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A Place to Start Life Over

I have been a member of six churches now, and have had association with many more. All of the churches of which I have been a member have been Churches of Christ, and have ranged from very conservative to relatively progressive. I have had very special experiences with each one; experiences that have had very important formative influences on me. But one of them is really special in some ways - ways that I was remembering this morning as I listened to a sermon online from the preacher there. And it was a church that I, unfortunately, wasn't able to experience for very long because it was during a transitory period of my life - the Memorial Drive church in Tulsa.

I think I have written some about it before, but I really believe God brought this specific church into my life for very specific reason at exactly the right time. I had come back to Tulsa after a huge spiritual gut punch in Alabama and was pretty dried up. I really didn't think much of church at the time but knew that God still wanted me to be a part of a community. So I wandered. It was truly the first time in my life where I had been on the "other side" - being the "seeker" instead of the one on the inside. Being the one to show up at a church as the lonely visitor. I went several places. I tried my hand at some college groups I knew of and even checked out a Baptist emergent church for a while (which was really great, but God had other plans for me). One night I was sitting in my bed with my laptop and I came across Memorial Drive's webpage, and a line that was displayed prominently across the top really struck me hard as exactly what God was looking to do - "A Place to Start Life Over," which is a mantra that the church takes seriously. I found out they had a college men's group that met on Tuesday nights and I decided to go. Things would never be the same since then.

There is much I could say, and I think I have said some of it before, but Memorial Drive, of course being an imperfect church just like all, probably encompassed the idea of intimate family within a church more than anything I have ever experienced. Something as typically impersonal as Sunday morning worship was, at Memorial, a super close gathering of people that were being spiritually real with each other. I went there for six months and never once were there not multiple people coming forward at every worship service to pour their hearts about in front of their spiritual family. As a result, Sunday mornings at Memorial were often well over two hours long, but no one cared, because it was real. There was a kind of intimacy among the people that I haven't experienced anywhere else and is hard to describe.

I have been in campus ministry for eight years now and have experienced two moments of what I describe as "Holy Spirit" experiences. One of these was while sitting around a house on a Sunday evening with the college students of Memorial Drive. In almost an instant our casual conversation was taken over by a move of God that profoundly affected everyone in the room by the time the night was over. Again, hard to describe.

Anyway, I'm not sure why I was moved to write these things. It probably stems from being on staff now of a church that is trying hard to figure itself out. A church that is well intentioned and loves God and it struggling with how to be the right kind of community. A church filled with a lot of great people who want to try to find the answer in forms and programs - all of which are great but will be limp without a culture of intimate, spirit-led community first.

Anyway, I have lost much of my connection with Memorial Drive in the years since my brief stint there, but the experience stays with me in an important way and I thank God for what he did with me in that community.


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Blogger Matthew Vaughan - 9:09 AM

We all need a place like that in our lives. It is amazing how God puts communities in our lives at certain times.    



Anonymous Amy L. - 10:45 PM

I am sorry I didn't see your comment until now......I just changed my e-mail addresses on my Xanga. How do you like Kansas?    



Blogger Brooke - 6:58 AM

Derek got arrested! Check out my blog and his My Space page for details...    



Blogger Gabe - 12:18 AM

Yo Cary! I'm here just making the blog rounds. Pam recently sent me a link to her new blog...from there I've been linking to many of my "old" friends from OU. Where are you now?

You can check out my blog here.    



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