For almost two years we have been praying and dreaming and thinking and talking about The Gate. The question has been: when we do evangelism in the parks and on the streets in the summer, what kind of event could we invite people to that would not be too “churchy,” but would be a gateway into all the good things that “church” really means? We believe God is saying, “Go ahead and give it your best shot. I’ll be there.”
Our plan is that The Gate will be open every Sunday evening at 7:00 p.m. from June 27 to September 5. It will swing open in the new sanctuary. And it will “swing” with contemporary music that we aim to make as God-centered and Spirit-filled as God would grant.
This will not be “The Sunday Evening Family Gathering” because our focus will not be on the needs of the family, but on the needs of non-family who might become family. Those needs are not totally different, and so we think there will be food for every soul. But the atmosphere will be different, and we do not expect it to please everyone’s taste. But we hope that charity and zeal for the spread of the gospel will make it the focus of everyone’s prayer.
We hope that God will manifest his Spirit in powerful ways not only through God-focused music and team-teaching and testimonies and drama, but also through spiritual gifts and prayer that will cause unbelievers to say “God is really among you!” (1 Corinthians 14:25).
The Gate corresponds to new ventures in evangelism that you will be hearing more about as the summer draws nearer. It is part of our longing to see more people not only confronted with the gospel but also folded into the family. It fits with our sense that God is calling us to some new and risky things because he is worthy of more than the comforts of the status quo.
When Martin Luther saw the glorious truth that God’s justice was the righteousness “by which through grace and sheer mercy God justifies us through faith,” he said that he went “through open doors into paradise.” This truth “became to me a gate to heaven.”
What would happen if we all wore buttons or T-shirts this summer that said, “The gate is open”? Would not people ask, “What gate?” How many conversations might we have about the way God has opened the gate to heaven through Jesus? And how many people might we be able to invite to The Gate where they can hear about the gate to paradise and even look in and see the glory of God in the face of Christ?
So there are two dreams for this summer: Sunday morning we will be Praying the Vision, during the week we will “go out into the highways and hedges and compel theme to come to the feast,” and Sunday evening we will open The Gate and do our best to spread the feast of God’s sovereign grace and saving power.
Let’s soak these dreams in prayer together.
Stretching with you beyond the “comforts of the status quo,”