Why do we gather?
Back when I was in college, I spent a lot of time driving on the weekends to visit my future bride. There were a lot of hours spent on the road and I found a number of ways to keep myself entertained. One way, was to listen to Christian talk radio. Even though I was far from a believer at the time, I was still drawn to it. I found it interesting how much time people could spend talking about Jesus. One of the major topics, at least in the late 90's, was the idea that Christians didn't need to go to church. There was a big push to remove the act of going to church from the church (if that makes sense).
Even as a non-believer with a Roman Catholic upbringing, I didn't feel like that was right. I didn't know why until I started attending church again, and allowed God into my heart.
The idea of community, or a gathering, isn't meant to be another Christian Must-Do kind of thing. And, though some might say otherwise, you aren't going to hell because you missed a few Sundays in a church building.
Let's make it easy. Let's not focus on the whole church. Let's just talk about Radius.
Why do we have Radius Gatherings?
To be a bit transparent, one of the reasons is because we know people have had a lot of negative experiences at church buildings, and we seek to create an environment where people can come as they are, and I don't just mean in how they dress, but as they are in life. It's time we allow people to enter church without having to put on a mask. If everyone in St. Pete who had a negative experience inside a church building found a place where they could go without being judged, churches would fill up all over town.
We want to create a place where people can be themselves, have some fun, meet some great people, and hear about how much God loves them, not about the rules they have to follow, or how guilty they should feel because they made a mistake in life.
Let's be clear though, there is a thing called conviction. Sometimes when we hear the truth, we feel a desire to change. That's different than guilt. Guilt holds us down and distances us from God. Conviction gives is the knowledge, vision, and motivation to become a better version of ourselves, and move closer to God.
The main focus of our gathering is to speak to and hear from God. We want to provide people the opportunity to have a real relationship with God, to experience his love. When you have a real experience with God, you can't help but want to tell people about it. So, we also want to equip people to go out and love their neighbor so that they too can experience God's love, like a big ole' set of Holy Dominoes.
We also have Radius Gatherings because they are fun. Flat-out, we have a good time at Radius. Blake and Amanda, and everyone involved in making Sunday morning happen, go to extra lengths to make sure people have a good time. Whether it's getting a high five from one of our volunteers out in the parking lot, singing along with the band, or watching Michael and I makes fools of ourselves with our Welcome Sketches, you are bound to laugh on Sunday morning.
Last week I wrote about being On Mission. There are 3 components to that; groups, gatherings, and community. If we are going to be out in our community, pouring out love to our neighbors, we need a place where we can come and recharge. Getting around other believers is one way to do that. We come together, share stories, celebrate wins, and get ready for another week.
As Blake said on Sunday, when we gather, we experience God's presence. Isn't that worth getting out of bed for on Sunday morning?
Blake has a vision of Radius being like the early church, like we read about in Acts. It was a group of normal people, Jews and Gentiles, coming together to experience God, and be a part of something bigger than themselves. And in doing so, their numbers grew exponentially. They couldn't stop new people from showing up. They were selling their stuff to help the poor. They were giving of their time to help the needy. They used their talents to find the lost. They were a people on mission, moving out in ever-widening circles to change their world.
Acts 1:8 (NLT)
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
That's the mission we were tasked with, to tell people everywhere about Jesus. We can't do it alone. We were never meant to do it alone. So, let's be on mission together.
Hebrews 10:24-25 (NLT)
Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
See you Sunday!