Not for Everyone
If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as God chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? – 1 Corinthians 12:17-19 (NRSV)
A couple years ago at Gilead Church Chicago we ran an ad campaign. The tagline was: “We’re not for everyone, but we might be for you.”
And we meant it. Especially the first part.
It’s a church that, under normal circumstances, meets in a dive bar. A community that made itself a rule (loosely followed guideline, really) that more than 4 F-bombs in a service starts to feel less worshipful.
Our most recent theme was “Christmas is Metal.” Four weeks of loud, distorted guitars and stories of things that make you want to scream. For Advent.
A Zoom visitor wrote, “I just found out about this place half an hour ago, and I have no idea what’s happening, but I’m here for it.”
This is no way to do church. Except for the people for whom it might be the only way.
Today our congregation celebrates five years since our first worship service.
It’s been tough. Especially the last two. It isn’t a simple time to build community. And it’s never exactly clear if we’ll make it.
But if we do, you can sure it will be as the strange, fierce, beautiful (and occasionally off-putting) congregation God has called us to be.
We trust it’s the same in whatever part of the body you inhabit, and that together we can make a Church big enough and weird enough for anyone.
Jesus, keep it weird.
Vince Amlin is co-pastor of Bethany UCC, Chicago, and co-planter of Gilead Church Chicago, forming now.