Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Inny or Outty?

If your church/congregation is trying to grow, and who doesn't want to do that, and you attempt to objectively determine what is hampering your growth, you will at some point - whether it's a member, minister, or "church growth expert" you bring in to help - hear some form of the following comment, "Our problem is that we are too inwardly focused and we need to be more outwardly focused on serving and evangelising others." If that is said in the right spirit, how can anyone argue with that logic? Of course more involvement in unselfish acts of benevolence and soul saving is not only good for the church, but these are things that God wants us to do.
I have to ask, however, are we really TOO inwardly focused? Does your church have too much fellowship, too much compassion and caring for one another, and too much togetherness? Now, if you are talking about TOO much attention on THE assembly, or TOO much fussing about "What I want," or TOO much self-centeredness in TOO many people - YES, YES, YES - you are TOO inwardly focused. On the other hand, if you talking about a family of God's people growing in love, responding to one another's needs, building one another up, and using time together to truly help one another draw closer to Jesus - call me simplistic, but isn't that why God wanted his people to get together? Read Paul's letters again and ask yourself how much of his writing was about children of God growing in Christ, growing in love for one another, and challenging them to focus on unity, the body, and love. I guess Corinth, Rome, Philippi, and the other places he wrote to were not focused enough inwardly.
And here's another question to consider, if you challenge people to be outwardly focused, but you haven't provided them with the inward motivation, support, and spiritual maturity to do it, should you be surprised if it doesn't happen? Maybe the problem isn't about being more outwardly focused, but about providing the correct inward focus. Remember, the New Testament is very clear about why God wants his people to get together. (Eph.4:12 equip/prepare; Heb.10:25 encourage; 1 Cor.14:26 edify/strengthen; add all the one another passages)
A question I hope to answer this Sunday is: With all the serious problems the church in Corinth had, what did Paul challenge them to do to solve it? Did he call for more inward focus or say that more outward effort would cure their problems?

1 comment:

Deborah said...

This post really made me think. Thanks for being "simplistic" enough for me to understand.