By Tom Holmes
All you need is love
I went to the first service of the Free Church, which was held in Theater 7 of the Lake Theater on Sunday, September 9.
You'd have to label them an evangelical congregation, but what struck me was how little of the sermon by the pastor, Chuck Colegrove, had to do with doctrinal truth. He didn't even quote the Bible in every other sentence as an appeal to its authority.
I'm not saying that he doesn't care about doctrine or that he doesn't see the Bible as authoritative. It's just that he didn't emphasize those two things.
What he and his wife Urshanna focused on as they led worship was love and relationships. Much of his sermon was about his personal journey, what and who led him and his family to move from secure jobs in large churches in Texas to take the risk of starting a new congregation in a village which already has over 40 faith communities. In my opinion he did a better job of introducing himself to the public than either Romney or Obama did at their conventions.
Following are some quotes from an interview I had with him which illustrate how he seems to trust his heart, his intuition as much or more than his head:
We felt God was speaking to us to start a church.
But something in our hearts keep pushing there must be something else we're supposed to do.
We fell in love with what the village of Oak Park represented.
Our heart was attracted to this place, that was God opening the door for us to say this is the right place for you.
Life moves at the speed of relationships.
We just kept thinking if God puts this in our heart he's going to open more doors for us and put in the right people in our lives.
We'd just talk to people and say this is what's in our heart and we'd love for you to be a part of it.
I just feel that the way God's love is such a free gift for us if we can just come together in agreement on that how powerful that is we can change the world on the power of that love and do it together.
A lot of times people don't know that there is a community that really loves them.
I started with first verse in Luke because that resonates so much in my heart.
The Church has always vacillated between the pole of rational, doctrinal orthodoxy on the one hand and the pole of pietism on the other. The Free Church seems to be emphasizing the latter pole.