One of the joys of being a Christian is that we have brothers and sisters all over the world. One of the delights in being in a family of churches like Newfrontiers, which has a strong set of core values and a shared story, is that such ties are even stronger. Call it shared DNA, call it living in the shadow of Terry Virgo, whose example permeates the movement, or call it whatever you want, it is certainly very tangible. From the moment I arrived in town and was met by a regular member who had given up his time to drive me from the airport, I knew I was among my family here at Jubilee Church St. Louis.
I have had a great few days. All the informal times spent over food and around the Super Bowl have been very enjoyable. It was also really good to worship in an environment where I totally felt like I belonged. Just the name of the church helped, since I attend a church called Jubilee back in London. It also meets in a dark room with drums, keyboard and guitars blasting out worship, so that seemed familiar too! Seth urged us to be vigorous in our praise. He said that it is like watching a football game when someone has made a good play. The crowd roars with delight and celebrates the success. As he put it, “Jesus made a good play!”
It seemed like the congregation, mixed both in age and race as it was at each of the Sunday morning services, did not really need that encouragement. There was a clear sense of being caught up together to truly celebrate our champion. The worship was punctuated in both services by some contributions in the form of words of encouragement or prophecy. This tended to include some explanation of what the person felt God was laying on their heart linked to a Bible passage. In each service at least one of these was shared by a young woman. Again it was obvious, as at the other USA Newfrontiers churches I visited, just how involved in the mission these women are. Later in the week some of the women who work for the church took time out of their day together with some of the guys to watch me record video on the resurrection for their Bible training course.
The church was on the second week of their series on sex titled XXXposed. The pastor here, a considerate, intentional man called Bryan Mowrey spoke on building blocks to intimacy. It was a message from the heart and one much needed. I never tire of listening to sermons about how to be a better husband. I surely need to hear them. Of course, it made me long even more than I already do for my reunion with my ever-lovely Andrée. Bryan’s talk would also be helpful for an unmarried person. I especially liked his argument that the word “single” is very unhelpful. You do not have to be alone. You have Christ. You have Christ’s bride. He wants you to be fulfilled whatever your marriage status. A Christian man or woman can be secure and happy without a spouse. Paul even seems to hint that such unattached people are more free to serve God’s purposes.
Bryan went on to point out that there is something far worse than being unmarried and lonely: being married and lonely. Marrying someone who makes your life harder and more miserable is a big mistake from which it is almost impossible to recover from. Worse still, of course, is realizing that you are the one making your partner’s life harder. I pray that listening to this talk might help you to consider new ways of blessing your husband or wife if you have one, and may encourage you greatly even if you don’t. You can download the audio.
It looks like I may well have to stay in St. Louis for an extra day due to snow in Chicago. It is a measure of how at home I feel here, that I am almost pleased at that (despite the inconvenience to my plans that may cause!)