What if this was church?

Imagine getting a gym bag full of snacks, candy, and toys from a group of people who care enough about you to give up their Monday nights so they can hand-assemble something to remind you that you are loved and cared for. That is one example of what church looks like for us at Wickline Douglas. We partnered with a few other churches and helped the Kaleo Foundation create 626 bags to be distributed to Oklahoma Autism. We got to be (literally) the hands and feet of Jesus for the world! Every disabled child in Oklahoma who receives one of these bags will know that they are unique and important and loved by God.

We are the Wickline Douglas launch team and we are planting a different kind of church. We don’t believe church is a building or is something you “go to.” We believe church is a community of people radically loving each other and the world around them the way Jesus did. In technical Biblical terms, it is an ekklesia, or an assembly of people called out by God. In fact, did you know that much of what we think of church is actually outside the scope of the New Testament and wasn’t practiced until after the apostles were long dead? Most of it is modeled after the Pagan religious practices of Rome, right down to the layout for our modern sanctuaries. Some well-known Christian researchers and writers have even argued that what most Christians do on Sunday morning is actually more pagan than it is Christian and is destructive to Christianity!

We are devoted to BEING the Christian church for the world. We do meet and worship together to nurture our faith, but our worship service is more relational. And that service will NEVER be our main product. We believe that if we make the command of Jesus to love our first priority, the church will be renewed. 

Does this sound intriguing to you? Why don’t you click the join link and sign up to get our text notifications and emails. That way you can keep in the loop about what we are doing and maybe even come join us when we do cool, community-changing stuff.

Show and tell

Here is a clip from one of the many teachers who received a special bag yesterday at Willowbrook Elementary School. This reaction was not uncommon. We live in a world where people don’t get reminded how loved and appreciated they are near enough. We at Wickline Douglas UMC hope to change that by creating a community devoted to loving each other and the world around us. We’d love to have you help us do it.

We are in the infancy stages of the church plant, but we are already learning how to be family together. We believe the best way to show love to the community is by working alongside them. On Monday, 9/18, we will be gathering together to partner with the Kaleo Foundation to put together mission bags of supplies for the impoverished.  In addition to local community mission, we are creating small-groups and a once-per-month worship service.

Click the “Join” link to get on the email and/or text list.

 

Does it really matter? 

Pastor David reflects on a video documenting the efforts to remove a cross from the top of the Chapel at Southeastern University in Ada, Oklahoma. Have we really accomplished anything more than forcing people to tolerate a religion for which they don’t want to be a part? 

How can we stand for something that changes those opinions so that people welcome the cross on top of buildings? This is the real problem. People outside the church see the Christian church as irrelevant and impotent at doing anything more than standing up and using their political power and influence to force them to accept their values and religious agenda (agendas and values that they can’t even seem to agree upon or uphold themselves). 

Now, any church-going Christian should know that the church is responsible for an enormous amount of compassion and good across the world. The building of hospitals, schools, and the championing of justice issues used to be the products of the church. How have we gotten to the point where those outside the church see our main product as fancy worship services, hypocrisy, apathy toward local issues, and shallow proselytizing of non-Christians?  

It’s time to change public opinion. Let’s return to the commandment of Jesus to love our neighbors radically. Let’s live and walk like Jesus did so that people welcome the Christian cross rather than reject it. 

That’s the challenge ahead of us for the Wickline Douglas community. Will you help us? Go to https://branchpastor.blog and join us as we plant a church that isn’t about a building, but a people intent on radically loving one another and the world around us as Jesus did. As told us to do.

If you had the power to change the world.

What if you had the power to change the world? What would you do? Have you ever thought about that? I’ve been to many churches of good people who somehow have become apathetic to the world outside their walls. How many broken lives do people pass by on their Sunday drive to church?

Imagine the possibilities available to a group of people who unite around world-change in the style of Jesus – coming together and then actually getting out and doing the work. I believe a people whose hearts were united like that can change the world. Don’t you?

You have that power. What are you going to do with it? Com alongside us and let’s not waste it. Click the join link and get connected to the communication channel.

 

Painting, Chair, or Church?


We had our first launch team meeting last Saturday. During the meeting, we talked about the church-planting process and the next steps we need to take to accomplish the vision. Post that discussion, a realization came over me. Because I have been so busy learning how to plant a church ( attending trainings, reading best practices, etc.), church planting for me has become this external process. In reflecting on the team’s discussion about getting all the right pieces and putting them together in just the right way to create this vision we have for church, I realized that a church cannot be built the way a carpenter might build a chair. The launch team cannot “build” this new church. Community cannot be crafted as an external object. It is something that we must become.

I had been thinking and acting as if we can create this community as an add-on to whatever else we are doing, as if we could “tack-on” church planting to our to-do list of projects. I am convinced that nothing is a better recipe for failure. While we certainly will need people who will offer their gifts of service because they want to support the new church, that is supplemental help. Alone, that will be insufficient. What we really need most are people who are committed to seeing a church community reborn from the inside out. We need people who are willing to be in community with one another. We need people who are passionate about helping one another in this journey of life.

That’s how God did it. God showed us love by becoming one with us. For this church plant, we need to do the same.

Why another church?

In talking to people, I have been asked, “Why another church?” When anyone interested in church has plenty of options in Midwest City, why give them another one?

My default answer to that question is that I’m planting a church for people who don’t like church. It is for people who don’t find church relevant to their current lives, or at least not relevant enough to bother going. They think there are better ways to spend their time. In other words, it’s for people who think there’s something better than church. But why will people come to this church that wouldn’t go to another church?

The answer is that it won’t be a church. At least, not in the contemporary sense of the word. Most people in our culture think of church as a place. It is where religious people attend. The main product of these places are worship services. So, when I say I’m planting a church, most people think I’m planting a worship service in a building somewhere.

Except, I’m not.

Now, there is nothing wrong with worship services. In fact, they are a vital part of faith formation for practicing Christians. To routinely engage in praising something greater than our own self-interest and pleasure is fundamental to a healthy Christian faith. But, you don’t start there and you can’t force it.

But if you read the Bible and pay attention to what Jesus says, you’ll never hear him telling his followers to go plant awesome worship services or erect stained-glass sanctuaries. Instead, you’ll hear him telling them and commanding them to love one another. In fact, he even says that their love for one another should be how people know they are his followers.

I believe that’s what the main product of church should be. So, the church I’ve been called to plant will not be a worship service, or a Bible study, or a building. It will be a people – a community known for the radical way they love one another and the world around them, just like Jesus did. My launch team and I will work together to create a community whose focus is on initiating and facilitating relationships, then celebrating acts of love as they are lived out within that community. It will be a community where, no matter who you are or what you believe, you will be welcomed with the grace Jesus Christ offered us. It will be a community that takes seriously the critique of 1 John 2, where those who claim to be in Christ must walk as Jesus walked.

That’s the basic idea. That’s the elevator version of what I’m doing. In a world where people have 1,000 friends on Facebook, but spend most nights feeling alone; where they are members of online groups with published stories, but don’t have any community to whom can share their actual story, I believe a church like that is just what this world needs? What do you think? How does that sound? Let me know.

And if it sounds good, why don’t you join me in creating that kind of community? You don’t have to commit to more than you are comfortable doing – even if that is just attending the events – and there will always be the opportunity for a graceful exit. But the truth is nobody can build community alone. It takes people. Will you be one of those people?

If you think you might be interested, click this link to sign up for our email and text list. We’ll keep you abreast of the events. You can also choose to get launch-team emails and texts, in case you feel like you might be interested in that as well.

Also, please share this page/blog with anyone you can. Let’s get the word out. Thanks and may you experience the grace and peace of God.

Always love.

The Actual Boardwalk

I visited the Boardwalk while in New Jersey. It is beautiful, amazing, and inspiring. It’s way cooler than the little blue cardboard game piece from Monopoly. Join me in this video as I walk along the Jersey shore on this giant wooden walkway and muse how the actual boardwalk is different from the game piece, and how the actual church needs to be different from the way people currently perceive it.

If you want to help change the image of church to those who are outside the church; or if you are one who is outside the church and don’t like the church, come join our community. Text the word “douglas” to 84576 to get updates of events. You can also opt to join the launch team and help us create a new type of church.

New Text-to-Join number! 84576

ATTENTION: We’ve changed the text-to-join number. So, please text the word “douglas” to 84576 to get on the new list. Once you do, you’ll get a link to a website where you can sign up for what texts you want, choose to join the launch team, and give us some optional information about who you are.

DON’T USE 797979 anymore.

Share these Facebook Events

MOVIE ON THE LAWN

Who? = Anybody who wants to relax and enjoy an outdoor movie.

We are watching “A Dog’s Purpose” outside on the lawn this Saturday at 8:30 PM. This is a non-religious event to which you can bring anyone. This is just about a brand-new, faith-based community trying to be obedient to Jesus by loving people without any strings attached. Bring a lawn chair if you have one. Here is the event page for the movie:

Movie on the Lawn this Saturday @ 8:30 PM

WHAT NEXT? MEETING (LAST ONE)

Who? = Anyone who either is interested in helping with the new church plant or want to know more about it before deciding.

This Sunday at 4 PM is the last chance to hear the presentation of the overarching vision of the new church model along with a birds-eye view of how we plan to get there. It also offers an opportunity for Q&A. This is designed for people who either want to help or just want to know more. Here is the link to that event.

What Next? Meeting this Sunday @ 4 PM.

These are both setup as Facebook events, so if you have a Facebook, please share it. If you have another social-media preference, and want to create an event or share it, that would be great. The more the merrier!

Remember, you can always check to see a list of upcoming events on the Events page.