Thirdway Church in St. Paul, Minnesota sounds like a community/church that is a model that many churches could learn from. I want to learn everything I can, and serve in any way I can if I can find a way to visit them. I read every word on their website, and listened to a few of the sermons by Seth McCoy, the pastor. I felt very inspired and I really hope I can find someone to host me there. Here is their description:
“We are a young mennonite community of followers of Jesus Christ, committed to love like God, to follow Jesus life and teachings, center our lives around community, and work for the reconciliation of all people to God and each other. The name of our community comes from the teachings of Jesus to express God’s love at all times by choosing new creative responses to the brokenness in our own lives, and the brokenness we find in the world. This means we are always looking for the third option in a world of violence and withdrawal.”
Here are some of the reasons I am visiting this community/church.
1. When I heard Seth McCoy, the pastor, speak at Woodland Hills church and explain that Thirdway was a kind of a church plant from Woodland Hills Church. I wasn’t clear as to what exactly their relationship was, but obviously if Seth is welcomed to speak at Woodland Hills Church, the relationship must be good.
2. Greg Boyd is the pastor at Woodland Hills Church. Greg;s teachings greatly inspired Robert (my former husband), seventeen year old Mahriyanna (our daughter) and I. Cliff (my other former husband) and Chris (our 24 year old son) have also appreciated Greg’s writings and sermons (We have been watching his sermons for the past eight months, I read his book “Seeing is Believing” and I have read his www.reknew.org blog extensively). One of the reasons I feel as if Greg is one of the greatest contemporary Christian leaders is his efforts to unite followers of Jesus who share the following value of Christian life:
“At the center of ReKnew is the very old yet new idea that Jesus reveals what God is really like. And that image — of God invading creation to ultimately die on a cross — stands in stark contrast to what most people now think of as “Christian.” Sadly, throughout history Christians have often allowed this simple and beautiful message to be hijacked by religion, politics, and the assumptions of the day, replacing the revolutionary truth that self-sacrificial love is not only who God is — it’s what saves the world” See more at: http://reknew.org
I took a long time to talk about Greg to emphasize–anyone he recommends and is cooperating with is someone that I already have high hopes that we have shared values.
3. I really appreciate that the church members try to live in close proximity to each other and share their lives. This is what they say on their website:
Folks at Thirdway try to be neighbors with one another in order to deepen our community with each other and to share a sense of mission together. We choose to live in proximity with other members in order to share more life together including care for children, meals together, and sharing of resources.
I feel very excited that Thirdway was started with the concept of Intentional Community. The combination of church and intentional community is something that I think is going to spread like wildfire. It is starting to happen more and more, and I want to experience it!
4. Each member must be a member of a covenant group. I very much appreciate this because that means that every one is accountable to someone as well as being discipled by someone. Small groups are where people really can feel safe and where healing can happen. It sounds like the groups are not just small study groups, but people who are committed to each other. Here is the description on their website:
All members of third way are in covenant groups. Covenant Groups are made up of 6-8 people mixed between married and single folks who meet together each week for discipleship, nurture, and accountability. Once a month, at our covenant member meeting, the covenant groups meet all together to share about our life together and talk about decisions facing our community. ‘
5. I love their commitment to work conflicts out in constructive, biblical ways and be at peace with each other.
As community members we commit to resolving conflict according in the way prescribed in Matthew 18. We commit to extend self- giving love to all people in the same way God does. This includes our enemies. We commit to following the Spirit’s leading as we partner with God to mend our world.
6. I got a very good feeling from Seth when I heard three of his sermons. I found him to be inspiring, having a good knowledge of the bible and how to teach it, and humble.
7. I like that fact that a woman, Jen McCoy, is the “organizer” of the fellowship. I am not sure what the title organizer means–but it sounds like they are trying to avoid an authoritarian style of leadership. I don’t think it means that she organized the whole fellowship.
8. This line gave me the impression that this group values a kind of consensus decision making.
Once a month, at our covenant member meeting, the covenant groups meet all together to share about our life together and talk about decisions facing our community. ‘
I can’t wait to find out more about their decision making structure. I get the sense from one of the sermons where Seth was talking about leadership that they really value input from everyone. This is very important to me.
9. I read every word (except for the blog) on the website and I felt inspired, uplifted, and in agreement with what I read. I even went to the Mennonite website and read a bit there. I felt very much in alignment with the few things I read. I definitely resonate with their peace statement here. I read about how they perceive Jesus here. I read about their view of the bible here. I will need to read the whole website before I know for sure–but I have a feeling I might be a Mennonite.
10. I just speed read 50% of the Mennonite Church USA website and I know I am going to be studying this denomination more closely. I felt my heart sing because I perceive that they are expressing accurately how Jesus wanted us to live. So that makes me even more excited about visiting this community.
I decided to look at the blog, and wow! There are so many wonderful things happening in their fellowship. This is getting exciting. I especially felt drawn to the creative aspect of their involvement with their neighborhood.
I discovered in their blog that they were connected to Reba Place Fellowship because they wanted to give some money to this community which the first I am visiting. I looked more deeply into Reba Place Fellowship’s website and discovered that people there are members of the same Mennonite denomination as Thirdway. I feel very hopeful about this connection.
Well, once again, the experience of getting ready for my journey has been as enriching as I know the journey will be. And now I am ready to contact Jen McCoy, organizer of the Thirdway Church, and see if she might be willing to help me find someone to stay with as I learn about their community and help in any way I can.