Sunday evening three of my new seminary friends drove into Philly to attend service at Broad Street Ministries. I have been wanting to check out Broad Street Ministries for a very long time and when we learned that a classmate, Andy Greenhow, would be preaching, it was clear that we would be attending. I am so glad I went.
Broad Street Ministry is located on South Broad Street in Philly. It is a community that emphasizes hospitable outreach, passionate civic involvement, courageous discipleship, and creative expression. If you are anywhere near Philly, I would suggest dropping by some Sunday evening. When you walk up to the building it looks like a giant traditional church, but I'm not sure that there is anything traditional about Broad Street and that is why I liked it.
During the service I was looking around and realized that those gathered there truly were the body of Christ. There were young people and old people. Students, professionals, and those without a job. There were people from Philly, people from other states, and people from other countries. There were black, white, asian, hispanic. There was the uneducated and the well educated. Those who are illiterate and those who have published books. There were those who came dressed up for church and those who wore what they had. There was what I feel to be every variety of person. I think I like how the BSM website puts it best, "BSM also welcomes into its body not just those who are on the margins of faith but those who are on the margins of society. The member of prestigious private clubs worships alongside the homeless person. The gay and lesbian activist passes the peace with the Pentecostal lay preacher. The possessor of a PhD. In theology prays alongside the summa cum laude graduate of the School of Hard Knocks. " All of these people, from so many different walks of life joined together with the purpose of worshiping God and sharing a meal.
I was afraid to attend BSM. Not because I was afraid that I wouldn't like it. Not that I was afraid that I would be uncomfortable. I was afraid to attend because I was afraid I would like that, and that is exactly what happened. That is the type of worship I have been looking for. It's real. It's nitty gritty. It's not about keeping with tradition and doing things in a particular way. It is about ministering to the people and being ministered to. It's about seeing the face of God in those gathered. It isn't about inviting God into the space because God is already there and waiting for you. I felt more in touch with God and with myself, felt more convicted and felt more dedicated to Christ than I have in quite some time than I did in that short service Sunday night.