Thursday, January 10, 2008

Mosaic Miami

Church Field Trip # 25

Erwin Mcmanus is the pastor of Mosaic in Los Angeles, one of the original, more prominent "emerging" churches (circa early 90's). So it goes without saying that we had high expectations for our experience at Mosaic Miami. I remember first reading about Mosaic years ago in Newsweek magazine, in an article about new kinds of churches trying to reach younger generations in new ways. I do believe that that article was also the first time I was introduced to xxxchurch.com.

This was our first visit to an inner-city church. Mosaic is located in the heart of downtown Miami. They meet in a secondary building that belongs to Christ Fellowship's new downtown campus. Mosaic has been meeting in that building for four years, but Christ Fellowship, a growing Southern Baptist church with five Miami campuses, is presently threatening to muscle them out. Much like our visit to Metro South last month, Mosaic has completely transformed the space that they use for worship. This was a small room filled with about 50 people, couches, comfy chairs, tons of candles, paintings, art, bistro tables, and Bibles laying around everywhere. The communion elements were also made available on a back table near the lone offering box. The attenders were very diverse in both age and ethnicity, further dispelling the myth that emerging churches are for young, white trendy college students.

Upon entry, we were immediately engaged in conversation with the bi-vocational pastor, Kevin Sutherland and his wife, Shari. (When I called last week to simply ask for directions, Shari engaged me in a half hour conversation about their vision.) The setting was about as informal and comfortable as a worship setting could possibly be. As a matter of fact, everyone sat in their couches through the first half of the worship set. They pointed out, at the close of the worship set, that their drummer had just started playing the drums this past week. What a great illustration of God equipping his church to have a worship service. BTW, the drummer did a great job.

During worship, three different women read from scripture. After the worship was finished, they broke for a ten minute intermission so that everyone could mingle and conversate. (What a great idea. This beats the typical 10 second "turn around and shake hands"). They also announced that one of their members has a brain tumor, is unable to work, is a single mother, and needs help paying her bills. They asked everyone to prayerfully consider how they might help this woman. I like this, because it puts a face on where a person's money is going.

Kevin is one of the best preachers that we have seen in these 7 months. He is informal, practical, and fun. I also thought it was unique that he taught with his laptop at his side, rather than written notes. When writing these reports, if I think that a preacher is boring or long-winded, I keep it to myself. Normally, I like to dwell on the content of their sermons more than the delivery. In Kevin's case, though, I thought it would be worth mentioning that his preaching style is very enjoyable - or maybe it was just because we were hanging out on some comfy couches.

He began the teaching by reading an excerpt from Irresistible Revolution, by Shane Claiborne. He then proceeded to preach for almost and hour and a half, referencing more than a dozen verses, including: Jer. 29:4-13, 1 Cor. 9:16-17, Gal. 5:7-8, Heb. 12:1, Ex. 34:5-7, Lev. 26:39-43, 2 Cor. 1:20-21, 2 Peter 1:3-4, John 4:2-5.

Here are some notable excerpts:

"90% of people who claim to be born-again Christians have not read the entire Bible. They've read bits and pieces, and even memorized smaller pieces, but how can they have a holistic view of the Bible without reading the whole thing?"

"Community is everything. If you don't have community, you don't have anything. Jesus didn't come to start individual faiths, He came to start faith communities."

"In community, we have an opportunity to show the love of Christ in a dramatic way."

"Everyone ends up somewhere, but few of us end up there on purpose."

"I don't expect you all to agree with everything that I have to say. That's ok. Questions are ok."

"God is calling the world back to Himself."

"God tells us to 'go forth', not 'huddle up'."

"You and I are called to join ourselves to community. Period."

"Your gifts, talents, and abilities are not given to you to be used for yourself, but for community."
After the service, we talked with Kevin and Shari for another 15 minutes. They told us that Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale (their former church home) helped them in the planning process for the church plant, but McManus asked them to become a part of the Mosaic family. "We just felt like we didn't fit in with the typical church crowd, so we started this church." They invited us to come over to their house for lunch, but we had to regrettably decline. It was a great gesture though. Also, most of the congregants gathered outside after the service to hang out and eat lunch together. I always appreciate when a church manages to break bread together during a worship service.

1 Comment:

Mayoliv said...

Sounds like a cool experience. I like the couches and the informal atmosphere.

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