N.T. Wright uses the term "muddled" to describe those whose thinking is not altogether organized or clear. That word aptly describes where my head is at right now.
Most of you know that I am in the midst of trying to figure out what it is that God wants me to do concerning "church", and the timing of that decision. I'm kind of in what imonk calls the "evangelical wilderness". I've been trying for a couple of years to influence the congregation I worship with in a direction that is far different from church as they've always known it.
I started reading The Present Future by Reggie McNeal, and God is using it to break my heart and show me the ways I have actually hindered the Kingdom in an attempt to help. I grew up in very conservative churches where the feeling was that as the culture drifted farther and farther from God, the job of the church was to hunker down in the bunker and lob hand grenades of "truth" at the wicked ones who were outside. As my thinking changed I began to think that church was to be a place that was so dynamic, professional, and slickly packaged that it would attract folks to come into the church and be saved. That was my mindset as I began to try and influence change in the church.
Over the past few months, God has been shaping my thinking and showing me that his heart is toward the poor, the downcast, the oppressed. The Father has shown me that his grace is far bigger than I can realize and that attempts on my part to limit grace are not only doomed to failure, but are actually sin. He has shown me that my job is to do two things: go and be. I am to go, not only about my daily life, but intentionally where those away from God are. I am to be an ambassador of the King, a person who shows others the beauty of Jesus and the magnificence of the Kingdom.
Reggie McNeal writes about the mission of the church and how so much of what churches do are more for the comfort of the membership than for the Kingdom. I totally agree that the missio dei, the mission of God, is our calling as followers of Jesus Christ. What has muddled me, and twisted me up in a knot, is that I don't know what to do next.
I know that what I write may be read by members of the current church (my post Autopsy caused a mini storm), but I have to be open here. I honestly don't see the church moving beyond the "we need to focus on teaching our people and if the rest of the world ever catches on, they'll come here " mentality to a missional one. Because of this, I think my time there is quickly drawing to a close.
The question is, when and how? The pastor is a godly man who I have gotten to know and love over the past couple of years, and I have tried to be supportive of him and his family. He has tried to bring about needed change in the church, but has been met with opposition all along. My heart goes out to him, and that is what makes the decision to leave such a hard one.
I believe now that God is calling me to go down another road on my journey. Where that road will lead, I don't know. Last Sunday night Jan and I joined with a group for worship and Bible study. Whether that will grow into something the Father wants us to be a part of remains to be seen. There are good people in that group, so even if God widens our circle of friends, it will be good.
Stay tuned to this channel. I'm sure adventures await.
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