As a boy I remember being taught a nursery rhyme with hand motions that would go, “Here is the church, here is the steeple. Open the doors, and there is all the people!” Perhaps you remember it also. I was thinking of it as I considered how so often we still get wrapped up in the belief that the church is found in a building; more particularly, a building with specific structures such as the steeple, doors, and the walls that closed in all the people. I knew that the church was meant to be the people themselves and yet the message was always there, unspoken but never the less communicated, the church was closed into the building structure. I longed for something more; I longed to go beyond the edge!
Several months ago, a group of leaders in the Edge got together for our monthly supper to share stories of God's work in our tribes, the struggles we have faced over our history, and the amazing successes and impacts we have experienced in being a part of God's mission. Listening to the stories of my fellow Edge leaders and knowing the hearts and minds of those that could not be there that evening, I realized that I was not alone in this longing to go beyond the edge of the institutional church. Each of us desired something more from being a part of the church and as we told our stories, as my brother Rod would point out later, we found a bigger narrative to which we were a part; one that showed The Edge as sojourning in “relationships, brought about by compassion and trust, and inspired by our Lord.”
Over the next series of posts we will explore some of those stories, seek what it might reveal about God, learn what it says about The Edge, and finally ask what historical, theological, and missiological themes we might find in them. I look forward to the conversations these thoughts might inspire!