By Doug Walker, senior pastor, Fellowship of the Parks
Growing up, my experience was that church was an event where you sat and listened while a distant speaker addressed a gathering of silent and well-dressed spectators. More priority was given to manners, titles, and unwritten rules of engagement than to connect with Jesus!
I thought to myself, “Should church be a formal and boring event for a select few ‘good’ or ‘appropriate’ people?” After all, if the gospel means “good news,” shouldn’t there be a celebration?
After reading the story of Levi the tax collector (Luke 5), I had what I would call a biblical vision for what church should be: A PARTY!
Levi the Tax Collector was a religious and social outcast. Despised by his fellow Jews because of his greedy career, Levi probably longed for a connection with this famous teacher and prophet known as Jesus.
When Jesus approached him and told him “Follow me,” Levi immediately responded by abandoning his sin and changing his career. What Levi did next is key: He reached out to his friends, fellow tax collectors, and those around him by inviting them to a party. A party where Jesus would be the guest of honor!
The story of Levi gave me a whole new perspective. It became apparent to me that this was a picture of what the church should be: A place where disconnected people can feel connected and worthy. A place where everyone is part of the family. A place where people can meet and get to know the guest of honor, Jesus.
I believe that Jesus never meant his church to be that dull, quiet, rigid event from my upbringing. Based on Luke 5, I believe Jesus meant for church to be a celebration – a party that connects people to Jesus, honors Him, and forever changes lives!
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