On the eve of our launch into weekly worship (December 4 at 10:00 AM), I've been doing some retrospection. We know Downtown Church became something significantly different than what we planned, which is a good thing, but it's interesting to see what exactly is different. Almost 18 months ago we wrote our first draft of a vision statement that grew to be 18 pages long. Over the next two weeks I'll cut and paste portions of that draft for you to see how God has reformed and transformed us since then. Check back to The Blog for a peek. I want to start with a portion of the vision statement that I believe is still spot on and will continue to serve as a guiding light for our church. For background, know that this excerpt was composed before we hosted a single gathering event or worship service, hired any staff, or put out a single communication. It came from the introduction to our mission strategy, a fancy pants way of describing what we will do.
Christendom is dead. We can no longer assume that people will come to us out of habit, tradition, or perceived cultural norms to honestly assess where their heart is directed. And we cannot simply cultivate “safe space” or extend “radical hospitality” as long as that space or hospitality is extended under our own roof. Too often the creation of “safe space” and the extension of “radical hospitality” are burdened by an out-dated assumption that making Church attractive is enough.
Spiritual transformation, as evidenced by the encounters that Jesus had with blind beggars, social outcasts, and convicted criminals, begins far outside the physical walls of any sanctuary, even those with comfortable theater seats and an in-sync, radio-friendly praise band. DPNCD will follow the way of Christ and nurture the spiritual transformation God has already started in hearts turned in the wrong direction by first meeting people where they are. Such an expression of faith will no doubt necessitate that we leave behind some things that are comfortable yet non-essential, traditional yet unintelligible, ceremonial yet empty.
What do you think? Did we stay true?