From March 6th, 2016 A.D., Marg churches, which operate in three different geographical locations in Pune have, for a season, started meeting on Sundays at our usual Koregaon Park hall.
If you are a newcomer and you want to find us on a Sunday, come to K.P. And where do you find us through the week? In these locations.
Marg takes church life and makes it biblical! Ok, wait.
It doesn’t sound biblical. Sounds more like a setback, doesn’t it?
“What happened to the local missions?”
“What went wrong with the local Sunday church meetings?”
“Why have we joined up to be one church again?”
These are some questions that might come to mind.
I think it’s best to remind ourselves of the church leaders’ announcement and it’s purpose. And I hope this will encourage readers, especially from the three Marg churches, to set their shoulders to the plow and plow away for the Kingdom of God to come in further fullness in Pune.
So, What Happened?
It was a unique combination of events and trends that led the collective Marg churches’ leadership to this decision.
In the past few months, one church kept being burdened about using the K.P. hall so new-comers in K.P. could find fellowship and discipleship easily. Another church seemed to run dry of Biblical discipleship and “church as a family” dynamics. The need for the larger church body’s encouragement and example was beginning to be felt more acutely.
These two church leaders began discussing the possibility of having both churches meet up each week for the sake of their own growth and for church-seekers who were still winding at the hall in Koregaon Park but could not find anyone there. The third church meanwhile found itself undergoing a possible transition phase and their church leader felt they would in time need much encouragement and spiritual building-up from the other two Marg churches. That is when we met over many weeks and prayerfully came to the conclusion that it’s best to let the three churches meet at one location for a season.
Does this mean all our initial hopes and plans for the three Marg churches “went as expected”?
Sure, they did not. I do not know which day in life goes as expected.
Does this mean some of us church leaders had failures and doubts?
Sure, we did. I do not know people who don’t fail and who don’t doubt.
But the unique (and relieving) thing I have experienced in Marg is that the leaders are not expected to slavishly follow one model till Kingdom come. If that were true, we need not have changed any model at all!
And this is where Marg has taken theology and made it Biblical and practical. If authentic discipleship is not happening, there’s some room to pause, observe what God’s showing, listen to one another (and to others in the body) and take stock – even if all that takes weeks and months!
Thankfully, Jesus was kind and patiently revealed to us the real needs. The freedom to hold or discard favourite and comfortable models for the sake of staying tuned to what God’s Spirit is doing is a big relief. Sure – we can be bullish about changing our ways. But maybe that’s way better than “kuch bhi chalega“. The whole experience personally showed me I have so much to grow in learning, trusting and obeying Christ. But as leaders, we shall continue to develop strong, Biblical convictions about matters of eternal significance.
What our Sunday meetings don’t mean
Now, our weekly Sunday meetings do not mean that the new location of Marg is the K.P. hall.
Neither does this mean that the church has changed locations nor does this mean that the churches have joined back together to become one. Sunday meetings have never been “the church” biblically. If you’ve known Marg, you’ve heard that truth taught for eons.
We have already been meeting on Sundays as the City church gathering once a month for quite some time now. Instead of all three churches meeting once a month now we have increased the frequency to once a week.
What our Sunday meetings do mean
This means we are going to focus on collective teaching and learning opportunities to make disciples of one another (Matt. 28:18-20) through these Sunday meetings.
All three churches had plans and purposes in their individual regions. This change hopefully is intended to affect none of those. The churches belong in Kharadi, Baner and Wanowrie and their weekly meetings and expressions of community, service and evangelism continue. Sunday is a common City church gathering for Marg, that’s all.
But now, our reaching out to friends, colleagues and underprivileged folks can be aided by these Sunday meetings. Hopefully, we can ask questions about missions and will learn from one another’s examples.
Now our being slaves to God and His redeeming work in our regions can be benefited further. We can ask and get to hear each week how and where Jesus is spurring His people to serve in the other two churches too. And now we will know even better what to pray for the other two churches.
Now we can live out our God-given identities of “children of God” and “family members of one another” and also hear and apply examples of how “loving one another” looks like practically at other Marg churches.
Our aim is to follow Jesus in this transitory phase faithifully and to become self-sustained, thriving Biblical churches in all three locations – in God’s timing. We hope to further embrace the God-given identity of “family of missionary slaves” who treasure Jesus Christ a lot!
So let’s meet on Sundays and through the week so that disciple-making and the building up of God’s churches continues. May the City church gatherings encourage you to build one another up even more through the week. When friends ask you where do you go to church, faithfully respond with something to the effect of –
“We are church, we don’t go to a church. : ) We meet in Kharadi/Baner/Wanowrie through the week and meet together on a Sunday at K.P.”
Image courtesy - Jean Joseph George
Now don’t just say that like it’s a mere motto. Live that out by the very life of God in you!
I am excited at all that we shall learn and share in the coming weeks through gifted men who are teachers, through the larger one-another edification time and through Community Bible Reading efforts. I will conclude with a comment that was posted by someone at the November 2014 announcement blog post. It goes like this –
…I am praying that God helps us effectively define ourselves as a family in our gatherings than strangely adopt an institutional approach. This will be a struggle for all including me. Praying we thrive as a family in these regions including a Sunday.
I think that statement is ever so true even now. May you find this temporary transition a blessing from Jesus and an opportunity to further live like Him with the church on His mission, in your locality. Happy journeying with Christ!
Do you have any nagging questions about this temporary transition?
Any concerns or confusions? You have the freedom to bring it up here or with your church leaders in person. Thank you for patiently reading, church family.
Next Week – Does God expect Christians to make disciples of one another? If yes, where and how?