When people usually envision church, there are a lot of things that come to mind. Pictures of steeples, pews, dressed in one’s Sunday best, and hymnals may fill your thoughts when you think of church. If you are younger, or more contemporary in your thinking, you may envision a band, lively worship, video screens, and a practical message when you think of church. Both scenes are more of a product of culture than true, biblical church expression. At Providence we’ve been on a journey this year to rediscover church. This isn’t about contemporary or traditional. This is about getting back to the essence of being the Body of Christ, living in community with one another through the power of the Holy Spirit, while we take the gospel to our world.
When you envision church, I’d love for you to envision something like what is going on at one of the lifegroups at our church. Our Saturday night lifegroup is led by Travis Bowers and David Fulford. I’ve seen both of these men take huge leaps of faith as they’ve led and shepherded a few other families in our church. As you know, we take lifegroups seriously at Providence. Lifegroups are as important to us as the Sunday morning corporate gatherings. Within the lifegroup, community and mission can have their greatest expression. I asked David to share a little bit about how this manifested itself in their home church group, and he shared with me their experience:
Bob Brock asked Travis to fill in teaching at Lakewood (a rehabilitation center for the elderly and disabled in Denver) while he was recovering from heart surgery. Travis asked me if I’d be willing to join him and maybe lead a couple of songs. A couple of months before his surgery we joined Bob to see what he did and what he wanted us to do. After the first time, Travis and I invited our LifeGroup to join us. (We decided as a group that we wanted to be missional when we started our group.) I mentioned that it was 2 months into the new year and we had not yet served anyone. God provided for our LifeGroup a great opportunity to serve.
We have great participation with every family in our group. Travis and Daniel have both preached the Gospel. Praise God!!! I can see how the women and children really bless the residents…especially the kids! The kids even draw pictures for the residents. Everyone has done an awesome job singing, which is a huge help to me! None of us have any special gifting or ability but God uses us all the more to do His work.
The residents have expressed how much they love us coming. We are getting to know many of the residents by name and are starting to build relationships. They are sharing with us ways we can pray for them and we pray for their needs corporately. They love the worship music…even if it’s a joyful noise more than a skillful performance. We have seen more of the residents attend recently. Also, our last time at Lakewood, one of the staff members joined us too.
This opportunity is awesome for our Lifegroup and we are so grateful that Bob started this ministry. Bob really cares about this work in the Lord and we do our best, to give our best, for the fame of Jesus! Bob feels we need to be the ones there doing the work now and has turned us loose (as you would say)…to show Christ at Lakewood!!!!
To me, this is what church looks like. It’s not just about the lively worship, the steeples and pews, the pulpits or the 3-point sermons. This story is what church is supposed to look like. Travis and David, along with the help of Bob, led a few families to make a difference in our community. The sick are being loved, the poor and neglected are being touched, and the gospel is being proclaimed.
I’m not writing this to make a shameless plug for lifegroups at our church. I’m sharing this because if your church experience is dry or disappointing, it’s probably because you aren’t in community and living out the mission of the church with others. This story from David is just one example of what church looks like. I hope and pray that we’ll have hundreds more.
What does church look like for you?