Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Churches: What Are We Building?

Occasionally, we all need to reflect upon what we are building with our lives. This being a board-meeting day for me, I have reflected for a moment about what we are building in our church. And the reflection has been sweet.

First, what our culture builds upon is more and more nebulous and therefore tenuous. Since truth is no more than one person's opinion and morality is up to the choice maker, in many ways we are out to sea with no moorings. I am re-reading Dallas Willard's The Divine Conspiracywhich begins with a reminder of this. (I recommend it.) So the people who join with us as the church, and those who join with us to consider our Lord and his ways, are mostly jaundiced to truth and thus reality from the very beginning.

Second, what the church builds is all to often a physical structure that makes believe it is "church." By this I not only mean our physical buildings (which so often we use to define our success), but also our gatherings. If they are not large and impressively programmed, we again assume we are not building well.

But let me submit that perhaps what we build can be as simple as a dear relationship, or a welcome to "church" (two or three gathered in Jesus name). Nearly 7 decades ago a man (so unsuccessful, I don't know his name) walked the streets of his neighborhood and invited the children to church. (That would be dangerously suspicious activity today.) One of those he invited was my aunt, who eventually invited all of her orphaned siblings into church. Now their children and theirs and theirs are largely Christian. Much good living and many strong families have been born into hope because one man, so long ago invited my aunt to church--and yes, to Jesus. I guess there are 150 people in those families who have benefited. Not to mention those who have been served by her children, and her siblings' children as they live their lives as responsible laborers, missionaries, pastors families, medical professionals, counselors, supervisors, small business owners, and others who have been blessed by the choice of one man, to give one hour on one day in the 40's to be kind to a kid in the neighborhood.

Well, if the place I work can build a few individuals like that, even if we lose our building, we have done something. If some of the children who's parents have been introduced to Jesus through the ministries I've been involved in can learn the ways of Jesus--I'll be a success. I'm really sad about how land and buildings have come to define "church." The church is too important to compare to buildings.

Grace and peace to you.

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