Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Church as Community

David Fitch recounts two stories from Francis Chan:
Story One. Chan talked about a gang member who got saved and then baptized in his church yet disappeared a year later. A leader in the congregation noticed and sought him out and asked “What happened?” He said “I had the wrong idea about what I thought church would be. I thought it would be like family, a different kind of family. See, when I was in the gangs, we hung together, watched each other’s backs, took care of each other, we committed to each other 24-7, not just two meetings a week. When I got here, it was like each one was on his own. There was just no reason for me to be here with these people.” Chan said this broke his heart. The gang was better at being the church than the church was at being the church.

Story Two: Chan met with the elders over this (I presume). They talked about their commitments to each other. They talked about the ways they were so radically independent of each other and tried so hard to maintain that independence. Each had their own insurance policies to take care of their families if they died. Each sought hard to take care of their own needs and never ask each other for help. They saw in themselves what this gang member saw in the congregaton. And they started to break it down and commit to each other. In the midst of praying they started to make commitments to each other. “I commit to take care of your kids if you die.” “What is mine is yours.” “They opened up their bank accounts.” “They sold their insurance policies gave some money away.” Chan said these commitments were not haphazard that night they prayed. They were commitments out of deep trust in God and that relationship borne out in their relationships one with another. Chan said they left that meeting that night with a feeling of awe like you read about in Acts - kinda like - “Whoah … that just felt like Christianity.”

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