The Church (Building) in DeKalb

pastor-jamie In 2009 Pastor Jamie Page, with his wife Cherron and their two children, parachuted into DeKalb, IL to plant a church, now an Acts 29 member church, The Church in DeKalb. Though sent and supported by Redeemer Fellowship (and a number of other churches) Jamie was starting from scratch. Evangelism, conversations, and hospitality led to conversions, reputation, and a core group. They began worshipping in a coffee bar/music venue, and when they outgrew that space they began renting a small building in town. As they continued to grow they rented more space, including an old night club. Now they are ready to move into an old church building in the neighborhood and they need your help.

I asked Pastor Jamie a few questions to let you in on what's going on and how you can be involved.

The Church Building in DeKalb

What good is a building?

This building will be used for three purposes: worship, love, and mission.

A building is good for calling the people in our city to worship God and to celebrate the gospel. Culturally, for where we’re at in Northern Illinois though, a building is typically seen as necessary to be thought of as a “legitimate” church. When we moved from a small café to our first leased space we saw our attendance double in a week. I attribute a lot of this to people in our city believing that churches meet in buildings. In our context, very Catholic and Lutheran, the unchurched people expect to worship in a building.

A building is good for calling our church to be knit together in love and built up in our knowledge, use, and proclamation of the gospel. A building is an extra place to gather together for fellowship and discipleship, for being together and for being built up.

A building is good for the mission of calling our city to hear the Gospel. Mission is going outside the building but even still a building serves as a launch pad for sending to our city, to the nation, to the nations. The building we are purchasing benefits our mission to make disciples too by giving us the opportunity to pay as much as $2000 a month less in facility costs and instead to spend that money on church planting, mission, and mercy.

How is this building different from where you’ve been?

This building is different from where we’ve been in that it will allow us to contribute so much more to church planting, mission, and mercy. Until now we’ve only had the opportunity to rent space. And with renting we have had no opportunity to bring an end to the cost of a facility. Sure, there will be upkeep and maintenance on this building. But our goal is to pay cash and eliminate having to pay a monthly cost of rent or a mortgage. That would enable us to contribute so much more not only to our mission but to the whole mission of all of Christ’s Church to make disciples.

How can people help you get this building?

Firstly, you can pray. We’re trying to raise as much of the full purchase price as we can. That cost is $150,000. Pray that God would allow us to raise up those funds to be able to pay cash for this new building.

Secondly, you can give. Maybe as you’re bending God’s ear, asking Him to raise the $150,000, he might bend your ear and ask you to be a part of that. We’re looking for both one time gifts of any amount as well as 100 people who would pledge to give $100 a month through 2013.

More details can be found at http://www.reachingdekalb.net/give-towards-the-building. And Giving can be done at http://tcd.onthecity.org/give.

Inside The Church

Pray for our brothers and sisters in DeKalb. And if you can, help them get this building!

The Sin of NoMission

A healthy church, a true church, is a church on mission; one that follows Jesus as disciples while making disciples of others. A church on mission maintains both an outward and inward orientation with the hope of the gospel and works of grace. We are to reach out, gather in, and worship Jesus together in all of life. When a church loses sight of the mission Christ gave us (to make disciples) it not only ceases to participate in Christ's ingathering of those he calls to himself, but it also begins to die. A church can only live as she abides in Jesus, and Jesus is definitely on mission. To abide with him we must go with him. But this sin of "no-mission" will not only kill the church, it will also kill the family. Edmund's Clowney's book, The Church, is my favorite single volume on the church. In his chapter on the mission of the church he makes the following point.

What is true of a congregation is true also of a Christian home. If a family fails to seek to gather friends and neighbors to Christ in hospitality and quiet witness, the children of the family will be scattered. We fail to bring up children in the nurture of the Lord if we fail to involve them in our efforts to gather others to the Savior.

- Edmund P. Clowney, The Church

As we are heading into a new year it's good to do some evaluation of our homes, make some adjustments, repent, and follow the Lord. Perhaps some of us can begin by asking a series of questions.

What is the functional center of our home?

What do we look to as a family for help, confidence, and joy?

Do the members of our household see the mission of the church reflected in our prayers?

Who are we reaching out to as a family with the hope of the gospel?

Who should we be reaching out to as a family with love (the great commandments) and the gospel (the great commission)?

What practices and rhythms should we begin in 2013 to help us become a home that participates in the mission God gave the church?

God has given all of us the ministry of reconciliation, and as witnesses of Jesus we are called by God to testify of him to others through our vocation, recreation, and home. And we shouldn't wait for 2013. There is time now. There is need now. And it's Christmas, which means not only are you afforded the natural opportunity to talk to others about Jesus, it's also a perfect time to practice hospitality. Open your home, friends. You can't be on mission with the doors closed.

A Robust Christmas Liturgy

A few weeks ago on my blog I shared our church's weekly liturgy, and then followed up with the principles that guide us each week as we choose songs, prayers, readings, etc. Most churches, for better or worse, have already settled into their liturgy so that they work within those forms and formulas. And then Christmas rolls around and... now what?

Most churches emphasize the birth of Jesus Christ during the season of Advent. Some are well organized in graphics, themes, or campaigns. Others are more casual in their approach. But for all of those who are pointing to the birth of Christ this season it is critical that we are working a theologically robust Christmas liturgy.

Of course the incarnation is the theological emphasis, but while many push the doctrine it's easy to miss the forrest for the trees. I'd like to offer four principles that will help to guide and guard our Christmas worship gatherings while allowing for our differences in lesser matters.

As we focus on the incarnation it is critical that we emphasize:

Christ's humanity without sentimentality.

It is far to common for people considering the birth of Jesus to come away with a feeling of "Awwwww" at cute baby Jesus rather than awe at beholding the Son of God. Many prefer it that way. Some would rather have the less confrontational, non-intrusive, feel good, Precious Moments Nativity scene rather than the harder truth that God the Father sent his Son as one of us. There is nothing cute about the deep, condescending love of God. There is nothing cute about The Son taking on human nature to live as we live, with us, for us, in order to save us. His birth should awe us. As you are worshipping (and leading others to worship) this season be sure to point to the incarnation in such a way that moves people to worship in wonder rather than merely smile with sentimentality.

Christ's deity without glamour.

The birth of God's Son was not a pretty sight. While his conception was a miracle, his birth was natural, bloody and painful. His condition was poor. Yes, it was a beautiful thing for God to become man, but the incarnation's beauty is seen in its ugliness. That God (holy and exalted) would come to dwell with sinful men and women, experience the limitations and frustrations of humanity after the fall, serve his people while being rejected by them is a hard and ugly reality. But such ugliness is sanctified by God's love and willingness to dwell among us. Yes, there God is lying in a manger; the sovereign Creator and Sustainer of all that is. He is there and yet everywhere at the same time! And he is about to get his diaper changed. He has laid aside glory to save us from our shame. Make sure your worship reflects this truth of the incarnation--that God becoming man was a beautifully ugly thing.

Christ's presence without ambiguity.

The birth of Jesus is often presented with enough ambiguity to offend no one--and therefore save no one. It can appear as if Jesus was born merely to be gazed upon in the manger. But Jesus' birth is the beginning of the fulfillment of God's promise to be with us, to save us. Jesus was born to conquer the devil, atone for our sin, and redeem a people for himself. If we cannot draw a line between his coming and crucifixion, connecting his life, death and resurrection, we leave the incarnation in a state of ambiguity that offers little help to those in need. A robust Christmas liturgy will not leave out the cross of Christ, for that is how he saves "his people from their sins."

Christ's invitation without apology.

Jesus came not merely to be seen but to be believed, received, followed. He calls all people to look to him alone for the forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and peace with God. Our Christmas liturgies will remain fruitless if we are not calling men and women and children to believe in the Son of God. All worship is an act of praise, proclaiming Christ's excellencies--and this requires a heralding of the good news. A healthy Christmas liturgy will be evangelistic.

Do not settle for offering your people and visitors a sentimental, feel good experience. Point them to the Son of God who was born to die; who came to save us; who calls all of us to deny ourselves and follow him. Do this and people's hearts will be more than warmed, they will be changed.