This is a guest post from Nate Navarro, Director of Missional Community at Austin City Life and Co-Director at Music For The City. The second time I ever met my friend Jonathan Dodson it was at Austin Java over a good cup of coffee. He was telling me that he was starting a church where Christians and Non-Christians would be in community together and would work together for the good of the city.
I was intrigued to say the least. Here’s a story to show how this vision can unfold…
Dylan is cool. He is good looking, has the right tattoos, and has the attention of the ladies. He is a fast living Austinite who waits tables for a living.
Dylan was raised in Dallas and tells stories of growing up in a church where he felt left out, judged, and unloved. As soon as he graduated high school he packed his bags and moved to Austin.
I met Dylan a year ago on a Sunday afternoon and invited him into the house for a beer and to watch some football. He stayed all day long and kept coming back every Sunday night for dinner. On Sunday nights we open our home for dinner. Folks bring their own beverages, and a different person every week cooks up a meal. Some nights there are 10 people, sometimes 20, once we had 35.
After about a month he started asking who all these people were that came over for dinner on Sunday nights, and “when can I come to this church everyone is talking about?”
What he didn’t realize is that he had been visiting the church, every Sunday night for a month, in our home.
Now it looked more like a chaotic dinner party with lots of food, loud kids running around, and a few empty beer bottles. In reality it was a group of very imperfect Christians, living life together, on mission to love Austin. Soon after that my friend Dylan began to drop in on our Sunday morning gatherings. He occasionally meets me for lunch, and serves alongside me at the nursing home in our neighborhood.
Last month I shared the Gospel with Dylan over a turkey sandwich. We have been friends for more than a year.
I told him that although we are all more broken than we dare admit, in Christ we are more accepted than we could ever imagine. I pleaded with him to see that Jesus offered him perfect love that one night stands could not.
Dylan is skeptical.
My best guess is that he loves our community but does not yet love Jesus. I pray that he will see through the inconsistencies in my life, and in the life of our church, and see how good and perfect Jesus is. I am thrilled to be part of a Christian community where people like Dylan, who struggle to believe, feel welcome, loved, and respected.
And for those reading this and looking for a practical application:
Stop inviting people to your church and start inviting them into your life.