Everybody has a story. Everyone has a life that is lived with shared experiences with others but with a twist of humanity that marks each life with a stamp of uniqueness. The Tangible Kingdom opens with a story…a story of a leader; a person who loves God and loves what God has done and is doing in our world through people. Hugh Halter has spent many of his days planting churches and training church planters…chapter one is his summary of why he does what he does. His main motivator? What gets him up in the morning? An incurable curiosity about people who don't know/follower Jesus.
As Hugh states on page 2:
"when I walk into Starbucks, I don't think about coffee…I ponder the lives of everyone I see. I wonder about the spiritual journeys, their highs and lows…and where they look for direction in their search…"
It was a collapse of a church plant that initially appeared to be "successful"…"irreconcilable differences" that led to a breakdown in spiritual community, a smashed cell, a resignation and a self-imposed "exile" from organized church that was the beginning of a new birth in Hugh. As Hugh mentions on page 4, "my dream church became my nightmare church".
On an extended trip to New York City, a young waitress in a neighborhood pub befriended Hugh. One conversation led to another and soon Hugh found himself surrounded one night by the pub's owner, a few other waitresses, and bartenders. An honest conversation followed where, over time, Hugh realized that sharing the four spiritual laws or the fact that he was a pastor was going to be futile. He remarks,
"I just talked about the only thing I knew they might like – Jesus and the alternative world he called, the Kingdom of God. They loved it just as much as I did, and lapped it up like hungry pups."
Out of his jadedness, God called him to a new vision and, while "messing with him", led Hugh to a new home, a renewed spiritual passion, and a new dream of a greater church and maybe another small church that someday could be an easy and relaxed home for searching souls like Fiona and her friends. A broken heart and a "tapping out" of organized, traditional, institutional church actually became the seed bed for a lifestyle of living the Kingdom that has taken Hugh for the ride of his life.
Tomorrow…chapter two. In the meantime, ask yourself about your vision for your life…what is the part you play in God's desire for the Kingdom of God to be experienced in the here/now? Are you satisfied, stifled, frustrated, apathetic with what you experience? More to come tomorrow as The Tangible Kingdom begins a frank look at the reality of "church". Come back and see us, OK?