It is great to be able to experiment as a church in ways that might actually make a difference to people. We like to not just talk about things, but to take at least first steps towards doing them. (That’s our PAW concept, I said I’d blog about that a couple of months ago, I’ll get to it…)
A couple Sundays ago people all signed this giant brown paper banner that said, “We are Jacob’s Well” on it, claiming that the ministry belongs to us, and that without each and everyone of us, Jacob’s Well wouldn’t exist. The next Sunday the banner was there, but we were talking about the next step, sharing our faith beyond our community. Being in mission, taking God’s love to the streets. So during the whole service a group of people took down the sign, cut it up into little pieces, folded them and put them into the well. (The well’s water this week, the life-giving stuff from God, isn’t liquid H2O but these pieces of paper… us… the gifted people God calls into the world to bring life!)
During the closing song people came up and took a piece of that paper from the well. I asked them to take it for two reasons: 1. a reminder – be God’s love in the world. I challenged each person to do some act of kindness for someone else, and to do it to the glory of God, because it is the right thing to do, what we are created for, not just to be nice or to get credit. Then 2. pass on the paper – this was the hard part for people. To not only do the act, but to tell them why they did it. It makes for an interesting conversation…
“Here, let me help you.”
“Would you take this piece of paper?” Handing them a folded piece of brown paper.
“Um, what’s that about?”
“Well, you see I go to this church where we don’t think you can just believe things, but we actually ought to do them. And this paper came from my church. It’s a long story, but it’s sort of a way of passing on who we are and who God made us.”
“Oh, I see.” [lying] “And what am I supposed to do with it?”
“Um, I don’t know… It’s up to you. I guess you can do whatever you want, but maybe you could do the same thing… I mean give it to someone else.”
May the story go on and on. May we all share God’s love with all our heart, soul, strength and mind.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about church… and having lots of conversations around this topic – what God intended, etc. I just wanted to say that I really appreciate the emphasis you are putting on the people of your community being the church – and not the building being the church. If Field Middle School were to be taken out – JW would still exist because as a community you’ve taken steps to make sure that the building is not the church – the people are the church. It’s sad that this is so refreshing and new – because I think church as people is what God wants for us… not to be attached to some physical place, but to be attached by relationships and community. Keep it up JW – I love it.
One of our oft repeated phrases is that Jacob’s Well is the kind of church people are, not that they have. This is so important. Without that kind of thinking and living the movement is soon swallowed up by the institution. It is also hard. It is so easy to slip into the cement of organization rather than the flesh and bones of an organism.
One thing is clear, we are all needed – including many who aren’t here yet – for us to be who God created Jacob’s Well to become.
Help us be it!