Friday, March 30, 2012

Good Works, Good News and Grace--Part 1

I met Jessica probably about two years ago, bringing her son to guitar class and her daughter to English class initially, then basketball class.  I am not great about remembering people’s names, but what I do attempt to do, even when a bit embarrassing, is always ask a person’s name (even if I have forgotten it).  I remembered Jessica’s name in part because her 11-year-old daughter was also named Jessica.  Her 7-year-old son, I learned, was named Alexis.

When we speak of ministry philosophy in formal studies or over delicious tacos, an often repeated passage is Matthew 5:14-16:

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

We want our neighbors to see our good works, and glorify our Father.  Coupled with this verse comes a well-worn axiom around here.  If you’re faith is only valid on Sundays, well, sorry, but it’s not worth much. 

Whether formal or informal the conversation, what usually comes next is an emphasis on the sacredness of all of life, the lack of distinction biblically between “full-time” and “lay-leader” and a reminder that God doesn’t just use people who sing well or teach well in the church.  He uses everyone, and can use any talent, any ability, and interest, any hobby. 

This is freeing to us as a church body.  It takes the pressure off on one hand, and applies it on the other.  If I can’t sing or play and instrument or teach or preach, that’s o.k.  But it also means that if I know how to make chairs, or move furniture, or make cakes, or knit, or dance, or hit people, or pick up trash, or make friends, or paint, or write, or I can throw a good party…well, then I need to do that in Jesus’ name.  I am under a holy obligation to invest my life for the advance of His kingdom. 

This truth has been captured and embraced by our young church, in part because most of the church as only been walking with God for the last two years or less and have no baggage.  Some of us who have been doing church for a long time and have seen things we’d like to do our best to avoid, among them an emphasis or religious activities to the exclusion of just being normal human beings.  Normal human beings who happen to have been given the gift of grace.  We are essentially no different than those people who do not yet know God, in the sense that we didn’t do anything to deserve what we received.  We were just fortunate enough to hear the message, understand it, and accept it.  Providentially lucky.  Spiritual arrogance is detestable in God’s sight, but common enough in many of our churches.  Biblically speaking, there’s just no place for it.  Grace is a powerful equalizer. 

Quote of the Day:  
Church Planting Movements are driven by lay leaders. These lay leaders are typically bivocational and come from the general profile of the people group being reached. In other words, if the people group is primarily nonliterate, then the leadership shares this characteristic. If the people are primarily fishermen, so too are their lay leaders. As the movement unfolds, paid clergy often emerge. However, the majority--and growth edge of the movement--continue to be led by lay or bivocational leaders.

This reliance upon lay leadership ensures the largest possible pool of potential church planters and cell church leaders. Dependence upon seminary--trained or in nonliterate societies, even educated--pastoral leaders means that the work will always face a leadership deficit.
David Garrison, Church Planting Movements

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