I had a dream.
In my career as a street minister (starting back before I reached out to the homeless even), I used to be backed up by my church. I was in partnership with a church that became like Jesus to the world around us. I used to take worship to the streets at midnight and found being with Jesus to be a fantastic adventure! We stopped a murder with a prayer service one night. We made friends with so many little kids. Even had a hooker in the group, like Jesus did. Threw birthday parties for children in the homes of complete strangers. The welfare mammas and their drug-dealer boyfriends thought I was an undercover cop.
As all this adventure launched into prophetic ministry, my church let me have a church van to start rounding up people to bring to church every Sunday. I would make the rounds at all the major hubs of shame, pain, and despair in Lubbock: the welfare housing here, the projects there, the crack-house here, and the No-Tell Motel there… Seriously, I had a drug addict who would stop partying on Saturday evenings so she would be ready for me to pick her up at the crack-house and take her to church on Sunday morning! Who does that??? And I once packed fourteen people into that van to bring to church with me. A dozen was pretty standard.
Yeah, the work I was doing was packing the needy into that church house door just as fast as I could. Not me alone, entirely (I did have a couple partners here and there), and the support of my church! That was so critical.
I was afforded a church van, people volunteered to hold a kid in their lap during the services, the food pantry opened up, the clothing closet opened up, and my people never went home empty handed. And then one family would meet us at McDonalds after worship to buy everyone lunch!
Sunday was a workday for me, and it had a lot to do with the work I was doing Saturday night.
I could tell dozens, maybe hundreds, of stories of amazing, mysterious, and curious events surrounding all this. Ministry was practically a circus. It felt much like what I read in the Gospels when Jesus takes to those dusty Galilean trails and is mobbed by broken, needy people pressing in on him from all sides, eager to touch his shirt, to be in his presence, to have a moment of his love. And my church let me do it, helped me do it, and encouraged me to do it.
But after leadership there read the deadly little book, When Helping Hurts, suddenly all that changed. I have spent most of the last decade dreaming that church would open the door again, that I would be sent into action again, and that we would host the Messianic Banquet of the Age to Come for my friends again.
But for a decade now, it is just a dream.
Oh, how I wish the church would dream the dreams and see the visions again. Heaven was breaking out in the hood! But I no longer have a partner in the church in Lubbock, it seems.
Such a sad development.
Just a dream.