Church as movement
We envision The Table becoming not just an institution or organization, but a multiplying movement of Jesus communities networked together under a common mission of encountering, embodying, and extending the presence of Christ in neighborhoods and networks all over Indy.
But how did we get here? Why land on a vision like that? Here’s what we were wondering…
Are we solving the wrong problem?
We’ve all heard the statistics and read the doom-and-gloom op-eds. Church attendance is in freefall. The undergirding structures of modern society that were once taken for granted are cracking and shaking. The artifacts we used to rely upon to tell us what is true and what to do are no longer reliable.
In the midst of this cultural and religious earthquake, many are attempting to prop up these artifacts. Pastors are wondering how to get young people to “come back to church” so we can get back to the way it was.
But we wonder if perhaps we aren’t asking deep enough questions.
Rather than prop up and reinforce those old structures, perhaps we need to ask if there is something stronger and more rooted we should be building?
Rather than try to get more people to come to church, perhaps we need to get back to some more fundamental questions: What is the church? What is it for?
Rather than try to get bigger, faster, stronger at what we’ve always done, perhaps we need to ask if our energies would be more fruitfully invested in seeking something we haven’t been looking for for awhile?
Perhaps we need a new breed of church for a new day of mission.
When we say a “new breed of church” we aren’t talking about coming up with something novel birthed from cultural trends, market research, or the latest fads.
No, we’re talking about re-connecting to something very ancient: the commission that Jesus gave his disciples and the early forms the church took in response to that mission.
And we’re also talking about re-connecting to the present cultural situation, and to the future we seem to be headed toward.
We want to bring these two realities together in the power of the Spirit to see what God might do as we pay attention to his work in our midst.
What might this look like?
Old wine into new wineskins
God’s people always organize in forms that fit their culture.
Whether they gathered around an actual meal culminating in the Lord’s Supper (modeled after a Roman symposium) or down by the river when no one had a building (Acts 16), or in a large central building dedicated to worshiping God (synagogue/temple and later basilica/cathedral) the church adopted the appropriate expression of faithfulness in that time.
Here’s the question we’re asking: what form of gathering fits our culture?
How do we faithfully translate and contextualize the way the church gathers (as God’s people have always done) to communicate and connect in our present context?
- What if, instead of pouring new wine into old wineskins we poured old wine into new wineskins?
- What if we architect a liturgy rooted in the old wine of the historic tradition of Christian worship, but in the new wine of 21st-century posture and practice?
We need a new breed of church for a new day of mission.
Invited to the feast
When Jesus gathered his disciples together on the night he was betrayed, he didn’t give them a long list of rules to follow. He didn’t give them a comprehensive system of doctrines to believe. He didn’t prescribe a doctrinal statement to get everyone to sign.
He gave them a meal.
He offered them a table, and told them to keep gathering at this table as a way to remember him.
The Table became the compass in the new creation inaugurated by Jesus. He instituted a gracious economy of thanksgiving, hospitality, mutuality, and unity. We resonate deeply with Jesus’ “Table Economy” – it is the old wine we seek to pour into the “new wineskin” of Indianapolis.
So our church is called The Table.
The Table is a picture of the hospitality of God, who invites us to his table, to feast on his goodness and share in the abundance of his kingdom.
The Table is an emblem of covenant community, where we share together that which is necessary for life, loving one another and caring for one another in Christ.
The Table is also an expression of God’s mission in Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit. As God has extended his hospitality toward us, we open the table to those who would say yes to God’s welcome. They join us at the table and become fellow sharers in the goodness of God.
We envision The Table becoming a multiplying movement of Jesus communities networked together under a common mission of encountering, embodying, and extending the presence of Christ in neighborhoods and networks all over Indy.
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