*ETA/ Most of you agreed that not only do we need to break down into smaller more intimate groups, but that we also need to make sure each person is doing something more than just "sitting and getting" as one of my friends wrote!" So how do we make this more effective. How do we help people fulfill the God given purpose that they are meant to fill in the Body of Christ?
Well lets go ahead and note that changing a culture is a huge thing and that's what we are looking at for most churches. Going back to what I said before, I think we had good intentions. We saw a world that was busy. We saw a world that needed to find Jesus.
So we decided to make it easy. Here are your answers. Here are your service times. Here is the list of ministries and activities. Go ahead sign up.
The issue? Seeking, searching, and finding are all Biblical concepts. Good ones at that. God never called us to take the struggle away. He promised to reveal himself in the struggle.
I believe first and foremost we are going to have to let go of our desire to stop the struggle.
Listen, if there is any way that I could give my kids a curriculum, say our prayers, and poof! their sweet little souls would be saved and sanctified you bet your bottom dollar I would do it. I can't. That's not how it works. I have to be willing to guide them through the struggle. I have to be willing to hunt through the scriptures with them to find the answers to their hard questions. I have to let them search the scriptures themselves to know Jesus personally and be washed by the water of the word. Which brings me to the next thing I think we need...
It is going to take a lot of patience to let a new teacher struggle finding their voice. It will take infinite amounts of grace to let a new leader or helper develop their gift. It will take deep love to keep pouring into someone when they are struggling through understanding. It will take time to change how people function in the church. It will take time to convince people that letting Mr. So and so in their Life Group can teach the Bible instead of hearing it from *insert popular author here.*
I have good news though we have that power. Not of ourselves of course (because have you tried that?!?!), but as believers in Christ we have full access to the power of the Holy Spirit. Do we believe he can do this work in our bodies?
Lastly we are going to have to let go of fear.
We are going to have to let go of our fear that a new teacher might say the wrong thing. We are going to have to let go of our fear of correcting someone on biblical doctrine. We are going to have to let go of our fear that we will lose people that won't want to do the work. (And make no mistake, we will lose people.) We are going to have to let go of our fear that our churches might get smaller instead of bigger. (We might also need to let go of the notion that more smaller churches are inferior to less and larger ones, but we can muse on that later). We are going to have to let go of our fear that someone might have to struggle through the scriptures to lead a class rather than have a perfectly constructed syllabus.
The fact is if we start at the top with Jesus and move down to those "Rock Star Preachers" that stand so firmly on the Word of God and they pour deeply into just a few below them and those few dare to share with a select few what they know, and those people are encourage to reach a few below them, the accountability will be there. The foundation will be strong because it has Jesus, God's Word, at the base.
I started to think maybe the picture I believed I saw in the Bible and that The Lord was impressing on my brain was maybe just a bit too idealistic. This picture of the church breaking down into smaller groups where people's voice could be heard, their hurts could be ministered to, and their ministries strengthened was all well and good but maybe not possible. Is it too much to expect people to get together and mentor. To have old men teach young men and continue to teach them as they grow, and have those same young men as they grow turn around and lift someone else up into their Godly purpose in the church. I imagined a church in which we all sit and get fed under our beloved preachers and then turn right around that week and pour it back out. Honestly it has been overwhelming to think about and has caused me endless frustration....
Then my sweet friend Ashley piped up and told me they are doing it (and while I didn't have an I depth discussion with her and I'm sure they have issues just like any Body) and its working. They have leaders in charge of group leader that are then encouraged to lead when a group expands. By facilitating more groups and encouraging new leaders their members still feel connected. Everyone old or new to the body has a place and a purpose and hear me, this is in a church of 4,000.
It can be done.
Are we ready saints? Can we really disciple people with the Bible? Can we really equip people to do the same?
I look forward to continuing this discussion with a little chat about buildings, homes, and environment!