Saturday, December 20, 2008

Up to the challenge?

Normally I would post this on my Serious Sideways blog but it was too good not to put it on my main one. The complete article is great & it hit me where my heart is right now!

Excerpt taken from: The Church I Want by Shaun Groves.

Allegiance. Slavery. Collective Mission.

I want church membership to be meaningful, first of all. It shouldn’t be easy to be a member. Most people in a church on Sunday morning won’t be able to commit to what I believe churches should ask of their members. I’d like members to sign their lives over to serving and giving. I’d like them to agree to being called upon to give their occupation and their skills when there’s a need for it that the church knows about. If you’re a plumber and you join the kind of church I’m looking for you will be called on to donate your services when we build a Habitat house, or rescue a single mom from a busted water heater. I’d like membership to be enlistment in an army. Soldiers can’t say no. They hold nothing back. They’re allegiance to the king doesn’t even consider it and their formal commitment won’t allow it. They’re slaves.

We are no longer slaves to sin but slaves to Christ right? And, I think, to each other. I want to be bound. That’s what religion means in Latin - to be bound. I want to be committed to a larger group of folks who are committed to me and to my God. Commitment trumps soccer practice, sleeping in, demanding my way. In a culture that tells me I can have everything I want the way I want it and when I want it, I need a place that isn’t doing things my way all the time, that doesn’t cater to me, no matter how semi-famous I am, how smart I think I am, how loudly I complain. I need to be a slave, to be second to something greater than myself. I need to not be in charge. I need to surrender my desires and agendas to the mission of the whole.

Collective Mission…
I can end need in my cul-de-sac. I can tell a neighbor about Jesus. I can live like Jesus where I am, in my small sphere of influence, and make a difference, bring wholeness or shalom to my corner of the world. But with you, and you, and you, and you my reach and power are multiplied. It’s addition by subtraction. Subtract from me control, power, personal space and preferences and melt me and my time and talent and cash into your church and - if every member is expected to do the same thing - we can bring shalom to a much larger corner of the world. Have you seen 300, the movie? 300 guys accomplished what 10,000 would ordinarily accomplish in warfare, because of their commitment to each other and the cause at hand. Problem is, in my experience, the cause at hand isn’t clearly articulated. If it is, it isn’t often invested in as fervently as it is preached about, and isn’t sacrificed for and held out in front of every member as their reason for being together in a thing called “church”. The mission is unclear. The people are uninspired. What I desperately want is a church that requires it’s members to give ALL to the mission, and clearly articulates the mission - a mission so large that it will never be accomplished and can’t even be attempted without US working together. I want a church that paints a picture of a mission that big, the size of the hundreds and even thousands of members it’s enlisted. I want a church that regularly refocusses us on that shalom-making mission while investing staff, brain power, money and time in the mission constantly. I want a church that cares more about this mission than it does creating mere believers, more than attracting seekers with entertaining services (mission, oddly, will attract non-Christians), more than building more buildings and increasing staff size and producing staff that are sought after conference speakers and authors.

I want everything this church does to reflect the mission. Our sound system isn’t cutting edge why? Because the best sound isn’t integral to the mission - here’s the mission in case you forgot. We’re meeting in houses instead of Sunday School rooms why? Because 50 classrooms that only get used for an hour one day a week isn’t the best use of resources considering all that’s needed for our mission - here’s the mission in case you forgot it. Or...our 50 Sunday School classrooms are dirtier than they were last month and wearing out quickly why? Because we started small businesses in them that run all week long, to save people from the slavery of welfare and give them skills to support themselves and pride to go with it. That’s key to our mission. Here’s the mission in case you forgot it.

That’s what I want. I’ll drive a long long way for this. I’ll give up Sundays and all I have for this. Is this what you have at your church? If not, then why are you there?

1 comment:

  1. Gripping article! I love it. It reads like an articulation of the vague concept I've had for what I want my faith to be. I'm glad some of us are gifted with words anyway :) Articles like this and your blogs (you know, the ones you write--Megan's too) help beginners like me figure out what God wants from me and what I need to do.



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