When we was in France just over a week ago Jonathan went along to his parents church. I stayed home with the kiddos as we knew they weren’t feeling too enthusiastic about going – I guess I wasn’t either! I think it would be fair to say that Jonathan’s parents are not 100% comfortable with their church, partly I think due to the format and partly to do with the fact that half of it is in French. It has emerging church all over it though, without the leaders even being aware of it. Isn’t that great! What Jonathan experienced was a community of people (maybe about 20 people) who worshipped God is a haphazard way, as the musician’s (note just one man here, not a band!) guitar strings had broken. They sang along to songs unaccompanied, but they were truly worshipping and reaching out to God. Next they each read out a bible verse and then prayed over each other – everyone prayed and everyone received. This was not forced, it was natural. All of this time children are in the same room as the adults, they worshipped, they prayed over others and were prayed for by others. The children went for a walk whilst a short sermon was given, and then fellowship ensued. This is a bilingual church run by a British ex-pat couple, so as I wrote, half of the service is in English, half in French, a good way of inclusion and reaching out.
The couple who lead the church started up a building and maintenance firm a few years ago, through employing people they have led many to Christ, but they also give jobs to new ex-pats trying to find work. They train them up with a new skill so that they can get an income. Again through this many have come to their “church community” and have found Jesus. Jonathan was raving about this church when he got home. Everyone was included. there was a real community hub. The best bit for him was that he didn’t have a notice sheet plonked in his hand, there was no formal “welcome” team or any other program. He doesn’t even know if the church community has a name. The “service”, if you want to call it that, was quite disjointed, but it was real, it was life, it was full of God. Maybe Jonathan will comment more if he has time. He came away feeling really encouraged again though, about what church can be.