“I’m going with Twitter!”
The look on my mom’s face when the words left my mouth was hysterical. I had been watching Liberate from afar for years now, and I finally had the opportunity to go, but I would be going alone. Sort of.
It’s weird how negative the church has been about social media. Strike that- the church is negative about anything remotely fun, so this should come as no surprise to us. It seems every article I read about social media and Christianity is fear driven and guilt laden.
*”Social media replaces fellowship in the church”
*”Social media replaces one on one community and relationships and actually makes you more lonely!”
*”Social media is just a place to draw attention to yourself and fake a happy life to the world around you.
Perhaps some of these things are true. We are sinners, we can abuse anything that is good. My experience with Twitter has been anything but negative. In fact, it’s been incredibly life giving. Upon leaving legalism behind, I found myself often alone with my new freedom in Christ. I live in the moralistic bible belt capital of the world (Texas) so the message of Gospel freedom “It is Finished” is not popular to say the least. It has cost me a great deal personally. I went to Twitter looking for gospel nuggets years ago- and much to my surprise, I ended up finding a gospel community.
The fellowship on Twitter is like nothing I have ever experienced within the church. People from all over the country who have been broken by the church and the message of “do more- try harder” are there. People I would have never met or known any other way. We have formed a deep bond. A Gospel Posse. We encourage one another daily with the truths of the gospel. We pray for one another. We laugh together. We cry together. We have deep discussions about the bible and the Christian life. We challenge one another and learn from one another. We are men, women, older, younger, married, single, baptist, lutheran, non-denom, pastors, and students. We come from all different walks of life with all kinds of different personalities but we couldn’t be more unified because of Jesus. It’s honestly how church should be. It’s incredible!
Upon making the decision to attend Liberate I reached out to an older sweet couple and asked them to adopt me for the weekend- without hesitation, they accepted. I wouldn’t be all by myself on this trip. A group of people went in together and rented a house next to Coral Ridge- and we dubbed it “Misfit Manor”. Fitting, really because it’s exactly what we are. Misfits. When you look at us and each of our backgrounds we don’t fit together. Yet, because we have been made one through the gospel- it makes perfect sense.
(Myself with Marci, Arnie, Chief, Susan, Susan, and Stephen)
Meeting everyone that I had been fellowshipping with on Twitter all this time is pretty indescribable. I expected it to be awkward- do we need to get on our phones to communicate? How do we do this? I can’t use emojis!!! Much to my surprise, it wasn’t awkward at all. It was a huge celebration with every introduction. In fact, the second that I stepped off of the airplane I heard the words, “SIS!” being shouted out at me. It was my friend, and big brother, Shaun. It gripped my heart. I was safe and at home from the start. We were all able to share meals and our stories together, in person. There was this immediate love and bond that we all shared- we are a family. It was the church that my heart has been longing for.
(Myself with Shaun)
I think that our gospel posse is really a microcosm of Liberate itself. The speakers are from all different denominations. Baptists can sit under the preaching of a Lutheran. Non denoms can sit under the preaching of Presbyterians. This is evidence that the gospel is being preached rightly: when the denominational lines and barriers have been torn down. We gather together to celebrate the singular message of Christianity: “It is finished”.
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3:28)
Other conferences that invite speakers from various denominations usually spend a good portion of time tearing each other apart over secondary theological positions. There is this arrogance that wafts throughout the sessions. This isn’t how it is with Liberate. Those things never even enter the discussion. They come to set one another free with the gospel and all that Jesus has accomplished for us. It’s a celebration like I have never experienced. I imagine this is exactly what heaven will be like.
Leaving my sweet friends when it was all over was gut wrenching. Some of us just hugged one another and wept together as we said goodbye. Many of us are returning to places where the gospel is not preached. Many of us do not have a church to call home. Some of us have been run out of churches, others have left churches voluntarily, but grieving. Some of us are in the church contending for the gospel against the wolves who would try to snuff out our freedom. We all long to just start churches together and create safe havens for sinners to come and be honest about who they are and loved with the gospel. The way the church should be. Perhaps some day that may occur and perhaps that is why the Lord would knit us so tightly together now.
(Myself with Marci)
To my precious Gospel Posse,
Words cannot express how much I love you all. Thank you for adopting me into your group and for loving me well. It is through tears that I typed this entire thing, trying to express what you mean to me. When I have been ripped apart by pastors, you have been there mending my wounds- and affirming me. When I am discouraged as a mom, you are there to encourage me. When I’m struggling with sin that I don’t want to put down, you lean in with the gospel, you don’t shrink back. When I’m exhausted in the battle for grace, you suit up and fight along side of me and encourage me to keep going. I have learned more from all of you in the past year than I have learned my entire life in a local church. You have taught me what it is for the gospel to grab my heart and what grace looks like on the ground. I would take a bullet for any of you without question. You are my family. You mean the world to me. I love you dearly. I miss you dearly. Thank you for everything. (And I wish I had taken more pictures! So many of your faces are missing from this blog- but honestly, I was just busy enjoying being with you, photo ops never crossed my mind.)
So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News. Philippians 1:7