Do we have the will to make the changes that are necessary to change the culture of our churches?
In my heart of hearts I want to see our churches be part of a movement. I caught this bug when I was a kid and I heard we are the church we find in Acts. I read Acts and loved what I read but didn’t see much of that in what we were doing.
I want to see us at our best. I want to see us on the move. Making a difference. Making disciples. Shifting from consumers to producers. I want this!
I am not sure we have the will to pull it. I hope we do but I am not certain we do. Change is hard. We are an especially hard group to make changes.
Then the thought hit me, what if the movement has begun but it isn’t happening in our walls? Then another thought hit me. We have lost so many young people (some have left the faith completely but not all of them). I hate to say this out loud. But what if “our loss” was the gain of something else…a kingdom movement? I have known a lot of young people who left because they were spiritually minded and were disturbed by what they saw in our fellowship. They went looking for Jesus, meaning and purpose elsewhere. Some weren’t finding the biblical movement among our fellowship and so finally found it somewhere else.
I don’t believe we in Churches of Christ are the “only ones going to heaven.” So what if the movement out of our churches (our decline) was a movement into something that was going to make a real difference? What if? I believe that is possible and it hurts me to say it because selfishly I want this to be among US not THEM. But that isn’t the right attitude to have about these matters.
That should bother us and it shouldn’t. It should bother us that God would be on the move and we didn’t jump in. It shouldn’t bother us in the sense that we often think if God is doing something we are the only ones fit enough for him to use to do it because the rest aren’t real Christians anyway. What a sad mentality but I have seen it in real time my whole life.
Here is a way to illustrate this from Missions history:
Years ago, Churches of Christ (amongst others) sent missionaries all over the world. They converted people from various cultures and countries. Little did we know those were seeds planted that would eventually send missionaries back to a secularized United States today. We now have missionaries from other countries in the U.S. to do mission work!
What if this was something similar? What if people who grew up in our churches left us to learn kingdom movements elsewhere to then produce things that would help us come around to these same ideas?
We chafe at this because we are supposed to be the ones who have it right and everyone else has it wrong. We have it all to offer and they need to receive our truth and doctrine. The thinking goes…it is time to move beyond that thinking. It is actually biblical to move beyond that thinking!
What if we had that backwards? What if?
Part of me hopes (not a good part) I am wrong but that is foolish. That is still being territorial. It is in my blood. But it is selfish. It is short sighted. It might just be a rejection of the Spirit’s work elsewhere. It might lack the vision to see how we might have a better future due to learning from others.
What if the movement has already begun and it largely hasn’t included us?
Can we be a part of this without doing a better job getting along with “others?” I don’t think so.
It is time we open our eyes to the broader kingdom. It is time to let go of our sectarianism (the idea we are the only real Christians) and humble ourselves to open up conversations with those God is sending us to learn from them. They have a lot to teach us.
Better days can be ahead but, wow, it is going to take a major adjustment. If we don’t want to play along I can assure you God is doing this apart from us anyway. But I sure do want to be a part of what God is doing and I want to do it with our people too! This is my hope. This is my dream. I don’t know if we have the will to do it. Seeds of sectarianism past may prevent us from partnering.
If we don’t, our young people will find it elsewhere and we will just accuse them of looking to be entertained. But maybe we are the ones who are being entertained (we like what we do). Maybe they aren’t the issue. Maybe us older people are. They aren’t in leadership, we are. Can we at least consider that and pray over that for a moment?
There is a segment of our churches that have already embraced these things and I am praying that will grow. We will be healthier for it. That doesn’t mean we have to junk our convictions. We just have to make sure our convictions are actually biblical.
This will require to Spirit’s help! This will require us to be in prayer. This will require us to go back to the Bible with a fresh set of eyes and this time, instead of looking to confirm what we already know to win arguments, we look for Jesus.
It both pains me and excites me to write this but I feel compelled to. Blessings.