Honestly? Yet respectfully…
The trouble in church world is that we don’t like change all that much.
When “IT” happened to us, we were so enamoured with Jesus as the weight of our sins rolled away and our spirits were made alive, that everything was new to us. We had to adjust our entire lives around Him! Like when you get married… only more so? The tradeoffs were unbelievable and our joy complete.
We had to get used to going to church. It was fun and exciting to be in a community that was both unconditionally loving and yet taught us responsibility and wouldn’t let us off the hook with the poor behaviour and self-centeredness that society views as normal. What was normal anymore?
Up was down and down was up! And we loved it!
enter the next 20 years….
Two years ago I woke up to the realization that my life was not really Gospel centred. Nor was the church I was being groomed to take over.
Most Christians never wake up and actually look at it. What was once at the centre had become so “evident” or maybe “assumed” that it was eventually lost. Not completely lost, mind you, but what had driven the bus was sitting further back now.
My parents came from very traditional churches. Tradition driven on the one side and Family driven on the other. Maybe you came from one of these? There are many models of church: Program driven, Community driven, Truth driven, you name it. And all of these things are amazing and should absolutely be ON the bus. Just where they sit is painfully crucial!
The Christianity of my grandparents looked like a one way street up. Before that model, they had had nothing and so it was amazing. God was great and high and worthy of respect and devotion. Coming to church was to give God His due.. and that’s amazing!
Mom and dad’s generation of church planters thought there may have been something missing… What if the road went both ways? What if we added to the GIVING of our attention and devotion the concept of God actually wanting to speak to us? We could come to church to speak and then to listen, and it worked! The Presence driven church model was born!
Nobody’s arguing that the Presence of God isn’t something to strive for. It absolutely belongs on the bus. I’ve been to some churches and was pretty sure they wouldn’t recognize God if He walked through the front door! Don’t get mad at me for saying that, my mom went to church her entire life and never heard the Gospel preached once! I don’t care if that’s politically correct or not and I don’t care, if you’re playing church like it’s a social club you can quit pretending anytime. The presence of the saving God is massive and should never be an option.
Funny. You can have the presence of God at church and in your personal life and not give a flying leap about lost people. And I realized that my Christianity and church looked like a two way arrow straight up and down.
The Gospel? 3 things. 1. Lost. 2. Jesus. 3. Discipleship.
We were doing the “Jesus” part really really well. Our church was not really built around the other two. Now, I’m not saying good things weren’t happening in those two areas, it’s just that the Gospel wasn’t DRIVING. The Presence driven Christian can actually view lost people (seekers) and discipleship (community) as messy and horribly distracting from their relationship with God. The church can take on the same attitude. “Well, if they don’t like the presence of God (addendum “as WE like it..”) then THEY don’t have to come!” And THEY weren’t coming!
God took me to the Gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I read about Jesus and how His life looked. I read it again. And again. And again.
Luke 19:10 “The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost”
Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples”
We started shifting our focus. Some people left the church because they didn’t like it and told me so. It wasn’t the “same church” they started coming to. God save us from that kind of thinking!! I’m not the same as I was then either, that’s the whole point!
Then new people started coming. I am convinced that every good thing that happens in the future of Venue Church will be traced back to our decision to stop and obey.
Sorry if I offend you but I’d rather you hear it from a friend before you wake up one day with an awful headache like I did…
The Gospel? Lost people. Jesus. Discipleship.
Everything else in our church is just going to have to deal with it.
The model of Christianity you’re comfortable with can be a stepping stone or a tombstone. It’s your call…