A couple of years ago I lived in a share house with three others with the intent of being a blessing to our church community, and also our neighbours. Once in a blue moon we would all be home at the same time and would like to take that opportunity to sit down to a leisurely brunch on a lazy Saturday. It was a good excuse to eat delicious food, and to enjoy each other’s company. What was shared was usually unfettered vulnerability due to how comfortable we had become with one another. It was a rare, sacred, refreshing moment shared between housemates in a home that was often open and full of people from our church community.
Without fail, as soon as we were ready to tuck into the spread, Darren would be on the doorstep in some kind of crisis over a sick pet or broken relationship. It was like he was able to smell the bacon waft from our house to his and that was his cue. An extra space would be added to the table, the food would be stretched to include another person and the dynamic of that moment would shift.
For Darren, who lived alone and had suffered in his earlier years, this became his safe space with those he considered his family. So although they were good, we became well aware that he hadn’t arrived on our doorstep for the pancakes. All we would do was hope and pray that with each of these moments – even though at times it felt inconvenient and we had to sacrifice our time and our pancakes – maybe his heart would be warmed by the love the Lord showed him through us, and he might one day trust Him.
Then there was that Friday afternoon when the wedding I was bridesmaid for a few weeks later was brought forward and scheduled for thirty six hours later – with the reception in our home! The time and energy it took to pull it off was nothing in comparison to the joy of watching as our wider church family pitched in to see the couple have a beautiful wedding with all the trimmings: the cake, flowers, music, photographer, dress, decoration, food and people; ALL the trimmings of a wedding, planned months in advance, in thirty six hours.
Our church and home were filled with the family of the couple who hadn’t known Jesus for long, and whose family weren’t believers but who were totally blown away by the generosity and love the Lord showed them through his followers that weekend. It’s a memory that softens their hearts years later. And for those of us who were part of the celebration and know the Lord, we were convinced this is the stuff we were created for; a true team effort with eternal significance.
Why do I share these stories? Because as I read this passage about the early church in Acts I am reminded of the sweet moments spent in community with other believers, and I ache for more. I want to know their secret to their growing, missional community!