We embarked on this trip seeking out a better understanding of what the Jesus wants us to focus on in our future. At this point we have as many questions as ever.
John was daydreaming in church on how to reach climbers. Climbers don't come to church, they are at the crag on Sunday. Bikers, skiers, etc. are all spending their weekends out of town doing the activities that they love and this means that there is almost no way to get them into a church building on Sunday morning to hear the Gospel. We've been also thinking about the nature of church and how to best present it to people who don't understand it, or even want to understand it. How can we be "Christians" without bringing all the stereotypes and prejudices that people associate with that word? The essentials of the Sunday morning church "event" are worshiping God together, having the Word preached, and praying together. People also need to know that church is happening in order to participate and it has to be culturally accessible to them. What bothers us is that there are a bunch of outdoorsy people who don't show up to church because it conflicts with their priorities, and because they don't feel comfortable there.
The question is - how do we bring church to them, such that they recognize it happening and that it feels accessible to them. The answer seems simple - go to where the outdoorsy people are, when they're gathered there, and hold church in an obvious but unobtrusive way. The mental image is get out the cardboard sign that simply says "Church", and put it up next to us, let people know that they're welcome to join, and then when we're done we're going to go have fun climbing or whatever we're there for. Then do church, even if no body comes. Preach a sermon to the air if we have to. Keep it simple, succinct, deeply heartfelt but un-affected, visible but not obnoxious. Maybe "Church" on Wednesday night at the local trailhead parking lot is a prayer meeting for twenty minutes before the evening ride. Get the sign out, briefly walk around and personally let people know what's going on, go pray without making a big scene of it, and then go ride. There are all sorts of climbing, riding, whitewater, and skiing festivals and gatherings. Most of them are held over weekends. Go bring church to them so that they can see God being worshiped, and hear his word being preached. This seems to be a call that we feel is unmet in the American West.
This is a daydream, a question we have for God about how we might serve because it is something we are saddened by - the lack of Jesus people visibly and actively living their faith amongst the outdoors community. We would like it if you all would pray for us as we seek out answers and guidance and also that you would give us your feedback here on the blog. This wouldn't be something that would be wise to pursue as a replacement to participation in "normal" church or outside of supportive christian fellowship. We certainly would rather settle into a single community for a season, either for John to finish school or to simply put down some roots for a while. The reality for us at this point is that God hasn't pulled us toward any one community or established ministry yet. We certainly have spent time in communities that make us really happy, that we can see ourselves living and investing in. But as we've interacted with mature believers around the northwest, they have had the opinion that the Lord is using us doing exactly what we're doing and that we should be satisfied, even confident to continue it.
One of our frustrations is that we desperately desire to be more actively sharing the gospel and focusing on seeking out unbelievers and loving them extravagantly for Jesus. It's from this heart that the trailhead "church" daydream comes. We need so much prayer from you all that we would confidently take every opportunity to share the gospel specifically with people we meet, instead of copping out and simply talking about "caring" or "investing in others".
We've been meeting so many cool people on our trip. Some of the most open, generous people are not christians. Our views seem so parallel, and through our lifestyle we can easily connect. Other van-dwellers for example. People who desire to live simply and help people out. The desire for community, living not for one's self but for others, is a common ground we have with many people. Lots of other people are "spiritual". It's difficult to want to communicate Christ with them, because they claim happiness and love and peace already. We feel they're just missing Something, replacing it with yoga, the universe, or other religious or spiritual beliefs. We believe that the power of God through his Holy Spirit gives christians something essential and irreplaceable. Obviously, though, few christians live as though they have some awesome power in their life that others should want for themselves. So we meet many people who wonder why they should believe in Jesus when most of what they see of His followers doesn't do justice to their own ideals. We often feel outdone in generosity by these people. In Christ, we should be able to blow everyone else out of the water with His love, generosity and care through us. So pray for us that in Him our expressions of Love would be inexplicable with out him.
Again, please communicate with us about these things we're sharing with you about ourselves. You guys are our family, our community, and we value your advice. Love you all!