Seeking:a local church home
Denomination: ideally non-denominational; possibly any church that will always choose compassion for people over their denomination’s rules.
Diversity: a must! I want to see it in every possible way, in variety of people, but also in variety of belief. God didn’t design us to be exactly alike, let’s celebrate that!
Music: new contemporary christian music (as in, within the last five years), but I’m o.k. with mixed styles as long as there is a little bit of everything for everybody.
Teaching: from the Bible first and foremost, historical context, biblical context, and cultural context are all as important as how to relate to the text today. No memoirs, no ‘the latest best-selling book from Mr. big name author’, please.
Preaching: no need to shout, I’m listening! Be biblical, but watch your metaphors. Spending an entire sermon on ‘God is like a car engine’ or ‘God is like a football game’ would be as effective as ‘God is like an afternoon tea party’ or ‘God is like a make-over specialist.’ The congregation is made up all sorts of people – stop focusing on one sort of person.
Leading: with complete equality. Represent all members of your church, not just old white guys. A diverse church ought to be represented by a diverse leadership that looks toward the future, prepares to deal with with change as it occurs – not flees from it or holds onto the past for dear life. And I mean women can and will lead as equals in all areas of the ministries with the men, they’ll help bring balance to the force. An unbalanced force is as useful as an unbalanced tire – uneven wear on a tire can compromise the safety of everybody in the car and on the road. Same for the ministry, uneven wear on one sort of leader can cause them to miss important things that can harm the ministry and everybody in the church.
Outreach: this church must be a vital part of the community it serves – if the church were to suddenly disappear, the community ought to miss how wonderful and helpful they were!
Building: this church must not follow the ‘if you build it they will come’ approach! Jesus didn’t say “build my church into a stadium” he said “go and make disciples.”
Singles Ministry: please do not make this a ‘meet each other so you can get married’ ministry. Paul said that single people can contribute to the church more than married couples can because they don’t have to worry about their spouses and children. God sees each and every individual, why many churches treat them as if they are invisible is beyond me.
Youth Ministry: should be focused on instilling a thirst for God in the youth that inspires them to learn more about Him on their own time but also expands upon what was already learned. It’s not ‘let’s play basketball while the adults read the Bible’ time.
Children’s Ministry: should be teaching the absolute basics of the faith – like VBS all year round.
In Action: This church would follow Jesus’ example, that is to say, he’d break unimportant rules to reach people that need saving and help people that need helping. This church would recognize that given the chance Paul and Peter would defer to Jesus on everything, they would do the same. It would be so concerned with people, that nobody would be without physical, emotional, or spiritual support. It would side with the oppressed and chastise the oppressors. It would not condone or hide any form of abuse, but call out the abusers to answer for their actions. It would recognize that Jesus died to save every individual, it would not exclude any individual. It would love everybody just as Jesus loves everybody. It would be a church that expands invisibly beyond it’s four walls and be an important part of it’s community. In other words, it would be unlimited because the Holy Spirit inspires every move it makes, every action it takes, and guides them through the tough times ahead.
Do you know of a church like that? I certainly don’t but I wish I did. The church has changed a lot in 2,000 years, and not always for the better. One lesson I remember is that there is a forward trajectory about scripture – how things had to happen just the right way for things to turn out like they did. I wonder … if the Bible didn’t stop at Revelation, would the ideal church be somewhat similar to what I described? Do you think, in general, the church is moving forward? Do you think scripture meant for church to look like it’s biblical counterpart for all time?