Duane knew someone who could get him some Gideon New Testaments. He was pretty insistent that everyone who walked through the door got one. He placed a label inside the cover that provided details on how to get in touch with him.
David knew how to play the guitar, but he didn’t really know too many ‘religious’ songs. He was used to playing bars and jamming with friends who smoked substances other than tobacco.
No one in the living room was more than twenty-five, but we stumbled through some songs and David would write a few that may not have been theologically correct, but there was plenty of love expressed in these new song.
Since we didn’t have a traditional preacher we took turns sharing what we had been learning.
Having grown up in a traditional church this was a bit peculiar for me. This was the Jesus Movement and there was a lot to love about the enthusiasm expressed for Jesus. Often the things expressed were based more in experience than God’s Word, but these were the type of people Jesus hung out with when He was on earth and I loved spending time with them.
Lots of tears were shed on propped up furniture, lots of songs about God’s love were sung and lots of Gideon Bibles were given away.
In time most of these friends began to understand they had Jesus, but didn’t really know what to do with Him. Most ventured away from the living room to local congregations where they used their music talent and zeal to ignite congregations that weren’t sure how to respond to guitars in the church and young people with hair longer than their own.
I was able to experience both sides of the divide and I learned to appreciate those who developed a passion for Jesus outside the walls of a church building as well as those who had never known life apart from two services on Sunday and prayer meeting on Wednesday.
What I learned in the 70’s was that these two groups needed each other even when no one wanted to admit it.
Everyone wants to know that they have a safe place to meet with others. Some might never go to a church because they wear leather and a braided beard or they think they have done so many wrong things in their life they wouldn’t be welcome. Sometimes they’re right.
I heard a pastor say one time that every pew should have at least three types of people in them; new believers, mature believers and hellbenders. This last group needs to feel as comfortable as the first. But are they?
Maybe that’s why many of these would still rather sit in an easy chair in someone’s living room and discuss the real nuts and bolts of life than go to a church where they believe they will be judged by where they’ve been or where they are rather than where they want to go in their relationship with Jesus.
Another pastor friend of mine who serves many of those who have felt uncomfortable elsewhere suggests that the modern church needs to be a place where this ‘stay at home’ church can uncover God’s plan for their lives, discover what it is like to live in God’s will and recover from the mistakes they have made.
Maybe a church like that would be a place where Jesus would feel right at home.
I still have a Jesus Music chorus book that I pull out from time to time and in those moments I am transported back to a living room filled with people singing songs about Jesus, and a Bible pusher named Duane. I think Jesus smiles with me as I recall the joy I always saw in those faces in a little house – just down the street.
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