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Saturday, April 30, 2005

It's been a few days. Getting ready to kick off the weekend and lead worship this evening. Part of my routine is to get to church early, tighten up loose ends, and spend some time seeking God before we hit the stage.

Tonight, we are doing the Tim McGraw tune, "Drugs or Jesus." I have been listening to it and practicing for an hour now. I have been moved to tears many times. "Everybody just wants to get high--sit and watch a perfect world go by. We are all looking for love and meaning in our lives. We follow the roads that lead us to drugs or Jesus."

If you are like me, you are not interested in playing church. My biggest dream at this point in my life for the church is to be part of a community that doesn't rate its effectiveness by what happens on a weekend during 70 minutes on a Saturday evening or a Sunday. Honestly. I dream of a place where believers gather to respond to God in a corporate setting where they pour themselves out in a public expression because of how they have seen God move through the rest of their week. I dream of a place where spiritual conversation and doing life with not-yet-believers is the norm.

I dream of a place where believers don’t question why the church is pouring so much time and effort into reaching the community.

I had a dream recently that our church sold its building and bought a square block of downtown—in the heart of the city. We built businesses that were ripe settings for spiritual conversation (coffee shops, bookstores, music venues, multipurpose space, youth center, etc.). We changed the way we staffed based on how effective people were in creating atmosphere conducive to spiritual conversation. We had a hugely effective youth ministry in a building that had its own identity and was used for more than just our youth on a weekend or midweek—it was used as a community outreach 7 days a week. We had a music venue where bands were invited to play—regardless of where they were in their spiritual journey—and people could come hang out and build relationships. We had one multipurpose building we gathered in on a weekly basis to celebrate victories, equip one another for ministry, and worship as a corporate body. We did life with people and out of those life experiences groups naturally formed. Very organic.

I dream of creating a cultural arts center where we train and develop artists and musicians. This would be a place ripe for spiritual conversation and interaction with our community. Not on church property. Not with a churchy name. Not as something the church does as a ministry that is glommed on to it, but rather something it does as a first thought. This would be the kind of place where artists aren’t afraid to send their friends and their children—a place the community would want to hang—a place where children are learning life skills—a place that makes a significant impact on the life of the community as a whole. It wouldn't be full of people handing out tracts and trying to make the sale, but rather it would be full of people who were interested in listening and learning and fostering relationship.

I dream of a church that is the biggest benefactor to the community it exists in. I see a church that takes a cue from television shows like “Extreme Home Makeover” and “Oprah” where the community’s needs are being met in tangible ways. I dream of a church that adopts a school in a lower-income neighborhood and builds a computer center that rivals the rich schools. I dream of a church that builds a new community library and gives away scholarships to students.

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