Our city was just visited by the strength of a soothing thunderstorm amplified across the Southern California skyline. It was as if God plugged in His Bose speakers because He wanted as crisp of a sound as possible so that we would be reminded of His presence. His tears saturated the streets letting us know that He still cries for us. And lightning flashes from His DSLR froze the early morning's beauty just before the day's busyness woke up from its slumber.
It felt like the mark of a new season.
And, with the beginning of daylight savings just around the corner, "all things new" seems to be the appropriate theme for us as a church. Couple that with the approach of Easter and the stage is definitely set for an amazing display of God.
I've been sensing, for awhile now, that the folks in our city are longing for something new. The routine of trying to get by through life and, for many, the reality of surviving day to day has gotten cumbersome. I mentioned, in my previous post, that underneath the struggle and the evident poverty that blankets our streets is the overwhelming need for folks to first understand their true value and self-worth. Once that's grasped, then the initiative toward change becomes possible. But that can only happen when folks are in an environment of continual encouragement and accountability. Left to their own vices without a truthful loving nudge, then people will continue toward the same downward spiral.
With that said, I'm beginning to believe that The Branch is entering, if not has already entered, a new season where we get to usher people into a place of belonging. It's in this place of belonging that folks can begin to move toward understanding their worth and value. In many ways, it's really inviting folks into family.
God, through Moses, reminded the Israelites in Deuteronomy 10, "And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt."
The Israelites were to welcome outsiders or strangers into their "family" without turning a blind's eye to them. They were to embrace foreigners as one of their own. And it's important to note that this was in the context of the Nation becoming established after their Egyptian enslavement. Meaning, as the Israelites became more solidified in understanding who they were, they were to in turn welcome others into their midst. They were to create a place of belonging for those lost in their travels. They were to invite folks who needed a place to find themselves.
We've immersed ourselves in our city for the past couple of years, establishing our rhythms as a church and building connections with others along the way. In such a short time, the wheels of our movement have steadily turned toward great things for the Kingdom. We've been intentional about discipling one another and outwardly reaching folks in our city with good works. We've laid The Branch's foundation and I believe it's time to begin intentionally building that place of belonging for folks in our city.
But hear me when I say this...
I don't mean we're to simply begin inviting people to our Sunday Gatherings. But I truly sense that it's time that we, as members of The Branch, intentionally begin inviting folks into family. Does that mean inviting folks to our Sunday services? Absolutely! But it's more than that. It's inviting folks to do life with us in our journey to love God and to love others.
I realize why I haven't stressed the invitation part of church life since our inception. And that's because God was laying down His foundation in us first. As we near our three year mark, it's becoming evident that we take the baton, as the disciples did from Jesus, and run toward folks with the intension of ushering people into a place of belonging.
Will you join me in this exciting new season?