When I was volunteering full-time as a teaching pastor at Blackhawk Ministries, we started a Wednesday night service called, Common Ground. Each evening, after we were led in worship music, I would welcome everyone, reminding them of the four hallmarks of our gathering.
First, we had all sinned and desired life apart from God, yet He offered grace in Christ to restore us. Second, I would share that our format was relaxed. It was the biggest come-as-you-are party in the city. Third, I would teach that the gathering was authentic. It was a safe place to say, “I got it wrong,” or even, “I got it right.” We were to check the pretense at the door. Fourth, I would remind everyone that we were going to have fun.
We laughed every night-sometimes to keep from crying, because we included a prayer time. I invited anyone to share a joy that could be multiplied or a burden that could be divided. The stories of death, divorce, disease, debt, and distress were gutwrenching. Yet the stories of life, reunion, healing, freedom, and peace were invigorating. Sometimes a person shared a need only to have someone else provide for that need by the end of the service. Either an attendee or I would conclude the prayer time by communicating our joys and our burdens to God.
Next, I would teach the Bible with my best effort to make the message relevant to the audience. Usually, I asked the question that the text answered and followed it with a real life story that introduced the topic. I read the selected verses from the Bible, and we walked through the passage line-by-line, as I explained, illustrated, and applied the main themes, often supporting them with other Bible passages. I always invited questions as I taught in an effort to keep the gathering open, free-flowing, and personal. I tried to get to know every person who attended. I discovered that the four desires of significance, control, contentment, and security, were evident in each one. Common Ground provided an opportunity for them to realign their hearts, desires, and three resources of life in the Restorer.
A fellow pastor told me once that these Wednesday night gatherings were emblematic of David’s community in the cave of Adullam when he was fleeing from Saul: “All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their leader. About four hundred men were with him” (1 Samuel 22:2).
Where is your cave of restoration? Who are those in distress, debt, or discontented gathered around you? After you have identified the individuals, reach out to them and take steps to lead each to Restoration Road.
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