What I learned from my first years on a MoveIn team
Like many in the movement, I joined MoveIn because I saw need for the presence of believers in neighbourhoods in the world. Just as Jesus came to the world, we too can shine his light into the darkness.
What I had not anticipated was how being with a team in the neighbourhood would shape the way that I viewed church. I began to notice the Bible coming alive in ways I had never expected.
“Each day they broke bread together in each other’s homes” (Acts 2:46)
Although most of the bread eaten at our house has been toast in the morning before dashing off, we have eaten more meals than I can remember together. Not only is there a practical time-saving aspect to this, as well as giving a break from food preparation to those having a busy week, but eating together has been such a blessing. It is a daily chance to catch up on how things are going in a space where people aren’t distracted.
Food for thought: is Communion/Eucharist/Lord’s Supper a community meal?
“No-one counted anything as his own, but they shared everything they had” (Acts 4:32)
The spirit of sharing has been very apparent as we lived together with other believers: food, physical space, kitchen equipment, furniture, favourite songs, inspirational videos, washing up, and even rent (“as any had need” – Acts 4:35). The picture of a sharing community in Acts is one of each member providing for the needs of the others – how different from the self-sufficient society we live in now where provision is delegated to the government! Non-MoveIners remark on how much we have been willing to share our lives and help each other – even for relatively simple sacrifices.
“Teach and admonish one another” (Col 3:16)
There is a ‘one-another’-ness to much of the New Testament that often gets overlooked. Perhaps it got lost in the lecture-style focus on the anointed teacher or worship leader at the front of the auditorium. Did you know that we are commanded to teach one another? Our team has been very blessed to hear what others have been reading – we learn from each other, and it gives each of us the opportunity to share our own perspectives. We can often be found searching our Bibles to see if what another teammate shared is true (see Acts 17:11), and often enough, it is!
A phrase shared by a housemate which stuck with me was, “Eat the meat, leave the bones” – be willing to learn from others and check things out, even if you don’t agree with everything they say at first. You will probably learn something, and find you were closer than you first thought. “Be united in the same mind and the same purpose” (1 Cor 1:10)
“Exhort each other every day, while it is still today, so that none of you are hardened by sin” (Heb 3:13)
How this has come alive in a closer community! For most of my believing life, my interaction with fellow believers was limited to those I saw on Sunday; how many weeks rolled by where we had time and space only to catch up on the main events of the week? We usually didn’t even know what people’s deeper problems were, let alone pray about them or hold each other to account.
The verse above makes it clear that we are to watch out for each other – to keep walking the way God wants us to, and to assembling a prayer army you can trust and call on in times of distress. We are only bold enough to post certain issues in the Sunday prayer bulletin. Our leaders should not be shouldering the burden of dozens of problems alone. Not only is it ineffective, it quickly drains them and robs the ordinary believer of their chance to be there for others.
Those in charge of running the weekly church service will know what I mean when I say that Sunday can sometimes feel too busy for God or each other. Perhaps this was the mistake that the priest and the Levite made as they hurried past the wounded man, leaving him for the Samaritan to find.
“For we are God’s servants, working together” (1 Cor 3:9)
Think of the example Jesus set – he spent a lot of time with his disciples, and not only did they listen to his teaching, he also brought them with him wherever he went. They watched what he did, and then he sent them out to imitate him! Rather than a lecturer-student relationship, it has a lot more in common with a master-apprentice relationship. I note Paul’s boldness when he says things like “Join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us” (Phil 3:17). Perhaps the way Jesus wanted his Body to work was for the members not just to give verbal instruction to each other and then go their separate ways for the week, but to actually walk together in doing it – the experienced with the inexperienced, the mature with the immature, or simply as co-labourers, like the pairs sent out by Jesus.
One day we were all sitting together in the living room, and I asked a question that I had never asked before: “Guys – are we church?” We all paused for thought.
What does the Bible say ‘church’ is? This is something worth more reflection than I can give here; all I will say is that if it is limited to a building or a program on Sunday, you probably haven’t found it.
“Like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5)