"So what does your name mean?"
We get this question frequently. . . and there's a lot to our answer. So, if you are curious, please bear with me as I share a bit about our name, Burning Bush Communities!
The simplest answer is that while we were at a conference last year praying for our city the image of the burning bush from Exodus 3 popped into my head. Interestingly, that was a symbol used later that evening during a worship time, but at that point it had not been used or mentioned. The image made a definite impression on us, and as we made the decision to launch a new ministry the image of a burning bush immediately came to mind.
If you don't know the story of the burning bush, or haven't read it in a while, the key is that God gets Moses' attention through a bush that is burning but not consumed. Once God has Moses' full attention, he then commissions him to go and confront Pharaoh and lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, saying in 3:10, "So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.” (Of course at that point Moses does everything in his power to avoid that job, but that's a story for a different post!)
So what does that have to do with us?
1. We believe we share Moses' vocation.
Our city (and world) is full of people who are hurting and downtrodden. The so-called freedom that our culture promises has not brought about flourishing, but rather all kinds of new 'Pharaohs', addictions, enslavements, and lost promises. Given our situation, we cannot simply wait inside our churches or social service agencies, or with our standard 'charitable postures' and hope for the best. Rather, God is sending us out to join him in the fight for his people. (It's important to say here also that we are no saviors ourselves, but simply people who accept that loving your neighbor means sharing their burdens and laboring for their God-desired flourishing.)
2. We want to be a burning bush (#shrublife anyone?).
We believe God intends to get everyone in on this work! We want to call, train, serve and support anyone in our city who is ready to ask what God is up to and how they can be a part of it. This is not a battle for a handful of select people. This battle is for an ever-growing team of ordinary people taking hold of their true vocations to love God and neighbor. Ultimately, we can only fulfill our commission by bringing others into the work.
3. Communities are more capable instruments of transformation than individuals.
It's hard work to try to love a neighbor as ourselves and serve God with passion. If we're serious about doing this for the long-haul then we have to do it together. Alone, we will simply run out of gas. Additionally, we believe that we can best hear our call into God's work and be equipped for it through the nurture of a community. The community is the bonfire flame that sends out the sparks to ignite others. And finally, a community that struggles together, loves together and holds together is far greater witness to God's movement in our world than a lone ranger, and therefore is more capable of calling others into God's work of transformation.
So that's the story of how and why we named ourselves after history's most famous flame-proof shrub!