Cultural architects

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After my wife and I got married we soon ran into a problem—finding a place to live in Sydney. It had to be reasonably priced, centrally located and my wife wanted two bathrooms. We soon ran into a problem. Every rental inspection was scheduled for Saturday. We must have rung up about 15 different places.

So we prayed. We prayed that we would find a time to inspect that wasn’t Sabbath. We prayed that God would show us the right place. And we made a commitment to God that the place we found would be a “kingdom house”—not just a comfortable retreat from the “corrupted currents of this world” but a space and a place to worship God, help others and build godly relationships.

After that everything progressed fairly quickly. An agent returned our call. They were willing to take us through a new apartment block that day, a Wednesday. When we saw the balcony of the rental unit we were amazed. Almost the size of a basketball court, it expanded the potential of this small two-bedroom unit exponentially. I saw my wife fall in love all over again and she was already planning social events while we filled out the application paperwork.

Again we committed it to God. If we were meant to be in the unit, we would be. When we received the approval it was very exciting. But we had no idea what it would look like to have a kingdom house.

We’ve now been here for six years and it has been a blessing in ways we weren’t anticipating. We’ve gotten to know our neighbours, sharing meals with them and serving them where possible. [pullquote]

We have also opened our home roughly once a month for a gathering of our friends and their friends—creating community, eating together, sharing our life stories and praying for them. Some have visited our church and other events but it has been a blessing to intentionally do life with people outside of our immediate circle and outside of the Adventist context.

I was privileged to present some of this recently during the “Just Disciples” event after the Avondale 1:1 gathering. For us, discipleship starts with an open home and a love for other people. Often as church members we get stuck in our comfort zones. We invite people over for Sabbath lunch but only other church members. All our friends, the ones who we are closest to, are those who believe the same things as us.

And so our home is a kingdom space.

Also at the One Project event, Ray Moaga presented the idea of being cultural architects. That term resonated with me. Creating spaces and places where accountability and encouragement are native, where relationships are grown and the gospel is lived. Creating culture that for us is centred on the kingdom of God, but for those who come into contact with us, they find the community and connection they crave.

I’m not sure that’s what the architects of our building had in mind when they designed this place. In fact, I still have no idea what they had in mind. But I’m grateful that within this space we have had the opportunity to minister and serve.

I believe this is what church will look like in the future. As the world becomes more fragmented and organisation becomes harder for institutionalised churches, we will seek out the New Testament model of meeting in homes, halls and hillsides. We will remember that church means people, not a building, and that wherever two or three are gathered in God’s name, He is there.

We can create places and spaces that become like church for the unchurched—fitness groups, men’s ministries, craft crews, vegetarian cooking demonstrations—all places where the kingdom is lived and breathed.

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