Friday, August 20, 2010

I just happen to believe that the church is the hope of the world.

Okay, these are some thoughts that have been percolating in my heart as I try to lead the local church as a pastor.

Maybe they are skewed because of my lenses as a pastor, maybe they are leveraged by the fact that I have spent my entire life in a local church, maybe they are weighted by the fact that God's plan pictured in the New Testament includes a local church advancing the kingdom, maybe it is flavored by the example of Ephesians 4, maybe it is impacted by my personal transformation to Jesus in a musty Sunday School Classroom, maybe it is swayed by pin-drop moments of God invading services, maybe it is indebted by my checkbook's need to give obediently week after week, maybe it is disillusioned by the fact that God's primary vehicle to bring hope is supposed to be followers of Christ, worshipping, praying, studying and gathering together in community in a local church.

Okay all that to say this, we live in an era when technology allows us to pick and choose how we do church. We have a smorgasbord approach to picking what we think is best, excellent, or whatever word describes our need to not gather together and, support, serve and use our gifts to build a thriving group of followers who are advancing the kingdom.

I ran across a blog entry by Kevin Deyoung and he said it much better then I could ever say it..
It’s possible the church needs to change. Certainly in some areas it does. But it’s also possible we’ve changed — and not for the better. It’s possible we no longer find joy in so great a salvation. It’s possible that our boredom has less to do with the church, its doctrines, or its poor leadership and more to do with our unwillingness to tolerate imperfection in others and our own coldness to the same old message about Christ’s death and resurrection. It’s possible we talk a lot about authentic community but we aren’t willing to live in it.

The church is not an incidental part of God’s plan. Jesus didn’t invite people to join an anti-religion, anti-doctrine, anti-institutional bandwagon of love, harmony, and re-integration. He showed people how to live, to be sure. But He also called them to repent, called them to faith, called them out of the world, and called them into the church. The Lord “didn’t add them to the church without saving them, and he didn’t save them without adding them to the church” (John Stott).

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor. 13:7). If we truly love the church, we will bear with her in her failings, endure her struggles, believe her to be the beloved bride of Christ, and hope for her final glorification. The church is the hope of the world — not because she gets it all right, but because she is a body with Christ for her Head.

Don’t give up on the church. The New Testament knows nothing of churchless Christianity. The invisible church is for invisible Christians. The visible church is for you and me. Put away the Che Guevara t-shirts, stop the revolution, and join the rest of the plodders. Fifty years from now you’ll be glad you did.

Enough said by the two us us , but I love the local church and whether or not I end up as a pastor or on a dirt bike in Asia, I will always be plugged in, serving, worshipping, praying, and cheering on the local church!