October 4, 2010

The Church or the Christ-Follower?

Yesterday morning I began sharing the beginnings of my vision for our church. After praying and working through this for months, it became very clear to me that this vision can't start with the "church" - it has to begin with the "Christ-follower". What I mean is, I don't think you can begin determining who you are uniquely called to be and what you are passionately called to do as a church until you deeply search the Word of God over who & what you're called to be as individual followers of Jesus Christ. And this is where I believe many churches get it backwards.

In our conference-crazy-culture (I'm going to one of them this week) it is an overwhelming temptation for pastors and leaders to look at the latest and greatest model of success - whether from another church or organization - and think that their method, philosophy, or culture can just be cut-and-pasted into our locale and "BOOM"...instant success! No chance. And denominationally (and I definitely know this one from experience) we've created a formula that says, "Here's what "CHURCH" is supposed to look like, so train your people, put them in these positions, staff your church this way, and make it work for heaven's sake! Again, no chance. And furthermore, NOT biblical! Some might say this is a "Chicken & the Egg" argument. Which came first? The Church...or the Christ-follower? Does it even matter? 

2 things to consider in the quest for answering this question and understanding WHO & WHAT the Lord is calling YOUR church to BE & DO:
  • Jesus talked more about the Kingdom of God than He did about any other subject: sin, hell, evangelism, church, relationships, money...anything!
  • The New Testament speaks much more about the issue of church leadership than it does about what the church itself is specifically supposed to look like.
Given these 2 facts, I am convinced that New Testament churches have one quest, goal, and aim above all others: seek the Lord's wisdom and guidance for how He is uniquely calling you to announce, spread, and bring His Kingdom everywhere you go! This calling is going to look different everywhere. There's no way to cut-and-paste this calling. You can't borrow vision. Many attempt to and wind up looking like a 5-year old trying to run in his dad's cowboy boots. [Picture that one for a second.] And the scriptures talked more about church leadership than about church models and formulas because God (in all His wisdom) knew that every single microcosmic church on the face of this planet was going to look different. But they were ALL going to need humble, courageous, Godly leaders who would patiently and prayerfully seek out His wisdom and direction for their unique body of believers.

I think many people walked out yesterday morning thinking, "Well, that was good, but I didn't really hear Brian's vision for our church." I apologize for those who always need resolve & resolution - yesterday morning was groundwork that could not be neglected. If we don't understand WHO the Lord has called us to be  and WHAT He has called us to do as His followers, then we will never be ready, willing, or able to catch the vision for WHO He is calling us to be as His church.

Want more groundwork? Ready to dig deeper? 
Search and study Matthew 18. See what characteristics you find of a Christ-follower and His church.


J. Gary said...
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Tall Friend said...

Sounds like you are right on target. We tend to try and shape ourselves into others images and get results that others get instead of seeking Christ to be our model and then seeking His understanding of who we are to be.
Just a voice from the past!
You came to mind today and I was praying for you and your family.

Andy Futch