I have much I would like to say, but I am still in the processing mode. Last year the CMA Conference really gave me a jolt. This year, after being a practitioner of simple church and getting our butts kicked, this conference was an enormous encouragement and confirmation of our journey so far.
I want to make several statements and I hope they are clear and adequately understood. I am not against traditional or institutional church. I don’t think it is wrong or bad. I think church as we typically know it has evolved out of cultural contexts over the course of history which do not currently exist in most parts of the world, including the West, and more specifically America. Many of the things we assume as normal church practices are neither wrong or right. They are, in my opinion and for the most part, neutral. God can change a life inside a church building or without one at all, through the use of well-organized budgets or with no money at all, and can even use our catchy presentations of Jesus as a Bridge or just using a simple conversation about who God is and what He has done to change your life. I don’t know of many people who would disagree with that statement. However, this is not how Christians are familiar with operating, so the admission that things could be different is a difficult place to go, but we must go there. While church as we know it may not be “wrong”, I am convinced that much of what we do actually repels non-Christians. Rather than setting aside our religious pride and strategies for “getting them in the doors” and engaging them where they are on their turf, we hope for the one or two that actually get brave enough or distraught enough to come looking for us. Is that what Jesus did? Is that what He told us to do? How much of what we do, can we find in the Bible? If Jesus is the one we follow, why don’t we seem to be doing what He did?
This movement of authentic discipleship I referred to in my last post, gives no preference to denominations or associations, gender or class, buildings or homes, institutional or organic, or anything we have created to put our thoughts and actions into some kind of box or category. This movement is not defined by models, structures, or plans. In fact, the way I see it, this emerging conversation cannot be pigeon-holed into a nice, neat little package to be carbon-copied by those too lazy to get in the trenches to figure it out for themselves. This is why many either still grab for a “quick fix” or settle for what they have always known, rather than to get their hands and feet dirty out in the fray.
With that thought, allow me to challenge us in this journey. We must think and re-think everything we do. Why do we do what we do? Is it because it is the “religiously” acceptable thing to do? Is it because this is all we know to do? Is it because it is something someone told us we should do? Did Jesus say do it, or even better, did He do it? Can we say that we are making disciples of Jesus, or are we making disciples of our church, denomination, or our own personal way of doing life? Are we engaging people in open dialogue, or are we arguing our points and debating the hell (pun intended) out of people in an effort to convert people to our particular brand of Christianity? How many “conversations” have you had with an unbeliever lately? If you haven’t had any, shame on you! If you have, were you only interested in trying to convert them to your side, or were you seriously interested in their perspective? Do you really care about those who don’t know Christ, or are you just interested in the next notch in your Evangelical belt?
I am not sure about you, but the conviction of God is upon me…. Lord, I repent. I repent of trying to convert people to my point of view rather than leading them to your feet. I repent of being so caught up in my little “Christian” world, that I lost sight of those who are in real need. I repent of being to scared to leave my holy huddles and befriend and love a world indifferent and sometimes indignant toward You. Father, help me see this is not about me or what I can do, but what You desire to do in me and through me for Your glory and renown among the nations. Amen
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