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by Jonathan Manafo

Of course, it doesn’t stop there: in June of every year, we throw a huge party on the church lawn and invite anyone and everyone who will come. We call it Community Fest.”
I had the privilege of addressing my son’s Grade 1 class earlier this year. I volunteered, along with one other parent, an engineer, to talk about my job and how it contributes to the community. I entered the class with some props and my guitar. The young students sat on a carpet in front of me and anxiously—and respectfully, I might add—waited to hear what I had to say. I began by asking if anyone already knew what I did for a living. My son, Jacob, had taken some liberty to fill his friends in beforehand. I was described through the eyes of my seven-year-old as “second in charge at a church.” Rather than talking about my personal role, I began to describe what I’m a part of and what we do collectively as a church.

I explained to these wide-eyed and attentive Grade 1 students that the church is in the business of throwing parties. That’s right—parties!

“Now,” I asked, “why do we throw parties?”

“We throw parties because they make people happy.”

“What kind of parties do we throw?”

I continued, “On Tuesdays, we throw a weekly party for children called Kidzone. On Wednesdays, we throw a party for older students called Spill; we also throw a weekly party called Alpha and a party for moms and tots called the Ka-choo Club. On the third Saturday of most months, we host the Lobby CafeĢ for post-secondary students and young adults. Oh, and our small groups are parties too! Once a month we help needy families throw dinner parties for themselves by providing groceries via The Helping Hands Food Bank. Once a year we put together Christmas hampers so that people with less income can still celebrate the holidays in style.

Of course, it doesn’t stop there: in June of every year, we throw a huge party on the church lawn and invite anyone and everyone who will come. We call it Community Fest.”

I concluded my 20 minutes of fame by telling the Grade 1 class that our best and most important party happens on Sunday mornings.

“Everyone,” I said, “who considers Christian Life Centre to be their home church, as well as anyone else who chooses to visit, gathers together to sing songs that describe who God is. We then share a meal, communion, and conclude by hearing teaching from the Bible.

At this point, one student asked why we use the Bible.

I had the opportunity to explain to the class that if the church didn’t use the Bible to teach from, it couldn’t be called a church. I told them how the Bible is filled with stories about people who met God, became friends with Him, and because of that continue to throw parties on His behalf for the rest of their lives.

I’d say that was a pretty cool way to describe the church at 10 on a Thursday morning for a Grade 1 class!

If you think I’ve watered down what we do as a church, we should be reminded that many places in New Testament and early church writing reveal a “party theology.” Jesus’ first miracle directly resulted in extending a wedding celebration (see John 2:1-11); He also described the final gathering of His followers as a banquet where no favoritism is shown (see Matthew 22; Luke 14). What are banquets and weddings? They are parties where people celebrate life and community. It’s no coincidence that we remember Jesus’ death and resurrection in the context of a meal. Many churches have turned it into a moment around a small cup of juice and piece of cracker, but the Last Supper was around a table with plenty of food and probably much lively conversation, as well as real bread and real wine. We go to parties for a reason. We want to know why we’re celebrating and/or what cause we are making the world aware of. For too long, the church has been known for what we’re against and what we don’t do. Please don’t get me wrong: there are certainly things we don’t want to do. However, in a world where people are looking for noble and worthy causes, I would hope that the church could be a place of celebration filled with people who know how to party in the name of Jesus!

The afternoon following my grade school classroom presentation, a parent of one of the students told me that when her son got home he said, “Mom, I want to go to Jacob’s church. They throw parties! Why doesn’t our church do that?”

God’s creation, which has fallen far away from Him, is in desperate need of hope and life. The church can offer this and more as we see the kingdom of God as the party which it was intended to be. Oh ... and please don’t leave the party at church! Bring it home. The best parties are the ones that don’t end; they move into your neighbourhoods, your backyards, your living rooms, your schools and your workplaces. e

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TRUTH: Delivered by servants

At Calvary Cambridge, everything we do is driven by a determination to reach our twenty-first-century community in a twenty-first-century way. As a starting point, during our ongoing building program we have developed a phenomenal space on our property that is available for kids, students and adults of all ages.

We believe that at the heart of connecting with our secularized society is our ability to effectively communicate through our servanthood. Christ’s inspiration for sinful humanity came through His perspiration just as much as His words. Hence, we feel it is vital for the local church to show the surrounding community God’s love just as much as we desire to tell them about it.

This past June, we hosted a local public junior high school graduation ceremony. Over 850 students, family and faculty packed into the main auditorium. We provided the use of the facility, staffing, media technology and hospitality at no cost. Why? The church is here to serve and add value to the public school community.

The next morning we received a call from the school to book next year’s grad ceremony!

TIM HYJEK, Pastor of Fellowship and Outreach, Calvary Assembly—Cambridge, ON

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