Friday, October 29, 2010

Beyond 150 - Albums

I love the early mornings. The quiet as the city awakens, initially sounds like the gentle waves lapping the sea shore, then gradually intensifies to the roar of the LA reality. The city stirs from her blanketed rest to the demanding challenges of another raging day in paradise.

I do love each church as you wrestle your way through the dynamics of breaking ceilings. Being fully persuaded that ceilings are there to be broken, our prayers do seek to empower you in all wisdom, courage and boldness to take on these challenges. There is such pressure to conform to the image of those in our communities. They are often nice enough folks who are seeking to be pleasant Christians. However, they are driven by the delights of their own conveniences and comforts more than the priorities of the kingdom. Rick Warren did some research and found the combat zone where two sets of expectations meet. If I remember it correctly, some 90% of pastors believe that the church exists for reasons beyond itself- for the reason of the gospel. Whereas some 89% of the congregants believe that the church is there to "meet me and my families needs". Oh dear, we are on a path of conflict.

There are many ways to address this major conversation but may I add two questions into the mix:

1. What kind of believers do we want to produce?

If the church is to be a family, then we need to ask this key question. In the same way, we sit and discuss intentionally what kind of children we want to raise, this then fashions what our parenting will look like. The church planter and replanter, is often stuck between a rock and a hard place. There is such pressure to keep the few folks that we have gathered that we are not clear about the kind of believer we want to see emerge from the seed bed of our community. Survival and the lobby of the few, pretty soon becomes the loudest voice that demands our attention. This is exasperated when you are in a church model where annual assessments by very unspiritual secular mindset folks, drives the pastor to desperation. This is so ungodly and so destructive.

We must be bold and courageous if we want to breakthrough this 150 ceiling. We cannot be fashioned by the 'smallness theology of the few' . We cannot be intimidated by these voices lest they manipulate us with the threat of leaving. Rather we must take the scriptures and clearly teach with faith and patience what kind of believers we are going to see emerge from this community. Here are a few ideas of these kind of believers that we can put into our photo albums.
Folks who...
  • Love Jesus before all else - in mind, heart, strength, relationships,
  • Believe in the scriptures as the highest measure for life's decisions,
  • Are continuously getting soaked in grace, faith and love,
  • Give themselves to passionate pursuance of prayer, praise and piety,
  • Love the brotherhood, doing everything to sustain divine unity of the Spirit,
  • Make community gatherings a priority with faithful discipline,
  • Dwell with expectation for miracles, signs and wonders,
  • Are generous-in time, abilities, finances believing in a massive God whom you simply cannot out give,
  • See themselves as 'missionaries in their shadowlands' taking the gospel wherever they go,
  • Enjoy marriage and family but never as idols, only as gifts...
  • Have a heart to see this gospel go to all nations, desiring to be part of that big story,
  • Lastly, let me let it all hang out. I suspect the world is desperate for this kind of believer who is real, radical, relevant and relational. Who delights in Jesus and is totally committed to instant obedience when Jesus speaks. Who honors the scriptures and will not manipulate it to satisfy their own selfish needs, who believes that the weekly gathering of believers is of the highest priority and not an optional extra, who wants to see folks come to Jesus with repentance and a transformed life and sees it as a privilege to share in this, who believe you cannot out-give God - who give beyond their 10% with faith and joy, who walk with love, humility and sacrifice desiring the best for others before ourselves, who praise passionately, pray relentlessly, and who by service and story are a Jesus presence in their world, lastly who want to see everyone have the opportunity to hear the gospel, and then the end will come... [now I feel a lot better]
Well the list can go on. However, we need to settle this question, then pour our lives out to bring this to fruition.

2. What kind of leaders do we want to produce? We will look at this next time...

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