Led by Rev. Ellen Sims, Open Table: A Community of Faith is well on their way to being a thriving, growing church in the Mobile area. Listen to Rev. Sims in her own words - The key to our vision of church is an expansive vision of God for postmoderns. In my sermon this Sunday, I will acknowledge that a new church may seem unneeded. After all, Mobile has many fine churches doing good things. And new churches keep sprouting like mushrooms in Mobile’s moist soil of religious fervor. Meanwhile, fewer and fewer of our neighbors find in any church any meaningfulness for their lives. So perhaps a new church seems superfluous. But with Luke 3:1-6 as my text, I will say a new church is needed precisely because we, like John the baptizer, live in a time of tremendous change. I will say that for over a century scientific, technological, and philosophical breakthroughs have been accumulating in ways that culture watchers say are changing not only what we think but HOW we think—including how we think about God. Emerging theologies are providing exciting ways to celebrate an expanded, multicultural worldview while staying faithful to the core of Christianity. Unfortunately, few churches are exploring this “generous orthodoxy” . . . yet. But Open Table, as a socially responsive, spiritually dynamic, and intellectually engaged congregation-in-formation, is both rooted in the ancient Christian scriptures and traditions but also moving forward to speak to a postmodern culture. And I will say very clearly that Open Table is not offering stylistic innovations: trendy music or a handsome, young preacher. We are not simply repackaging an unexamined theology that continues to require adults to check their brains at the door. Instead, we are using current theology to translate 1st Century Christianity for 21st century people in order to transform our lives and our world.”
What I hope and what I believe is that there are enough Mobilians who have made this postmodern shift to appreciate what Open Table offers and to recognize that the church they once threw away has come back to them in a form they now can’t live without. And those few people will then create enough of a subculture to allow others to be less afraid to hear and appreciate this message that will, very soon, I believe, be the major movement in the Church. One of my core group members told us last week that she is a better person--more deeply spiritual, more self-aware, more “together” and at peace-- by virtue of the growth that has happened to her through Open Table. When Open Table members share these experiences with others, we will be doing evangelism naturally and effectively. It is this expansive and inclusive Gospel that compels me. My focus is on how to understand it better myself, how to live it, how to communicate it, how to let it shape all that we do. I want to learn the bells and whistles of church planting, but my primary role and goal is to be the best theologian/pastor/prophet that I can. I believe with all my heart that the world is hungry for this message.