Last night we officially launched, after two preview gatherings, a new worship community at my church:
Family Style ... a casual worship community for families of all shapes and sizes who want to know and share the love of Jesus, and where everyone has a place at the table.
It was a big night for the launch team and I. Month of preparation went into this. Every staff person at the church has supported the launch through their gifts and graces. My own wife has been running the kitchen team, with our kids in there mixed up with the other children of the launch team as we all run about getting things ready.
God has richly blessed us with the time and place to launch something new to build the Kingdom.
What is involved, truly, in building out that Kingdom in this time and place?
Our launch series is based in the Letter of James, to the church of his day ... and to us. James outlines the most practical Christianity. James, the one who famously tells us that faith without works is dead, that there's nothing more wicked than the human tongue, that prayer that doesn't lead to justice is worthless ...
James, who also tells us that questions are good.
That God can take them. That God will bless with wisdom those who seek it. He in fact implores us in his first chapter to get those questions out, before the doubts can settle in.
One of our goals in Family Style, a core value, is to create a meaningful space for to ask questions - of the pastor and of the people.
Many of those who have struggled with the way of Jesus have done so due to the church being unwilling to take the time and listen to those who would question it. In the middle of the message, I posed a question to the community of children, students, and adults:
If you could ask one question of God what would it be?
Some where what you might expect from a group just starting to get to know one another ...
- Why ... do we have free will?
- What's you're favorite place? Earth? Heaven? Where?
- Why mosquitoes?
- Or, just why?
But as I followed up after worship, two questions, of a deeper variety jumped out:
- Do you really love me when I'm at my worst?
- Are you ok with how people have used your name to hurt so many?
Our hope at Family Style is that we can cultivate a questioning faith. A faith that seeks the truth of Jesus and how we can live better in this world. There are some questions that we won't get the answers to. That's part of the journey in this world. But, if we have each other, as Jesus calls us to, maybe we can hold on to a little sliver of faith to get us through.
And that's where the community steps in, valuing questions as Jesus did with his disciples, as God did with Abraham, Moses, and even the psalmists.
Can we value questions as Jesus did? We pray for that to be part of Family Style.