If you were to ask yourself that question what would your answer be? If your church members answered that question what would their answer be? How about church staff/elders? If a visitor walked in the doors of your church what would they, after spending some time with you, say your church is pursuing? If they spent time with you on a personal level what would be their assessment of what you, as an individual are pursuing?
Not what do you say you pursue but what you are actively, actually pursuing?
I wonder sometimes if the reality of the matter is that we need a better answer to that question. It is easy to pursue status quo. It is easy to pursue tradition. It is easy to pursue pleasing people. None of that is risky.
Pursuing God is risky but churches are often risk averse. Discipleship necessitates taking risk and will not be achieved through the pursuit of what comes natural to us.
So what are you pursuing and is your answer sufficient…because we ultimate find the things we pursue.
At one time and tragically even now the answer seems to be doctrinal purity.
I agree, and part of the cost seems to be isolationism, where we sit in ‘our small corner’ instead of attempting to communicate with our deviating denominational brethren so that they can find their way back to sound doctrine. Paul, for most of his ministry, preached in synagogues, even though he knew many of his fellow Jews had strayed from the truth and saw him as a heretic. What makes us so special that many of us think we can get along with no-active-outreach but a conscience-placating open-door policy towards those who claim to believe in Christ but haven’t got the message right? Sure, some of us may actively be going out into the world to rescue unbelievers, but so do they, and sometimes more effectively (e.g. the Salvation Army mission amongst society’s forgotten people).
You will actually find a large amount of sound Christian doctrine in some of the old mainline Protestant churches. This comes as a surprise to many because they were taught that denominations did not read the Bible. Hence, it is why some of them are growing again.
Tell me about it. In the last year, I know of one well-attended and prominent old Protestant congregation in a city where I lived for many years, which was ejected from their place of worship by the denomination’s management authority, because they refused to compromise the Scriptures. Their management authority tried to force them to have communicant fellowship with congregations in that denomination that had accepted unrepentantly immoral behaviour in their members and ministers. Taking their guidance from the Scriptures, they refused. Ironically, this congregation was one of the few in that denomination with an increasing membership, and I am told that since moving from their building to a large church hall, their numbers continue to rise. It looks like that for some churches searching for the Truth, the only way forward is meeting ‘outside the camp’. Maybe this is God’s of reminding them that He did not empower denominations, but only one Church, not fashioned by human hands!