On a Tuesday night in October of 2016, about twenty-five of us gathered in an apartment in Burnaby, BC. The room was full of concern, pain, frustration and a little bit of curiosity about what God could do if we allowed him the rights to our story. The commonality among us was a shared desire for healthy community but it came with trepidation. This was the result of the brokenness we experienced in the church community that we were a part of that ended just two days earlier.
We worshipped and we prayed; we asked questions of leadership and intention. We did not have vision for where we would go or what we would do, but we did have a call. We set our hearts to Joshua 3:5 — “…Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” We didn’t know what God would do but we knew that God had called us to separate ourselves for His purposes. In that, we hoped healing would come, vision would begin to bubble up, and we would find ourselves living in the wonder of a community of people that set their hearts to follow Jesus.
We moved back into the same building we had previously met in — an old, shut down nightclub in Downtown Vancouver. As we continued to meet, we worshipped and we prayed in a small, back corner of the space. The ‘why’s’ and the ‘how’s’ were constants in our minds as we navigated the next season of healing and restoration. We felt the self-induced pressure to move forward and cast vision, to fundraise and get our voice out there, to brand our community, move it forward and impact Vancouver for Jesus — what you’re supposed to do as a church in the 21st century — but the hand of God kept us in a place that we needed to be: with him. We set and re-set our hearts to the presence of God and knew, from that place, everything else would come.
A MOVEMENT WITHOUT MOVEMENT
What God showed us in that season was that if he had called us to be a movement (as a small part of the greatest movement — the Church) it will begin as a movement without movement. We had to be ok to not chase results, pursue metrics, nor live to seek the approval of those who told us what we should do to build a church and how we should do it. We had no name, no marketing, no money, no website, no branding, no invites or social media — yet God moved. He brought us into healing and wholeness. He was faithful to take us where we could not go without him. Our minds needed to be transformed and our paradigms shifted to align with what God was calling us to, without having seen it before.
We ultimately had two options of how to move forward: like a bicycle or like a car. A bicycle requires great human force to get things going with significant cost of personal energy, but eventually it moves and it picks up speed. What is necessary to keep it going is to never stop pedalling. In church, this can come with a great cost and tremendous fallout because it gives preference in building to the work of man (even with pure intention), rather than the work of the Spirit.
A car’s movement, in contrast, requires combustion, which is a buildup of air and gas to which a spark is introduced to create sudden and powerful movement. We needed this to be our story. It was not about our work but our response to the Spirit’s work in our lives. If our lives were set apart to the work of the Holy Spirit in us, then we knew that in his timing, for his purpose and with his power we would find him working through us. Saying ‘no’ to the pressure to make things happen in our own strength was a consistent lesson God taught us in the school of how to give him room to build his Church. We learned how to do this by experiencing the pain and pressure of carrying things in our strength, and in the sweetness and satisfaction of handing that pressure to him and enjoying the fruit that followed.
INTO THE UNKNOWN
As we were faithful to gather and people walked into healing and freedom, God began to stir something in us. We started to see what this could be. They were small and subtle glimpses into the future but it was enough to believe there was something to this: that fruit will come out of a small group of people who were in a less than desired situation that set their lives apart for God’s purposes, together. We couldn’t yet see what it would become but we had a seed of vision in our hand and knew it was destined to be a tree one day. We went with what we had and on May 28th, 2017, we stepped into our identity as a community and church: untitled was born. We did not know much about the journey but we knew God called us to be on the journey. We stepped into the unknown.