North Seattle: United for more than just worship
Two weeks ago 13 churches from across North Seattle gathered together for the purpose of worshiping God and connecting as followers of Christ. The combination of churches and church plants came from a diversity of denominational backgrounds and practice. In fact, its safe to say that no two churches were alike at this gathering. And for something like this to happen without the expected pastoral posturing, or free of denominational agenda or maneuvering, is in my experience, quite rare. And yet, 13 churches were able to come together with the express intent of showing Seattle that we are united as the people of Christ. And that there is substance to what God will do when his people choose to seek the Kingdom above all else.
For the last two weeks I have been telling people all over the country about our North Seattle United Worship Gathering. And the reason is not because I want them to be proud of us or to pat us on the back. The reason is because what took place at Calvary Christian Assembly in Roosevelt had far more significance than I think most of us realize. In a world that is slipping further and deeper into post-Christianity, a cultural bent away from the norms of Christian culture, many denominations and churches will struggle to know how to engage, how to thrive, and how to be a part of this new and exciting reality we find ourselves in. And so much of the pathway forward is found in the connection to the Mission God has for a particular place.
Often times in church we forget that our place in culture is to be people who bring the presence of God into the spaces we are given or create. We are called to be people who are deeply rooted in the lives of the people closest to us. In our neighborhoods, work spaces, spaces of play and recreation. We are called to be people who embed into the problems our neighbors see as most important. To be people who walk alongside one another to create solutions to the things most important to all of us collectively. This who we are meant to be as churches. But what does this mean for us as a city of churches?
Cities are inherently disconnected places. Sure there are countless ways people are connected to each other in cities. Sports, jobs, farmers markets, arts festivals, Meetups, etc. But most major cities are deeply disconnected because of the shear size and difficulty to move around. And typically this disconnectedness is felt most deeply in the churches that exist in the city. We tend to focus on ourselves and our own growth of vision which makes it very difficult to see the churches around us, and certainly to try to be in relationship with them. And as a result churches tend to feel the pressure of isolation, the fear of dying out, or the delusion that they are the only ones still working.
And this is what makes the North Seattle United Worship so important. Because in a city like Seattle, a city that is hard to be connected in, 13 churches chose to stand up and start dreaming, "what if?" What if we came together on short notice and worshiped together? What if we started working together and stopped working against one another? What if we stopped fearing that new church plants would take our people and instead sent them out with joy and excitement? What if we started to see how all of our unique visions were best served by us coming together collectively and, together, pursued God's vision? What if we showed the nation that fear and anger, hatred and racism would not be tolerated. And that we as a community of Churches would rise up to fight for the oppressed, and lay ourselves down so that others unable to do so themselves could be lifted up. What if we showed up together and started to push one other into a deeper pursuit of Christ, for the Glory of God and for the good of those around us.
See, the North Seattle United Worship was a symbol of people laying down egos, self interest, and our own personal visions, for a moment, to dream even bigger. To ask God to show us a bigger vision that is far beyond ourselves. That can never be accomplished unless Jesus shows up and carries the banner forward. It was about people seeing that "together" is far better than alone.
I for one can not wait to see what happens as we continue to press forward. As 13 churches becomes 18 which becomes 25 which becomes 150. What can God accomplish with so many churches so yielded to the mission he has for this city? My prayer is that Missio Church will always be a part of God's bigger vision for Seattle. That we never become content to simply be present in a few places with a few people. Missio means "sent out." And as a church we will be a people who are constantly sent out into the spaces of our lives carrying hope, and a vision for Seattle that works relentlessly to build a great city for ALL people to live in. This is who we are. And this is who we will continue to be.