This photo was sent to me by my dear friend in West Texas. Sometimes in life we are like this pigeon… flying at mach 3 just hoping that every “opening” is actually just that and not some mirage of freedom. Don’t let your pace today kill your judgment… apparently it terminated much more than that for this poor bird.
Alfred Loisy the 19th century historian was right in saying that Jesus came proclaiming the Kingdom of God but what appeared was the Church. The disappointment was and continues to be severe. But the great irony is that today we alleviate our disappointment with the contemporary Church by pointing back to the New Testament Church –which was the great disappointment to begin with! Our restless discontent should not be over the distance between ourselves and the first century Church but over the distance between ourselves and the Kingdom of God to which the Church then and now is the witness. – — R.J. Neuhaus, Freedom for Ministry, 33.
Through Twitter I had the chance to ask Geoff Surratt, the Executive Pastor of Seacoast Church in Charleston, a question about church growth. He was gracious enough to reply. I asked him to respond to a post I wrote not too long ago about community. Here is my question and his response below.
In a Utopian world there would be no need to delineate life and age stations within the church. Children would sit with parents and grandparents and each learn from each other and worship together. I love the picture of young children experiencing the wisdom of their elders while older people enjoy the exuberant worship of youth. Unfortunately I have yet to see a model of church where that ideal actually works on a consistent basis.The reality is that children learn differently than adults and teens need often need to experience God in a completely different environment than adults. If a church wants to reach a wide range of people they will eventually have to have some separation based on age and life stations.
At the same time, the distinguishing feature of a church should not be its aged graded or life stage ministries, but its single minded mission. Why does this particular church exist at this time in this neighborhood? What is the God given, passion driven reason for its existence. A pastor who cannot answer that question will stunt the growth of the church.
I blogged about this question some time back. It’s a quick read, but when finished answer me this Riddler…
Have churches stunted their relational and exponential growth by programming with age and life station as their primary delineators?
So I am standing at the end of aisle six at one of our local Walmarts last weekend visiting with a family from Water’s Edge about how they were planning on shopping for their recipient family, and a quick statement by the wife caught me off guard… at least when my slow-moving mind figured out the power of the statement. As you may have read here, our church engaged in an all-out weekend to serve our city with fierce intentionality. As a leader you hope that these chapters in the life of a church will somehow plant themselves deeply in the hearts and minds of the congregation so that the actual activity level begins to see a shift to things that really matter. You pray, work, plan and execute with this in mind, but many times what you bring to the venture is just to set the stage for God. Continue reading
On Tuesday night I had the privilege of sitting down with some dear friends from my childhood in Seattle. Marian and Mark were here visiting and reuniting with long time colleagues of her husband (Mark’s dad) at the air base in Fort Worth. Dan was a heavy influence upon my young life growing up in Seattle. He passed a while back, and it was good medicine to visit with his wife and son.
As we sat there at a restaurant in Richardson for nearly 3 hours, something dawned on me. Marian is older than my mother, and Mark is more like an uncle to me. The conversation was non-stop, yet there was really nothing to point at as a commonality between nearly three generations represented at that small table. I wondered to myself how can these three adults sit and talk like best friends with such a varied age distribution and life station? Continue reading
Sorry for the delay in updating this thing… I keep saying that! 🙂
There is so much to share about what’s happening in my life and those around me. It’s been a surreal last few weeks for my family, staff and ministry. Case in point – one of my staffers was punched out at a local gas station last Sunday night after our services. FBC is in our Transform Your World season. This is a time where the church really ramps up its efforts to impact the local community. Our global efforts are year-round, but we make a special effort to reach out beyond normal ministry to our region in April. This stretch is usually referred to “Go and Be.”
We had t-shirts made this year that read “Don’t go to church” on the front, but on the back they read “be the church!” Well some ignorant soul thought he was doing God and the church a favor by assaulting my staffer and decked him for what the shirt said. My team member ended up waking up, picking himself up off the concrete and driving the 15 minutes to his house. As he stumbled into his own home, that was when his wife took him to the 24hr clinic for attention. He hasn’t pressed charges, and from what we know there weren’t any witnesses. Long story there, but he felt that pressing charges wouldn’t really accomplish anything in the grand scheme of life.
Bottom line is that this nut had some real issues and was probably used to getting his way and abusing others. The t-shirt simply provided a trigger to beat on someone new. Never-the-less, the shirt sparked a manifestation of this guy’s world view of God and church… and that my folks is why it is so important to engage culture. We have to put to death this mindset that we have to answer the opposition to the Kingdom by various acts of social, relational and even physical toxicity. We can get on our soap boxes and shout, scream, wave our arms to get the unbelieving world’s attention and figuratively punch them in face with the “Gospel” or we can love them and share the real and literal truth of God’s forgiveness and grace.
So much more to talk about… maybe I can get to that later in the days ahead.