What Does the Church Look Like in 2012?
One of the things I love about our particular church is that we are always talking about reaching the unreached... reaching deeper into the community of Auburn and Opelika trying to find ways to bring the Gospel to those who haven't heard the Good News (a command throughout the New Testament I might add).
One of the ways we do that is once a month the entire staff gets together and walks through the various issues that are the church. Yesterday we discussed the "status quo" of doing church in our culture today and the above image was one page of my notebook where I took notes as we all discussed the topic. I love being a part of these discussions and talking about what the church body looks like in 2012. Since my job is generally on the administrative side of ministry and not that of a pastor, (sometimes it's hard to remember Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 12:27-28, the Church needs everyone's gifts and talents to reach the unreached) but God's church needs everyone to be involved, not just staff members and volunteers, but everyone.
Will Our Generation Respond to Scripture?
In one of John Piper's books I'm just finishing up called Jesus: The Only Way to God - Must You Hear the Gospel to Be Saved? he makes this conclusion for the church today.
The question for the church in every generation is: Will we submit gladly to the Scriptures? Will we devote ourselves to understanding them truly, valuing them supremely (under God himself), applying them properly, obeying them wholeheartedly, and speaking them courageously and publicly?
I think this is a great challenge for the American church today. We have built a culture around consumerism church instead of our worship services being a joyous celebration of what God has done the previous week. This is the status quo of "church" is something that takes place for one hour on Sunday morning where we get to hear some good music and an encouraging 17 minute message.
If we truly believe Paul's words in Romans 10:13-17, then we have a great responsibility to reach at least those unreached people in our immediate community and then beyond.
13 For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?" 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
Do We Continue to "Sit and Soak"
Question is, how will this play out in our churches in 2012? How does the "sit and soak" mentality of the American church leave Romans 10 unfulfilled (among many other verses as well), and how will we reach those people right here in our own community? Fulfilling the status quo is the most comfortable thing to do, but it's not very productive for reaching new people for Christ.
The church today should not be about a specific building, or a specific cultural group, or time frame, or a set format. Yes, scripture, orthodoxy, sound doctrine, and at some level, traditions of the early church, are very important and should be a strong foundation, but buildings, times, formats, and everything that goes along with all that, should not be a barrier to those seeking to know the Lord.