About 9-10 years ago, the leadership of Calvary sent me off to spend some time seeking God for direction for Calvary. I visited a handful of churches, sat down with a couple of pastors, and prayed. At some point I sensed God giving me one phrase, “Build a church without walls.” Church without walls? I’m thinking, “God what in the world does that mean?” For the last decade we’ve been discovering what that means. In part it has led to our description of the mission God has given us at Calvary…
Our mission at Calvary is to help people connect in life-giving relationships with God, with each other, and with our neighbors (around the world). In other words “no walls” between people and God, no walls between followers of Jesus, and no walls between the church and the community.
I’m always pondering potential pictures (I know great alliteration) of a church without walls. Yesterday, on a plane with my son, heading to Colorado, I was reading an old classic, on my droid (Kindle has a droid app). A.W. Tozer’s “Pursuit of God.” Back in the 1940’s Tozer was on a train trip from Chicago to Texas. He started writing, wrote through the night and by the time he arrived, he had the rough draft of the description of a heart without walls towards God.
As I was reading, God grabbed my heart again — it happens almost every time I read the book — with words like…
In this hour of all-but-universal darkness one cheering gleam appears: within the fold of conservative Christianity there are to be found increasing numbers of persons whose religious lives are marked by a growing hunger after God himself. They are eager for spiritual realities and will not be put off with words, nor will they be content with correct interpretations of truth. They are athirst for God, and they will not be satisfied till they have drunk deep at the Fountain of Living Water.
There is today no lack of Bible teachers to set forth correctly the principles of the doctrines of Christ, but too many of these seem satisfied to teach the fundamentals of the faith year after year, strangely unaware that there is in their ministry no manifest Presence, nor anything unusual in their personal lives.
For it is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God himself, and unless and until the hearers find God in personal experience they are not the better for having heard the truth. The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts.
Have you ever had one of those experiences where God grabs your heart…and squeezes? It hurts…so good. For me the “so good” part comes when I hear God say, “That could be you, that’s what I have for you, I want to give you that.” The hurt part comes with the realization that I’m not there…yet or now.
At the heart of a church without walls are the hearts of people who hunger for and are satisfied by God. There is a beautiful simplicity in that. So what should we do? Perhaps at the very least it starts with a simple prayer… “God clean out the spiritual junk food and increase my hunger for you.