This Is What I Want My Church To Look Like

Patrick at Tent Pegs writes today about the Elders' vision of hat their church should be. Made me want to move back to Michigan. OK, not really but it's a vision of what I'd like to see my church become. An excerpt:

These eleven men of God have traveled farther down a hard road than any group I have ever worked with before. When they saw that holding on to our traditions as if they were "thus saith the Lord" and keeping the church locked down in the building would not be effective in changing the world, they said, "enough."

It is the eldership here that said we will put no more money into the ground. We built our building and remodeled it as fast as we could, but we are still having three morning services to get the folk in (and to serve different groups). Some have said we need to sell this building and build bigger, like those other megachurches in town. Our elders said no. They are willing to put money into off-site churches in coffee bars or empty storefronts, happy to pour money into mission works in Michigan, Canada, and six or seven countries overseas, and thrilled to maintain a massive warehouse of clothes and food that serves between 30-90 families a week (good stuff, not hominy and hand-me-downs). But no more money for church buildings. Why?

They want the church to escape the building. They want us to go out and bring in the lost. They want us to find those who are different from us, care for them, love them, and, should they wish to worship with us, welcome them. So... what was an upper-income white church is rapidly becoming something else. A large percentage of our congregation has no background in the restoration movement and some worship services have 30-35% minority representation now. The poor, the punks, and the pierced sit beside old ladies with blue rinsed hair, people who came down the hall from their AA or NA meetings and found a worship going on, black, white, asian, and an amazing assortment of financial situations and emotional histories.

Did you read that line in the last paragraph? It said and should they wish to worship with us! Not when, should. How refreshing to hear of a church focused on loving people, whether they want to place membership / study the Bible / be baptized / become "true disciples" or not.

Now I'm not saying that we're still practicing the old way of the stat sheet, like some seem to be (at least in part). I'm just longing for a broader, deeper, more Christ like vision of a healthy church. It's just that the shortsighted, "Are we growing? Are we baptizing?" vision of church health is all we know. It would be so easy to slide back into, I'm afraid we're going to end up there.

I want something more than that.

8 Comments

Thanks for sharing that. It is so true that religion and worship have nothing to do at all with a church building. And "the church" is not the building but the people. I am reading a book series that gives a lot of good perspective like you mentioned here. It is the Joshua series by Joseph Girzone (fiction). I am on the 3rd book right now. There are a lot of good speeches given in the book and really has helped me bring my thoughts back to the basics. You know, right now is back to school time. Well maybe we should get "back to the basics" in our worship. Thanks Doug for your insights and comments and stuff, it makes me think.

Our church is going through the Emotionaly Healthy Church by Peter Scazzero this fall. I am hoping for something like this to be the result.

It's refreshing to see a place say 'no' to bigger is better.

I too hope that you and your congregation will find this ideal way of living and leading. I will pray for that to happen. Truthfully, many of our brothers and sisters suffer from "Institution Loyalty" and find great comfort in humanistic structure that provides a false sense of security. Many times this sense of security comes with man made rules and requirments of heavy burdens that leave a psycological comfort and emotional ecstacy (not the sexual kind, but mentally raising serotonin levels as an emotional response to a need for an outward controlling existential regulation of self (2 Timothy 3:4-6)). True spiritualization can only befound in the obedience of the Greatest commandments Matthew 22:35-40. There is specific direction of what this contends. Simply said, mercy on each other. Mercy truimphs over Judgment (James 2:13). Heavy burdens of humanistic requirments, with high expectations of acheivment, is not within the realms of what God requires for those who believe. We are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8), with which, faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26). The example of expressing faith is meeting the brotherhoods (and sisterhoods) needs. It's intersting that James also reiterates that in James 2:8, not to mention countless other times in the New Testament. Sometimes no matter how much we want our apples to taste like oranges, it'll just never happen. Wishing something into existance is rarely the solution. Anyway, I hope you understand that I have great love for you, and I only mean to encourage!

That's a great vision of what church should be doing. We're likely about to embark on a church search, and would love to find someplace like that, not one simply interested in multiplying programs, bulding a bigger box, and people that all look alike.

"many of our brothers and sisters suffer from "Institution Loyalty" and find great comfort in humanistic structure that provides a false sense of security. Many times this sense of security comes with man made rules and requirments of heavy burdens that leave a psycological comfort" Well said.

Hurrah for those church leaders who refuse to get there security from numbers or who has the best and the biggest building. But, instead want to invest in ways of the heart and learn to love.

Wasn't that an awesome picture of the Church? And to think that when we lived in Rochester Hills nearly 10 years ago, we passed up that congregation because we thought it would be too traditional. Silly us! Now, Dh has interviewed for the worship minister position there. What an opportunity! It's a huge long-shot, but we're praying for God's will, whether it will be to stay here, go there, or somewhere else entirely.

Gem,

You should check out his son in law's blog too, here. He's a minister there as well.

If you ever end up visiting there (I know it's on the other side of the world from where you live downriver), let me know of your experience.

Well, he's out of the running. He got an e-mail today, they've narrowed down from 5 candidates to 3, and he's not one of them. He is very disappointed, it looked like maybe this was a God leading, but now he knows to look for another leading. Please keep us in your prayers, rejection is never easy, even if you know that God is in control.



Monthly Archives

Recent Comments

  • Well, he's out of the running. He got an e-mail today, they've narrowed down from 5 candidates to 3, and he's not one of them. He is very disappointed, it looked like maybe this was a God leading, but now he knows to l...

  • Gem, You should check out his son in law's blog too, here. He's a minister there as well. If you ever end up visiting there (I know it's on the other side of the world from where you live downriver), let me know of yo...

  • Wasn't that an awesome picture of the Church? And to think that when we lived in Rochester Hills nearly 10 years ago, we passed up that congregation because we thought it would be too traditional. Silly us! Now, Dh ha...

  • "many of our brothers and sisters suffer from "Institution Loyalty" and find great comfort in humanistic structure that provides a false sense of security. Many times this sense of security comes with man made rules and ...

  • That's a great vision of what church should be doing. We're likely about to embark on a church search, and would love to find someplace like that, not one simply interested in multiplying programs, bulding a bigger box, ...

Close