If the Church could do nothing, but only one thing to survive, I would suggest that discipleship would be it. Discipleship–disciples, who make disciples, who make disciples–is, I believe, the primary vehicle through which God desires to win men.
Our Jesus discipled from the onset of His ministry. He didn’t only disciple His core 12 that we know so well, but He discipled many others along the way. Jesus knew and understood the importance of empowering the individual believer to be equipped to lead others to Himself.
He knew that He was leaving and that the Church would need to grow, through individual men and the Holy Spirit. But, today however, so many of us rely on our church buildings, pastors, programs, services, and the like to “empower” us to make disciples.
Here is the fundamental question: If your church building were stripped away and your pastor quit preaching from the pulpit, would YOU be able to lead, teach, and bring others to the Lord?
My church family is amazing. Glorious, really. And when I say glorious, I mean that it is the fullest representation of Christ I have ever experienced. It is the body of Christ–expressing itself through a people committed to loving one another, serving one another, ministering to one another, and worshipping with Christ as our Head.
So, now that I got that out of the way…
The other day, my sister Carrington (sister, meaning my sister in the faith) made a brilliant observation. A few of us women from our church family were talking and praying together–just sharing some of the struggles we had encountered that week. As we talked, we realized that many of us had been dealing with the exact same struggles.
I watched as we ministered to one another and carried the burden for one another. Me for her and she for me. Lifted. Freed. Lightened.
It was then that she explained that what we were doing–was being the church. The modern church, she went on, incorrectly promotes the idea of a personal Savior or a personal Jesus (anyone remember a certain Depeche Mode song?) Continue reading The Myth of a Personal Savior
Today, I’m over at Ken Hagerman’s blog, Rambling with the Barba, talking about the sins that we Christians deem acceptable versus the ones we do not. Here’s a snippet:
Beyond the lingo though, I quickly learned that certain things were completely acceptable within the church culture, while others were not. When it came to the discussion of sin I realized that what I would have openly confessed was simply not okay to share.
The excited, geeked-out-for-Jesus newbie believer that I was didn’t know the difference. I knew that the Bible said to confess our sins to one another and our God who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins (1 John 1:9). So I was ready to confess. I was ready to lay it all on the table–the dirt, the grime, the reeking stench of my sin. I wanted it gone. I wanted that forgiveness.
But, I watched as it was quietly, subtly, and yet systematically made clear to me that only certain sins can be confessed–at least out loud. There were the acceptable “Christian sins” and then there was the rest.
I received an email this week from a man stating that he and his wife were in need of some counseling and advice. He went on to say, however, that they were having trouble “gaining access to the leaders” at their own church and would I be able to direct them to some other resources.
My stomach dropped. I re-read the sentence 3 times for fear that I had read it incorrectly.
Trouble gaining access? How can this be? How is this happening within the church?
There is no door marked “leaders only.” There is no secret club of the “qualified,” no spiritual speakeasy.
The anger I felt while reading this email was palpable. Yet, I believe it angers the Lord even more to know that His people are daily made to feel that they have no power, authority, or place in the Body. To know that the people of God are made to feel ineffective, useless, and weak by other members of the Body.
There’s the rub and it is tragic.
And it is this convuluted warped thinking that enrages me almost more than anything within the church–the twisted lies we believe (often because of those in leadership) that tell us we cannot serve, cannot give, cannot impact the Kingdom, because we don’t wear the title of “leader,” or “pastor,” or carry a degree from the nearby seminary.
I’ve written this before, but I feel compelled to write it again:
You don’t need a degree or a certificate. You don’t need 3 years of off-site training or a letter from your pastor. You don’t need to attend seminars or conferences, write a book, or run a ministry.
You have everything you need.
His name is the Holy Spirit.
And it is Him, not man, that makes you approved, called, qualified, chosen, ready, equipped, sent, and full of power.
So, if you woke up today feeling powerless or desperately wanting to be used by God, know that you have everything you need. Ask of your Father. Forget what “they” have told you is or isn’t possible. The Creator of the Universe lives in you. He calls you home.
If you truly believe this, you cannot fear man. You can only set forth to please God.
Disclaimer: No, I do not know every detail abou this couple or their church. I do not know their pastor or the specifics regarding their need for counseling. Yes, I admit that there are two sides to every story and in no way am I trying to bad mouth a specific church. All that to say, this particular email struck a nerve with me and led me to write this post.
None of us are Christ and few of us are Christ-like. We fail each other. We sin against one another. We forget that we are meant to be a family and not merely a social club or association where we pay our annual dues.
But a real family, defined by its beauty and imperfections–its messiness and its glory.
Yet, families fail us because people fail us. The church fails us, not because it is broken, but because we are broken. Individually, we are broken pieces, often consumed by our dysfunction and our past, our pain and our shame.
Yet, in God’s family we are called chosen, redeemed, perfected, renewed, restored. We are not a soon-to-be or maybe-someday people of God. We are the people of God now. Today. Yesterday and Tomorrow.
The church in all its intended glory and rightful glory–it’s present glory and the glory that is to be revealed–is the body of Jesus Christ. And yet, it is still comprised of people–people like me, who fail, who sin, who forget that we are members of the family of the Most High God. Adopted. Once orphaned, but now named.
We’ve all heard someone we know, when asked about where they are attending church, respond with something like, “Well, I’m church shopping. You know, just looking…”
We nod our heads in agreement or in sympathy, having once perhaps been in the same situation–visting church after church, Sunday after Sunday, often left feeling defeated or discouraged.
Some people, dare I say, even use the phrase “church shopping” as an excuse to linger churchless and out of community. It’s the acceptable way of saying, “I don’t feel like being part of a church right now.”
A few months back, I had a similar exchange with someone and, as I replayed the conversation in my mind, I got a little angry. I realized, I don’t think we are supposed to church shop. Ever, in fact. Continue reading Stop Church Shopping
I know a girl in her mid-twenties who was raised by a single mom and grew up without knowing her father.
For many of us who grow up fatherless or with strained father relationships, we experience great loss, as a result. Thankfully, this girl met Christ at any early age, yet she always longed for an earthly father to love her, not just her Father in Heaven.
When this particular girl was a few years older, she met a husband and wife in the their forties who began to show God’s love to her, counsel her, pray with her, and treat her like their own.
Today, I’m over at Prodigal Magazine talking about how God moved me from where I was and what I thought was church, to where I am now. Here’s a taste…
I thought church was what I experienced with my grandmother at Mass–a stuffy room, while beautiful was rather cold, filled with lots of old people crossing themselves and young people looking painfully bored.
So, when I was introduced to the new modern “relevant” versions of church I was surprised, albeit a bit unsure. Because as a new Christian, I was hungry–hungry for the things of God. I wanted to know about the whys and hows. I searched the Bible tirelessly looking for more answers. I got Jesus, but I wanted to know more of Him and why He did what He did for me.
But what I found, in the church buildings I stepped into, were for the most part, a lot of people simply wanting to be entertained. I didn’t know any better and I wasn’t entirely sure but was God a God of Entertainment? Or was He something all together different?
“One hundred religious persons knit into a unity by careful organization do not constitute a church any more than eleven dead men make a football team. The first requisite is life, always.“- A. W. Tozer
1. Church is optional. Ah, the lone believer, hell-bent on staying out of a church community for one reason or another. They were burned, chastised, or mistreated. And I get it. I, too, was a solo “Christian” trying to call a 5-minute quiet time and a snippet of scripture “church.” I know what it is to be community-less and long for (but never actually believe it could happen) a spiritual family, where brethren would lay down their life for one another–reminiscent of the book of Acts.
Oh yeah, but then, through a series of painful life-altering events (another post for another time), I came to see that church was not optional because, I was, in fact, the church. When scripture refers to the church as “the house of God,” “the Body of Christ,” “Christ’s bride,” it is referencing a people. The ekklesia, in Greek. It is not a place or a building, which leads me to…
2. We go to church. Those in the church, have long believed that we go to church. But, as stated above, if we are the church, then this can’t actually be true. We don’t actually go to church on Sunday. What we do instead, is assemble where other members of the church happen to be, and we usually sit in a pew and listen to someone preach from the pulpit. This is not church. You are the church.
3. The church exists to reach the lost and unsaved. It was not so long ago that the Lord really clarified this point for me. In the Christian culture of “doing social justice,” “living missionally,” and “loving the unlovely,” it becomes easy to view the church as a vehicle in which to reach the unsaved.
However, this is not the primary function or purpose of the church. The church exists for the believer–to equip, edify, and empower the saints. To manifest the body and life of Jesus Christ. I know this might rub some people the wrong way, but if so, I encourage you to re-examine the scriptures. You may be surprised. I was.
4. A small group or Bible study is a perfectly acceptable replacement for “church.” Oh, I fell hard for this lie. I remember pastors enthusiastically telling me that if I had to choose between Sunday morning service and my weekly small group, I was to choose the latter. My small group, as it was explained to me, was actually church.
Those pastors…they were trying. What they meant, or should have meant, was that a small group was more like church. But there was one big problem. We wrongly think that…
5. Hanging out with a group of individuals, just like us, is church. Sadly, what small groups, home groups, and many Bible studies have taught people is that a group of our peers gathered together is church. When Jesus refers to the “family of God,” I don’t think a twenty-somethings Wednesday night fellowship/hangout/thing is what He had in mind.
Families are made up of all kinds of people in all stages of life. There are moms and dads, brothers and sister, infants, cousins and even a few loud-mouthed crazy uncles (you know who you are). Church is, and should be, all of us. All the time.
6. We must grow the church. In the consumer-driven, “bigger is better” culture we find ourselves, many Christians have come to falsely believe that it is our responsibility to build the church. We think that we do the growing. But, 1Corinthians 3 teaches that, while some of us plant and others water, it is God who causes it to grow. We are “coworkers belonging to God,” allowed to fully in building His church. God is responsible…and I find that comforting.
Do you agree of disagree with my list? Have you fallen for any of these lies about church? What would you add to the list? Let’s hear it!
Today’s guest post comes from my friend and blogging hero, Sammy Adebiyi. I can say, in all honesty, that Sammy is my blogging soulmate. I think things and then he writes them–often with more passion and wit that I could ever conjure up. I’m honored and excited to feature him on Modern Reject. I hope you enjoy this post. I know I did!
Every time I hear the word ‘retirement’, I cringe. I can honestly say I HATE that word. If there is a word that describes the polar opposite of how I want my life to end, it would be the word ʻretirementʼ.
Just to be clear, if what you mean by retirement is being intentional about saving (in the context of giving) so you can sustain your family when your body fails you, then Iʼm with you. Sign me up.
But, if you follow Jesus and your vision of retirement is saving up so you can move to Hawaii, lay in the sun all day and enjoy the fruit of your labor at 65 [i.e live a relaxed and comfortable life till you die] then Iʼm concerned.
No, Iʼm appalled.
I get it if you call me ignorant or naive.
Maybe I am.
Iʼm sure you can make a solid argument for retirement. Iʼm sure you can give me 100 legitimate reasons why you deserve to suntan in Jamaica the rest of your life.