I have been in church my entire life. Literally since I came out of the womb, my parents took me to church. Until I was about 12 years old, we went to a traditional baptist church. You know the kind…Sunday school at 9 and Worship at 11. We had RA’s & GA’s, a church softball team, an adult & children’s choir, and a pastor who was always dressed in a suit and tie for every occasion. We sang hymns out of a book & took “the lord’s supper” about once a quarter. This was what I knew as “church”.
When I was 12 years old we starting attending what was at the time called “Grace Fellowship Church”. We were non-denominational, which meant that we were “basically baptist”. We believed in salvation, baptism, & took communion (aka the Lord’s supper) every week. We had a full band & sang new songs from a projector on the wall. This was a totally new definition of “church” for me. I can honestly say that this was the most impactful to me as a pre-teen looking for spiritual direction & of course to be in a band I started playing in the youth praise band shortly after learning to play guitar & my faith started to grow as did my ability to play.
BOTH of these scenarios for me were crucial to who I am as a follower of Jesus & as a minster. I can appreciate parts of both and see both as totally useful today. However, today I’m not going to talk about church. Church is just the beginning for me. Church is where I get together with my brothers and sisters every week. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE both the “THE Church, as well as ECC, but God has called us to BE the CHURCH that the world needs to see. You and I are called to shine HIS light to others. Without judgement, reservation, or concern about our personal comfort or security.
Right now I am still at the same church that I started attending when I was 12. It is now called “Eastridge Community Church”. My wife and I have been on staff for over 9 years. We have seen God break down so many walls in this community as we all have committed to step out of our comfort zone and be REAL with one another. We have always been a strong body of believers, but now more than ever we are pushing for everyone to OWN their faith in their homes, at the work place, in their neighborhood, etc. We are seeing such fruit of this movement to “Reach the World” through personal discipleship.
Beyond denomination, style, preference, strategy, etc is the challenge to simply be REAL. The most impact I have ever seen within our congregation is not because any WOW factor in the music set, sermon delivery, or personality. It is when we are all HONEST about the fact that despite our very best, we are still human. It is the fact that without the Holy Spirit living inside of us, we are nothing. The thing that people need to see in all of us as followers of Jesus, and especially ministers of the gospel is that we are all in this faith journey together. We all need Jesus! I think the most attractive thing about Jesus was that he was always REAL. He didn’t go to people in the highest places and worry about what people might think about those he ministered to. In fact, he seemed to migrate to the “least of these” and made God’s name great through the transformation of their lives. I think we can all learn alot from this.
What matters is not how we dress, the music that we play, or the style of sermon we deliver. What matters is that we are REAL with others about who Jesus is and the fact that we would ALL be completely lost without him being in control of our lives.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.6If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.7If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.8This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. John 15:5
*When is the last time you were REAL with a brother or sister in Christ about your own life?
*Are you more concerned with how things “look” in the outside rather than your relationship with God? Moreover what people will think if you reach out?
*How can you take a step today to break down the walls of religion and show the love of Christ to someone who may not know him?