Nine Traits of the Outwardly Focused Christian
I've never blogged. I've never really attempted blogging. And honestly, no one really is beating down my door, saying, "Hey Matt, we really want to hear what you have to say." But, the beauty of blogging, is that no matter who the following is, or how often folks look for what you have to say, you can say it (or blog it) and share from your heart something that God has placed there in hopes of shedding light to a certain concept or idea, or current event taking place.
So here is my attempt at blogging...
Over the next few weeks we will be taking a look into church membership within the local church. There are some great resources available that we frequent in hopes of educating our church as we strive to carry out the daily mission of following Christ. Obviously, Scripture is the primary and absolute authoritative resource that points to the saving grace of Jesus. Another resource we frequent (http://thomrainer.com) offers hundreds of resources and articles to help and equip us with "doing" church. Thom Rainer is the president and CEO of Lifeway Christian Resources.
In his book, I Will: Nine Traits of the Outwardly Focused Christian, he does a wonderful job focusing on the local church and pointing his readers to Scripture in order to paint the picture of what we would call, church membership.
My generation (I'm considered a millennial) struggles when it comes to the local church. We have this preconceived notion that we "know" it all and we typically focus on the problems, not the solutions. Now, if you happen to be a millennial and find yourself to be part of the solution rather than the problem then I applaud you. I grew up in the church, saw how church operated, and knew just about everything I needed to know by the time I was 18. As I went to college I soon found myself experiencing church outside the rural context and it was easy for me to sit around with my buddies and talk about what the church was doing wrong. For the record, my buddies and I were attending a Baptist university and all studying some sort of ministry degree (more to come on where we all find ourselves planted 10 years down the road).
I can recall vivid conversations where I would be furious at the local church, as if she had no idea what she was there to do. I would say stuff like, "Why does the church not get it? Can these people not see we are just looking for something real? When will they learn that programs aren't the answer and can they not just sing Tomlin's new album for worship?" Insert "rolling eyes emoji" at this point. I can't speak on behalf of all of my buddies, but as for me, I knew all the problems with the church.
Here's the deal...hours of frustrating conversations led me only to believing I was the solution. The more I talked, the more central my ideas became. The more I focused on the negative aspects of the local church, the more I focused on myself not needing a savior. I mean, if they were the problem, and I was the solution, does that not make me my own savior?
So the part above where I said more to come on where we all find ourselves 10 years down the road is how I want to close this entry out. You see, college taught me a lot about myself. I was privileged to go to a phenomenal university (Howard Payne University) and obtain a degree that has proven itself over and over again in my line of work. I had some pretty awesome professors who taught outside the "required texts" and took time to prepare me for the everyday grind of ministry and life. And it was in that season of life where my pride continually tripped me up, allowing me to stumble in my own arrogance as if I really had a clue about the local church and her issues.
The group I ran with in those days (the same group that focused on what the local church was not doing) is the same group that years down the road are making a huge impact in their local churches in which they all serve. Not because they are the solution, but they've chosen to be a part of sharing the solution in the midst of chaos. Sure, we're not out publishing books, traveling the world speaking to thousands of people, or anything of that nature. Though there is nothing wrong with those admirable opportunities, we find ourselves serving in the local body of believers, full of broken people who are living in a mess...just like we are. The funny thing, I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. To know that God chooses to use broken people to serve broken people in order to reach a broken world all to be reconciled to our Perfect Creator (2 Cor. 5:18).
The church is not perfect, by all means. My hope and prayer over these next few weeks is that we would be able to focus on being a part of the solution, and not the problem.
Psalm 46:10 "Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" Oftentimes, the solution requires us to just be still. He is God, we are not. Christ died for the Church. He is at work in the mess we've created and it is a beautiful thing when he uses broken people to further His Kingdom.
My challenge to you and me is simple... Be a part of the solution, not the problem.
Be still, and know that He is God. He is at work among the nations as he continues to use the local church to be a sent people in making disciples.