s where I first learned about Jesus at Vacation Bible School.
It’s where I met the crazy boys who became young men who are now the husbands and fathers I’ve been privileged to journey with through the years.
It’s where I learned how to worship and serve someone other than myself.
It’s where I discovered the plan that God had for my life and the mission that He would call me to.
But, I guess those things don’t require a building. Or miniature pencils.
As I get a bit older and wiser, I’m learning that the “church” is simply the family of God committed to the mission of God characterized by the presence of God.
That means church isn’t a place. Church is a people.
Over the last couple of years, God has called dozens of faithful pioneers to begin our new community of faith so that…
People who don’t know Jesus can have the opportunity to be rescued from lives void of purpose, hope, and deep friendship.
So that those who have given up on church, but not on God, might give the family of God – however messy and imperfect we may be – one more shot.
So that those who grew up just going to church, because that’s what we do in the south, can be invited into something bigger and more fulfilling than a religious routine.
Who’d want to go to church in a school?
Well, we hope you will.
Because sometimes we’re tricked into believing that “church” is just a building. When we gather and celebrate God any place other than a traditional building, we can’t help but be reminded as we set up and tear down weekly, as we walk past the principle’s office when we arrive, and look up at basketball goals as we sing, that God loves to show up and do extraordinary things in places that that we consider ordinary.
…like in our homes…places of work…friendships…and yes, even our kid’s school.
I guess I don’t care if we meet in a school, or a field or an old yoga studio, as long as I get the chance to share life with people who, like me, long to be connected by something that brings us deep meaning and purpose.
Just don’t make me sit in one of those thrones.