I am in Tofino this morning. Finally, after six weeks of camping we have left the east coast of Vancouver Island and made it to the west.
But I did take a final tour of the town that stood out to me. See Last Post. I also called the number on the rental sign. The little store-front for rent is part of a slightly larger structure with a one-bedroom unit at the back. That might have been perfect! But, in talking with the landlord I learned that the town council wants the building rented as solely commercial. So, that little blue store-front is off the table.
What a week though, it has been. With the introduction, really a remembrance, of a store-front idea a myriad of pieces that we’ve been chewing on for a very long time, came to the fore.
Way back in the early years of Capturing Courage, before the international work began, a few of us were talking about a store-front art studio, cafe, and place of prayer and healing. Then, just last fall another one of us felt that House of Prayer was to be a store-front, a public offering but also a public declaration and presence of all that the Lord might do with and through us for community, regions, and nations. Interesting, that this comes up again.
Over the years I’ve had a strong and growing conviction that the body of Christ as church needs to get out of our buildings. I’ve been immersed in church culture in an exaggerated way as I preached and prayed in some 350 churches in six countries and in a hundred regions since 2011. I’ve seen that churches are run like MLM (multi-level marketing) businesses. In that, all the activity and focus and energy goes to keeping this thing running.
You know, in an MLM everyone must buy from the company, sell the products of the company, attend the gatherings and the trainings of the company, pour resources of time and money and energy back into the company. In a nutshell. Sounds a bit like church? We’ve all been busy keeping the internal structure of people, time, and place running. With very little return for investment if we were to think of it that way. How many folks were baptized out of last years million dollars budget?
The thing is, you and I are the church. Together, we are the body of Christ. We are the Ecclesia, a people called out for a specific purpose. The church is the people. The people are the church.
Then too, the same spirit or power (depending on your translation) that raised Jesus Christ from the dead lives in you and I. So, not only are you and I the temple of God. But we carry the very same power within us that raised Jesus from the dead. Notwithstanding that Jesus calls us the light of the world.
We carry the glory of God unto salvation, grace, healing, wholeness, freedom from sin, a deep resonance of life and love by which lives are made new. Not in attending church per se, but new as in a deep awakening unto the Lord and life, unto one’s own existence and the beauty of that, unto a profound reconciliation with the journey of our own lives and in that, with our Creator God who made heaven and earth, and you and I.
So, how might we be a bit more outward focussed? We do not check off ‘serving others’ as on a list of good things to do, a rather insulting creation of others as projects. But we can become outward focussed as investment in a parish, as lives lived solidly in community, as an understanding that all that is good and right is at hand every day in each other and by which we can find and celebrate the Lord.
All this to say, that I am intrigued and encouraged by the thought of a House of Prayer as a store-front, as public presence in a community, as hosting the Lord and each other.
There are a number of parameters that would need to come into play. Many things by which this kind of a thing would be established. We are jotting things down, sharing further the sense of the Spirit around this, and inquiring of the Lord.
On my final drive-through of that town I could still feel an electric resonance of the Lord. The further I drove up the hill of that place the stronger that sense was. Is that town the place? Do we begin with a store-front or do we begin with physically coming to live in the place? What other places might be options? What do we want? How might we proceed?
We continue holding all things open to the Lord. We wait on clarity and wisdom and direction. This unfolding of a House of Prayer will take form and fashion over many months and years. This initial foray has been a good beginning so far. And now we see what the west side of the island brings to heart and mind.
We believe that God is love. We’ve experienced God’s love that touches our traumas, heals our hearts, and restores our lives. We know God to be for everyone. But many do not know this Lord that heals and makes new. We’ve been putting him in a box for a long time now.
At Capturing Courage we are inviting and making room for our untamed God, the wildness of the Lord, an expansive touch of Holy Spirit by which we increasingly from glory to glory come alive and are awakened. It’s why we are searching out God’s dream of a house of prayer through us. Simply put, we need the Lord.
“Through the heartfelt mercies of our God, God’s Sunrise will break in upon us, Shining on those in the darkness, those sitting in the shadow of death, Then showing us the way, one foot at a time, down the path of peace.” Luke 1:78-79 Message