It’s more important than it’s ever been.
If you’ve been attending the United Methodist Church of Saint Clair for the last few months, even occasionally; then you’ve probably noticed quite a bit of discussion about evangelism. This desire, call, and need to share the Gospel (Jesus’ story) with the world. The reason you’ve been hearing about it a lot? Well, because it’s tremendously important. It’s more important, in fact, then it’s ever been. I really believe that. But I need to preface that with the very important reminder that it’s always been very important.
In the early Christian church, folks met in their homes; rarely churches. They broke bread together, shared stories, prayed and encouraged one another, and learned together. Over the centuries, Christianity blossomed into something with rigid organization, beautiful buildings, educated and trained Clergy and became something you go to; instead of something you are. I think it’s time to revisit what it means to be a 1st century Christian. And I need your help to do that.
Our world is chronically in pain. As a Pastor, I’m struggling (And I mean really, really struggling) with how to respond to these constant barrages of violence and pain. I mean, I can’t preach every Sunday about violence, death and abuse, right? In the past few weeks, we’ve had several awful terror attacks, we’ve had the deaths of more than half a dozen police officers who, as best we know, were targeted because of their badges. And we’ve had the very high profile deaths of African-American men at the hands of police, with the ongoing struggle of how it seems to very many Americans, that even though almost all Police Officers are good; when there are bad ones, they don’t seem to be held accountable, even when their actions result in the loss of another persons life.
It’s a rough world to live in, especially because we have a world full of false dichotomies; like we have to pick and choose. Can’t we weep for the death of police officers and wish that all people, including those in law enforcement, would be held accountable? Can’t we weep for the death of Alton Sterling, Philando Castille, and many many others; without also believing that police officers are men and women who run towards danger when others run away; the very definition of a hero? Why does the Christian Church have to pick a side? Why can’t instead the church be on the side of all those who are hurting, oppressed, sick, injured, and dying.
You know what I think? I think the problem is we’re too internalized. We’re so comfortable. When the church is externally focused and wants to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20), then it count help but weep for every life lost; for every action without justice, for every tear shed. Because the church that’s inside-out is reaching, yearning, and seeking those people.
So, friends, I hope you’ll continue to tolerate this barrage of discussions about becoming the externally focused church. We can’t simply be comfortable, our world has gone past that. We no longer have the luxury of sitting in comfortable pews, listening to nice music, singing familiar hymns and hearing comfortable, easy sermons. While the world continues in the turmoil caused by sin we simply cannot sit idly by and refuse to change it.
I think we’re ready to change the world. How about you?