I had a flashback moment tonight. A generational moment. Not quite an “old” moment.
Found my way to a Bible study at ekklesia in Blacksburg, VA, a small church currently finding its residence in a community center and one of its members’ apartments. I had the blessing of visiting the latter this evening.
I felt at first as though I was somewhere bordering between my usual “traveling salesman” and a middle-aged creepy stalker guy. I’ll explain in a minute. How I got there tonight – I called the phone number from the web site, and got the pastor’s voice mail, but it gave his wife’s phone number as an alternate contact, and since it was around 5:00 PM already, I decided to try calling her. Didn’t leave a message when it rung through to voice mail, but I was surprised to see a call back a few minutes later, when I had to explain myself. “Well, I got your number from Pastor Doug’s phone message, and wanted to find out if you had a study or service this evening. I’m from out of town, staying in Blacksburg…”
She couldn’t give me the address (and sounded tentative on the phone) but Pastor called me back a few minutes later, and explained why. They had a small group meeting at the apartment of one of their church members, but despite my first feeling that this might be pressing this traveling fellowship thing a bit too far, he let me know that I was welcome to come join them.
When I walked into the sparsely furnished apartment (recent college grad), there were already a few people, including Pastor Doug, in the living room and getting ready to start. This was a room full of kids younger than one of my children, and I was almost old enough to be Doug’s father as well…
Taking my place on the carpet, with a cup of coffee, the study began. I was welcomed with the usual questions; where was I from, what church did I go to, and the like. But I had just entered my past, sitting with my school peers, excited about sharing the Word, and it could have been high school, college, or one of the Young Life meetings it participated in as an adult leader 20 years ago.
The discussion centered around bringing the Gospel to the nations, and how to publicly live and share our faith. I immediately was immersed in the discussion and blessed by the sharing that went on. I wrote a post a while ago entitled “what’s in a church”, in which I described my physical surroundings in an old, church basement meeting room. This was another night like that. It often seems that the more I travel, the more I find genuine worship and faith in the simplest surroundings. And I think that message needs to be shared. After all, where did Jesus share His message? In a garden, sitting by a well, in a tile-roofed home. His ministry was to people, not Congregations; it was with small groups of people in public places (exception: feeding the thousands on the hillside – but even that was an ad hoc gathering), He was not leading Tent Revivals with dramatic performances and bands . We need to move forward to further God’s kingdom face to face, not facing the big screen or stage.
I will keep the “kids” (I say that only from a chronological perspective – they showed a great deal of maturity in their faith) at ekklesia in my prayers, that they will take their fellowship on the road, every day…