One of the most Godly men that I have met in the past several years is Ryan Tucker. Ryan Tucker is planting a church in Billings, MT. Ryan has a heart for God and seeks to embody the "Good News" of Jesus Christ in every aspect of his life. He is creative in seeking ways to bring the Good News of Christ to people who may need to hear that news. Billings has the most churches of any town in Montana, but 85% of the population of Billings does not attend one of the churches in the area. Ryan has no desire, whatsoever, to take members of the churches in Billings. They are having their needs met in those places. What he wants to do is develop an outreach to those in Billings that will never darken the doors of those established churches.
As Ryan has been seeking to connect with others, he began spending time at a local microbrewery and talking to folks there. The owner of the microbrewery is not a church attender, but has been kind to Ryan. After weeks of spending time there, Ryan felt led to ask the owner about the possibility of holding services in the microbrewery. Ryan prepared a proposal for the owner to read and asked the owner if he could email "something" to him. The owner agreed and then said, "Ryan, you've been wanting to start a church here, right? Would it be just too weird to have services here?" It was amazing that this man who does not have a church home anywhere, offered to have worship services held in his "bar." If this is not in line with the teaching and practice of Jesus, I have no idea what is!
My father-in-law, Bill, is currently in a nursing home in Billings. (See my previous post.) He was an early member of one of the first Baptist Churches in Billings and literally helped build the church from the ground up. However, since Bill entered the nursing home, NOT ONE person from that church has been to visit him. However, Ryan has been to visit him every single week since he learned of my wife's family.
Ryan's church is currently struggling with support of its core members and part of their difficulty is the hate mail that they have been receiving demanding they stop what they are doing and repent of their sins. I don't know if these letters are coming from members of the other churches in town or someone else, but I cannot imagine too much that would be further from the teachings and wishes of Jesus.
I John 4:7-8, & 11-12 says, 7Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.
I cannot believe that God is honored or glorified in the hatred of one person for another. Ryan Tucker has nothing from which to "repent" in what he has done to start this church. I don't believe that he is perfect, but there is a depth and maturity in his ministry that does not deserve the attacks - especially attacks by other professed believers.