Being the Church
Last week I went to a funeral at a Cowboy Church. They have changed the name and Cowboy Church is no longer in the name, but it is still a cowboy church. Cowboy Churches have been around for a long time, but in recent years there has been an emphasis on establishing more of
them. More than two hundred cowboy churches have been started in sixteen states. Cowboy Churches are usually: non-denominational, no offerings collected or solicited, no membership, no dress code, and are held in non-traditional settings. It is a ‘no barriers’ model without traditions
believed to have no biblical basis like an ‘altar call’ and the passing of the collection plate.
The building is new and is warm and rustic. The pastor obviously knew the congregation and he was articulate and welcoming. But, the thing I noticed first were the words over the front door—‘Welcome Home.” How wonderful is that—exactly what one should feel when entering the church. Henri Nouwen says, “Jesus opened the door to God’s house for all people, also for those who never knew or will know that it was Jesus who opened it. The Spirit that Jesus sent “blows where is pleases” and it can lead anyone through the door to God’s house.
One of my favorite movies is Antwone Fisher. It is the story of a little boy in search of home—he didn’t know his real family and was sent from foster home to foster home. Antwone has a recurring dream where he meets his family and finds his real home—in his dream he walks up to a big barn, the doors open and there are all of his family around a big banquet table—he has found his family and they have prepared a dinner to welcome him home. When Antwone finds his real family this is exactly what happens—the doors open and they invite him to the party that is home.
Home is the family gathered around the table, talking, laughing, sharing that which is the source of life. In the Bible this invitation to the table is a symbol of the love that God offers us. Every Sunday at Bread Fellowship we gather around the table to share the bread and the wine— the Bread of Life and the Cup of Grace. We offer it to each other and what we are really saying is “Welcome Home.”