What Was the Village Church?
A good Christian church will wear local colors. Its ministry, if as caring as it should be, will be indigenously unique, because communities are unique. So with the Village Church, whose uniqueness was in the Greenwich Village value of creative non-conformism. But we were there, not just to be unconventional, but for the unconventional. We were a spiritual home for those who didn’t fit. We were willing to help people with different spiritual narratives, not compromising the truth God has given to anchor our lives, but using it to free hearts in their relationships, work and citizenship. Not all heeded this call—and I still cannot fathom why anyone would not want what Christ offers us: His very life lived out in us. Yet the church’s grace-powered willingness to go far for the excluded created some incredibly beautiful stories, written in the lives of those shaped by their membership here. The work was done by more than any one person or program. It was born of an obviously greater force. Because it was a work of Holy Spirit.
So would you expect a body made up of the unconventional to have a conventional church story? Not likely. A church willing to tread a different path, a path of translating the Christian faith truly in her culture and community, but not trying to update it, nor to apologize for it, may find her way more difficult. However, she will also find it more rewarding because it broadens the worship of the Lord Jesus Christ. It ushers those from all people groups, not just some, into the praise of God for His mighty works. It brings a warm smile to our Father’s face. Which, of course, makes it all worth it.
So much of what Jesus Christ does goes right under the radar of this current age. We did, indeed, seek first the Kingdom of Heaven, as best we could. Consequently, we had many, many rich things added unto us. The Lord has loved us in a different way, and gave us a different story as a church, a story now ending. But from where I stand, I see that He cares for our scattered members still. This is visible in some of the comments above.
In the hundreds of thousands of dollars we gave away, in the eighteen years of shelter we gave to a great many who wanted what they knew not and had nowhere else to turn, in the orthodox innovation and, well, crazy experiments, we periodically pulled back the cloak of malaise so often shrouding the real point of things. We showed Greenwich Village a little of what it was meant to be.
So what was the Village Church?
It was a hearty hail to the Christ, the Ultimate Non-conformist. It was a serious witness to Greenwich Village of what it is missing. It was a full-bodied enactment of Romans 12:2—“Be ye not conformed to this world but be ye transformed…”
Amen and amen.