I finished my message yesterday at Jacob’s Well with Tony Campolo’s story about throwing a birthday party for a prostitute in the middle of the night.
It’s a powerful story that calls us out of our “nice and tidy” ministries and out into the “down and dirty” love that Jesus was about. My concluding words were, “What if there was a church that threw birthday parties for prostitutes in the middle of the night? I want to be the pastor of a church like that, and I hope that you want to help Jacob’s Well be that kind of church too.”
Afterwards a woman came up and said, “Great message, I love that vision of the church. But I wonder if you really mean it.” She went on to a say a few other positive but challenging things and then ended by saying, “I’ll be watching you.” I told her I needed accountability, we all do. She had been burn by a church that didn’t practice what it taught, and is sharp enough to know that while I’m not Jacob’s Well, if I don’t believe and practice something it is pretty unlikely the church will either.
My first reaction – Wow! Someone was listening and taking me seriously enough to call me on what I say. That’s what preaching is all about.
Another reaction – Being a precarious pastor and a congregation that ministers from the margins rather than soft, safe center of its resources and comfort level isn’t easy. We have to hold each other accountable so we will go where Jesus goes. We also have to encourage each other and remind each other of the vision with which God leads us out of the wilderness of our comfort zone.
Anyone else ready for this journey? What will we have to give up to be that kind of church, and are we willing to do it?