A couple of weeks ago I finished reading the book, The Tangible Kingdom, by Matt Smay and Hugh Halter. It was a great book that challenged me to think outside the context of church-centered ministry. I say church-centered, because that is what I grew up knowing. And The Tangible Kingdom is about moving beyond the church.
Here’s what I mean. I grew up in the church. If the doors were open, we were there. Ministry happened at the church; in the church, with the church. Everything that happened in the name of ministry was done at the church. So church is what I know. Ministry in the church is what I know. For the last 21 years I have done ministry in the church.
But now I’m learning how to do ministry outside of the church. As we plant Harvest Church, everything we do is without the church. We are small; 6 families. We meet in a garage. Our children’s ministry meets in the kitchen area of the house. The student ministry meets in our living room. It’s church, without the church. It’s new. It’s exciting. It’s scary.
The Tangible Kindgom forced me to see that ministry is about relationships. Ministry happens in the context of relationships. And we all have relationships outside the church.
One of the thoughts I loved was the idea of starting ministry among your neighbors. Instead of waiting for the “church” numbers to go large enough to do ministry, they start doing ministry that eventually grew into a church. The concept resonated with me. I mean, this is what we see happening with the church in the book of Acts. The believers didn’t wait for a building to be built. They didn’t wait till the budget supported the idea. They simply did what they felt God was leading them to do.
So we’ve decided to do the same. We’ve stopped waiting for everything to align itself for perfect ministry, and instead, we’ve started doing ministry.
About 2 weeks ago, my wife and I started reaching into our community and inviting our friends and our neighbors to our house for dinner. It’s a simple dinner, something to fill our bellies, because dinner isn’t the focus of the evening. Relationships; starting them, growing them, developing them, this is our goal. We want to know our neighbors. We want to strengthen relationships with friends. We want to win the opportunity to be Christ to our community. And that begins by allowing the community to get to know us.
In the two weeks we have hosted supper, we have shared in some amazing conversations with friends and neighbors. And we can’t wait to see what God does in the weeks to come.
Check out, The Tangible Kingdom, by Matt Smay and Hugh Halter. The book is available in hardback and on Kindle and both can be order from the link below.