Friday, July 28, 2006

We Are the Body of Christ

Many, many things swirling in my head right now. I've been listening to some of the talks from Summer Celebration at Lipscomb University and honestly Randy Harris and Earl Lavender are kicking my tail in the most uncomfortable and best way possible, but I need time to unpack it.

On Sunday morning, Tim Woodroof preached a sermon on the church as the body of Christ. And honestly, I've heard that sermon before. Not necessarily from Tim, but in various forms. However, I had lunch with Doug Sanders and he put it in a new light that I want to explore with you all. One of the things he said is that we as individual Christians cannot expect to be Jesus. It's impossible. We should strive for that and work on that in our personal holiness, but we cannot expect it to actually occur. What we can strive for is the idea that the church is the body of Christ and as we work to further the mission of the Kingdom here and now, we use our gifts within the local body to further that mission corporately.

That's a bit of a difference from some of the individualistic means that I've thought about being like Jesus and it makes a lot of sense. There is an interdependence upon each other and an exercising of gifts and talents for the mission that is very appealing. But what it also means is that the leadership of the church HAS to buy into this as well. It means the church has to become a church of mission and not a church of attraction. One of the things Randy Harris said in the talks I'm listening to is that what you attract people to is what they expect. So if you attract people with high energy worship or children's programs or whatever and those pieces take a lesser importance for whatever reason, people will leave and seek out that thing. However, if people come (if we're lucky enough to get people to come) and they hear consistently from the pulpit as well as in the hearts of the people of the congregation that they mission of Jesus is what the individual members and the congregation as a whole is about, then they can either join in that or go somewhere where they can be an admirer of Jesus, rather than a follower.

Like I said, a lot of stuff running through my head, but I'm starting to become more and more convinced that the church has to be about forming people into disciples and not merely adherents or admirers. Next question: is it worth it to try and change the direction of a 75-year-old church or just start over?

3 comments:

DJG said...

When you find that answer please share it with me. My head and heart are full now as well. I sometimes don't even know how to pray about it.

Thomas+ said...

Hey Phil,

Each organization has core values, spoken or unspoken. These values, these expectations, govern the way things are done.

If your values and the core values of your church are pretty far apart, then you are doing a disservice to your church by trying to get it to change. Why should it change because YOU want it too? And you are probably doing a disservice to yourself by staying.

However, if you share the core values, but you see ways in which the organization could better live into its core values, then you are invited to get involved. Involvement is not murmuring, of course. Involvement is, well, involvement. Using your time and energy to build up that core value.

That is my perspective, anyway.

Phil said...

T+,

Let's just say that I'm feeling a greater convergence of my values and the congregation's values than I have in the last couple of years. This is not to say that I'm right in everything I think, but I try to be Berean and check my beliefs with Scripture. There will always be things I have issues with, no matter where I attend.

I am greatly encouraged, while still seeing the amount of work to be done.

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