A Family on a Mission

We are a family on a mission. Our mission is to demonstrate the love of God in Alton.

Here’s a more personal reflection from Ruth on who we are:

My church is a bit unusual.

We set up and tear down every week in a community center, made to give teenagers in our community a place of recreation.

After set up if there is any left over time it’s not unusual to have people playing a game of pool…it’s conveniently located on the side of the room we meet in for worship.

At my church every week we set up carpet squares to cushion the dance floor so we can set up chairs. Worship on a dance floor…how awesome is that:).

At my church…it’s the first time in leading worship that I have to work fairly hard to be ready to lead each week. We sing songs that are really good…not songs that I’m used to for the most part. It’s not because we’re contemporary or trying to fit a certain music style…but simply because the songs we sing are really quality songs…the lyrics each week are rich and meaningful.

At my church, the pastor might just play the guitar the entire service and not ever have to say a word…because the people of the church are totally involved in leading the worship, preaching, etc.

At my church…a 15 year old may be asked to lead the liturgy for communion.

At my church all ages are welcome, all styles, backgrounds…

At my church honest, open confession in public is allowed…in fact embraced.

At my church people respond to needs in practical ways…offering transportation, childcare, and various other things that will meet the needs of people there. If we do have a meeting the point of the meeting is to coordinate our efforts to love others well.

At my church we take communion every week.

At my church we talk often about being broken and where to go with our brokenness.

At my church we don’t add programs.

We have no bulletin.

There are no announcements.

No offering is taken. A box is in the back and tithing is still encouraged but we have no official ushers or greeters.

At my church…everybody is a greeter. Everybody is assigned to a role, reading scripture, liturgy, music, running powerpoint, setting up, taking care of the small kids during the sermon, etc. There are no anonymous people in my church. I’ve never gone to a church like this before.

At my church, service is not just talked about…it’s lived out.

At my church the idea of loving your neighbor is not just a concept to discuss but a way of life to be worked into real life.

Because of my church I’m in a Restore group. The name is very fitting. We meet most often on Monday nights, but one week a month we don’t meet simply so we’ll be free to show love to our neighbors in some way. I’ve given away a lot of my books in my neighborhood because honestly, sometimes I’m not sure what else to do to show love. Because of this…I have a boy next door…a teenage boy reading my book right now. Awesome…

One Monday night a month we go to our local housing development called “Alton Pointe.” Half the time we’re not totally sure what we’re doing until we show up. We never know what kids will show up and what ages we’ll have but we show up and give it our best. We’ve been going since May and at this point when we show up for that once a month visit the kids flock to the door. Saying…”Is it church night!!!” We never have called it church but for them that’s what they call it. We tell stories from the bible, we sing songs…I honestly wish you could’ve heard the kids this week singing “Country roads” by John Denver. I knew it was one of their favorites from school so I brought it along. Nothing like city kids belting out the lyrics to that west virginia country song to put a smile on your face:). We make crafts…some better than others. We eat. We play games. We watch movies. We hang out together. We even celebrate our birthdays with them. This past week Jamie brought hats and blow toys and cupcakes and we had ourselves a big ole’ birthday party.

At my church we don’t do much committee stuff. We don’t have a lot of meetings. We don’t take a lot of votes on stuff.

At my church everybody has permission to get involved…no one is really above anybody else.

At my church we don’t plan events and pump ourselves up about evangelism. We just talk about loving God and loving people.

It’s the most radical/simple way of doing church that I’ve ever done and I’ve been in the church for 42 years.

Most church growth books would probably suggest adding programs, classes, etc. for the church to grow. We’re counting on love…honest to goodness care for others to grow our church.

And honestly, I have to tell you…when I look at the kids at Alton Pointe, I’m not sure that any of them will ever show up on a Sunday morning but I don’t care. When I’m there I feel a selfless love come over me where I am happy to pour myself into kids that I may never get anything back from. I have no idea what God will do with that kind of love…but it can’t be bad. I always come home knowing the time was worth the effort.

I’m not saying this form of church is for everybody…but for me, an overchurched girl who has been in the church doors since birth…it’s a breath of fresh air. I need more programs and activities like I need another hole in my head. I’ve been to enough seminars and workshops and retreats to probably last me a lifetime.

All I really need right now is the love of God and the love of His people given to me and flowing through me to the people God has entrusted into my care for this day.

My church is off the ride…and it’s come at a good time in my life because I’m more than ready to be off the ride in huge sweeping ways. My forties have been about getting myself free and being exactly who I am…not trying to fit what anybody else thinks I should be…no more comparisons. I just want to be free. At my church…I feel free.

That about sums it up.