By Timothy and Alice Colegrove
It’s 6:30 on a Sunday night and Dinner Church Boston, a new urban church plant of the CMC, is gathered around the table. Our bellies have been satisfied with a home cooked meal and we have transitioned to coffee and dessert. We are caught up in reflection on the Beatitudes of Matthew chapter 5, specifically the verses on judging. Christian and pagan sit elbow to elbow as we open up the scriptures. For some of us, this is our first encounter with Jesus. For all of us it is a time of deep listening and learning. I ask the group simple questions, to provoke discussion: “What do you observe in Jesus’ teaching here?”; “How does this resonate with your experience?” Some responses come easily: “Remove the log from my own eye first.” “Look at yourself before you look at others.” Others speak up from personal experience, “Many Christians I’ve met don’t seem to match up with this…”; “There seems to be a big difference between Christianity in essence and Christianity in practice when it comes to judging” and; “It seems that smaller churches do a better job at not judging. Why?” The time of sharing and reflection is lively and charitable, with no question or comment off limits, and no shame in not having all the answers.
It is in the context of this ragamuffin dinner community that we’ve embarked upon a crash course in church planting. A year and a half ago, when my wife Alice and I were first led to the CMC to plant a church, we were keenly aware that our community would be representative of a new wave of CMC churches adjusting to the challenges of a rapidly post-Christian context. We knew that the old presuppositions of Christendom often don’t hold water. People in Boston are no longer convinced by arguments such as, “Because the Bible tells me so” (should they ever have been?). Most of the people around us did not grow up in church-going households. Our society is no longer a place where Christians wield political power, and a growing number of individuals (22% in Massachusetts!) no longer identify with any religion. On our tiny one-way street alone we share space with Muslims, Hindus, Gnostics, and atheists. It seemed clear to us from the beginning that a long road of experimentation lay ahead of us, filled with successes and failures, trial and error.
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