One of the conscious decisions that we made at the outset of this crisis was that we were going to use the opportunity to remind our community and our neighbors that we are not defined by a building or an address. This is not to say that our building is not an important resource to the ministry of HarvestDowntown, but that it is just that: a ministry resource that facilitates ministry. For this reason, we have been referring to our facility as 411 North Weber in order to pivot our thinking to, “How we can be the church beyond 411 North Weber?”
This is playing out as Harvesters all over our city are engaging their circles of influence with the hope, peace and love of Christ in this difficult season. We have seen the church known as HarvestDowntown be the salt and light of Christ as He shines through each one of us. I am hearing of all kinds of ideas of ways we can serve our city, our neighbors, and one another in response to this current plague. Some of us are rethinking what our commitment to community looks like, what worship looks like in a living room, and how we can engage in mission at six feet or more? I believe that by asking these questions, we will truly come out of this crisis as a healthier and more vibrant church that refracts His Light in a more beautiful way.
DANGER! We cannot become a people that says, “When this all ends, I will engage more in community.” Or, “When I can go back to church, then I will truly worship with abandon.” Or, “Once I am not at risk, or a risk, then I will engage my neighbor in a conversation about faith.” We must be the church today! We cannot wait for some other time or place.
This crisis has put the western church in a place of solidarity with the persecuted church all over the world. Persecuted churches typically don’t have a building to call home – and if they do, they find it being a magnet for evil. They typically cannot gather in public or meet in groups of more than 5-7 people. They are forced to be creative about their expression of community, worship, and mission – they can’t wait until it ends because they see no end in sight!
Because 411 North Weber is a resource for our ministry – we need to make certain that we use it for holistic ministry. This season is reminding us how important it is to adapt 411 North Weber for more than just a gathering place for worship. It must be a place for community, worship, and mission – which requires flexibility. Chairs that are screwed to the floor make it difficult to use our biggest room for any other purpose than for people to sit down (or stand within 18” of each other), shut up, and listen to the expert tell them how to think, believe, and act. We could do that via YouTube, Zoom, or Facebook – and we are!
Just as we have had to pivot in how we engage as a community, how we worship together, and how we engage in mission to our circles of influence; so we need to pivot in how we are using our asset known as 411 North Weber. We originally planned on waiting until our Ye Olde Fashioned Picnic, (September 6th), to level the floor in our sanctuary. However, since we have the bulk of the money needed for this project, and we are already a church in exile from our facility, it seems like now is the time to move forward with this piece of the Creating Access Initiative. If you are compelled to contribute now, just click on the “Give” tab at the top of the webpage, or email, and designate an extra gift to the Creating Access Initiative. It would be amazing if we could raise enough money above and beyond our normal giving, so that when we return to 411 North Weber, our space can be used immediately for community and mission alongside our corporate worship service.
I for one am eagerly anticipating our gathering together again for community, worship, and mission. However, let us not be a people who just wait for that day, but may we demonstrate these core values all the more in this difficult season.