Friday, March 30, 2007

A Better Vision

Lately I have been so frustrated with the lack of vision in churches today. I am most of the way through George Barna's new book 'Revolution' where he talks about a new way of doing church where people who are radically sold out for the message of Jesus are beginning to do ministry, fellowship, discipleship, and evangelism apart from the local church. At first read I didn't quite agree with him, and maybe still don't totally, because I am a huge proponent of the local church. But as I spend more and more time in churches, including my own, I am more and more frustrated with the way things are run and become extremely doubtful and cynical about the capability of most churches to actually impact the world.

Why are we so worried about appeasing everyone? Heaven forbid someone is not comfortable with every single aspect of corporate worship. Is that really our goal and vision? To simply massage people's emotions? To make them feel good and happy and comfortable each Sunday morning? As I study the book of Acts, the early church was anything but comfortable, and when they were, the leaders would reprimand them. They were stretched. They were challenged. They were taken outside their comfort zones. We are so worried about appeasing the people who are already in our church that we completely ignore both the people leaving our church and the people attending no church at all.

May we be people of better vision that that. Let's quit massaging egos long enough to make disciples. Let's quit thinking that church is what happens on Sunday morning. Let's quit thinking that church is what happens at a certain place with a certain group of people. Let's stop basing church on our own opinions rather than the life-changing Word of the Living God, the Creator of the Universe.

Monday, March 19, 2007

An Eternal Perspective

Often it is incredibly frustrating to feel like I pour my life into ministry and rarely feel the fruits of my labor. Throughout my time in ministry I have gone through a series of highs and lows in this area. Sometimes I feel successful for the Kingdom, and sometimes I feel like a failure. I know in my head to 'keep an eternal perspective,' but that is easier said than done.

This is one of those down times. I am not questioning my faith, or whether God exists, or whether prayer works, or if I am called to ministry, etc. Sometimes I DO have those questions, but not now. I think I am wondering if there is more to life than this. Is there more to ministry than this? Is what were doing in churches today having any impact? Are we making any ground? Is providing an activity once or twice a week for students actually accomplishing anything?

For those taking the time to read this, I say thank you and sorry in the same breathe, because I am fully aware that I am simply rambling and have no answers or solutions to my questions. This is simply a report on what I'm thinking. Obviously I don't know what I'm thinking.

May we be people who aren't afraid to admit that we don't have it all figured out. May we never stop asking the hard questions, even when people tell us to shut up. May we strive for so much more than we have now. May we seek to be Christ-like in all we do, including our ministry (regardless of what that looks like).

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The Need to Win?

Throughout my life I have been extremely competitive. I rarely do things that I know I will not have success at. Now by no means am I saying that I am successful, though. I simply skip a lot of activities that would probably be enjoyable and only stick to the things I can do well.

Recently, however, my competitive attitude has begun to soften. I sometimes even find myself annoyed when people take things too seriously. I am currently on an intramural basketball team at the University of Sioux Falls where I play on a team with other staff members. I think I probably bring the average age of the team down 10 years or so. Needless to say, we did not win our first game. This is a struggle for me to be encouraging to others, but it is a great challenge and is teaching me the importance of teamwork and simply enjoying the people around you.

We can get so wrapped up in comparing ourselves to others and proving ourselves superior, that we miss the point of the activity we're participating in. We can get so involved in excellence and the end destination that we miss the journey and the people we're traveling with. May we be people who always strive for greatness, but understand the futility of competition. May we truly comprehend Jesus' words that 'those who want to be great must be a servant, and those who want to be first must become last.'