Posted by: minnow | September 8, 2008

Turning Inside Out

I only know Kathy Escobar through her blog, The Carnival in My Head.  I only know The Refuge  through what she has written about it on her blog.  But, I would love to visit The Refuge  and get to know Kathy.  Last week she shared from her heart the hard places being real and vulnerable has brought her.  As some of you who read this blog know I have recently returned to the Building (aka: Building-Based Christianity = the Church).  As I read Kathy’s most recent post I thought a lot about what it means for me to make this return voyage. 

The vision God has given me for what the Building could mean is gi-normous.  Over three hundred people go to the fellowship my family attends.  Most of them are fairly healthy, which is not the same as saying they do not have needs.  They do.  We all do.  I am merely saying their perceived needs and their actually needs might not exactly look alike. 

Our building is over 100,000 square feet, most of which still looks like a warehouse.  On one end we have a food bank.  On the other end is the worship sanctuary (600+ seats), a few classrooms , offices, a coffee cart, and a 24/7 prayer room.  Upstairs are a bunch of offices we don’t use, a dance studio, and a smaller (120+ seats) youth and young adult sanctuary.  We have tried to rent parts of the building out but so far haven’t gotten any nibbles.  I am stuck wondering why. 

Why wouldn’t God be interested in helping us earn a little money, pay some bills, support our ministry, and let all our extra space be used?  We honestly believed He lead us to this place.  We even changed our name to reflect our heart for the city.  (Actually that happened before we moved but still).  Could it be He has another plan?  Maybe He thought we would need  all the space He gave us, ya think?  Maybe the heart and the name have something to do with the vision He  has for our Building.  I have to admit—the idea both excites and terrifies me.

I am excited by the potential of the building.  We have so much space.  We have some nice offices.  I can imagine a free clinic, birth education and parenting classes, a dentist.  I can see a weekend accountant to help people get their tax information together and forms filled out.  Maybe we can offer free legal aid or citizen advocates.  And downstairs WOW!  What couldn’t we do?!  We could expand the food bank, have a soup kitchen, and set up a garage for a mechanic.  I know.  I said much of this before but the possibilities are endless, and thrilling, and overwhelming. 

The overwhelming part is the part that terrifies me.  Seriously.  If our building had all those different services available it means we would be full of people too.  And most of those people aren’t going to be wearing designer jeans if you know what I mean.  They are going to be needy.  Some might not be too patient, or trusting, or nice.  When I’m hungry or tired or frustrated I’m not all that nice, so why should I expect any of them to be!?  And, all of those concerns only takes into account what it would be like when everything is up and running. 

Even more challenging will be getting there.  How will we ever get there?  How do we convince 300 plus people that service to the least of these in our city will be fun(?), that some one puking in the bathroom is not cause for panic it is cause for compassion, that beautiful carpet cannot compare to the beauty of a life reaching out, that Jesus was homeless by choice but most people aren’t?  How do we turn our inward focus outward? 

I guess we begin one person at a time and the first person I need to start with is me.  You see, the truth is I don’t like people all that much.  I am really bad at small talk and all the getting to know you stuff.  I’m much more likely to slap the hysterical person in the face than hug and bring a tissue to the crying one.  My basic attitude toward whining is “grow up and deal with it”.  (Just ask my son who was suffering from an appendicitis for nearly 24 hours before we did anything about it).  Even calling “it” whining is revealing. 

So yeah, I have some work to do.  I need to overcome my attitudinal barriers.  Yes, I can advocate for the marginalized in a blog but will I get cranky in person?  I have almost zero patience for Church people and their cute Sunday school programs and the women’s get to know the pastor’s wife teas and the Superbowl parties and the…  If these are the folks who are meant to be the unpaid volunteers (as in the harvest is plentiful pray for the workers) I’m the one who needs to learn to deal.

What can God possibly be thinking?….


  1. I appreciate your openness as always.

    I LOVE your ideas for your specific church

    and I will definitely be praying for you as you make this journey back. I believe you have a great heart and God will bless you for being willing to take steps in faith toward love & mercy for others.

    step 1 is examining yourself right? and figuring out areas you need God to help you in — and it seems you are always willing to examine yourself and bring to light areas you know you need God’s help in. very humble of you to be able to look at your weaknesses — your ability to do this clearly shows you know Jesus’ love & saving grace so that looking at your painful weaknesses is okay — you’re so valuable and loveable just the way you are and it’s okay we are not perfect

    sorry just rambling here. have a great day 🙂

  2. oh my friend minnow, i love your dreams. it is so fun that you are thinking about these things and wondering, pondering, being very realistic about the stuff inside you, too. i have so much respect for you, going back in the building, and have had you on my heart and mind. thanks for writing this and for imagining what could be….i like what you said “i guess it starts with one person first…” will be thinking of you as you wrestle with God, yourself, the system. lots of love & peace, kathy

  3. Randi–Thank you for your voice of encouragment. It gives me hope that it isn’t only birds of a feather that can work together. It als helps me think I really can learn to love more of the Body then I have been willing to up to now.
    Kathy–You have been an inspiration! I find myself telling people about the Refuge (the little bits I know) all the time. If the least that happens within our fellowship is that we get an awareness that places like the refuge need our support then I guess going back will have been worth it. As soon as I say that my spirit reminds me that God has not given me this promise so I need to focus not on a goal out there but on today. Argh…this is going to be a long process. Anyway, thank you for your encouragment!

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