Monday, July 12, 2010

Us Four and No More!

  I love to read C. Micheal Patton's posts at his Parchment and Pen blog. He has a way of bringing into question things you have always felt so sure of. Not in a bad way either. But in a way that forces you to examine your beliefs more closely, actually strengthening your faith by struggling through the issues so that in the end you can have more confidence in knowing your beliefs can withstand testing.

  In his latest post, he shares his recent experience at a seeker-sensitive church. Here is an excerpt where he shares some of his opinions on these churches before visiting.
  I am from a tradition that is in a love/hate relationship with this kind of stuff, with hate tipping the scales more often than not. Its called by many names: “seeker-sensitive,” “seeker-friendly,” or the more pejorative “seeker driven.” I went to seminary when all this seeker stuff was hotly debated. Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Church was the book to read and your spirituality was based on how much you hated it....

 Now, I have to come clean and admit something here. There is a sense in which those like me actually want these type of churches to fail. That is hard for me to admit. In fact, I am thinking about taking that line out. But it is true. “See . . . I told you so” are words that are often on the tip of my tongue ready to be interjected at the slightest hint that the “seeker” churches have compromised or failed. What a terribly sinful entanglement that I have. I admit it. There is no justification for that.
  The article is definitely worth reading. I won't go into all of it, but do wish to bring out one of the points he brings up. 
  I have yet to find the perfect church. I am coming to think that our territorialism is the biggest problem. We want to throw rocks at the church across the street for not having the strengths of our church, while not recognizing our weaknesses. We have a distorted self-defense that clinches its fist when people are not doing things the way we think they ought to. While I think churches should be as balanced as they can, maybe the individual churches should unclinch their fists and begin to hold hands with those who don’t share their strengths but do cater to their weaknesses. I am not so sure that we should see ourselves as ”belonging” to any one church.

  When Paul would write to the churches, he never address any particular group or gathering within the larger whole. He did not write one letter to the “First Baptist Church at Corinth” and one to the ”Evangelical Community Church at Corinth.” While I am sure there were many individual house gatherings by that time, all having strengths and weaknesses, he wrote to “the church at Corinth.” No territorialism. No rocks. No preference. Everyone saw themselves as parts of the whole. It is the whole that needed the message. This is how he wrote to all the churches. I figure that were he to write to my church, it would be addressed to “the church of Oklahoma City.” The problem is that we are so busy throwing rocks, criticizing each others’ weaknesses, and territorially worried about our own church’s budget, that we would probably not recognize the other churches and share the letter.
  He makes a few good points, but the one about recognizing different churches' strengths and weaknesses  I find very interesting. Some churches do evangelism very well, but may lack in teaching. While some may have great discipleship, but  are poor at outreach. Some have great and versatile facilities and others not so much.

Why not work together, lifting each other up where the other is lacking? I'm not saying we should come together regardless of beliefs. Obviously we must all be preaching the same Gospel. But among churches that do share the same beliefs, why isn't there more co-operation to reach the lost, feed the hungry, encourage the saints? Think of the advantage of the pooled resources of money, facilities, and most importantly the individually gifted members of the body of Christ utilizing those gifts to the Glory of God.

  For the past several years my wife and I have taken our sons to a church other than the one we attend for vacation bible school. (Our church does this only every other year.) This year they asked my wife if she could  lead the kindergarten class. We were planning on taking the kids again, so why not? Here is just a small example of  the Body working together. They had a VBS for the kids and we had a teacher to help out. What one lacked, the other supplied.

  The different members of the body of Christ coming together to show forth Christ to the world, sounds good to me.

   Feel free to voice your opinion, comments are welcomed!

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