"Bringing" and "Sending"
I know- I know-- this is a knitting/leadership/personal blog. I've added a new category--- "theory"--- whenever it comes up-- if you don't want to hear about what I'm processing thru-- than skip it. Be warned- today it's about approach to church;) This is not a finished thought- it is an open dialogue, ummm mostly with myself I suppose!
It is also not an indictment, it is a sharpening of my focus. While I generally think I know everything... I'm not implying, that my assessment here, is a mandate for anyone else.
I've been thinking a lot about how to do "church" lately.
I've been reading books.. (when am I not?) I've been reading blogs, I've been studying Acts.
I'm thinking about the difference between churches that are set up as places to "bring people" to... and those that are focused on preparing people to be "sent out".
First, it's important to explain- theoretically- I believe "the church" is not defined as a place. It is the body of believers, regardless of where they are located. In a home, a coffee shop , a school meeting, a spinning class, etc. Practically, there are places where people gather, with a focus on God, that are called churches. In order to address the issue- both must be addressed.
In my opinion, "the church " (both definitions above) has the responsibility to do both. We should Bring, others in- but- I believe, more importantly, we should prepare believers to be SENT.
Churches, are limited, they are a "place" to go. Into which, some people may not go. Churches are limited in their approaches as well, it would be ridiculous to expect a service to encompass every need of every person that may be attending on that morning. It would be ludicrous to expect a church to have music of every genre, preaching content for every issue, etc. Not only would these expectations be inappropriate, but they would also be counter-productive. It can make us see church as a shopping experience, not a worship experience.
Personally- I find the world is pretty accommodating to give me what I want. I need church- to be about aligning me to what God wants.
Church service, as laid out in scripture, is a corporate worship experience. People may be brought in, and then be ministered to. (see pentecost) However- the purpose of gathering is to first, build the relationship of those in attendace, with their God. To hear and learn the word, to focus on God. To worship and edify.
I think it's interesting that Jesus, SENT the disciples. He didn't say-- "Go, find people and bring them here- so I can preach, to them" He " discipled " (taught the truth to) the disciples (yes- a redundant statement on the surface) then, He sent them out to share the gospel. I recognize, that it is possible that Jesus did this because He knew, He would be physically leaving the disciples, but, is it not possible, that He did this because it was also a necessary method?
When studying the Gospels, and comparing, there are unique perspectives on the same events. The writers, each have their own style, in communication. Most believers that I meet- while embracing the whole of scripture, develop a special feeling of connection to certain teachers, and people in the Bible.
Most often, it is something in either the experiences of, or the personality/character of the person, that resonates with the hearer. Yet, the Gospel message, remains the same.
The Bible clearly defines, that each member of the body has a specific purpose, that is necessary for the Gosple message to be effectively lived out and preached. In light of scripture as a whole, I believe that we are individually called to be in relationship with God first, to be built-up in knowledge and experience , and then to be sent out, each, with our opportunities and our unique design and voice, to be missionaries to those we meet.
Why? Because, when we are prepared individually, then we CAN meet the direct needs of those with whom we have contact. All the research I can find, says that people meet God, thru People.
Besides, it's how I met God. Thru a relationship. I don't remember who the quote is attributable to... but this resonates for me... "People don't care how much you KNOW until they KNOW how much you care." God often shows His care- for individuals, THRU individuals. His hands extended.
What can't be done during a corporate gathering, CAN be done, woman to woman, man to man- we can get to know others, we can learn their needs, we can meet them, and help them to find their deepest need to be met in God. Individual approach, can be just that, individual.
Then, we must BRING them into the "gathering" ........where they are further built up and edified, where they learn to focus on God, and then, they are SENT out.
The 2 parts- "Bringing " and " Sending" are both imperative. Yet- what to focus on?
I think the focus MUST be on each portion being prepared to do it's part. The corporate portion- to bring a focus on God, to edify and build up- so that the Body is prepared to be Sent out. Sent out- not just TO BRING IN... but to minister, on the road.
So, what is my bottom line?
Well, I love God. I love people. I love introducing people to God. I love learning and teaching. (for me they go hand in hand)
My bottom line: (and, it is entirely possible, that this is simply a matter of resonance, because of how God has wired me, to teach, and touch)
I need to GO, I should Bring, ...... And , I am SENT.
Dear Lord- I love you, I thank you for the Word, which teaches us so much, about YOU. I pray that you would help me to know and understand my part in your calling- to GO out... please help me to preach the gospel.. to live the gospel.....to love people. amen.