Do you ever get this question? How do you answer it? I’ve been asked this a couple times in the last month (my first month as pastor, agh! time flies!) and I’m starting to hone in on a good answer, but not sure if I’m quite there yet.
One person who had visited before, began to answer their own question, “Well, I can see that you’re really diverse, you know, multi-ethnic. Would you consider Open Table a multiethnic church?”
“Eh…well, not really,” I remember stammering.
And in a similar conversation, someone has also asked me, “Do you think Open Table would attract more Asian Americans to the point that you would become an Asian American church?”
And I remember specifically stating, “That’s not the goal here. I’m glad there are Asian Americans here, but I don’t see us ever calling ourselves an Asian American church.”
When the Leadership Team met in January this year, and Bill MacKenzie opened with a question – What is distinctive about Open Table Community to you? The first answer agreed upon was that we desire to be Spirit-led. Not in a televangelist, hyper-emotional sort of way. Not in a charis-maniac way. Just that we want to be sensitive to the fact that we come to Open Table to feel our spirits lifted, our eyes turned towards a God who is greater than ourselves, who meets us and engages us in the midst of real life, in ordinary settings but with an extraordinary sense of wonder, honesty, kindness and peace. We can move the chairs around, we can sit at card tables, we can dance, we can kneel, we can hug, we can cry — but we do this as the Spirit leads. And if we are a diverse group, then we trust that the Spirit is doing something, because we certainly haven’t marketed ourselves that way!
But this week, as I was meeting with the staff (and we have a great staff by the way — April, Stephanie, Tommy, Jacob and Esther!), when I asked them what kind of church they wanted to be, they added on to this notion of a Spirit-led church a sense of gravity I want to own as a church. “We want to be more God-fearing than man-fearing. We don’t just want to please people with the church of their preferences. We want to be strong and confident enough to say we exist as a church to do what God wants.”
Wow. Isn’t that awesome? Does that resonate with you at all?
So what kind of church are we? Are we multiethnic, missional, community-minded, charismatic, gospel-centered, insert adjective of your choice? Maybe…
But here’s a start: Open Table Community is a church that desires to be led by the Spirit of God to fear God more than man. That’s all I got for right now. See you Sunday!