About every four weeks or so Eltham Green Community Church hosts what they have tagged “Church in a Tea Cup”. On a Sunday afternoon at five they have a traditional “High-Tea” of sorts. They set up nice tables and fill them with half sandwiches, cakes, fruit and then serve tea and coffee. This attracts an entirely different crowd. The invitation is extended to people who, for whatever reason, would not feel comfortable in a “normal” churchy Sunday morning service. In all about forty to fifty people show up. Ten of these will be regular church people who wind up being the servers.
It goes like this. They will visit for about a half an hour and then a speaker will share something from the Bible for about twenty minutes. Many of these folks have short retention spans and some are altogether illiterate. Things have to be kept simple. As it turns out, my talk was well received.
About six month ago I was a speaker at the same event. Afterwards, I saw this lady that I was just sure needed to hear the gospel. As I walked over and began a conversation, she interrupted me by saying something like this, “Boy this little church has sure made a difference in my life! I don’t know where I’d be if I hadn’t started comin’ here. My life is completely different.” I confess to being shocked. I suppose I have gotten used to middle class Christianity. I reckon God does grade on a bit of a curve after all. It is clear to me that where this lady comes from was someplace totally alien to anything that most people know of. I am told that she has a number of children. Some suggest at least seven and only a couple have the same father. Yet, this lady is now beaming and radiant. She says to me, “I make sure all a my young’uns are here. They need to hear this.”
I wonder what might happen if we really decided to go into the highways and byways and compel them to come in? What would church look and smell like if we brought in those in wheel chairs, laid upon gurneys, taken from the mental asylum or found under a bridge laying upon a piece of cardboard? Maybe a congregation of this sort was the very thing that authenticated the gospel in the first century?