Rev. George Byron Koch (Coke) is my friend. In fact, he is my very good friend. As my lead blog post for this week I am publishing a document that George recently sent to me to get my feedback. I now share it with you to get your feedback and to show you how two missional-ecumenists think about the church in these challenging and exciting times.
Fr. George Koch has been the pastor of Resurrection Church, West Chicago (IL), since June of 1994. George received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Physics in 1968 from Elmhurst College. While in college he was active in the Civil Rights Movement, wrote a newspaper column, hosted a series of local radio programs and led a band called “The Establishment.” After a time in the recording and film industry George founded a venture-funded national software company which led, in 1990, to him becoming senior vice-president for the Oracle Corporation. But George was restless for radical service to God through the mission of the church as a called and trained minister of the gospel. He left the corporate world and earned a Master of Divinity from Church Divinity School of the Pacific in 1992. (He received a Doctor of Ministry from King’s Seminary in 2003.)
George came to West Chicago in 1994 to serve a small congregation that had been devastated by conflict and schism. In his first decade of ministry in the Chicago area I only knew about George but never really knew him. We both had an impression of the other that was wrong. Then, in God’s time and mercy, a Bible teacher at the Wheaton Academy who had read a book of mine on revival visited me in our home, encouraged her pastor to spend time with me. Thus George and I met at a nearby Starbucks. When this finally happened we instantly became true friends. Now we are dear friends. Last month George became a member of the ACT3 Board of Directors. You can learn a lot more about George at his biographical site.
Saturday Morning Church: A Modest Proposal
A post-denominational group of people who love Jesus and want to be like Him, and who meet to celebrate the freedom from death and freedom for life that Jesus gave us, and to learn together how to love as He loved.
We are post-denominational because Jesus wants us all to be one, and over the centuries we Christians have divided up again and again because we disagreed. We don’t want to do this anymore.
When we worship together
We meet on Saturday morning. We know some churches argue that it is the Sabbath and that it therefore should be the day Christians worship. But that isn’t why we do it. We think anytime set aside to worship God is a good time. We picked Saturday. (We might pick other days, too.)
This also allows us to plant churches in the countless schools, churches and other buildings that are normally empty on Saturday morning. We can begin a Saturday Morning Church most anywhere (even our own home churches), and move it most anywhere. This also leaves Sunday mornings open for our members to read a book, visit a friend, sleep in or even attend another church.
But at least as important as when, are these:
What we do together
When Jesus uses the word “love,” He means to care—with heart and action—for the well-being of others. Love is to be demonstrated through giving aid, encouragement and comfort. We are to treat others the way we want to be treated.
Here is who He told us to love in this way:
- Ourselves We want to be and do what Jesus asked of us, learning together to love as He loved. That’s our theology.Who we acceptWe accept and honor individuals who follow Jesus and who strive to love as He loved. That doesn’t mean we agree with all of the doctrines other people hold dear, but we consider anyone who follows Jesus to be part of the family of God. This includes those who don’t consider us to be a part of it.
- Since we are post-denominational, we consider churches that belong to denominations to be a part of the Body of Christ. We consider non-denominational churches to be a part of the Body of Christ. We consider the Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant churches to be a part of the Body of Christ. Everyone who is a part of any Body of Christ is already a welcome part of this Body of Christ. We welcome even those who might not welcome us.
How we are organized
Our worship and ministry are simply organized. Our members are all priests. Our pastors are individuals of mature faith who help guide us. We share the Communion meal with all followers of Jesus. We baptize followers as a sign of their being committed to Christ and members of His body.
How we view Scripture
We consider the Bible to be God’s intentional self-revelation and wise counsel for us.
What we aren’t and are
We are not liberals or conservatives, revisionists, literalists, fundamentalists, pantheists, dispensationalists, universalists, cessasionists, secessionists, successionists, or any of a thousand other -ists. We are followers of Jesus.
We begin this journey appreciative of the insights of numerous radical believers, from Peter and Paul to Francis, Clare, Blaise, Martin, Catherine, Agnes and a thousand more.
Invitation to Conversation
The above is what I would call “blue-sky” thinking about church and worship. It is intentionally coloring outside the margins of how church is normally conceived today (though it has strong parallels in the earliest church). Parts are intentionally radical, parts intentionally not detailed. Consider it an invitation to creative conversation, and expect it to evolve as others join in the coloring. Responses welcome to firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to share this with others.
George Byron Koch, August 2006