October 20, 2010

The Church & The City

Last week during our Leader Huddle we had a time of sharing our "Dreams For the Kingdom". Some of our leaders really challenged and encouraged me with the courage and faith to believe the Lord will do these things in us and through us. But the thing that was most encouraging to me was that, out of all the things shared that night, almost every single issue, goal, and dream was for someone or something outside of the walls of our campus - for our city! I believe this is incredibly important for several reasons.

When you begin to see people - individual human beings whose lives have been transformed - beginning to show evidence that they truly believe the church - THEIR church - exists to take and advance the Kingdom of God to the world around them, this is something to shout praise about! When the hearts of God's people begin to beat for the lost, broken, marginalized, and overlooked - not just in remote, far-away places, but in their own city - this means that we're no longer living in a world of pictures and platitudes, but that we're gaining an understanding that we are actually, physically, tangibly called to love others. As a pastor, this electrifies me!

But one of the other topics of discussion that night was the potential of what God could do if these "dreams" began to take root in the hearts of other believers and other churches in our city. What if our church family and other church families began to experience a holy discontent over the same things? What if we came together (God forbid!), joined forces, pooled resources, and decided we were going to make more than a dent in a problem like homelessness or hunger...? Instead, we were going to eradicate it? How mind-blowing and life-changing would this be? What kind of impact could this have on the lives of people who are watching the Kingdom of God pass them by, yet still living like peasants who are begging for scraps? 

[Pause to allow Holy Spirit opportunity to sock you in the face with that idea.]

Let me first off acknowledge that I am quite aware that what I'm sharing and proposing isn't some "new" idea, like "OMG Brian! We never thought of that!" And I also know that there are places and cities where this is actually happening - where the answers to my questions, like "What if..." and "How awesome would this be..." are actually being answered. And it's because of those facts that it leads me to the most important question of all: WHY NOT? Why isn't this happening in more places? Why aren't churches joining forces to advance the Kingdom of God and grab hold of their cities as the hands and feet of God in this world? Why don't we come together rather than standing on separate corners of the street trying to accomplish the same thing? Sadly, I believe I have the answer. Many of us - whether we like it or not, want to admit it or not - are more concerned and consumed with the fame of our church than the fame of our King and Savior. We are more concerned and focus on the survival of our church than the salvation of our city. And it's really getting old.

I am growing more and more convinced every single day that when a church decides they want their CITY to be famous for Jesus and not their CHURCH, that is when the Kingdom of God will unleash! When our dreams become so big that there's no way our church can even hold them...that there's no way we could ever accomplish them without the intervention of the Creator of the universe...that they make a church building campaign seem like a child saving his money for a new set of Lincoln Logs.....THEN we might start to dream the kind of dreams that actually arouse heaven and awaken the soul of the One we claim to be following! We sing with great gusto, "Greater things have yet to come and greater things are still to be done in this city...." Seriously? Like what? Because if the Christians in a city can't come together to reach that city, why in the world would anyone else want to join us? Jesus' prayer in John 17 wasn't just for my little church. It was for HIS Church! Paul's exhortation in Philippians 1:27-30 wasn't just for that little group of people, but for ALL those who claim to follow Jesus Christ. "We are in this fight together!"

Are your "Dreams for the Kingdom" worth dreaming?
Are they actually things a King would dream about? Things that would prompt and motivate and demand the attention of a King? 
Are they for HIS Kingdom...or ours?

What are your dreams?
What do you want to see God do in your city?

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