Photo: Kelsey Wong, Design: Little Giant Design

Have you ever kicked yourself for standing on the sidelines too long? Have you ever failed to follow your heart or your gut and then missed out on something special? In my lifetime I have probably done that more than I like to admit. One of the biggest risk I’ve taken, though, is City Square Church, and it’s been far more rewarding than I could have ever dreamed. City Square, however, was a great risk to take only because Phoenix was, and continues to be, a great risk to take.

This past Sunday I preached at our first ever Sunday morning worship service, or what we new church start pastors call a “preview service” (We’ll have more previews on June 2, July 7, and weekly in August as we head towards our public “launch” or “grand opening” on September 8, 2013).

During the sermon I posed the questions: “Can anything good come out of downtown Phoenix?” and “Can anything good come out of religion?” My answer to both of these is an enthusiastic “yes!”

But we have to go beyond just agreeing that these things, can be, and are indeed, good. We have to be active in making Phoenix and religion good, even if they aren’t perfect and even if they are risky.

When it comes to Phoenix, we have to keep the momentum going in downtown, we have to spread the word about downtown, and we have to bring people downtown so they can experience what is good.

For those who consider themselves religious and who are specifically followers of Jesus, we can’t just talk about what a nice guy Jesus was, we have to live his values of love, compassion, justice, mercy and forgiveness on a daily basis. These can’t just be values we hold, but a way of life through which we transform our community and the world. We have to show that churches and religion aren’t aging buildings or a set of rules and judgments, but are a people who live into the loving and compassionate people God calls us to be.

Most importantly, we have to share and live this “good news” together.

So, if you missed our preview service, I want to extend an invitation to you to join us on this journey. We’re entering an exciting time in the young life of this faith community and we want to include everyone we can. If you’ve been on the periphery waiting for an opportunity to jump in, this is a great time. If you want to know what the next steps are or just want to hear more about who we are and where we are going, join us for “Coffee With the Pastors” at Songbird Coffee & Tea House on May 19th.

I don’t want to end with a selfish invitation to join my “thing,” though. Whether or not you’re ready to take a risk on religion, I want to invite you to help make Phoenix awesome. Phoenix needs not just your presence, but your ideas, your creativity, your passion, and your compassion. So much is already happening and will continue to happen as this city comes alive. So, whether or not you ever step foot into a City Square Church program or activity, please join me and many, many, others in making Phoenix, especially downtown, a great place to live, work, play and be in community with one another. If you’re standing on the sidelines, right now is the time to step into the game. Take a risk on Phoenix, you won’t be sorry.