Sunday, August 19, 2012

Getting out of church!

This is my response to a blog post by Donald Miller.  You can read his post here.

He asked some thought provoking questions about the goals and traditions of church leadership.

Love this topic!

Some time ago, I began to wonder if the methods of church are actually self-defeating in some cases.  It seems that we have mission statements and visions statements, but the organization itself is at odds, in some ways, with those goals.  

I felt guilty at a Christmas Eve service.  Guilty, because I was taking up space.  The place was packed--full of visitors.  All of a sudden, I thought, "Why am I here?  I know the Christmas story.  I feel like I am doing something selfish because I came to church and occupied a seat that could have otherwise gone to someone who needs to hear this story for the first time.  I should either be serving these visitors, or better yet, visiting some lonely person who can't be here."

Yes, I go to church. . . still.

I think we need to balance our focus.  I wouldn't say that we should change it altogether, but balance it.  We focus mainly on the community part.  We focus on Sunday morning.  A percentage of really committed 'members' go to small groups (whatever they happen to be called at your church.) And a smaller percentage still really build the habits of reading the Bible and praying all of the time.

Where does the balance come in?  Church is about discipleship, right?  Well, that sounds like it should be educational.  However, the church is the only educational organization insofar as I'm aware, that holds no graduation ceremony.  There should be a graduation.  The disciples had a graduation. . . or rather a commissioning.  There's a period of learning, and then you are ready for on-the-job training.

If we modeled church after Jesus and his disciples, wouldn't we have some finite amount of formal training?  We would start you out focusing on the individual, personal relationship with Jesus.  We would encourage people to begin reading the Bible all the time from the very beginning.  This would not be a habit practiced by only the most mature or learned, but by everyone.  From there, it seems to me that the process would be somewhat natural in its progression.

Goals for the educational leadership:
1. Teach people to read the Bible (focused on individual)
2. Teach people to discover their gifts and passions (focused on individual)
3. Support and encourage people to use those gifts and passions to show love in practical ways(focused on community)
4. Teach people how to mentor the people they are loving (focused on both)

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