Posted by Tyler Kirkpatrick | 5/16/2019
Some of you have asked for a copy of what I wrote for the Annual Congregational Meeting on Monday night. Here it is:
I’ve never been bashful about stealing a good idea. A mentor of mine wrote something called “This Place” for the congregational meeting at his church in Hollywood, and I figured I’d try something similar for our church.
This place. 9300 Nels Nelson Rd. People go past this place on their way to the county fair and to Olympic High School, to their neighborhoods and to Bucklin Hill road. People go through this place on their way to prayer and new lives and newfound friendships and redemption from painful pasts. People go out from this place on their way to be witnesses to the resurrection in their cubicles and classrooms, dining room tables and hospital hallways; as bold colonizers of the Kingdom of Heaven offering hope and love in the territories of death and deadness and despair.
This place is the sound of a man who can walk again drumming on Christmas Eve and the warm murmurs of continued conversation in the Narthex even though the worship service has already begun. It’s the clank of mugs and silverware as selfless workers wash dishes in the kitchen because the dishwasher is only a dish-sanitizer. It’s the lingering smell of bacon on late Saturday mornings and of Italian soup dinners on weekday evenings and of coffee on… every morning. This place is the sight of the neon blurs of glowsticked-teenagers racing through the darkness on balmy summer nights and it’s the tantrumed tears and delighted smiles of little ones in preschool and Sunday school and on Thursday morning playdates. This place is the stories of the past and the visions of the future, and the stories and visions in this place are always the stories of God’s faithfulness and the visions of God’s new creation.
This place sometimes lacks the grandeur of a high-steepled downtown church in the heart of a booming metropolis or the polish of a megachurch on podcasts and livestreams, but this place continues to be this place because the Lord of the Church called us—these particular people to be the Body of Christ in this particular time and this particular place at 9300 Nels Nelson Rd.
This place is always a place on the way for people going past, and for people going through, and for people going out. And this place itself is always on the way—on the way from the grand traditions of what it has been to the new thing God is calling it to do and to be. The words of the Lord of this place are carved into an old brown wooden sign hanging behind the bell in the arched entryway to the doors of this place. And so the people of this place are on the way not simply for the sake of going somewhere or doing something, they are on the way because each Sunday they pass under and read those carved, ancient words and they find themselves in ever greater pursuit of the One who is himself the Way.