KOH2RVA: Day 145

handshakeThanks for your good feedback on yesterday’s mission/institution analogy quiz. I got some excellent responses. The one I was thinking about during my run this morning was Douglas Johnson’s, which I remembered as: “Mission is to institution as electrical current is to electrical cord.” That wasn’t it, exactly, but it was enough to remind me how important the mission is to the institution. Without an electrical current an electrical cord is useless (except maybe to tie a mattress and box springs onto the top of your car). Without an electrical cord the electrical current can’t flow.

So, the church needs an institution that can carry the mission, and the question every church may need to ask is: “Do we have one?” Do we have a mission, that is, and do we have an institution that can carry it?

After our meeting on Tuesday one staff member asked, “So…congregational care…is that part of the mission or part of the institution?” I answered quickly, “It’s part of the mission. It’s that part where Jesus says, ‘Love one another as I have loved you.’ It’s one of the clear commands of Christ.” And even as I said it I remembered the experience I had on Sunday.

I didn’t preach last Sunday. Knowing that I would be flying in from Arizona late the night before I had asked Bart Dalton, our minister to students, to preach in my place (Bart did an outstanding job, by the way, and if you haven’t heard his sermon yet click HERE when you have time to give it a listen). But I woke up in time to make it to the 8:30 service and found a place on the pew just before Ralph Starling’s welcome. Ralph always asks us to stand and say hello to the people around us, and I was pleased to find Jerry Michael on my pew. I’ve written about Jerry before. He’s the one who comes to the 8:30 service and then goes home to cook breakfast for his “Microchurch,” which includes his whole family and a few others he invites. They watch the 11:00 service on television and Jerry does his best to help them “be church” to each other.

So, I greeted Jerry, and told him how nice it was to just sit in church for a change and worship with everyone else. It was nice. I loved it. And I loved the message I got from Jerry that afternoon:

Hi Jim,

Today I felt even closer to FBC than ever. I was sitting and reading the bulletin before service when I heard “Hello Jerry!” My initial thought was who knows me here…especially by name. I can name many from seeing them on TV but who knows me? To my delight it was you, Jim. When Ralph did the stand up and greet people thing I started to cringe as usual but then I thought…Jim is in my pew. I know someone to say hi to. Furthermore, Bart’s sermon spoke to me. He said all are welcome, all have a blessing they can pass on. I felt at home today at FBC.

I first chose to physically attend FBC to give thanks and praise to our Lord for everything he has blessed me with. I had an epiphany last summer. God healed me and I thought I can do better to praise him than TV church and our micro church. That’s why I come every Sunday. I’m working on getting the micro church to just show up one Sunday. When they do there will be no room for you in my pew, you’ll have to take the pulpit that Sunday.

God Bless You Jim!

Your friend,

Jerry

Is making people feel welcome at church a way of loving one another, of bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, Virginia?

You bet it is.

KOH2RVA: Day 109

StStephenIconForWebIt’s Day 109 of KOH2RVA, our year-long, every-member mission trip to Richmond, but on the Christian calendar it’s the feast day of St. Stephen. You may remember the song:

Good King What’s-His-Face looked out
On the Feast of Stephen,
And the chance of rain that day?
Slightly more than even.

I got email from Jerry Michael yesterday, who was initially a member of our “television congregation,” and then a leader in one of our first “Microchurches,” and who now comes to the early service every Sunday and then goes home to cook a big brunch for his family, encouraging them to settle in front of the TV for the 11:00 service on Channel 8.

He’s all in.

So I wasn’t surprised to hear that he’s been bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, Virginia, for a while now, and not just this year. Look at what he had to say yesterday:

Jim,

I wish you a merry Christmas and thank you for the way you profess what is real in Jesus. I get it!

My son Travis and I did the KOH2RVA thing today (Christmas Eve) by giving a Christmas gift card to a man with a young child at the Dollar Store. The man didn’t seem to have enough money to give the child what he really wanted. Well…Travis and I decided to give him the card, ($100.00). So we did. We high tailed it out of the store right away. Later we saw the man and his son smiling and walking down the sidewalk. What a joy. This is the fifth year we’ve done this. Travis understands what it is to give.

Do you remember that sermon you preached about “Doo-Doo,” the poor little kid from the trailer park? I pray for kids like him, and I know where you’re coming from Jim. I’ve been there. You and I should give thanks and praise to our Lord God and Praise Jesus. But let’s not forget the ones Jesus loved like Judas.

Very Warmly,

Jerry

I’m not completely sure what Jerry means about “not forgetting the ones Jesus loved like Judas,” but I think he’s saying let’s not forget those people who are on the fringes of society, not even those people who are on the fringes of our society—the ones who have ignored us, neglected us, betrayed us, and let us down. This season of Christmas (which, according to the Christian calendar, goes on for a full twelve days) might be the perfect time to reach out to some of those people with the love of the One who gave us his only son, and this day—St. Stephen’s Day—might be the perfect time to say, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:60).