Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Embracing the Weird

It is a little weird living in a different culture.  Okay, it is a lot of weird.  And since I am already quirky, I might as well be considered in a state of weird on steroids.  The past year and a half has been a time to put a magnifying glass on myself, or more appropriately, God showing me myself at a magnified level.  Yes! Sometimes I feel like an ant under the burning rays of God’s magnifying glass.  Really, the Lord is using these weird circumstances to stir my thoughts.

Danielle and I write these blogs to update people on our service. I think one way to update you is to explain some of thoughts God has presented to us.  Put in weird circumstances, I cannot help but to resort to thinking.  It’s against my better judgment, and against the recommendation of my close friends, but I still resort to thinking.  Recently I wonder why we do things certain ways in the church building.  This thought coincides with the ways we, as church members, go about teaching the next generation of believers…

What is the point of attending Sunday Church?

I can see heads literally convulsing and steam spewing forth from ears as theologians and traditional pew warmers go into a mental meltdown over that question.  I know meeting with believers is important (Hebrews 10:25).  Jesus had a custom of entering synagogues (Luke 4:16).  So for us to neglect meeting with believers would be a dangerous disregard of biblical teachings and Christ’s own example.  However, what is our purpose for Church on Sundays, or whenever we meet in the church building?

Isn’t it suppose to be for worship of God? So……  It’s not to impress the congregation?  It’s not to be entertained by the preacher?  It’s not to be entertained as the worship leader “wrecks shop” with the latest rendition of contemporary music (or if that’s not your thing, “make the pews shake” with an organ presentation of traditional hymn #14)? We know better than this.  But what I observe is sometimes we meet on Sundays forgetting it is primarily for worship.

Here is my biggest worry.  If we meet to worship, why do we treat it as the only day of the week that we come to learn about God?  What?! That’s what the preacher is suppose to do - teach, and for those who get up early, the Sunday school teacher, too ---- HELLO!  What do we then do with with Matthew 28:18-20? Were we not all charged with making disciples and teaching them? The thought that has been stewing while I have been in Portugal is ‘We use Sunday worship as a crutch to not accomplish what we were called to do’…  The preacher teaches on Sunday (probably a lot of other days, we just aren’t always aware). When do we teach? And when we teach, what is the expectation of our teaching? >>> I think 2nd Timothy 2:2 is our expectation. Teach in such a way that the novice believer can eventually be able to instruct novice believers.

I did things at the church every week.  I did good, right?

We invite people to church > Check. 
We attend the pot-luck dinner > Check.
We involve ourselves in Wednesday night youth groups, prayer meetings, and you better believe we are there to discuss the budget >>> Check, Check, Check…
Why don’t we focus our efforts on going into the community, not just bringing people to church? In all seriousness, why should our biggest victory be when we bring someone to church? When we get them there, we settle for tagging in the pastor to come off the top turn-buckle with a Spiritual Elbow Drop that wins the person to Christ? Is that our end goal? To fill up the church building?

Can we not reach people by going outside the church walls?

Why not join a softball team in order to share Christ? (Church league softball shouldn’t count Smile with tongue outfor this thought.) Join a book club to have conversations that lead to spiritual conversations where you share your testimony. How about joining a knitting, pottery, or cooking class? Surely someone has a fantasy league to join.
You might ask, “WHERE IS THE TIME FOR ALL THIS?!!!” I agree with this thought completely.  You don’t have to join umpteen things.  Find something you are interested in doing, and do it to make disciples for Christ. And then? Don’t rely on just Sunday church to disciple the new believer.  YOU start teaching him or her in a Bible study.  Crazy talk, I know. Disagree?  I challenge people to look at thriving cultures of Christianity and stagnant, dying cultures of Christianity.  I would surmise a correlation can be found between thriving churches and members of congregations actually taking up the mandate of Jesus to teach.

Why shouldn’t we start with a focus on helping the poor, prayer, and stewardship?

If we teach the next generation of believers correctly, then these acts will be natural to a believer.  If a person needs to understand the gravity of prayer, then take them through the book of Matthew and note how much Jesus prays. Confused about how to talk to God in prayer? Study through the Psalms. The same can be done for any other spiritual endeavor or good work. Do not just stop at teaching Scripture. We need to model these acts as we teach (also knows as teaching the way Jesus did, Matthew 4:19). Then we will not just be teaching a moralistic thought process, but we will actually be training for every good work. That sounds pretty profound.  It should; it is from the Bible (2nd Timothy 3:16-17).


So, you can probably come across similar thoughts in a book by Platt, Piper or Paige Patterson. No doubt they will articulate them more profoundly. But in my state of weird, I am left to resort to observing and reading my Bible in Portuguese. It just seems the Bible puts a profound emphasis on teaching and modeling.  It might sound weird to someone who has never tried it, but I think a little weird is okay.

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