As my past 5 entries have shown - I've been thinking a lot about churches, the way the majority 'does' church and all the changes that are going on with my specific body of believers. This entry is the culmination of all those entries and everything on my heart... maybe SOMEBODY (please hubby somebody? hehe) will stick with me through this thought process.....
I'm at a point where I have no more concrete thoughts or statements that are on my heart... but just lots of questions.
I tend to always be that person that is on the middle, able to see all perspectives and why people feel/think the way they do. I don't get all the divides, animosity, divisions we have as the body. I mean... I DO get why we have them...I just don't get why we focus on them so much and allow it to divide us. How come others can't see the good in everything/everybody?
There's so much talk in the church community about being relevant to culture, about using our creative gifts as a way to glorify God and a way to reach our surrounding communities.
and I'm torn.....
The church isn't reaching people. The old 'way' of doing things isn't working. We have gotten out of touch with the sick & lonely and poor --- and spend a lot of time with people who are like us. We have failed so much that the people in our country are starting to believe it's the government's role to pick up where we have failed. It scares me! I DO NOT want the government to take over where we have failed. I do not believe in socialism/communism AT ALL. I believe in a very limited and hands off government. sorry for that tangent... my point is, we have failed as the body of Christ.
I understand changes need to be made....but what are those changes? What will they look like? Where do we start? How do we make theese changes while staying true to & not distracting from The Message?
I guess it depends on who we are trying to reach right? Are we trying to reach people in our peer group/same demographics but who just don't go to church? Or is our goal to help those in our community who are unlike us? People who live in different places --say "downtown" who are sick (suffering from addiction, wallowing in sin) poor (poorer than we are) and lost (because they don't know Christ).
The last thing I want our changes in our specific church to do is attract christians who just want a different or new 'experience'. I want to reach new people. I want to change our community. I'm ready for us to have a church body that is a microcosm of our greater society - a body that represents soo many different demographics & backgrounds! I want our church to be one of the first to cut through cultural, racial, socioeconomic barriers. Let's combine all our talents/gifts as separate groups in our city and really truly show people how to love and serve and glorify God by loving on each other and bringing out the best in each other despite our differences! Imagine how much He could use us if we were not divided!!!! There is power in unity!
I believe what our church is undertaking, this new venture... is going to reach people. but I believe it will be people like us. But one side of me says, that's okay right? Suburban middle class people need Jesus so bad too!! Maybe what we're doing is just going to be a springboard for reaching people different from us? a springboard for us to really begin to reach the hungry, clothe the needy & help the sick?
but sometimes I am just worried that what we are doing is just changing our look. Are we just changing our image, our facility, our locations, our 'look', our way of attracting others? These are just external things... are we going to make sure though the heart of our body is continually changing? Are we making sure that our heart is a reflection of our outside changes?
This I know.... God is at work and our leaders love God and love people. I have no doubt of that. God has been at work in many hearts at our church for a long time. I LOVE how the church is beginning to get creative and become relevant to culture while never watering down the meat, The Message. I believe in the leaders God has given me because I believe in Him. He has worked through them to touch me.
but I just have so many thoughts.... here's what I wrote on a fellow church member's blog:
regarding our new creative team & some of our external changes? I love it. I LOVE our creative team leader. I love how hard they are pouring themselves into this. They are totally devoted. I believe creativity is an awesome thing.... it's an awesome thing to use our talents to glorify God.
But I also believe the Word is always enough... it always has been.... and the Word doesn't NEED anything to supplement it. Is all this 'stuff' just unncessary when people in our own community are homeless, poor, sick and neglected? Should our resources go other places?... but then I think.... why not use your talents to glorify God?? We are being careful with our money & investing it for the long term right? If you were given creative talents --- shouldn't you use them to glorify Him rather than use them for secular messages?
but then my other side again says... yes the Word is always enough and it's important to never water down The Message....but God is a God of creativity and creation. What He creates and has created is captivating!! Just look around, He has lavishly created beauty all around us in extravagent ways!!
I believe He can work through us to make even more beautiful and wonderful creations!! Anything done for Him and to glorify Him can be a beautiful and wonderful reflection of Him.
Sunday mornings are only what they are ---- Sunday mornings. Who we are as a church shouldn't be Sunday mornings -- it should be what is done during the week. The real work takes place not in a building but outside of the walls. Whatever we do - we should do it to the best of our ability and whole heart. A heart poured out and expressed in any outlet can be glorifying to God. These creations that are taking place at our church are precious not because of what they are --- but because the heart behind it.
Either way we can't let this be another divide in us right?! I believe that Jesus would want us to focus on Him and allow Him to do the judging of a person's heart and motives. What is a beautiful outpouring of one's talents to glorify Him might seem lavish to others..... what is simple and stale and drab to some might be beautiful to Him --- because He is looking at the attitude and heart not exactly the content that is delivered.
I believe that's a gift I've been given....to see beauty in anything and anybody - to seek it out. My church I went to for most of my time during adolescense was literally 10 - 20 people and it was beautifully a mess. It was a group of people slowly growing... learning to love God, each other and their community. I was able to see good in them and us as a group no matter how stale everything might have seemed to others --- I wonder why I was able to see good? I guess just because that's what I was looking for..... but others who came, would they stay around when they visited? no, never. we were a big * yawn * to them. We were so irrelevant to their world. We probably seemed real stale.
People who are searching do need to see an outside reflection of what's going on inside. They don't love The Word like we do yet. I believe it is important to attract people and just get them to stay around long enough to hear The Truth. The Truth is what changes people. God in the end IS all we need --- all this "stuff" actually becomes background music to His beautiful love & acceptance & approval of us once we know Him..... but will people stay around long enough to seek Him out? Do we show on the outside how much He has done for us!? Do we show how totally fired up, passionate, and enthusiastic we are for Him and The Message!?!? I beleive we should!!! Isn't it important for our outside to be a reflection of the inside!?
Ultimately though as seems to be my message always - we are to focus on Him -- not on these details & judging each other's motives, intentions or spiritual maturity. I think we have done enough dividing amongst ourselves & kicking of each other.... isn't it time to focus on the good in each other? TO LOVE the unique talents & roles God has given us? And to realize that ALL different kinds of people need reaching and God uses anybody and anything to get their attention! We need all different types of ministries & outreaches because the people out there are all so diferent.
My point again is... God looks at the inside, not the outside.... we should do whatever we can, to do the same for each other.
I love our leaders, I trust they love God and I believe through my 4 years with this body of Christ there is a love & passion for God... I know so many of us are ready to stop playing church and start being the church.... but all these changes, are they a reflection of how we're going to do church....or are they just external changes?
Please God change us as a body. Teach us how to do community the way you want us to. Teach us how to really reach the hurting & allow you to change them through us --- not just attract the church hopping experience addicts looking to find you in feelings & sunday morning experiences.
May our passion for these external changes be reflections of what you have done inside.
I pray that this passion to change is because we want our outside to match our inside..... and not us just trying to force the outside to change because we want to cover up our insides & how much we have failed as a body.