Divine Design

December 27th, 2013

In the beginning, the earth was like an unpainted, poorly lit room with all the furniture in boxes in the hallway waiting to be assembled and properly arranged. So God started rearranging the furniture. —Andy Stanley, Deep & Wide

One reason I was attracted to Ginghamsburg Church was the attention to detail I noted when I  first arrived at worship that Sunday in 1993. Not only was casual attire the norm, but guests were allowed to bring their mugs of hot coffee into the worship area.  This was unheard of at the time but spoke volumes to me about this unique faith community.  The message was that I could be the same person inside the church walls as I was outside the church.  This was a place that found a way to integrate sacred and secular, as evidenced by this one hospitable permission (and a few radio songs they played on the side).

It was Advent season in the early 1990s, and my young family was new to Ginghamsburg Church. My husband and I told each other we were there to “hide and heal” after a very rough patch in another ministry setting. Sitting in worship in the crowded Discipleship Center (located on what is now Ginghamsburg’s South Campus), I happened to notice that a lightbulb in the garland encircling the room was burned out.  This bothered my obsessive self, but I seriously doubted it bothered anyone else—after all, I was in a church and was quite used to being put off by things that no one else seemed to notice, especially in church environments. On that day, however, I found company in my disturbance. Between worship celebrations, the young man who had been running sound in the back of the room sidled up to that green garland and screwed in a brand-new bulb—voilà, lights uninterrupted! What joy!  This could be my church after all.

You see, what I know now is that how our church buildings are cared for, how the gardens are weeded, how the glass shines, how the spaces are intentionally designed—these details all whisper to human guests that they will or will not be cared for. It’s really the only manual we have on such matters as we enter a space for the very  first time. As church leaders, we must consider our relationship with those we seek to serve: men, women, students, infants, grandparents, and the lost and oppressed along with the rich and famous. We must lift a vision for the way life can look. Missiologist Michael Frost asserts, “Our true calling from God is to wipe the grime from the window [of life], allowing the light of Christ to dispel the darkness—and to reveal the beauty and goodness of God to a hurting world.” New pictures and hope for our lives and locations and a haven of hospitality in the midst of all sorts of brokenness—this is the call I’ve found as my own.

excerpt from: REdesigning Churches: Creating Spaces for Connection and Community by Kim Miller Copyright©2013 by Abingdon Press. Used with permission.

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