Okay, I’m going to brag on my church a little bit. Or maybe a lotta bit. Dunno, we’ll see how long I write.
I grew up in a huge church (Cherry Hills) then transitioned to small churches when I went to college (Community Christian in Nevada and Bethany in Boulder). When I graduated, I stuck around at Bethany for another few years. I loved Bethany. I still consider Bethany-ites to be my second family, or maybe my third – depends on where I throw the Campus Ambassadors lot into the mix. Bethany was was a smallish but deeply personal church. It was like Cheers, everybody knows your name and is happy to see you when you walk in the door and if you aren’t there they’ll miss you. It was a community, the type of community that I truly believe church is supposed to be, the kind Luke talks about in Acts 2.
So when I had to leave Bethany (it closed), I was so sad. Started “church shopping” and I hated it. I felt kind of like I was going out looking for the perfect pair of jeans (which are HARD to shop for – maybe harder than churches) because my favorite pair had finally fallen to pieces. I kept just wanting to go “home” to Bethany, but it wasn’t there any more. I looked into churches of all sizes but kind of wanted a small church again, though I knew it would take years to get “worn in” as much as Bethany.
I was skittish about going to a large church. Yes, I know I grew up in one of if not the largest church in the state. But I started Cherry Hills when it was just a few hundred, and I felt I knew their heart. Big churches just kind of freak me out because I don’t know WHY they’re so big. Are they, like 2 Timothy, just saying what people’s “itching ears” want to hear? Are they full of “Sunday Christians” – those that go on Sundays where they can get lost in the crowd but do nothing the rest of the week?
But I for some reason – I’m not even sure what – I went to Flatirons Community Church. And I was hooked. I don’t even remember what the message was on those first few weeks I went.
I feel like Flatirons “puts the cookies on the bottom shelf” – to use a Mark Lowry-ism. They put the good stuff, God’s truth, at a place where it’s accessible to people whether you’re a Bible scholar or completely new to this stuff.
I love their “ME TOO” attitude. They acknowledge that none of us are perfect. We’ve all sinned. So let’s not point fingers or throw stones. I know there are some churches that don’t believe in throwing stones, but that often seems to be due to the fact that they don’t want to acknowledge there’s sin in our lives. Flatirons doesn’t compromise on speaking the truth of the Bible, that God does say there’s a better way to live our lives. As a speaker once said, “We just want a place where you can bump into Jesus. You and He can work out the rest.”
Most of all, I’m amazed at how they love people. I mean, really love people. Flatirons packs ’em in the door with the message of God’s love and then turns those offering dollars around to go into the local community and beyond to love people. They gather thousands of backpacks full of school supplies for kids. They took a plot of land and asked people to plant vegetables on it and give those veggies to the food bank. They did a food drive last year that gathered over 100,000 pounds of donations – no joke!
Currently, they’re in the midst of a series call “In the Margin” which is looking at marginalized people, and how we can create margin or space in our lives and our wallets to support those with needs. So they started this dollar experiment, asking people to consider giving – in addition to regular offering – just $1 for each person in their family to a cause each week. A little can do a lot. (Unfortunately the people that go to Flatirons have big hearts and so many started giving more than $1 which sort of screwed up the experiment, but I’m not complaining…)
I love what Jim talked about on the first week of the series: Jesus feeding 5,000 men with a little boy’s lunch. He said, “Don’t get me wrong, I completely believe that God amazingly made that little bit of food multiply into enough to feed ~20,000 people. But, what if the people in the crowd had seen a child donating all that he had to help others and started pulling food out of their pockets – ‘well, I was going to save this, but I guess I can share it’ – and the crowd was fed that way? Wouldn’t that have been just as amazing a miracle – turning selfish hearts into generous hearts?
The first week, the church adopted a family living in a broken-down trailer with five children including one on a respirator. Flatirons took the donated $8500 plus donated parts and labor to completely fix up the place while putting the family up in donated hotel rooms (With an indoor pool! The kids had a BLAST!). Just a few days after moving back into their beautiful home, God took their little boy who was on a respirator home. His memorial was held at Flatirons.
The second week, Flatirons sought donations and volunteers to run a free medical and dentistry clinic for some of the kids in the local community that have never been to a doctor or a dentist. They raised $15,000 and over 300 medical professionals signed up. They’re still working out the logistics, but the clinic is coming up.
The third week, a devastating earthquake struck the poorest country in the Western hemisphere: Haiti. Flatirons members gave more than $73,000 to Food for the Hungry to spend on Haiti.
This week, Scott talked about the story Jesus told about when a man invited people to his banquet but they all gave lame excuses why they couldn’t come. So he opened it up to anyone and everything, including the poor, blind, and lame. God wants to party with those who have never been invited to a party. So donations this week are going toward holding a formal prom for people with mental and physical disabilities. Limos, formal gowns, the works. Because God loves ALL people. Jesus said when we serve the most marginalized people we are serving Him (Matthew 25). What a wonderful opportunity this is to love God by loving His people.
Seeing all of this, it’s not hard to see why Flatirons is attracting 10,000 people every week.
It may not be as dramatic or flashy as feeding 20,000 people or making lame people walk, but God is doing miracles at Flatirons. He is changing our selfish hearts to ones of giving and loving. And He is answering the prayers of people in the community for some basic needs: food, school supplies, a working kitchen sink, a trip to the doctor, a chance to have fun and be loved.
I feel so blessed to be a witness.
(If you’d like to see/hear more, Flatirons posts audio and video of all their messages online at http://www.flatironschurch.com/messages/messages.php.)