Not long ago I spoke to the leaders of one of my favorite churches, Irving Bible Church in Irving Texas. IBC was one of the first churches where I spoke about the Jesus Creed a few years back, and I have been in contact with them — with Andy McQuitty and Steve and Jackie Roese — ever since.
The leaders have a retreat once a year and our schedules meshed, so I flew down and was ushered onto a monstrous Dallas area ranch (with roaming bison!). Steve and I had communicated about topics, but it was important to him that I speak what was on my heart, so I asked if I could break out the theses of my next book, which I’m about to send off to Zondervan. In essence the project is a summons to the kingdom vision of Jesus. So we developed some themes from that book.
The schedule was perfect because IBC’s intent was to spend time with one another: we had a session late Friday evening (I sketched the vision of James for an embodied kingdom), and then a session Saturday morning and evening, with Saturday afternoon open. Sunday morning worship time revolved around the Lord’s Supper as Jesus’ vision put into prayer.
The people are fantastic: it was great to see Andy and Alice, and after Andy’s battle this year I wasn’t even sure I’d see Andy. He’s doing great and the doctors are even using the “c” word: Cure. Pray for Andy this year. I love being with Steve and Jackie — genuine, honest, and demanding of authenticity of those around them. Jackie, you may recall, was the first female teaching pastor at IBC, that caused a bit of a news frenzy in Dallas, but IBC has flourished.
I could go on but one of my favorites was late nights chatting with so many folks… oh, forgot this one: at IBC if your phone rings during a session you either have to give up 10 dollars or sing a song. A young woman from Haiti’s phone rang (not sure if her husband called her to make it happen) and she sang Father Abraham in Haitian and brought the place down. Mine went off, too. But it was after the session — no forgiveness. I sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame!” with Wayne, a Cardinals fan. I was asked another time about my favorite restaurants in the USA, and I mentioned City Tavern in Philly, and didn’t know I had stepped in a huge circle of fun for that group.
I love to be with the folks at IBC and I can’t think of a better way to be with friends than sitting around tables and fires chatting and telling stories and dreaming of what God’s mission can be in our world. Next Year in Jerusalem!