09 May 2007

Why do I always revert to safe church

I've been trying to learn about church through books and podcasts. There is a lot of info out there and its really hitting me in a strange way. Most of latest voices are talking about doing church in such a different way than I'm used to. There are some who say that we don't need church at all, we just need to live out Christ in our communities and let the message seap out. There are some who say that a church should focus on the global rather than the individual. There are some who talk about experiental sharing instead of lecture (sermon) type learning. It's all a whirlwind of ideas that I like to take in and learn from. The thing that bothers me most is I see the church I serve in as having a huge potential to impact Taipei but we're stuck in a traditional box that isn't moving us forward. And I am very much in the blame circle for that. We place a lot of emphasis on the Sunday service which maintains the two key elements of Worship (music) and Sermon. Even when we add creative content it is far from radical. I think we cater too much to the christian crowd and don't do enough outward looking. I was listening to Brian McLaren on my iPod tonight and he said something that resonated with me. He said that we've sort of changed the verse "for God so loved the world" to " for God so loved me (the individual)". That's so true, we spend so much time in church looking after ourselves and catering service to the regular attenders that we've forgotten that the message of the gospel is for the world. It's so much bigger than just "us". Church needs to be for "them". I don't know what that means for our church and I don't know how to implement such a shift but I need to strive to change some of that thinking. It's that safe place of Worship and Sermon that I need to get out of and we need to seek a new mentality that has people looking to live out the gospel all week and not just look for a Sunday fix. This church leading task is so exciting but also super challenging. It's an enormous pressure when you're dealing with something so powerful and important (the gospel). I know that God has given me some responsibility and I want to live that out. This church will bring God to the people of Taipei...I just don't know what that's going to look like.


Grandpa Steve said...

food for thought. I don't have this fully thought through after MANY years.

The church has a purpose of nuturing and growing belivers as well as reaching the lost. The challenge is to have the right amount of effort into the right areas. Please consider that we are not all pastors, teachers or evangelists and that maybe these things don't even take place at the same time or location.

Shane Sowden said...

Hey dude, great questions you are working through in your head and heart. I believe that we need churches and that their should be a focus on both the individual and those outside the church. In reading a lot of Dallas Willard stuff I find that if the church did a better job of making disciples of Jesus rather than focusing on "converts", then those disciples would naturally be doing evangelism in their lives throughout the week.

Once again this is a subject that would be much better to discuss over coffee than over email. We will need to get together when you are back this summer. Looking forward to it!

Shane Sowden said...

I was thinking what books I would recommend to you now that you will be pastoring. I would say try reading from some authors not of this century. I think there is more value in "older books". C.S. Lewis said that for every "new" book we should read three "old" books that have stood the test of time. The two I would recommend you are "The Reformed Pastor" by John Baxter and "Soul Winners" by Charles SPurgeon. Great, hard, convicting reads that all pastors must read.

Shane Sowden said...

Sorry, instead of John Baxter it should be Richard Baxter. My bad.