Tag: ministry

How to Build a Sanctuary

“Any building is a temple if you make it so.” Phil Knight

I read this quote and it brought to mind this old post which was a good reminder for me, so I hope you don’t mind a redo!

People say I have the gift of hospitality, but I once put a cup of salt, instead of teaspoon of salt, into a batch of lasagna so clearly it can’t be about gourmet cooking.  I also once totally forgot that we had invited six people for dinner, so hospitality apparently doesn’t hinge on attention to details.  Instead, I would agree with someone I heard recently who said, “Hospitality is inviting heaven into the house”.

Actually I’d expand that to say, “Hospitality is inviting heaven into the house…the bus, the office…the hair salon…the airplane…the parking lot.”  And I know many people who do that much better than I do.

For a season, some mentors of ours, Gordon and Gail MacDonald were pastoring in New York City.  They befriended some city bus drivers who were Christ-followers, but felt they didn’t have an environment for ministry.  Gordon pushed back and suggested:

“Why don’t you start up your buses each morning and, while the engine is warming, walk down the aisle of the bus and shout, ‘In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, I declare this bus to be a sanctuary where passengers will experience something of the love of Christ through me.’ You can be a pastor in your own sanctuary.”

The bus drivers took his suggestion and experienced a transformation of perspective on their everyday life.  Suddenly their buses were a safe place where they were aware God was present and welcoming.

For my friend Anne a 747 is her sanctuary.  I can’t imagine anyone more full of the love of Jesus caring for weary travelers with joy and patience on the long flight from Minneapolis to Amsterdam.  Her flights are places where God is present and welcoming. Recently Anne switched her schedule to work this flight when I and my colleague were on our way home.  She treated us like royalty, but she does that with everyone she meets! Can you even??

Another friend moved to a new home last year and before painting over the walls of her living room, this is what she wrote.

IMG_4805She and her husband were declaring their house a sanctuary.

Another friend, Daoud Nassar, has a farm outside Bethlehem that is surrounded by Israeli settlements.  The government has blocked the road to his farm with boulders so you have to walk in.  They have restricted him from building anything above ground, so he uses caves.  They have repeatedly bulldozed the olive trees he grows.  But his farm, called Tent of Nations, is a sanctuary.  This is the sign that greets everyone.

IMG_3664

Welcome, Jesus.  May each place we set our feet today be a sanctuary, a piece of heaven on earth.

Where is your sanctuary today?  Might you take a minute to dedicate your space to the work of God?

 

When the Church Leaves the Building

Yesterday I had the chance to climb to the top of this dome for the third time in my life. IMG_4659

St. Paul’s Cahedral has been standing in one form or another on this spot since 604. It was rebuilt after the great London fire in 1666. It was repaired after being bombed in WW2. It is magnificent.

I love seeing many churches in the U.K. that have remained empty for years, now being refurbished and reclaimed, slowly filling with people – like the plants of Holy Trinity Brompton, where Alpha was started.

We entered into vibrant worship Sunday at St. Luke’s Kentish town – one of these church plants in a reclaimed building.

IMG_4632

Nikki Gumbel (pastor at HTB) compares church revitalization to the story of Lazarus being brought back to life:

This passage indirectly provides a picture of hope for the church. There is a sickness in parts of the church and many are declaring its death. Some parts of the church seem to have ‘fallen asleep’ (John 11:11). And in some cases there seems to be a ‘bad odour’ (v.39).

This passage reminds us of Jesus’ power to bring even the dead to life. This resurrection power is still at work in the church today.

The church is not dependent on the building of St. Paul’s, or St. Luke’s or wherever.

Jesus said, “I will build this church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” Mt. 16:18

The bottom line is that we are the church.

And something powerful happens when the church leaves the building.

For a season, some mentors of ours, Gordon and Gail MacDonald, were pastoring in New York City.  They befriended some city bus drivers who were Christ-followers. The bus drivers were discouraged because they felt they didn’t have an environment for ministry.  Gordon pushed back and suggested:

“Why don’t you start up your buses each morning and, while the engine is warming (while still empty), walk down the aisle of the bus and shout, ‘In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, I declare this bus to be a sanctuary where passengers will experience something of the love of Christ through me.’ You can be a pastor in your own sanctuary.”

The bus drivers took his suggestion and experienced a transformation of perspective on their everyday life.  Suddenly their buses were a safe place where they were aware God was present and welcoming.

For my friend Anne a 747 is her sanctuary.  I can’t imagine anyone more full of the love of Jesus caring for weary travelers with joy and patience on the long flight from Minneapolis to Amsterdam.  Her flights are places where God is present and welcoming. Recently Anne switched her schedule to work this flight when I and my colleague were on our way home.  She treated us like royalty, but she does that with everyone she meets!

Another friend moved to a new home a couple years ago and before painting over the walls of her living room, this is what she wrote:

IMG_4805

She and her husband are declaring their home to be a sanctuary where the Lord lives.

The church leaves the building anytime you create a sanctuary in your neighborhood, or office, or on your team, or in your home.

Is there an everyday space that you might pray over and be intentional about making it a sanctuary?

Soul Food for Those Who are Grieving

I wrote last week that one of my deepest desires for this space is that it would delight and refresh your soul. I want there to be laughter and fun and creativity mixed in with some of the more intense stuff of life. My hope is that “Soul Food” posts will provide some ideas and resources that you’ll look forward to like a kid looks forward to a day at the State Fair.

Recently I read a great business article  that brought to mind all the creative ways that people ministered to us around my brother’s death.

I’ve written about relational and practical stuff, and we have treasured every note that was written to us, but this is different.

Today I want to share some of the creative ways people used their spiritual gifts, talents, and resources to minister to us in the hopes it may inspire us as we minister to others.

  • In the midst of the emotional roller coaster ride with David towards eternal life, we had friends who one day said, “Are you free for dinner? Come out on our boat with us and let us care for you and you just breathe.”

They gave us hugs and listening ears and dinner and beauty. We cruised on Lake Minnetonka and ate and talked and relaxed, and it was a gift.

IMG_0506

  • One day I received an email from a friend who lives in Australia. She is a talented photographer and gardener. Her note said “Come, let’s take a virtual walk in my garden together and soak up God’s goodness.” She attached a power point with photos and thoughts as if we were walking through her garden together! You can take a look at part of it here: Winter pruned 1
  • Two friends made CD’s – mixes of songs they felt would be comforting during this hard season. For Susan and David there were many trips to and from the hospital in Chicago when these provided a strengthening sound track. This song, Nearness, on one of the CD’s was sung at David’s memorial service. If you’re having a hard day, this is for you.

There were also really meaningful gifts after David died in addition to people who blew us away by contributing in his honor. We were surprised by how moving these gifts were.

  • Like I said, there have been many kind gifts, but I want to mention one – a family sent us a delightful memorial wind chime with a quote on it. It is a beautiful, meaningful reminder whenever the wind blows.
  • While I was still in Chicago with family, a friend dropped off 5 dinners to our home in Minneapolis that she had made and frozen for us. Yes, of course I have time to make dinner (I don’t have kids at home and it wasn’t my husband that died), but what I’ve discovered is how exhausted you are after a crisis, or in a season of grief and how nice it is NOT TO HAVE TO THINK about dinner.
  • My small group, who had been part of an indefatigable prayer team for David, created one of the most meaningful gifts. They wrote verses that we had clung to during David’s cancer and notes of encouragement on a hurricane with a candle. We’ve talked often about how God’s light shines through the broken places in our lives and the gold lines represent those places of healing.

IMG_0854

  • I was moved to tears when I opened a card the other day and a friend in MN had laminated the newspaper obituary of my brother (which I helped write, but had not seen). She said she thought I might want to keep it in my Bible.

IMG_0935

All of these gifts were creative, thoughtful and personal. They communicated care and a desire to remember with us someone we loved.

Are there some additional ways people have ministered to you when you have been grieving?

 

© 2017 Laura Crosby

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑