As a church, we are walking through the concept of big CHURCH. I believe big CHURCH is what Jesus came to start. I know that seems like a strange statement to say, but let me explain.
The word the original authors used in the New Testament part of the Bible for church is ecclesia. Ecclesia means an assembly of people. I’m blown away every time I think about God trusting the most important institute of people. Doesn’t He remember how humanity has screwed things up in the past? Doesn’t He remember the crusades? Adam and Eve in the garden...they ate the fruit. Doesn’t He remember me this morning playing Call of Duty instead of doing the very thing I should have been doing? I guess maybe God looks at humanity and doesn’t see the failures as much as He sees the potential.
The concept of big CHURCH isn’t about getting butts in seats. The concept was about the biggest impact the ecclesia could have in a community, how many lives could be changed by introducing them to Jesus inviting them to be disciples of Jesus. Our view at RE.THINK is that we want to a church that invests in people and empowering people to influence and change the communities we live in.
In Acts 4 Peter and John walk into a bar…. Just kidding they walk into the temple. As they enter the temple they see a man who has been sitting there for 40 years. This man can’t walk, he’s lame. So he relies on the generosity of others to live. As they walk by Peter and John know they should do something, but they do something that no one expected. Peter grabs him by the hand and instructs him to stand up and walk. The guy follows Peter and John into the temple. As they are in the temple there’s a buzz going around. People are talking about the guy who used to sit at the temple door but is not standing in the temple.
Peter gives a sermon and at the end of his sermon, he and John are arrested by the religious leaders of the day. During their trial they instruct Peter and John to stop speaking about how they arrested Jesus, killed Him, but Jesus rose from the dead. Peter and John basically tell them, “you do what you gotta do and we’ll do what we gotta do”. They return to the church not a building, but a gathering of people.
While they are there the pray. Their prayer is so encouraging to me. It reminds me what my prayers should look like. They aren’t the focal point of their prayers….. It’s amazing.
“Now, Lord, consider the bad things they say they are going to do. Help us to be very bold when we speak your word. Stretch out your hand to heal. Do miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus." (Acts 4: 29,30)
I love the fact that they ask God to help them speak for Him boldly. It’s not about protecting them, it’s not about self-preservation, it’s about how God can use them to help others understand Jesus.
If we were to make your prayers into a movie who would be the main character? Who would be the main beneficiary?
Studies show that having 4-7 intimate Christian friends and serving in a weekly ministry at a local church are some of the greatest predictors of spiritual growth. So there’s no way we could not value small groups as a church. R|C groups are a great way to help people get connected into the church, mature in their relationship with Jesus, and make deeper relationships with others. To be known and know others.
Unfortunately, if you’re like me, you haven’t always had the best experience in group settings. To me there is nothing worse than being assigned to a group of people or feeling stuck in a bad group situation. So whenever I heard about “free-market” small groups I was amazed! Someone handed me a catalogue of groups and told me I could pick from what I liked, as well as check a few out, and find out who I really could connect with... without hurting anyone’s feelings. I ended up picking a group of young adults who ate dinner together and read the Bible. Because who doesn’t like free dinner after a long day of work?
As we started the conversation about what small groups would be like at RE.THINK it was clear that we wanted our groups to reflect the personalities and interests of the people at RE.THINK. So every trimester we decided we would have a new set of groups. Leaders would get to choose what they wanted to do in their groups for the trimester. Some groups can be more interest/activity based, some follow particular studies, and some could even be more hands on out in the community serving. We decided to call them R|C Groups.
When I say that I love this style of small groups I mean I really LOVE it! Groups are fun, leaders are passionate because they get to choose something they already love, and there is freedom in getting to choose a group yourself. It’s also a place where people who maybe aren’t up for trying out church yet can feel comfortable attending, asking questions, exploring faith, and making new friends.
I’m looking forward to seeing how creative these groups get going forward. I know churches with groups that meet up to talk about God while water skiing, watching Disney movies with a bowl of popcorn, or while preparing meals for kids in other countries! Once we were challenged as a team to figure out what JWS2 meant.. Turns out it’s an acronym for a small group that was found, and it stood for, “Jesus was single 2!” Hopefully groups will never have to be an obligation but something that we love and get excited about!
So take some time and check out our current RE.THINK Groups for the fall. We hope to see you there!
(of a place) able to be reached or entered.
At one point in Jesus’ life he was sitting in a home in his hometown of Capernaum teaching people. According to the author Luke, religious people came from all over the place to hear Jesus teach. So many people were in the house that they filled the house, and even blocked the entry ways.
At the same time 5 men were desperately trying to meet Jesus, 4 men were carrying 1 man who couldn’t walk. According to Luke, the man on the mat was paralyzed. We don’t know his story, other than he couldn’t walk. In that culture though, if he was paralyzed he most likely was unemployed, he and his family had to rely on the generosity of others to pay bills, eat, live etc. It’s remarkable that these 4 other guys carried this man throughout the village finding where Jesus was. Jesus had a reputation of being able to heal people, blind people were seeing, mute people were talking, paralyzed men were walking, Jesus was able to fix broken things in people’s life in ways like no one had seen before.
When these 5 men finally found where Jesus was they went to the house, but couldn’t get because religious leaders and religious people were in the way. They didn’t even get out of the way… These religious people were so enthralled with hearing Jesus speak. So, instead of turning back or waiting these 4 guys carried their friend up to the roof of the house. This was pretty easy because there would be staircases on the outside of house in that part of the world. They removed the tiles and lowered their friend down to encounter Jesus. When they did this Jesus had a conversation with them, and in that conversation Jesus forgave the man of his sins, and fixed his broken body. He walked out of the house carrying his mat.
This quick event has shaped one of our values at RE.THINK Church. We want to be as accessible as possible. We never want to be the obstacles in the way for people to encounter Jesus. Our personal preferences do not matter when it comes to someone encountering Jesus. Even my personal preferences are up for grabs. We do our best to make sure the mission wins.
We know the message of Jesus is a pretty big obstacle for most people to overcome. So we do our very best to remove as many other obstacles as possible for people who are seeking to have an encounter with Jesus.
We see obstacles as irrelevant music, unclean buildings, non-engaging environments, unsafe environments, and yes even people at times. We’ve had several conversations with people from other churches hoping that RE.THINK Church will be a church where their personal preferences can be lived out. So, we’ve explained this value in a gentle, yet firm manner knowing that if we don’t do it now we will eventually compromise our mission.
WHy a blog?
RE.THINK Church values being a church that is casual. Casual Church goes far beyond the way we dress, it's more about we expect people to take this journey at their own pace. We are here to journey with everyone. So we've created a blog so people can check us out before they show up for a service.