Monday, March 9, 2009

Two key things...

I always try to have a few thoughts that guide my life. Whenever I am having a tough time figuring out a situation I break the problem down as much as possible so I can answer questions as easily as possible. For instance, when I was getting close to finishing college with my major in missions everyone thought (as did I for a while) that I would go right to the mission field. The problem was I couldn't get peace about it. So I spent about a year considering what God had gifted me with and what He wanted me to do with that gifting (interestingly enough that year was when I lived in Russia). I came up with several key areas that I knew God had gifted me in, areas I knew had to be involved in whatever I decided to do with my life. The four things were: leadership, teaching, missions, and preaching. The list may not seem like much to you but to me it helped me make good decisions, and helped me end up where I am now. I would love to go into what these four areas mean to me (and I may do so some time soon), but I was writing all this just to illustrate how I like to break things down in order to solve problems easier.

For the six months or so I have been thinking about the church, and its job in the world. My purpose in thinking about the church is to be able to explain the church better to those around me, help them understand their place in the church so we can do more for the cause of Christ together. At Central Church we have broken down the job of the Church (and believers) to a three fold vision:
  1. Worshiping God
  2. Loving You
  3. Reaching the World

We are attempting to make this more and more a part of our church thought process, and infrastructure. We want to be able to say to our people: "There are three things we want you to do as a believer: worship God (attend corporate worship on Sunday mornings), love each other (be a part of a small group to love and be loved), and do your part to reach the world (be involved in service and evangelism inside the church and out). This three fold emphasis makes life easier, makes vision easy to explain, streamlines efforts, and hopefully adds glory and souls to the kingdom. I love this, and am a big supporter of it...but my question is this: "Is our job even more simple than this?"

In my thinking I have taken this three fold approach down to a two sided approach. As believers we should be:

  1. Worshiping God
  2. Pushing others toward God

Whenever I share this I feel like there is so much left to explain, but then I remember that there will always be much more to explain. I like this approach for a couple of reasons: 1) This approach mirrors the Great Commandment of Mark 12:28-31. In the Great Commandment there are two sides: God and others, this lets me know that our ministry philosophies should fit into that same vein. We should not have a ministry philosophy that emphasises the human side more than the God side, we should follow the Biblical model and have a two fold model. 2) Encouraging our people to "Push others toward God" is much more general but much more descriptive than other models. As Christians we should push everyone we meet towards God; if we have a conversation with a fellow believer they should be closer to God because of it, if we meet up with a non-believer they should be a step closer to calling on the name of Christ as Savior. We can push others toward God in everything we do, whether it be at church or at work, this can be life! 3) The language used does not intimidate. Most people feel like they can worship God, and most people feel like they can push others a little closer to God, on the other hand they get a little overwhelmed with the thought of reaching the world or even loving everyone. This gives the average Christian something they can hold on to and strive for as they push on toward maturity. If Christians will do these two things on a daily basis the Kingdom will grow exponentially. 4) It is much easier for me to remember 2 points rather than three, though we could just go with the Westminster Catechism which has one point for this....

There are also two things I don't necessarily like about this phraseology: 1) it doesn't necessarily flow off the tongue (not that important I know) and 2) it doesn't mention the name of Christ. I don't ever want to be accused of getting away from a Christ centered Gospel (that is an oxymoron), so I want to use the name of Christ in this, but to this point I haven't.

Here is the point. As Christians we have a job to do. Whether we break it down to three points or two, or even fifty: we have to be obeying the Great Commandment, and the Great Commission. This is the job of the church. As leaders we must streamline our churches so that our people can concentrate on these main things, as Christians we must streamline our lives, getting rid of what is in the way so that we can concentrate on what Christ told us is most important: 1)worship God, and 2) push others toward Christ.


Jacob said...

I prefer the three-legged stool myself. The reason being that pushing others towards God doesn't take into account involvement in the world in ways that don't directly involve people. I think we should be involved in politics, art, music, film, poetry, books, etc. And in my mind I can categorize all of that along with reaching out to people. But hey, tomato, tomato (don't know how to put that emphasis on the second one--either way, "let's call the whole thing off").

Good thoughts dude. Hope all is well.

Patrick V. McDaniel said...

I agree that we should be involved in those things, but I don't know that they would make it into my list of essentials. I think these social actions will come out of being close to God (worship), and engaging others about God (pushing). When both of those exist I think everything else will be fruit. But then again, this is the baby steps of the thought process, so I have a lot of thinking yet to do.