My office is in a trailer. Each morning, I report to work, unlock a padlock, pull open a large fence, walk up a ramp, and enter the space. The trailer sits on the edge of the church's lawn, on space that actually belongs to the city. It is a humble space. It is the only space that we have access to at the moment on a regular basis without paying rent.
When we first ordered the trailer, we thought we would be having worship services at 11:00 on Sunday mornings in the trailer. We were not expecting much then. We anticipated having about 25 people on a Sunday morning, offering a different experience to others on Sunday afternoon. We did not expect to grow much until we got "home" to our big building after the renovation.
We soon learned that the Sunday afternoon experience was not that great because the beauty of our community was missing. It was hard to attract newcomers without the old timers. We therefore made some changes and started to rent a great theatre across the street from the church. Our worship attendance has grown since we have been in the theatre. We have had to order new hymnals because we did not keep enough out of storage. And, we get to welcome new people into our midst nearly every Sunday.
Still, people cannot believe that we are operating out of a trailer. When a reporter from The Washington Post met me on Wednesday afternoon, he was amazed to find me in a trailer. He walked back to my office and was so surprised to see my worship vestments hanging in the corner. He looked from one end of the trailer to the other end and said, "This is it? This is all you have?" "Yes, this is all we have," I responded, "in addition to the space we are renting on Sunday mornings."
Later that night, I was reminded again of all that can happen in a trailer. I presided over the Lay Leadership Committee in my office. A group of five gathered together to think about who can best lead our church in the coming year. We had a fantastic meeting as we prayed, discerned and talked together. We reviewed what has happened this year and talked about how best to get our new members involved, making sure that there is a balance of the old and the new on each committee. It was a blessing to talk with each other about all that God is doing in our midst.
Meanwhile, another group met in the larger area of the trailer. This group is one of two new community groups that are off and running. They are organized by neighborhood and are inwardly growing and outwardly focused groups who gather together to eat, study, share, grow and serve in our community. The room was filled with laughter. And, each person in the room was not at Mount Vernon Place a year and a half ago. Each person was new, and one of the individuals will make her first profession of faith when she joins the church a week from Sunday.
The longtime members filed out of my office as our meeting ended first. As they walked out, they were greeted with the sound of laughter and the site of authentic community being formed. It was a full house.
It is God's house...even though it is just a trailer.
I'll be the first to tell you that you do not need a church building to build the church.