Where the Rubber Meets the Road – Guest Post #3
This week’s response comes from Randy Morgan. I hope that you will be just as encouraged and challenged by his response as I was.
Introduce yourself in 25 words or less (we are all counting – some of us are borrowing our neighbors fingers or toes):
i am a lovable dissident. the church we started 15 years ago has been spectacularly unsuccessful, and the process has shaped me into a desperate pursuer of jesus and kingdom.
If you blog, what is your site URL and what is the emphasis behind your blog?
i blog at randymorgan.wordpress.com. description of the “emphasis” is probably best left to those that visit regularly. my hope is that people on a journey similar to mine will find humor in my failings and encouragement in my quest.
Respond to the following the scenario:
I am a skeptical seeker who has just read Matthew 25:31-46 and you are the first person that I meet at your church on a Sunday morning and I ask you to explain these verses and show me how your community applies them.
my stock, sunday school answer would have to do with the church taking a fresh look at our role in society. but, to my thinking, the real answer goes much deeper than that.
my youth pastor came to me recently with an idea for a program to get students involved in service. he was serious about addressing the biblical purposes for the church (worship, discipleship, fellowship, ministry, evangelism, etc), and he wanted to post a “needs list” on the wall of the church building so seniors and widows and single moms could sign up to have teens come over and lend a hand. my youth pastor (all breathless and excited) said, “we can meet needs in our fellowship and teach our kids about service at the same time!”
i’m afraid when that i deflated his balloon when i told him he was missing the point.
one of the great issues in the institutional church is that our first impulse is always to establish programs to address symptoms (we’re hard-wired that way), and we never really address the actual problem. its called legalism and it is systemic.
david (my youth pastor) has attracted a bunch of marginalized kids from low income, single-parent homes who come because we provide a place to hang out, and because somebody has demonstrated an interest in them (and that is his primary mission). most have a vague understanding of who jesus is, but they are not yet believers and they are certainly not disciples.
so why would they serve?
my advice to david was to concentrate on leading these kids to a deeper understanding of jesus. i assured him that when they finally arrived at a place of commitment—out of love for jesus and an appreciation of grace—that they would serve as a matter of course. not because someone told them they should, or because it made them feel better.
for those of us who are christ-followers (sorry, tony, i really did not intend to be so verbose), i would argue that the story of “the sheep and the goats” was never meant to stand alone as a message to the church. it must be folded in to the larger command to, ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40).
as we develop christlike character, produce the fruit of the spirit, and pursue the knowledge of god, we will love/reach out to the disenfranchised as a matter of course. we do the church and the kingdom a great disservice when we “get the cart before the horse” (mechanically try to obey jesus prior to genuine heart change).
…and show me how your community applies them.
in the fellowship i lead, our motto is “life-by-life.” that’s the way jesus did ministry and we believe that’s the model we should follow. we teach that real ministry does not take place on sunday morning at 10am. we work hard to decentralize ministry responsibility and we encourage people to experiment with their gifts.
we demonstrate this philosophy by throwing the doors of our building open to the community. everyone from local businesses to the girl scouts to scrapbookers use our facility (and we never ask them to pay). it is literally open every night of the week. we believe that, besides being good stewards of the things god has entrusted to us, we are creating opportunity to connect relationally with people who wouldn’t normally come on a sunday.
What makes you come alive?
obviously, talking about this kind of stuff.