We live in Hoonah, Alaska. A Tlingit village of about 800 people. In this tiny village are 7 churches.
a catholic church
a presbyterian church
a russian orthodox chapel
a baptist house church
an assembly’s of God church
a Salvation Army church
and a Christian farming community called “The Move” that lives about 10 miles out of town.
The Russian Orthodox is really just a historical landmark these days, but that one aside the six remaining are all very much striving to stay alive while dividing the Christian population in Hoonah up into even smaller sub-groups.
I just read an article in R.C. Sprouls June 2014 edition of Tabletalk (his monthly magazine that you definitely should subscribe to here) that was so applicable to my towns situation it startled me!
It was about separation in Christian relationships, and specifically churches relationships with each other. We need to get back to the fundamentals. The core beliefs of the Christian faith such as the Trinity, Jesus’ death and resurrection, salvation by grace through faith and not works, and so on. Besides “The Move” (which may not admit to this today, but the doctrinal roots from which they came would not necessarily agree with all of the previous statements), the three primary Christian churches here in Hoonah- Hoonah Presbyterian, Assemblies of God, and the baptist house church- would all agree on these foundational truths. What the article from “Tabletalk” explained is that the secondary issues like when to be baptized, the role of women in the church, and the stylistic elements of the service, etc., etc., should not divide churches to the point of no contact or connection. I think this is especially true in a town like Hoonah where the Christian population is lacking. We don’t have to agree on all doctrine. We don’t have to all combine into one Church of Hoonah. But I think we would all benefit from mutual encouragement and acknowledgment of what the others are doing for the Lord in our village.
I think we’re all missing out.
So here is my idea: an evening worship/prayer meeting
Maybe in one of the churches, maybe in someone’s home, maybe in our trailer.
But I think it should be a time of worship and a place of prayer and it should be targeted at the young people. Youth is stretched here in Hoonah so it might be a 17 year old coming with their 35 year old bff. Who knows. That is if anyone would even come.
What I long for in my new community is for God to work. I want people to care, I want them to meet God and see that there is more to life than their government aided problems. I want authenticity without cheesiness. I want profound encounters with the Lord without fake emotional hype. I want to spread the gospel and the joy I have in Jesus. And I want the awkwardness of which church we choose to go to to fade away with a new united focus on what God is doing HERE in Hoonah despite our separateness.
God bless this dream. Lead it.