{Side note: I’ve been planning on writing a post about Forward  for a while, but I figure that writing about yesterday’s events are as good a place to start as ever.}

It’s interesting the claims that we make sometimes, we Christians. We sing Hillsong and Chris Tomlin and have catchy bumper stickers. We Instagram pictures of mission trips and highlight our Bibles until they look like coloring books. We lift our hands in worship and proclaim outrageous statements like: “Break my heart for what breaks Yours, everything I am for Your kingdom’s cause!” and “My heart and my soul, I give You control, consume me from the inside out Lord!” 

But is that really what we mean?

Proverbs 20:13 tells us, “Love not sleep or you will become poor, keep your eyes open and you will have bread.” What I think it’s trying to say is that if we become comfortable in our faith—if we mistake the assurance of salvation for the excuse to not be active—we will find ourselves poor, and starving for real, authentic Christianity. I’ve found myself doing and saying all the right things, but on the inside, being spiritually malnourished—not opening my eyes to the needs of those around me. I’d become a Christian sleepwalker.

Forward Church was part of my wake-up call.

Forward is not like any church I’ve been to before. We meet in an elementary school for behaviorally challenged children in the heart of a struggling part of Nashville. When I walked in expecting pews, I found folding chairs. When I walked in expecting a formal service with hymn books and all, I found a kind of passionate chaos. I walked in expecting a church, and I found a family.

Through 2/42 {our small group}, helping with worship, and just in general hanging out with my Forward family, I’ve been refreshed and reminded of what real Christianity looks like. My pastor back home in Wisconsin said one Sunday that church was never intended to be a building, but rather a body of believers. Something that is living, active. The people that I’ve met over just a few months have become a central part of my life and have helped to encourage and strengthen me. We aren’t perfect, and we never claim to be. All we do claim is that we are completely in love with God and so, so thankful for what he’s doing in our lives.

This Sunday was just another example of that.

No building? No problem.

Because of a mistake with opening the building over the weekend, we walked to Murrell at 8 AM and found out that there was no way that we could get inside and set up church. Thankfully, it was a nice day out, and so we thought, why not? We’ll have church outside. Everyone got as many blankets as we could, and despite some wind and the fact that we had to change around worship a bit, decided to go for it.

Would you be surprised if I told you that it was one of the most powerful Sundays of my life?

Not being in even a building made me think about the time when God walked the earth, when being outside and listening to the gospel was ordinary. Pastor Jim also reminded us of the fact that there are churches all across the world that don’t have funds for buildings, or because of persecution are meeting underground. And yet, in the face of trials, God gives them triumph. There really aren’t words to describe being able to worship under the open sky. It made me think of Psalm 121:1: “I lift my eyes to the heavens, from where does my help come from?” It was as if I was at the throne room of God himself.

But after lifting our hearts to heaven, we were reminded to keep our eyes to the ground. After the sermon, Pastor Jim let us know about the things that Forward is trying to do to reach out beyond our own community. One of the things that they’re working on doing is giving every child at Murrell a Christmas stocking. And they aren’t being filled with iPads or smartphones or anything. It’s things that are even more precious to them—soap, toothbrushes, maybe a few toys. In Nashville, where celebrities own apartments that are worth millions of dollars and people like me have the opportunity to go to college, there are families struggling to pay rent and put food on tables. My Forward family sees this. And they are awake and ready to answer the call.

If you’d like to be a part of the amazing things that are happening at Forward, or if God’s put on your heart to bless a certain ministry, I’d encourage you to do so. Forward has helped me to remember the real meaning of church.

For giving information, click here and go to “Online Giving.” If you want to help with stockings for A Very Murrell Christmas, designate that in the memo box. If you’re in the Nashville area and would like to come check it out, do it! I’ll totes hit you up for coffee or lunch afterwards {yeah, I just said totes…}

xoxo,

 {yeah, check that fancy signature.}

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