Today we have big thunder and scattered showers on the Coast. There was severe weather in Mobile this afternoon with injuries. A tropical wave dubbed “96L” has formed in the mid-Atlantic. I’m not saying we should panic. I’m only noting that we are in hurricane season and sometimes these storms form an awful long way away from home. Sometimes they find their way to our homes.
I do intend on writing some more on the Twelve Steps, but I do not think that will happen today.
Just thinking out loud here, but at Central we are facing a transition of sorts … and it will be here before we know it. On August 9th a team from Hillsboro Church of Christ (Nashville) will head home. We have no volunteers scheduled until December (at this point). David is confident that there will be groups coming in during that time, and there may be.
A larger concern for me is “what do we do now?” I know what I do not want to do.
- I do not want our church building to become a “chapel” – a place for people to come and worship once a week. I do not want our focus to be on the one-hour-per-week worship time. Isn’t that one hour the thing we argue the most about? I have an idea that the reason for this is that it is the predominant hour in our spiritual lives. Reading the New Testament I do not get the idea that the worship hour is to be predominant.
- I do not want us to be focused on serving only ourselves, loving only our own, and extending friendship only to people just like us.
- I do not want us to imitate hip and trendy things that other churches are doing in hopes that we will grow like they do.
- I do not want us to be afraid to try new (for us) ideas that fit our gifts, personality, and ability so that we can minister to people’s needs.
- I do not want us to ignore the plight of the poor, hungry, divorced, addicted, incarcerated, confused, depressed, blinded, hurt, struggling people around us. How many of these people are in their predicament primarily because they did not know what to do … and in their own wisdom chose the very things that brought them harm? These are things that God’s Word could have given them guidance in … things that God’s People could have loved them through.
- I do not want us to ever ever ever GO BACK to what we were before Katrina.
- I do not want us to be shackled by traditions or what others may think of us … opting instead for the freedom found in Christ and serving HIM alone.
There’s an old saying that I think is just as true now as it was when it was first uttered: People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care. We must ask ourselves the question: DO WE CARE? Don’t be hasty in answering, because our lives are a testimony of the things that we really care about. We know the right answer, but what is the true answer? The Epistles point us to every day life … relationships … struggles … temptations … our need for genuine relationships with those around us … and the hope of bringing the gospel to all of the lost within our sight. The message and mission of the cross must be our lighthouse … guiding us onto the shores of God’s Kingdom.
In my thinking, our facility should be a center of activity, ministry, love, support, and meaningful interaction on a daily basis for our community. Lost, saved, irreligious, fervently religious, and those suffering from religionphobia need to feel welcome at our facility because they are a part of this community. If we do not connect with people on a daily basis, I do not think we have much of a flavor of the church Jesus established. “Flavor” is a good word … in truth the evangelical church at large does not have a taste for daily ministry. It’s not just churches of Christ. We are already moving toward some things … following Christ’s light into troubled areas where His power can bring hope and healing. I’d like to see:
- Some informational / relational class offered every night of the week to help people cope with the dilemmas of life. We currently have addiction recovery and divorce recovery classes meeting. A parenting class will be offered starting next week.
- Still on the drawing board … I’d like to see a ‘Bible basics’ class offered, for those seeking first-exposure information to the Scriptures. I’d also like to see some other classes offered … grief recovery … coping with the issues of aging … something for teen discipleship … and a senior citizens class offered some morning.
- A consistent youth-night offering for fellowship, learning, fun, music, and to plan service projects.
- A coffee-house type event with light refreshments, live entertainment, candle light, lots of opportunity to sit around and enjoy the company of those who are present. Here’s an idea that is singing my song! Excellent!
- Service as a hallmark of our identity. Steve Sjogren has been promoting this for years … although I’ve only known about it for a few years. He has several books out (including Conspiracy of Kindness) that promote service projects that have outreach potential. It will be interesting to see how this develops with his new church in Tampa, scheduled to launch on Valentine’s Day, 2008. Trey Morgan’s church recently had a WATS Sunday – “We Are The Sermon“. Chris Lockhart’s new church is also designing their activities and existence around serving others. Service needs to be “out there” not “in here” … and it doesn’t have to be difficult … it could be something as easy as passing out cold water at a park or visiting a nursing home.
- Central needs to be an “Open Door” church … with the doors as open and welcoming as the Kingdom of God itself. Everyone should feel welcomed and comfortable to come and worship, develop relationships, learn of God’s will for their lives, and join in the projects.
- There ought to be cars in our parking lot seven days a week.
How does a transition like this happen? It won’t be easy. Everyone may not be on board. Again, these are my thoughts on parade … not anything set in concrete.
- We’ll need to all review … pray … think … decide how involved we are willing to become … and where our focus has to be.
- Everyone needs to be challenged … and at the same time serve from the center of their hearts. We do not need to exhaust ourselves once or twice … but to comfortably find natural ways to develop friendships, offer service, and encourage people to follow Jesus.
- Everyone will need to find the area of service that demands their talents and work hard within them. I think the living picture of all of this will be shaped and painted by all of us putting our gifts to work within the Body. We all have ideas about what we would like to see happen. Ministries should naturally spring up around us as people put their talents to work in His service.
I’d like to hear your thoughts on these thoughts. It’s a big time of transition…. or is it? Will we now step up to the plate and answer God’s call … or will we comfortably sit on the sidelines and watch? Or is there some middle ground?
VOLUNTEERS: Here are the open “Work Camp Weeks”. If you need to come a different week during the month, let us know and we will see if we can work it out.
SEPTEMBER 30 – OCTOBER 6
DECEMBER 2-8 – Hope Missions, Tom Hixson, Pennsylvania
JANUARY – NO WORK CAMP
Thanks for reading,