For me, leaving our old church for our new one (Imago Christi) came pretty easy. I had some small concerns, but I was pretty much all-in from the get. My only serious issue was that if/when we joined Imago I wanted to move into the surrounding neighborhood. Obviously, we moved, so I’d like to talk about what it meant to me.
The physical move from a quiet street in Marion to the yelling and screeching tires on 1st and 15th in Cedar Rapids is a GREAT metaphor for the mental, emotional, spiritual, and even philisophical move I anticipated and definitely wanted to make.
One thing I dislike about evangelicals (which I am one of) and evangelicalism (which I am a part of) is that we are self-absorbed and complacent. Since returning to following Christ 4 or 5 years ago, I’d always been on the fringe of church culture, not wanting to be sucked into the apathy I thought I saw. Without realizing it though, my zeal turned into cynicism and then apathy. I was in a comfort zone in which nothing much was required.
But the Spirit moved in my heart, woke me up a little, and then we eventually bumped into an old acquaintance who let us know about Imago. Since Imago meets at night I talked my wife into doing both services one Sunday. I came alive.
In Imago I saw people willing to be uncomfortable and suddenly remembered that I did not want comfort. I saw a community that wanted to live life together. I saw a theology that was concerned with application. I saw a church that would not preclude (read exclude) postmoderns and was not willing to leave the poor and hurting behind. I saw everything I had ever dreamt of.
How I got all that in the first 5 minutes of a service I’ll never know. Obviously, there is no church that is all those things. Imago has and will have issues like any other church.
So what did the move mean… I began to think and dream again about what I believe, how God wants us to minister, etc. In the midst of turmoil, I have become engaged, and my heart has lifted. I’m praying more, reading my Bible more, and find myself looking for opportunities to be the Good News. Not only that, but I feel so much more in touch with the Spirit than I can remember ever having been.
By no means though does that imply that anything about this move has been easy. Changing our address has been arduous, stressful, and definintely uncomfortable. Nothing has been smooth in the transition. God’s saving grace to us in the move has been that our new church family carried most of the burden of moving and moving in. At every point, someone has been volunteering their assistance.
Aside from the move, we are facing major cultural challenges in two regards. First, we’ve never been part of a church plant. While it’s still possible to just show up, we want to do more than that and it means facing the challenges of getting along, being part of the vision and work of Imago, and helping do the work to make “church” a success. Second, our new neighborhood is worlds apart from our old. We’ve got to learn how to fit in, where and how to help/minister, when and how to say ‘no’, etc. or we’ll crumble under the stress of it all.
So welcome to our blog, where we’ll talk about plenty of stuff, but we’ll try to always bring it back to finding our Haven in God’s grace in the midst of the Hood that is now our lives.