Reverb - update Dec13

Monday, 2 December, 2013

Dave Saunders updates the story of Reverb, a fresh expression of church for young people in Inverness.

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Transcript

Dave Saunders: I joined the youth organisation, which was like a year out scheme, and I didn't know where they were going to send me in the country: they could have sent me anywhere, and I was hoping for somewhere like Cornwall, somewhere really warm and it ended up that they sent me to Inverness, purely because I had a real passion for asking the question 'What does church mean for people who are disengaging with church?' And I knew that Inverness was asking those questions and wanting to plant a youth church at the time, so I came to Inverness.

When I first moved to Inverness and I left home I was first introduced to people outside of my bubble, my church bubble anyway, realising that there's a whole group of people that haven't been communicated that there is hope, that there is a God that loves them, and that really hurt me. I think it came out probably in hatred and anger towards the church, that's how I felt if I'm honest. I was hurt that people I'd grown to love on the edges, nobody had bothered – well, it felt like anyway, nobody had bothered to share with them. It felt like the church had hidden the greatest truth away from these incredible people.

But at the time, 10 years ago, there didn't seem to be a church that would accommodate the type of young people that we were working with. It didn't feel right to try and force them into a mould of typical church, so we formed this youth church called Revolution, which went on for about 6 years. It was incredible – really, really powerful times. The transition from revolution to reverb, and why we changed our name – I felt that we needed to study what it meant to be a disciple and I said, 'Look, let's study Luke 10 until we get our heads round what it really means' and I said I'm not going to write a programme, all I'm going to do is sit at a long table and buy a bag of chips every Sunday night and we'll all sit round and say what our thoughts are on what it means to love God and love our neighbour and what it means when Jesus sent out the 70 or 72, and what lessons we can learn from the 'sending-ness' of Jesus.

We had about 35 people involved in the youth church and it sort of whittled down to about 10. Some people just wanted to play football and I said, 'Well, ok then, let's play football, but let's do it on another night.' And we started to meet in homes over meals instead of a programme led by me, and we picked the name reverb because we wanted to reverberate something of God's love in the community. We are together trying to live out something of the culture of God or the kingdom of God, that together we are people of compassion and forgiveness and hope and love, and that we challenge each other to become better at that.

One of the things that I found in the Methodist Church is this idea of covenanting with one another. We, at the time, a few years ago felt this was a really interesting and powerful thing that we could do together. So again we kind of translated it into our language and we felt like maybe the covenant is a bit like an invisible bond between us – something that holds us together, a strand that holds us together and we study together and reflected together, and it came out that it expressed itself in our four different relationships which we identified, which was our relationship with God, our relationship with our neighbour, our relationship with each other and our relationship with the wider church and what that looks like.

Somebody asked me, 'Can I come and see reverb?' And I replied, I emailed them back and I said, sure, no problem… if you've got a couple of months! I tell you what, I'll drive you to the local hairdressers and introduce to one of our members, I'll drive you to the high school and introduce you to the teacher who's a part of it because it's them that's reverb living out their life as they are. So to be a part of reverb, like I said, is living out a culture, a way of life, and we commit to one another I suppose because we see each other as family over the dinner table. We might share how great the brilliant opportunities are to serve our community but it also might be the moments where you can say I've no idea where God is anymore and the brutal honesty of that, and letting the despair and the hope sit side by side and it being ok to be like that.

We put an ad in the local newsletter that went to everyone in the community saying, if you know someone in the community who you think deserves to get their garden done up you can nominate them and we'll come and do it for you. And so we did that and we got lots of nominations and for four years we every year went and did three gardens – it wasn't three gardens every year actually, it was three gardens one year then two the next. And we just invited other friends that we as reverb knew, that would help us dig up a garden and lay some gravel and plants and it was a brilliant opportunity, well it is a brilliant opportunity just to get to know people in the community and to invite people on the journey of loving their neighbour. And I think on the journey of loving your neighbour, on the journey of mission, you can become a disciple, you can find Jesus on that. I also don't think you can separate them – mission and discipleship. Discipleship can happen in mission. I don't really have a huge vision for mega-church – I have a vision for small pockets of friends and family getting together to keep each other accountable and to laugh and cry together.

I've recently been given this opportunity to convert this old shed, stone shed, into some sort of prayer space – a space to calm the noise, a space to escape what can sometimes feel like an unfriendly world. It might just help this community, and myself even as well. So this space is called 'breathe' because it's about breathing space – just a moment to go, 'Ahhh,' you know. So, some guys have walked in and I've just been there and I've not said a word and they've just felt the space was safe enough to share their life story. And one guy walked in actually and just felt something really powerful in the room – he said it's indescribable what it is, I can't describe it. And I had the privilege of saying, 'Do you think that might be God?' I'm finding that's happening a lot more. I'm instead of having to preach it, push it on people, I'm just pointing out that God is already at work, God is already there, I'm just going, 'Hey, do you think that's Him?'

Reverb member: Reverb is a community of people that welcome anybody, even if you don't have faith, even if you do have faith, you just try to talk about life and if people are struggling we try to advise them, let them open up, let them try and be peaceful, get wisdom, and Dave – he's great at helping you understand when you're in a bad way and explaining, 'Ask for, speak to God, ask guidance.' I come in here about once a week – I just sit and think. It helps, you know, it really does help a lot of people.

Dave Saunders: One lad that I'm working with, who's a part of reverb, found God when he was sat in his flat on his home and remembered 10 years ago a young Christian youth worker, and saw something in her that he wanted. So he Googles, 'How do I become a Christian?', and finds a prayer on some website somewhere and prays the prayer seven times over and over again until he felt something change in his life. And so he felt what he would describe now as the Holy Spirit.

I'm often just absolutely blown away by the church giving me this opportunity and God picking me, this sort of uneducated Eastbourne boy, to come up to this beautiful city in the highlands to live out a brilliant dream, and it's a privilege to be a part of that. That doesn't say it's easy - sometimes I've felt like it's more of a curse than a blessing, sometimes I've felt like I've been at the point of filling out college application forms and saying, 'I can't do this anymore, I just want to do something else, I'm not the man for the job.' But it's the same calling that brings me back every time, and I can't get away from that. In fact reverb, recently, have been through this stage where it was so fragile that we weren't sure, 'Is this really working, is this worth continuing with?'

One of the things we really liked about the word reverb is that it starts very, very small – this little sound, this little echo and gets larger and larger and larger, but then it falls off, it disappears. And it's about this pulsing – we have to start small and get bigger and bigger and bigger, and that's not in numbers but it's just about this rhythm of life. So we just felt we'll just start off small again and that's ok, that's where we at. But I'll tell you this – I was just ready to give up, you know! It's like a sort of pride thing I suppose as well, just embarrassment that the church has sponsored me and paid for me to do this and I haven't given the produce, the goods… I haven't done it for them and I want to. But the vision is still there, that's the ultimate thing. You ask yourself, is the vision dead or is it still there? And it was still there.

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Comments

Good on ya Dave - don't let the light go out. Keep at it, it's sounding good. Cheers

Hay Dave I'm with Sean, authentic Kingdom stuff is gritty, vulnerable and yet amazing in the moments when light really does shatter what's been darkness in someones life. Grace: to continue, peace: in difficulty and blessing to encourage you my friend.

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