Just before Susan and I were married, I was offered an incredible opportunity. There is a house in Restonit’s actually much more like a mansionand I was offered the opportunity to be the caretaker of this home. What this meant was that I lived in this expansive house in Reston rent-free. I had to keep watch over the house and do a few checks here and there, but I lived for free. When Susan and I were married a few months later, she moved in as well. We can say that our first home together was a mansion; every once in a while we talk to our kids about it.
One of our favorite things to do when we lived there was to walk across Reston parkway from our home and go to the Town Center. We loved to listen to the live music. We enjoyed eating dinner outside. Mostly we enjoyed watching people walk from place to place. We enjoyed guessing about their stories.
Reston has been important to me ever since that time. There’s something about that community that I can’t quite put my finger on. People live there. People work there. People play there. There’s something “all-inclusive” about the Reston community.
Just a while back, the Virginia Annual Conference (of which our church is a part) asked Floris to begin praying about starting a new campus in Reston. What would that mean? What would that look like? I started a prayer back then: “Lord, not my will, but Your will be done.” The answer I kept hearing from God was, “Go and meet the people there.”
I didn’t fully understand what that meant until I read a book called Evangelism in the Inventive Age. In this book, Doug Pagitt turns a lot of the thinking about evangelism on its head. His thesis is that evangelism is not about changing people, but rather, it is about helping them resonate with the good news of God. So, was God telling me to go into Reston and reach people by getting to know them? People already are created in that image of God, and aspects of God can be found in them. Too often people have thought that evangelism was about someone who knows a lot more than others sharing information, but now people have all the information they need at their fingertips. With the internet, people can find out all kinds of things about God. Pagitt argues that it is more about invitation; “It is about actively entering into an ongoing, live-giving story with one’s entire life.”
This idea reminded me of the early church. The early church, talked about in Acts 2, tells us that the church was all about invitation and adding to the numbers daily. The Holy Spirit fell upon them, and they grew. My prayer for Reston is that we will meet people where they are. We’ll meet people where they live, work and play. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll meet people where they worship God.