24 May 2012

The Author

Terry was raised in a Southern Baptist environment. He has always seen a need for the church to return to social justice. He is the administrator for a non-profit called The Van Atlanta, a 501(c)3 that meets the need of homeless friends and neighbors. His theology has progressed to affirming of all individuals, no matter race, religion or sexual preference. He has a beautiful wife, Rebecca.

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What Should The Church Be Doing?
churchdoing

The Christian Church has been converting people since the Council of Nicea.  But, how does a church grow its membership and get people to buy into its vision when it doesn’t use the fear of Hell to coerce others into action?

What does the Church have to do to survive?

Where does the Church go from here?

What will we do when we can no longer pay the mortgage on the building?

These are questions we might ask ourselves when we look at the Church as buildings.  It’s no secret that churches all over the country are being foreclosed on.  So, what’s the answer?

The answer is…. The Church is not a building. Do you want to the Church to survive?  Then, we have to convince the Church of this fact.  We have to lose our love affair with addresses and fall in love with zip codes again.  When Paul wrote to churches, he didn’t write to “The Church on Jones Street”.  He wrote to “The Church at Phillipi (Thessalonica, Colossae, etc…)”.  These first churches were not individual buildings but more like Presbyteries or Diocese.  They served huge areas.  Their focus was not a building.  Their focus was people.

So, here I am.  I am talking to your Church.  I am talking to the people you worship with every Sunday.  SAVE YOUR CITY! Make your city whole.  When the prison guard in Acts 16 was saved, ”everyone who lived in his house was saved” according to Paul and Silas.

I tell you, Church, it’s time to claim salvation over your city.  I’m not talking about “saving from sins”.  I’m talking about the “preservation from destruction or failure” or “deliverance from danger and difficulty”, according to Meriam-Webster.

It’s time for us, as the Church to get off our high horse and help the man in the ditch who is dying as the religious walk on by him.  It’s time that we lose our religious piety and pick up the Cross of Jesus (His life and His death) and we start feeding the poor, clothing the naked and freeing the prisoners.

God is calling us, those who are called by the name of Christ, to continue the work of Christ.

We do that through relationship.  We can only have relationship with those in need when we forsake our buildings, because our homeless and poor friends and neighbors don’t want the Jesus we’re giving away.  Our Jesus doesn’t look like Jesus in Luke 4 (Isaiah 61). There, Jesus says that God has anointed him to preach good news for the poor, bind up the brokenhearted, bring liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison for those who are bound.  I have no problem saying that if the message you hear on Sunday mornings does not sound like Luke 4, it is not the message of the Gospel. And when Jesus says, “When I am lifted up, I will draw all men unto me…”, I think he’s saying  when good news for the poor is preached, when the brokenhearted are bound up, when the captives have liberty, and the prisons are empty, then there is no way He will not be glorified.

Christians, this is our call.  If you ever wonder what it means to be a Christian, look at these verses.  Jesus says to go out and make disciples of all nations.  This is not a call to go out and get the nations to walk down an aisle and pray a sinner’s prayer.  Another word for disciple is apprentice.  I grew up hearing disciple defined as a “learned do-er”.  We do what Christ did.  Christ never had an altar call.

You want to know why the institutional church is failing?  It is trying to complete a job it was never given.

Sodom was not a town where many modern day Conservative Christians would want to live.  The main religion was Moon Worship.  Men often had sex with men and women with women.  But, through the Prophet Ezekiel, God said that the sin of Sodom was its greed.  The sin of Sodom was its inhospitality to strangers.  The greatest sin in Sodom?  It had too much money and refused to share with the poor.

Could the same not be said about modern day Churchianity?  We try so hard to make the next mega-church.  Why don’t you just try to love your neighbor as yourself?  Serving our neighbor is a call so close to the heart of God that for a church to ignore it is blasphemy.  It’s really the main thing Jesus spoke about.

So, why aren’t we doing it?

You want to save your church?  Then, save your city.  Fall out of love with your address and fall back in love with your zip code.

 

8 Comments
8 Comments
  1. I absolutely agree and love what you said here. Yeah, it’s definitely time to come out of that system. Thanks Terry!

  2. Excellent post, thank you. Great line and vital: “We have to lose our love affair with addresses and fall in love with zip codes again.”
    What I see as the perfect model for the Church today is the Twelve Step Program of Alcoholics Anonymous, for iit is based in a Spirit of Action rather than a System of Belief. The freedom we get in Christ is the loss of worldliiness, which includes these provencial loyalties to a particular church we attend or a certain denomination or sect. Doubtful we will see many willing to abandon these things, yet this is what Jesus took issue with the Jews.
    Through a study of the early Church, I was amazed at how much alike AA is to the Christians of that era and how apparently lacking the present day Church is in that spirit.
    -strong emphasis on fellowship and helping each other both with problems and to grow
    -confession and testimony at each gathering
    -the essential and daily spirit of action
    -God as the one authority, not a council or pope or organization
    -small local groups that function in their community

    The basic message of the Twelve Steps is to place everything in the care of God and the primary path for this is to pplace godly principles before our own or others personalities, which does away with squabbles over Conservative or Liberal, this translation over that translation..

    • Hm. I should probably learn more about these “12 Steps”. I would love to see the Church return to an Acts Church where folks had “everything in common”. Let us go out and be the ones to start this change. Let’s save our cities through community and relationship.

  3. I’m truly humbled. Living in a small community, we ‘think’ that the problem of homelessness doesn’t exist here. It does. I need to do more I need to allow Him to work through me. Thank you for striving and being the man that God has called you to be. You and Bec are near and dear to our hearts. I can’t believe that 3 days, a year ago….made such an impact on our lives. You continue to do so, through Christ. Now if you don’t mind, I have a zip code to think about. <3 Much Love to you, my brother.

  4. “It’s time for us, as the Church to get off our high horse and help the man in the ditch who is dying as the religious walk on by him.  It’s time that we lose our religious piety and pick up the Cross of Jesus (His life and His death) and we start feeding the poor, clothing the naked and freeing the prisoners.”

    Exactly. This is the humble realization I came to after my fall from ministry. Often, churches are quick to dismiss those within their congregation who fall or stumble. I’ve heard pastors call them “blessed subtractions”. But when a man or woman goes overboard on our ship, it is our duty to go after them.

    You’re right, we are a community, not a building. Great post.

    • Thanks for your words, Ray. Not only when one goes overboard but when we happen upon the drifter who was never in our boat.

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