Christianity Today magazine is hosting a campaign called “What is your hope for the church?” I have responded with the following piece about my church, Antioch21 in Orlando. It is posted on the CTI site, where you can read other contributions, or share your own.
I love my church!
It is different from any church I have been a part of before—though I have been a part of some good churches.
It is those differences that make me love it—I think they reflect what Jesus really wants His body to look and act like.
And because I see many other churches beginning to embrace such living like Jesus, I have hope for the Church.
Let me just list a few of the ways my church lives out Jesus’ call to His bride:
- The main stuff happens in gospel communities. These either gather by neighborhood or by affinity. Believers and nonbelievers. They eat together, study together, pray together, serve each other and serve the broader community together. People meet Jesus in these communities.
- We eat together as a larger church. We come together on Sunday evenings (as guests of a long-time church) and share a meal together.
- We started as a student church, but neighbors and friends came to the gospel communities, and then to our larger gathering. We didn’t know we would have lots of children, but we do, and the college students are helping to teach and mentor.
- We study the Word together. Our pastor introduces our topic and passage, we sit around tables and discuss, he preaches, we talk together again, he wraps it up. We apply in our lives.
- We worship with giving and serving and music. One young woman is the worship leader, but different members lead our worship time each week.
- We have communion each Sunday, served by different members, young and old, men and women.
- We are multi-ethnic.
- We serve the broader community, led by our pastor and his wife, who live out the Jesus life of serving as well as anyone I have ever seen.
- At the same time, we share the love of Christ boldly and clearly.
- We love each other—most of the time.
This isn’t all. And many churches do at least some of these things. We are not perfect, of course. And our fallen world keeps inserting itself. But we are seeking to truly follow Jesus—and that gives me hope.
What about you? What is your hope for the church?
C2012 Judy Douglas