Last Friday, 12 March 2021, we were a #realchurch made up of more than 200 people from more than 28 different countries. Distance was no barrier. Language was no barrier. We joined together as a family, as fellow followers of Jesus Christ.
This fourth session of our online series of #realyou, began with a live-streamed program on YouTube. As for each of the previous sessions, Lucie Pavlíkova and Martin Pavlík, a couple of young students from Czechia, heavily involved in student ministry (INRIroad and @basement30), were the hosts for the event.
The topic for this gathering was #realchurch. Guest speakers, Jonathan Contero and Abigail Esquirolea, church planters of Cero Church (@iglesiacero) in Madrid, Spain, were just perfect for the topic. They spoke from experience and from the heart.
To begin with, we need to think about what is church. In Jonathan's words,
We say we go to church, we say we take people to church, but we don’t say we are the church.
But what does it mean to be the church? Jonathan took us on a journey on the concept of temple in the Bible. In the Old Testament, the temple (tabernacle) was built for God to dwell amongst His people (see Exodus 25:8). In the New Testament, Jesus is called Immanuel, which means God with us (see Matthew 1:23), and then Paul talks about us being the temple of God (see 1 Corinthians 3:16).
Church is thus a movement of millions of small and organic "temples" of living people [us] who are the vessels of God's presence in this world. Everything we do, whether we eat or drink, is to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
In that sense, Jonathan reminded us we are a chosen people, we are God's special possession, and we are also a holy nation and a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9).
You might think this does not apply to you, but being a priest is to bear the image of God in this world. And we are all called to do that.
Abigail pointed us to the practicality of this. With a personal story on how a cake helped to keep youth in her church, she invited us to be intentional about what we do: "love without judging, heal without waiting for something in return, share without saying a word, hug because you love, not because you have to, listen because you care for them." Of course, it wasn't the cake that made the miracle for her, "it was the miracle of spending time together."
You are the person God has chosen to show others who He is. How wonderful is that?
A real church is not a church that talks about what Jesus would do, it is a church that does what Jesus would do.
The church is definitely not perfect, namely because it is made up of human beings. We are fallible. We make mistakes. And yet, when you feel like giving up, Jonathan reminded us to
Stay [in the church] and become an agent of transformation, with love, with kindness, with mercy.
Inspiration did not only come from our guest speakers.
We also learned about a couple of ministries from their founders:
Mirra (regalamirra.com) is a Christ-centered business startup focused on sharing gifts that lead to Jesus.
Stefan Hacko, in turn, explained how he co-founded UNZIP (Instagram account @unzip_ns), an Adventist student ministry based in Serbia, that focuses on helping youth unzip their true self in a safe space with a variety of activities (game nights, book club, workshops, seminars, training sessions, etc.). As a result, they connect with hundreds of students on campus.
The evening then continued with engagement and connection via the response groups. This time, there were five response groups to choose from: Lettering, Conversation, Personal Devotion, Go Deeper and Take Action. These last two were new additions that were warmly welcomed.
Participants shared their enthusiasm for the event:
"I loved it! I want to be there for the next #realyou online session!"
"It was really great to be part of this."
"It was a great help at conversation response group."
And response groups, you can experience live, next time, on 11 June 2021.
More information can be found on the event website: https://www.realyouamicus.org/
Watch any of the recorded sessions here:
For those wondering what AMiCUS is, AMiCUS is a place to:
CONNECT. We endeavour to connect students with their fellow human beings, their church and their community.
THINK. We encourage students to dare to ask questions and to think for themselves.
ENCOUNTER JESUS. We aim to help students connect with Jesus and grow in a closer relationship with Him.
BE. We seek to aid students become the best human being they can be.
ACT. We call students to be proactive in making a positive impact on people's lives and in their community, and in discovering their sense of mission.
Jonatan Tejel, EUD Youth Ministries Director, and Alexandra Mora, EUD Youth AMiCUS Specialist, the brains behind the AMiCUS Congress.