Those who know me are probably aware that I started an adventure with a friend a couple of years ago. It is an adventure much more suitable to young men than old codgers like Charlie and me, but we were both grateful for the opportunity. What began as a simple Bible study turned into a small church.
We had no illusions from the outset about where we would go or how we would get there. We simply met, prayed, and trusted God’s leadership. I am confident we made some mistakes along the way, we are human after all. But in spite of everything, God has brought us to a great place and last night we experienced a milestone.
A few months ago God opened the door for us to have a more permanent meeting place. We had always met in homes, borrowed space from other churches, restaurants, parks, and a myriad of other out of the ordinary locations. I especially remember a Maundy Thursday observance of communion in the middle of the Dos Gringos dining room, surrounded by other diners and a few party goers. Passing the bread and juice around the table didn’t draw much attention but singing a couple of verses of Amazing Grace produced a few quizzical looks.
Through a divinely orchestrated series of events, we are able to rent a store front in an up and coming neighborhood very close to downtown Fort Worth. It is an area that the city is trying to revitalize. In fact, just today Sharon and I met with business owners and city officials to discuss solving problems that are plaguing the neighborhood. It is an exciting time and we find ourselves in an energizing place.
The storefront space is amazing. We decided it was too valuable to simply use for a couple of hours on Sunday afternoon so we began to discuss what else we could do. Once again we experienced a “God thing” as we now use the space for an art gallery and yoga studio. Call me next time you discover a church that is also an art gallery and yoga studio.
God has given us a young woman who understands the art world and we are right in the middle of an arts district with multiple galleries. That past two Friday evenings we have had special events at the gallery with more than 150 people coming to see the art. I have lost count of the number of conversations this has stimulated as we have greeted gallery visitors. We have made some new friends who are now coming back on Sunday evening.
The young man who leads our worship is a very experienced yoga teacher and he leads classes throughout the week. This is also providing an opportunity to introduce ourselves to the community and draw their attention to Jesus Christ.
All of that is a quick history to bring you to where we were this past weekend when we passed a milestone. Sunday evening we had worship followed by a cookout. Our small group worked hard to provide hamburgers, hotdogs, and all the trimmings for 100 folks and we did not overestimate one bit. Our new space, that we plan to hold on to for a long time, was filled with wall-to-wall worshippers from one month old to seventy years old. At the end of the evening, our core group of folks did not want to leave. We were exhausted but filled with joy over what God had done and is still doing on Race Street in Fort Worth.
As I previously indicated, I have had countless conversations about Bread Fellowship in the past two weeks. With an art gallery and yoga studio they sense there is something different about what is happening. When they ask, I explain our simple philosophy.
We do church with Christ at the center but without a circumference. In other words, we try not to draw a line and say, “If you cross this line then you can be a part of Bread Fellowship.” We do not have a line (circumference). If you want to be a part of what we are doing, just show up.
And when you do show up we will work hard to love you and make you a part of what we are doing. We will not ask you to change you activities, attitudes, beliefs, or lifestyle. Bring it all with you; we really do not have a circumference. If you need to change then we try to leave that up for God to accomplish, after all, that does seem to be something only He can do.
However, at the same time, remember I said we keep Christ in the center. That means we preach Jesus. We worship Him, we serve Him, we love Him, we talk a lot about Him – He is the center of what we do. When you come, regardless of what garbage you might bring with you, you will hear about Jesus.
When I say that, I don’t mean you will hear, “Jesus wants you to do this…” or “Jesus hates people like you.” We try not to speak for Jesus, but rather we encourage you to listen to what He says. He is capable to speaking for Himself and if someone is in need of a major life change, Jesus is capable to making that known.
Some people hear this explanation and think we have gone off the deep end of the theological pool. Most people, especially the non-professional clergy type, find it very refreshing and inviting.
I have no idea of where Bread Fellowship is heading the next year. We had no idea it would ever get to this point so why start planning now? But I am confident God is doing something in our midst, and what we experienced last Sunday with one hundred people crammed into our new little praise, art, yoga venue, was a milestone for us.
You are welcome to join the adventure. Let me warn you, if you like rules you will be very uncomfortable. However, if you are willing to learn to trust Christ for everything, I think you will fit right in.