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December 10, 2006

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Larry

I had breakfast with Debbie and Nate yesterday. Naturally we talked about churches and Mosaic and I returned to a long-running question I've had about what would make a church effective. The question of what would make a church attractive to me is something else. Realizing that measuring effectiveness is hard, I still thought that churches tend to be irrelevant to the larger culture. What would it take to change this?

I had a kind of idea-vision, of a church with no preacher. There would be teaching, somehow, because you need common ideas to hold the community and there are some who've been around longer than others. Somehow, though, you need to inculcate within the people the idea that they themselves can approach God directly and have Him affect their lives.

We live in a culture that naturally assumes that God is just an idea. The idea has only the power a person invests in it. A God who is involved with people, who touches and changes them, is the belief of someone from the loony bin. Statments like this can't be supported with logic and double-blind testing.

So, it seems to me that for a church to be truly effective it would have to have members who individually know Jesus, just as you've described here. Only Jesus can give people a sturdy reason for living, but we're so responsive to our world's view of the absurdity of a living God that we continually downplay the signs of God's participation in our lives. It's also frightening.

Your image of Jesus sitting at your feet, servant-style, is a shock and something of a challenge too. Yet, it is exactly what He came to do. He served us by allowing himself to be crucified. He serves me daily in guidance I rarely see but take for granted.

I'm glad you've found a new outward home, Lu. I'm also glad you've written here about your inner home in a way so clear and warm.

Lu

Thank you. That's a huge compliment to me, coming from you. My inner home is beautiful. I'm glad I actually communicated it well enough for you to see.

I can perhaps see a church without one preacher/teacher, but rather the body shares the teaching responsibility. They do exist in some places in Asia where there is no highly theologically trained leader. But a church without a pastor... that I cannot imagine. Even Mosaic has the rest of the Lead Team to be pastors, where Erwin is usually focused on unbelievers and speaking (we all know he's not a true pastor, in that pastoral sense; just not his nature).

That's part of what I'm so hungry for now. A real pastor. Someone who knows me because of ME, not because I serve in a high profile position, like I did at Mosaic. Someone who knows my name, who knows me and will be there if I need counsel, encouragement or a good swift kick in the butt.

Yeah, I can get that from a Life Group (they call them Community Groups here). And I want it from one as well. But I want more. I want the person teaching me each week to be someone I know wants to know me, cares enough about those of us who ARE followers of Jesus to be involved in our lives. I'm not saying that what Erwin does is bad. Only that I want something different now. I seem to NEED it; don't know why. Perhaps I always did and just didn't know it till now.

I think I've found it at Rolling Hills. Not completely sure yet, only time will tell, but I think I have. Jeff, the pastor, only met me once, briefly after service three weeks ago. He walked into the new member event yesterday, saw me and immediately said, "Hey, Mary Lu! Good to see you again!"

Hello!!! How'd he do that?? Its not like he met me that day, or that he's only met a couple of other people between Nov 19th and yesterday.

Yeah, I think I may have found a real live pastor.

He's just as good a speaker as Erwin as well. Perhaps not as dynamic, but just as compelling. God speaks to me through him, the way He did through Erwin. Haven't found that since I left LA either.

--Actually Jeff's cadence and some of his content reminds me of Eric Bryant when he speaks. The first time I saw Jeff I'd walked up the ramp into the theater as he was welcoming guests (yes, I was late) and hearing his voice again brought Eric's face to my mind. I got a bit of shock when I finally got a glimpse of Jeff. He doesn't look anything like Eric. It was like taking a gulp of liquid expecting tea and getting coke. Not a bad thing, just a bit of a shock.

At any rate, check out the podcasts on iTunes and let me know what you think. They're a little behind, but you'll get the idea.

It's so wild that you mention Nate and Deb. At the event I was at yesterday I met a guy who's good friends with Nathan and did a lot of youth camps and youth ministries with him. He's now the youth pastor at this church I joined (see link on the right). I emailed Nathan last night, apologizing that I hadn't kept up with him, only to have him email me this morning and tell me we never really lost connection. You kept us connected by giving them updates on my life. Very cool. Thanks!

Larry

Something else I've been thinking about... You've found a good thing in this church. Please ask God to help you keep from taking it away form yourself. There are countless ways for each of us to torpedo the good things that come along. I'm a master of it, unfortunately.

So, let the church be itself and let yourself be yourself, and let God do the fitting. Follow the new path step by step, and please don't attack yourself if it become difficult, or if it gets better. I suspect you may have a tiny little bit of trouble in this area, but this is a New Thing. The past doesn't need to dictate today's responses.

Someday maybe I'll learn to practice what I'm preaching here. It's easy to see but hard to change. Step by step.

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