Thursday, October 12, 2006

A New Reality

I am currently going through a series on the book "The Present Future," by Reggie McNeal at our Monday night Bible Study. This has been a wonderful challenge to read and to walk through with my congregation. Over my next couple of blogs I would like to make some comments about some of what McNeal has to say in his book and about the church of the 21st century.
It doesn't take my reading this book to know that society has changed in its view of the church. Just the fact that there are more people that don't go to church on any given Sunday than do is information enough. People have so many choices of how to get their spiritual nourishment from television to the internet. On top of this, seeing how so many in our society have become more individualistic, shows a lack of desire to be a part of a regular church fellowship.
So we live in a new reality. And the question in this new reality is: how is the church called to reach the people in our community? I have been at my church now for almost 8 years, and this whole time I have had this sense that we need to do church different. I believe we need to go outside the church walls more. It is easy to live within the confines and safety of the church, but then we lose out on having a real impact on our world for Jesus. Beyond this, we limit our opportunities of sharing the love of Christ with those who need to experience it the most.
As I look at Jesus' life and ministry, I see Jesus going out. There are very few passages in the New Testament where Jesus is in the synagogue. More often we see Jesus walking along the path, at a wall, or in someone's house. Jesus encountered people where they were at, and dialogued with them according to their background (i.e. he talked one way to farmers and another way to fishermen).
So does this mean that we need to do away with meeting in our church? NO. Their is still great meaning to worship and fellowship in Christ's name. This is an experience that can never be achieved individually. But it does mean that we need to not sit back and wait for people who don't know Jesus to come to us. WE MUST GO TO THEM! So I am challenged, and I am seeking to challenge my congregation to build relationships with non-believers, and even more, to seek to love like Jesus loved with no strings attached. We need to live and love like Jesus did. Only then do I believe that we can start making the impact God wants us to make.
Tell me what you think.