“What Needs To Die In Your Church?”
In his second Assembly presentation, Jay Gamelin talked about his time in campus ministry at Ohio State University. When he arrived he could tell the Lutheran Campus Center had an identity crisis just by its many names on the sign. He decided to create a “gray space” in which he and the students could explore their struggles. The first year they studied the story of Jacob and for eight weeks put themselves into the story and wrestled with God. They explored what it would mean to not only wrestle with God, but leave limping like Jacob.
“The community eventually changed its name to Jacob’s Porch — because we wrestle with God and… because it’s a liminal space that faces outward,” said Gamelin.
They also created “rules” for their community. One was God is revealed, not understood because Christians are called to discernment. Another was to focus on humility, vulnerability, and dignity as ways to be together.
What he did was focus on discipling his leaders, not running things or being in charge. They also found that by changing the sign, more people wandered in to ask what a Jacob’s Porch is. They soon grew to over 100 worshippers from a wide variety of backgrounds.
To make way for the new in the church, sometimes the old has to pass away. “What needs to die in your church?” he asked the Assembly. “Because you know what God does with death? He makes an empty tomb out of it.”
The church has trained its leaders to take care of members rather than make disciples, Gamelin said. Leaders need to be responsible to tell members that the church is not about their preferences, but should be about helping people who are not in the church to see Jesus.