the secret

msoul_left.jpgTaylor and I had a great weekend hanging out in the New York City area. We enjoyed a prolonged conversation with Jared Looney over an extended Italian lunch on Saturday and coffee and dinner with Ben Cheek that evening, during which we gleaned much from a couple of guys who have been proclaiming Jesus in an urban context for quite a while now. (the Loonies and their team in the Bronx; the Cheeks in Jersey City, NJ)

On Sunday morning, we joined the Bronx Fellowship crew for a special assembly in a local school in correlation with a conflict resolution seminar they offered Monday night. They only rarely get the whole group together for a time of worship (the church meets in the apartments of its members), usually only for special seminars or classes. Many of the BF “regulars” were out of town, but we were able to see that the BF is a prayerful community that expects to see the lives of its members transformed by Jesus Christ. In fact, we prayed corporately and passionately over a member of the church who is struggling to break free from addiction.

What began as Jared moving to the city 6 years ago turned into one house church … and 6 years later, at least 10 vibrant communities exist in multiple burroughs in two states in the Metro area. Believers from all over are continually drawn to the movement; its first 2-year apprentice will soon be replaced by another apprentice, and this summer, seven interns (6 from ACU) will temporarily join God’s work in NYC.

Could God be birthing something similar in Boston? In Abilene, TX? In Chicago? Based on early evidence, this seems to be the case.

But if precedents like New York are any reflection, we needn’t complicate things more than they need to with all the frills humans tend to add to God’s redemptive work. Ask the high school girl who came to know Jesus and kick drugs through a simple conversation and the love of some imperfect Christians what’s important. Or the addict we prayed for on Sunday.

Based on what we saw in NY this past weekend, the following things — though not bad or evil themselves — are probably unnecessary for this movement to occur: property (besides apartments), a big budget, a worship minister, preaching, gospel tracks, a slick marketing campaign, frequent large-group gatherings …

What is necessary? The lives of people broken for the sake of the world, engaging and critiquing the culture, becoming like Jesus more every day.
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On a related note, I loved this quote from Terry Rush in the comments section on this PreacherMike post:

The reason “The Secret” is best known for being “out of stock” at local bookstores is because the world is clamoring for hope. Why didn’t it find it in Christianity? Because we took the light out of its socket so we could inspect the finer details of the wiring.

Society is willing to give their devotion to the light….but not to the ornate lampstand and its well-decorated shade.

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12 responses to this post.

  1. Great post man. I love hearing new stories from MetroSoul. I can’t wait to meet those guys on THEIR turf! And I can’t help but prayerfully agree with you – movements like we are beginning to see in NYC will be happening in Boston, AND Chicago AND…the list goes on.

    —-

    And the metaphor about the lamp – I love it! I was thinking about “The Secret” as I watched a news segment on it the other night…I was reminded of “Seek…and you will find.” That’s the hope that the Secret gives us. Unfortunately, if you seek in the wrong place, you may turn up with some pocket change (especially if you look in my couch cushions!) but not the LIFE we are all looking for.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Mateo on March 28, 2007 at 8:16 am

    Hey Steve,

    Sounds like God is moving in New York. I’m glad you got to go see a manifestation of God touching an urban area. It is exciting to think about what He’s doing and will do in Boston.

    One thing stuck out to me in your list of things that this movement probably won’t need: preaching. Could you explain why something that has been part of the life of the church from the very beginning won’t help strengthen this part of the body? I don’t mean for that to sound antagonistic, I’m just curious what you meant by it. God bless you Steve.

    Matthew

    Reply

  3. Posted by Steve on March 28, 2007 at 8:54 am

    Mark – You would have eaten this weekend up. It was great. You guys should definitely come check it out before you move to Chi-town.

    Mateo – Great question. What I meant was this: MetroSoul has not, on a regular basis, used homiletic preaching as a main part of their ministry. (contrast that to other approaches which center the life of the church around sermons) In fact, not one of the ministers is trained to preach … at least how you and I have most often experienced “preaching.”

    For MetroSoul, the Word is more effectively communicated via dialogue than monologue. They have, at times, brought in speakers for special gatherings or addressed pertinent topics through larger-group talks, but this is a blip on the radar screen compared to the day-to-day conversations being waged around the neighborhood.

    For the record, I do believe that a place still exists for biblical preaching in the church. Please don’t hear me saying otherwise. We have, however, elevated that element to be the central aspect of the church (preachers earn the most money, for instance, and command the largest chunk of time during the service), and I think this elevation can be more easily traced back to frontier America than the ancient Middle East.

    Table, I think, ought to be the central “act” of our gatherings, not preaching.

    Reply

  4. Posted by Steve on March 28, 2007 at 9:12 am

    Mateo – For MetroSoul, I think the “Word” has come most effectively using the principles laid out at the bottom of this article. I think the author here is perhaps a little hard on “talking head preaching,” but his main point of its general ineffectiveness at producing lasting transformation over the long-haul is generally true, in my experience.

    Something that Jared said about their large-group assemblies (which are fairly infrequent, I think … maybe once a month?) really struck me as well. He said that the ones who get really jazzed up about the big-group worship times are generally the ones with some history in the church. The ones with no church history, he said, could take it or leave it. They prefer the smaller, more intimate settings for the sharing of life.

    Makes me wonder how much of what we think is “central” to the proclamation of the kingdom of God is actually a result of our conditioning from years of church.

    I’d like to hear your (and others’) take on all this.

    Reply

  5. Hey Steve,

    I know this is random, but…did you go to GACS at one point?

    By the way, great blog.

    Reply

  6. Posted by Steve on March 28, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    Roberto – I did in fact graduate from GACS in 2000. Went there my 4 years of HS. I’m guessing you went there as well …

    Reply

  7. That is what I thought. I graduated in ’02. Mitch and I played soccer together, and (if my memory serves me right) I think your mom was my Geometry teacher.

    Ahh…the small world of blogging.

    By the way, the new emergent style of “teaching in the round”/ dialogued learning seems to be the best way for postmoderns to learn from the Word. It is one thing to hear someone who has studied for 10 hours preach, but it (in my opinion) is a far greater thing to have a community study together and learn Word from each other.

    And, in that spirit, the Table does become central. Because the focus is no longer on “listening,” it is on experiencing. So, we come to church to literally “taste and see that the Lord is good.” And, how better to do that than a reminder of how much He loved us?

    Reply

  8. Posted by Steve on March 28, 2007 at 1:18 pm

    Amen, Roberto. Small world indeed.

    I think you’re right about “teaching in the round.” Later this week, I’ll post about some practical tips for small group ministry in churches.

    I like your comment on “experiencing” as opposed to “listening.” Sadly, many people are leaving churches because all they do is listen, and their unique gifts are not being put to work. Not to mention the general lack of symbolism and experiential elements in our assemblies.

    Blessings in your ministry, Roberto. Thanks for reading. =)

    Reply

  9. This was a really good post and a very helpful discussion. I’m glad I got to read it. The discussion on “preaching” was especially interesting and provocative for me. Thanks for talking it thru.

    I had been reading BF’s website and talking to Stan Granberg about what was going on. I was already impressed. Thanks for sharing your observations.

    Reply

  10. Posted by Lynn Holt on March 30, 2007 at 8:05 am

    Roberto: I’m glad your Geometry class was such a memorable experience:)

    Reply

  11. […] A very random group of missional “Exiles” from all over Boston will assemble tonight to hear Taylor and me report on our observations and reflections from our visit to New York; meet and hear from Landon, who has come to Boston as a missionary after years of simple church planting in Panamá and a thriving Hispanic ministry in St. Louis; and discuss and pray about our own next steps for joining God’s mission in Boston. […]

    Reply

  12. Reading of Metro Soul and “Metro Boston” makes me long to go back in a time machine and do things much differently in our church planting mission in Connecticut in the late ’80’s.

    But for now, I pray for you and Chrissy and others who are seeking to proclaim Jesus through your words and lives in ways that connects with hungry hearts, broken people and lost souls.

    Reply

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