One of my extracurricular ministry things I do in my life as well as pastoring a wonderful church of Christ followers in Littlerock, California, is that I serve as a board member of the DOOR Network in Hollywood. I’ve only served on the board for a short few months. I’m still a little wet behind the ears when it comes to the whole “board” thing. I have some cool history with DOOR that goes way back before DOOR ever came to Hollywood and some of that history stems from a church that I was part of for several years and that God used in transforming my life for Christ.
This past week I got to witness with my own eyes why the DOOR Network exists. Part of the DOOR mission statement is, “DOOR invites our Discover, Discern and Dwell participants to See the face of God in the city.” This was played out during a reflection time with a group of kids and adults who were from that cool place north of us here in the states called Canada. As Eduardo, our guest Director from San Antonio for the week, was leading the reflection time, (Matthew and his wife are about to have their second child), my friend Marvin, who is also a board member and I got to be observants of a group of kids who really worked hard at discerning what it means to truly see God’s face in the city.
As the students shared their experiences from the task they were given that evening, one student in particular stood out to me the most. As he was talking and sharing about his experience at an agency, I couldn’t help but notice this kids transformation right in front of my own eyes. It was as if God had come down and was holding this kids eyelids literally “wide open.”
This student was telling the story about a conversation he had with someone at the agency he helped at earlier in the day and how he was blessed by this conversation and how this particular someone gave him a gift that blew him away. As the student described the exchange, the student began to talk about his own “preconceived” notions about what homeless persons were like and that he just assumed they were all “jaded” individuals. As he finished sharing, he said something that sounded like, “I came to the city thinking I had nothing in common with the people I’ve met and I’m leaving knowing that I have lots in common.” (My paraphrase)
This is what DOOR does. It changes the gospel from being about just “fixing” to a gospel of interaction. Too many of us in the church hear the words of Jesus in John 13:34 as “A new command I give you: fix one another. As I have fixed you, so you must fix one another.” Groups who have the chance to participate in something like DOOR, don’t come to a place like Hollywood just to fix homelessness. They come to interact with Jesus and to be in the presence of those who are just as broken and in need of God’s grace and mercy as we are. They come to learn what it means to go into the world and love as Jesus loved. They leave having learned what it means to also receive God’s love through the gift of relationships. This is life changing and has the ability to turn around any church and it wouldn’t cost a church a single dime to implement a gospel of interaction, a face to face, no holds barred kind of love that Jesus gave to us in the story of the cross and in the post resurrection story of how Jesus calls us to be in the world.
“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” John 13:34-35