Archives For Indianapolis

I find myself somewhat reflective today.  CityCom is one (as in years old).  This “grand experiment,” this “adventure in Indy” we call City Community Church officially came to life one year ago today: March 1, 2009.  It’s still so surreal in such a beautiful sort of way.

But today there is no cake, no gifts, no party. Some birthday, huh?

Maybe we’re overly-sensitive, but we’re cautious of celebrating existence. Existence, just being here, really doesn’t mean much in God’s Kingdom.  In fact, God doesn’t really look too kindly on just existing.

Check out Jesus’ words from Luke 13 (emphasis mine):

6-7Then he told them a story: “A man had an apple tree planted in his front yard. He came to it expecting to find apples, but there weren’t any. He said to his gardener, ‘What’s going on here? For three years now I’ve come to this tree expecting apples and not one apple have I found. Chop it down! Why waste good ground with it any longer?

8-9“The gardener said, ‘Let’s give it another year. I’ll dig around it and fertilize, and maybe it will produce next year; if it doesn’t, then chop it down.‘”

To put CityCom’s birthday in Jesus’ terms: we don’t want to celebrate that the tree is still standing, we only want to celebrate if it’s actually producing good fruit.

So, no church growth statistics today (although a few of them might impress you). Just people. Beautiful people. That’s what I want to celebrate.

People taking “one step closer to becoming fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.

People accepted for who they are, but challenged to become all God created them to be.

People embracing a journey of risk, adventure, and transformation.

People longing to know what it means to be The Church, not just go to church.

This is the fruit. The fruit we long for.  The fruit that we celebrate.  The fruit we desperately hope is pleasing to God.  And we’re seeing signs of it.  Beginnings.  “Buds.”

I’m so grateful to all of you who, in one way or another, have made City Community Church come to life.  May we bear much fruit. One year down, and the adventure is just beginning.

We have an undeniable propensity to see the church as an entity instead of a people, an institution instead of a movement. So almost involuntarily over time, our focus turns toward acquiring and keeping resources that sustain the organization. Efforts which may or may not lead to the expansion of the Kingdom of God.

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85 Beautiful Cents

Erik Cooper —  August 13, 2009 — 4 Comments

Our amazing volunteer bookkeeper came by the office today and told me what may perhaps become my favorite story since the launch of City Community Church (and that’s saying something).  This past weekend as the team was counting the offering, she found a dirty little plastic bag with 85 cents in it.  Not three shiny quarters and a new nickel, but lots of filthy pennies, nickles, and dimes.  The coins were so dirty she had to soak them in Pepsi to try and clean them off before adding them to the weekly deposit.

Now there’s no way to know who put those in there (if you’re reading this and it’s you, and I totally have it wrong, my apologies).  But one of the things I’ve loved so much about this church right in the heart of downtown Indy is that we literally have homeless guys sitting next to millionaires each week.  I just have this picture of one of our homeless friends spending days collecting those coins from storm grates, sidewalks, and gutters around the downtown streets, wrapping them carefully in a recycled plastic bag, and eagerly bringing them to church this past Sunday.  Who knows?

But I do know that every penny matters to God because it’s never about the money, it’s about what the money represents in our lives.  And just like Jesus’ encounter with the poor widow who put her last pennies in the Temple box (Mark 12:41-43), these 85 beautiful cents mean as much to Him as if it were a million dollar gift.  That’s cool.

I like my house, not gonna lie.  Nearly nine years ago, my wife and I (less two of our three little rug rats) moved into the home we were going to spend the rest of our lives in.  Suburbs, picket fence, 3 kids and a dog.  You know, what everyone wants.  What everyone dreams of.  Until you get a glimpse of God’s dream.

When we decided last fall to begin the process of planting City Community Church in downtown Indianapolis, we had absolutely no desire to leave our home.  After all, we can be in the heart of downtown Indy in minutes.  Why move?  It wasn’t necessary.  We know the west side.  We grew up here.  Our families are here.  Everything that makes life “normal” and “predictable” is in our back pocket,  and we sure had plenty of of other things destabilizing our quaint, little reality.  We didn’t need to move, too.  The LaGranges are crazy enough (love you guys), let them do it.  We’ll hold the fort down from out here.

linusThat’s usually when God starts to mess with you.  Not because He doesn’t want you to be happy, but He definitely knows control is not something you’re qualified to possess.  He’s not satisfied with one act of radical obedience, He wants a lifetime commitment to it.  We love control, and even though we never really have it, we desperately hang onto the appearance of it.  It’s like a security blanket that provides us nothing of real value, but for some reason makes us feel better.

So my wife and I slowly and subtly realized that even though we professed “God, we’ll follow you anywhere,” we had set our feet in concrete and chained ourselves to our current reality like some crazy, Oregonian anti-logging fanatics (if you’re from Oregon my apologies, but you get the picture right?).  We said all the right things, but in our minds there were just too many hurdles to jump to actually make something happen.

So we’re changing that.  We’re letting go.  We’re positioning ourselves to lose control.  Honestly, I have no idea what God is going to ask of us.  Maybe he’ll let us stay right here (honestly, that’s probably the answer we’re hoping for).  All I know is that we have to remove all the barriers that keep Him from owning the decision.  We have to stop treating God as if we control Him (an admission we would never openly make but far too often live out).  We’re untying the knots, releasing the locks, chiseling our feet from the concrete.  And then we’ll just see what happens.

What a way to live.

Unqualified

Erik Cooper —  February 23, 2009 — Leave a comment

I’m a little nervous…ok a lot…

A little more than 5 days from now I will be officially co-leading a brand new church plant in downtown IndianapolisCity Community Church will emerge from years of passing conversation and speculative daydreams to a real live movement of people ready to invest their lives in the city of Indianapolis.  But what’s an inarguable church “insider” (I still regularly have to deny the rumor I was born in the church’s baptismal tank) doing co-leading a church with one of its stated purposes being to make Christ accessible to the church “outsider?” Honestly, some days I wonder myself.

But then I re-read Ephesians 3…

“When it came to presenting the Message to people who had no background in God’s way, I was the least qualified of any of the available Christians.” (Eph. 3:7 MSG)

And I got to thinking…of all the people God could’ve picked to connect with the “outsiders,” why did He choose the Apostle Paul?  In case you don’t know his history, the guy responsible for writing 2/3 of the New Testament was as “insider” as they come.  Trained under scrupulous Jewish law, Paul was the ultimate by-the-book, follow-the-rules, criticize-those-who-don’t-see-things-the-same-way, sit-on-your-high-horse-and-condemn-the-heathen kinda guy.  He was an insider’s insider.  Did God post this application to the wrong Facebook account?

Why didn’t God choose Peter for this gig?  I mean really, the disciple Peter was the obvious choice.  Peter was a quick to speak, rough around the edges “every man” who half the public probably thought just came from a bar fight.  Wouldn’t he have better fit the role of taking the Message to those who had no background in God’s ways?  Maybe not…

As soon as we think we understand God’s template He always changes the rules, and usually blows our feeble minds.  I’m not ready for this gig.  I’m unqualified.  And that may just make me (or you) a great candidate.  I guess we’ll see.