as I write, our community is getting ready for holy week and easter upcoming. as a young mission community, we still have not done a full holy week triduum (the three days – holy thursday, good friday and easter vigil) ourselves. a few years ago we started with the VIGIL OF EASTER. this year we are adding a HOLY THURSDAY alt. worship (march 24th, 7 pm at our living:room cafe). on holy thursday we remember the institution of the lord’s supper and do the washing (in our case the soaking) of feet, the symbol jesus used to show his disciples their servant posture (how to carry themselves in the world in his name).
For GOOD FRIDAY we are crossing over the 520 bridge to worship with one of our ‘mother’ churches, st. thomas, episcopal, medina, wa.
then we will throw our easter vigil (sat march 26th, 8pm-1am) called ‘RISE’.- rise it is not a ‘worship service’ in the trad./modern church sense (no sermons, bulletins, hymns, coffee hour, linear progression…) but a what we call a ‘worship party,’ a bash in honor of the risen Christ, open to saints and sinners, believers and non-believers and anyone from the ‘highways and byways.’ we don’t throw this party to congratulate ourselves because we believe in Christ, but to give thanks to God because Christ believes in us, first loved us, gave up life for us, and rose to invite us all to become his friends and live his reign.
at worship parties we don’t begin with a church service and add in cultural elements. but throw a real party at which Christ hosts, apostles tend bar and wait tables, and where anyone off the streets is welcomed to attend.
at this ‘mother of all parties’ we: pop corks (to tost the resurrection), feast to new life (with holy communion and high carb ‘fat things’), toss darts at the devil (to show hell has been crushed), baptize new apostles (to give light to the righteous), installl art, jam to bands, kick back with djs and party beyond 1999.
we expect the mix to be ‘non-churched’ to ‘churched’ 2 to 1. we walk among cats (in cat culture as natives) knowing that they/we can’t be herded, but can be loved and ‘invited for all time’ (song by dismemberment plan). our emphasis is very trinitarian (relational) and parabolic, as we see ourselves as ‘living into and living out of’ the parables (especially the parables of the prodigal and the wedding feast).
we are finding multiple and layered pathways for ‘home coming’ for those who may not have know they had one.
missionary impulses in today’s culture are great, but such impulses are best answered, NOT by hiring missionaries, but by supporting native evangelists.
all one need do is study the history of global ‘mission’ see the tragic trail (of toy euro-gothic churches built in the middle of african plains and asian landscapes…) and also see how a new way is being born- a way that is moving AWAY sending missionaries (foreigners) to a priority on cultivating and supporting local ‘evangelists’ who can ‘reach’ their own.
true mission, someone in wisdom has noted is ‘finding out what God is doing and getting behind it‘
i advise not to waste missional energy and scarce financial resources trying to ‘create’ something for others, but instead look around and ‘open you eyes’ so you can see when God is already doing something native amongst emergents near you, and support them, then those folk will grow a native mission that is for and by emergents who can expand outward and ‘reach their own.’
wisdom from professor eddie gibbs of fuller seminary, pasadena:
“In most pioneer mission engagement, those who embark in such initiatives have to be prepared to be involved for the long haul. Short-term “raiding parties” are ineffective and counter-productive. In theological terms, the approach is incarnational in emphasis, which means a long-term commitment, the building of deep friendships, the sharing of pain and discerning the signs of God’s presence within the cultural context. There can be no divine empowerment without a dying to self. The Church must be truly indigenous, which means that it arises out of the grass-roots culture, without being confined within it. As we have already mentioned, youth cultures are global and eclectic. Before long this is expressed in worship, drawing from various genres and periods. Whereas the Boomer “seeker-sensitive” churches have trashed tradition, Generation X and Y churches mine the rich heritage of Christianity: combining contemporary art forms with ancient liturgies, poetry, chants and icons they produce a highly creative mix. (eddie gibbs, fuller seminary on ‘the emerging church’)”
at apostleschurch.org this is where we dwell on a daily basis.
Karne Ward is pastor at apostleschurch.org