Most congregations thrive on comfortable consistency. Nobody enjoys surprises. This is not always a bad thing. But: genuine seekers and followers of Jesus have grown to expect and thrive the unexpected.
With all due respect to you, your church and your elders and where you’re at in the growing process of your congregation – you fit a familiar pattern. That is: Gathering to worship, study, pray and teach children. Snacks and coffee. Swap fishing stories or football scores.
Outreach of this kind of church is directed at families. Resources are directed to children’s ministry. Sometimes resources are directed toward foster care programs.
We should all know that for every kid in foster care, there are two adult parents missing in action.
Who’s making outreach to them? Which resources are directed toward them?
What I’m suggesting is the work of making disciples – mature believers, adult workers in the vineyard of the Lord – remains an unfed church opportunity. Outreach to the disenfranchised is perceived (if unconsciously) as a risk to the comfort of the parish. Upsetting to families with children. Seriously. Sitting next to questionably reliable sinners isn’t comfortable.
Maybe this stuff doesn’t belong … in “Church.” Maybe it’s best left to “Community Meetings.”
When I contrast Exegesis on Sunday Mornings with Topical studies in small groups – it’s meant to distinguish and clarify an open field I call Applicational Study. CR is but one example of a program of study centered on the biblical principles for obtaining healing from Hurts, Habits, Hang-ups – fleshy addictions. Please realize that experience with CR is what opened my eyes to the broader issue.
Obtaining healing is just the beginning. In any decent program (CR being one) new birth and spiritual freedom of an individual is celebrated in a season of repairing relationships, learning and growth. And as time passes, people continue their involvement. It helps keep us “sober.” Further along, at the appropriate time, the application of principles leads many to becoming mentors and volunteers on behalf of others. These are disciples.
I’m describing how discipleship works. This is a very, very messy business. Not sterile, but hands on. People come. They go. They come back. This is a battle and the sword of the Word cuts deeply.
Making Disciples for God is not like seminary school. It’s no intellectual pursuit. This is conflict on the front line. Warriors for God will have blood on their hands but survive to dance in the streets like David did. Much prayer and sacrifice is required.
Maybe the battle over Hurts, Habits & Hangups belongs outside the “church.” If community meetings are the vehicle, let’s get behind them.
Luke 17:15-19 “One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
This record of Christ’s “counting of the 10” amplifies the conviction (in me) that the work of creating disciples, workers, volunteers and Sons of God who will minister to the needs of others is essential. It was an outsider who returned. Community and fellowship meets and has its purpose in delivering recovery to insiders and outsiders.
Proverbs 24, Saying 25 “If you falter in a time of trouble, how small is your strength! Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?”
Happy New Year!