God is Bigger

God is at work even beyond the four walls we call our church. Sometimes we miss the big picture of what God is doing or wants to do through us because we become single-minded in our ministry. Over the years I have observed churches become ministries unto themselves rather than outward focused ministries. One reason we create so many programs in our churches is often so we can meet the growing demands of people inside the church hollering to be serviced.

The Jesus model seems opposite of that. He teaches us to consider others better than ourselves and to think about the needs of others ahead of our own. Somehow I believe this is a better method of attractional evangelism. When we begin to invest our resources into other people, even at the expense of our own comforts or desires, I think we will see more of a lost world get excited about the Kingdom of God and ultimately be won to Christ. It is then we will say like the prophet Malachi: “You will see it with your own eyes and say, ‘Great is the LORD-even beyond the borders of Israel!'” (Malachi 1:5)

God is good. Good is great…way beyond what we ever expected.

Church Membership

We haven’t placed as large a value on church membership at Grace as we have things like salvation, baptism, serving others, etc. Because of that, we have very few members and some of our most active people are not “official” members of Grace.

Recently I asked one such man to attend an annual banquet being held in our city for a large International ministry on our behalf. If I wrote the ministry name here you would easily know it and surely agree they do great work. Still, this ministry is “old school” in a lot of ways. My guy said he and another from our church were the only two without suits on (Shame on them!). At the conclusion of the night our guy was motivated enough about the ministry that he was willing to join their organization. They wouldn’t accept him. Reason: He is not a “member” of my church. If he had been a “member”, they would have taken him without question. (BTW, they did take his donation.)

Can someone explain this one to me? I know churches that have 3 or 4 times as many members as they do people who actually even attend their services each week. I know people who are “members” of a church, but they have attended church in years and they certainly aren’t serving that church.

Is it time to re-think what church membership really is and what it isn’t? Does it have the value it supposedly once had?

Living in a Religious Bubble

I got to be in the presence of religious “greatness” recently. This pastor is at a prestigious church. If you don’t know that he will tell you. Unfortunately he lives in a bubble; the same kind the Pharisees lived in. I saw him walking around a conference we were both at and he came across as unapproachable and arrogant.

I have learned in life that matters of the heart matter most. Even if one is “right” theologically, if their heart is hard towards other people, then they are still “wrong” when it comes to the truest things of importance to God.

I don’t intend to come across as judgmental. I’m sure had I been able to get to know this pastor we would have shared much in common and even could have been good friends. The fact is, aside from the prestigious church part, that pastor could have been me. It served as a good reminder that the way I treat others is more important than who I “think” I am. I can know theology and insights into church history and traditions, but if I don’t love others as Christ does then I’m not living His desire for my life.