Monday, April 16, 2007

Sheep Stealing

Lately I've been thinking a lot about how different church would look if we really thought we were working for the Kingdom of God, rather than the Small Principality of __________ (insert the name of your church here). What if we gave to missionaries that weren't just our denomination if they were undertaking strategic work that we felt called to be a part of? What if we supported other Bible-believing/Bible-preaching/Bible-living churches in our area as brothers and sisters?

This came up in a church meeting a few weeks ago when we were talking about stewardship and the radical idea came up to send a chunk of our young families to the church up the road that is doing great things with college students, but is struggling because it doesn't have families as a foundation for the church. What if we did that? What if we blessed people that left our churches because they were called to other ministries (instead of cursing them)? What if we were committed to church planting, rather than growing mega churches?

Last night I was reading Dave Sliker's blog and was surprised to hear him hitting on a lot of these topics. I was especially struck by the following paragraph:
If seeker-sensitive churches are content to play their role on the “team” rather than build the biggest, most successful ode to their giftedness on the block, then everyone wins in the end. If other pastors can come to terms with the fact that “sheep stealing” is a farcical notion birthed from insecurity and sinful ambition rather than the word of God, they would then be fine with people shifting to different expressions of the the body reflected in the different corporate gatherings throughout their cities. Different seasons of growth, maturity, and development demand that believers run with different groups that best fit those seasons. Pastors that are willing to serve, launch, and recognize their limitations can be free of heart and pleased to have played a role in loving a member of the broader body of Christ that is valuable to Jesus. Pastors that seek to be “all things to all men” in a vain effort to gather all peoples to themselves will be sorely disillusioned and frustrated with the passage of time.
If we saw different churches having different roles in the community, things would look quite different. If we stopped trying to create the perfect mega-church on every corner and learned how to be a really good hand or a really good foot (in the body of Christ), how awesome would that be.

Anyhow, I was very excited to hear someone from IHOP saying this as it directly addresses some of my recent concerns about them vacuuming up all the "serious" Christians and holding them in the only "true" church. Kudos Dave. Good points and a good message. I think IHOP has a really important role to play in the North American church. I'm looking forward to seeing them engage more with other churches in the "team ministry" that Dave talks about.

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Blogger Jen said...

So, I think this is very interesting stuff. It definitely gets me thinking about the role of the church. BUt I feel like us trying to be a really awesome foot or hand isn't what the church is called to be. We are called to be the body, we need all the parts. The foot needs the hand and the ear, just like the young kids in church need the older folks to mentor them. I think we lose the wholeness of the body of Christ when we try to become too focused and specialized. At the opposite end, being the super-duper "we are perfect" mega-church doesn't seem right either. I think are focus needs to be on becoming the full expression of Jesus Christ, whether that means a big or small church - I'm not I'm rambling!

11:12 AM  
Blogger Joy said...

Agreed. I wasn't trying to say that churches should super-specialize, but that churches should see themselves as playing for that same team (as opposed to being competitive) and cheer each other on in what each church does best.

Another important point (and one which I'm sure you'll identify with) is that churches should work WITH outside agencies (like IV, Navs, IHOP, etc) who have particular specialties, rather than seeing them as competing with their own programs.

Not everyone is born to be a baptist and be in a particular type of small group. :)

1:38 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

You rock. That's all I have to say.

11:11 PM  

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