Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Missing Question

Last Sunday I asked my church family to update their spiritual resume. In fact, I asked them to totally rethink what needs to go on it. I gave a quick sample of mine, with decades of church and full-time ministry, with degrees and books, with baptisms, wedding, and funerals, etc., etc. After each pronouncement, I could hear God ask, "Great Mike, but who do you love and who loves you?"
I scares me that we have so misunderstood "church" for so long. When did it stop being a tool to use and become a goal to achieve? When did we start defining our faith by attendance rather than love? How can it be possible that we find ourselves trying to sell members on the priority of love when it's still the only thing Jesus said that shows the world that we belong to Him?
I heard about a congregation in another state who are trying to hire a church growth minister. Someone who will be able to examine their situation and tell them what they need to do to become a larger church. Which verse in the New Testament would you use to justify that purpose? Oh, don't hit me with that lame "We only care about numbers because it means more souls?" rationale that we've been using for decades. Jesus told us to "Beware of practicing your righteousness to be seen of men." It sure seems to me that our paradigm of church comes from a worldly need to impress others and ourselves, with our success.
When I say that I always hear the screams of those who say, "You mean we don't care about numbers anymore?" To them I say, let's start bringing people into a closer relationship with Jesus and then see what that does to our numbers. As long as our number one goal is having a "dynamic worship that attracts" and an education structure that doesn't build loving relationships, any numerical growth will simply be a temporary fad that makes the church a spiritual nursery school for members who love receiving more than they love one another.
When church leaders stand before God and He asks, "What did you do to help YOUR flock develop a deeper relationship with Jesus," what will they say? What will I say? What good is a church-going, money giving, ministry working body of Christians who aren't growing in love for one another and thus learning to love God and be like Him?
We need to rethink what belongs on our spiritual resumes. See yourself sitting on a beach with Jesus. It's early morning and you're roasting fresh fish over an open fire. You're struggling with doubt, fear, and guilt. You want to know what you can do to get your spiritual life on the right track. Jesus has only one question - even if He asks it several times. "Do you love me more than these?" THAT'S the single most important question every child of God must be asked and must honestly answer. What are we doing to make sure everyone answers it the way God wants it answered? THAT IS WHAT CHURCH IS ALL ABOUT!

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