There are so many titles and names aren’t there? Yes, I know and appreciate the fact that it is important to know our identity. There is heritage and history and we are always to stand for sound doctrine. The old statement rings so true: “If you don’t know what you stand for, you will fall for anything.” Yet, every once in a while I do stop and ponder over the vastness of the titles, the names, and some of the things that we do cherish and believe. Yet, it is also interesting to note that if we aren’t careful – they will divide us and cut us off from one another (entirely), if we allow it to. I try to put myself in the position of those who look at this, have no context or understanding of what it all means in where they are in life, and decide “I don’t understand” or “It’s too confusing.” But this is what people, men, women, and children whom we should all be trying to reach and leave an impression on for Jesus Christ, feel and conclude. Sure, it is absolutely essential that we are authentic and up front about What We Believe and Why We Believe It. Anything less in dishonesty and synthetic. However, we must fulfill our God ordained part to seek: relationship; effectiveness; and authenticity at the core. We must fulfill our part in the Body of Christ and to do so, we must come to the place where we can work shoulder to shoulder to impact souls.
I know people who have been hurt. One of the most damaging hurts I have ever come across came from a couple I know back in Virginia, who went to an “organic church plant” about 3 years ago. The first few months were great, as they have shared. Multiplication happened and things seemed “purposeful.” The group was growing. It even resulted in another plant. From 6 to nearly 40 in less than 6 months, and 2 locations. When I talked to Caleb in 2007 and on into 2008, some things occurred that should never occur where the Gospel is preached and where God is to be lifted up. By 2008, the 2 groups of 20 at that time (40 in total), had stopped meeting entirely and there was a falling out. I know 10 of the 40 people, and all have said in their own words that they “will never do something like that again.”
On the other hand, I know that the Church hasn’t been perfect either. Some worship the Institution; the Office; the Liturgy. God has been removed in exhange for power; control; social events; and money. The God of all Creation and worshiping Him is but a memory. About 12 years ago now, before coming to the Lord when I reached the end of myself, I was hurt by such a people. A building or a place will never hurt you – only people can do that. After a few years, God led my wife and I to find a people who would love us and accept us for who we were; with all of our band-aids, bruises, and bumps. And I sure had some of those. This was a church body that held dearly to their beliefs and convictions, but loved people (like us) enough to reach; stretch; invest; and bridge a relationship. It’s like they loved God and people in a way that warmed my heart and spirit, and it was so attractive and desirable.
There are many places like this: Healing Lighthouses I call them. They are places where you are accepted and loved – yet, you are given the truth that no matter how you’ve lived; no matter what bad decisions you’ve made; and irregardless of the sin that has bound you – God loves you enough to NOT leave you there. These are church bodies that exalt Jesus Christ, lift up His Name, share His hope, and speak of His love and forgiving grace. It’s not just a few people, or just leadership – it’s a church family that believes it and communicates it. Priority is given to a vision that distributes hope and shines the Light. These are places that walk the walk and are available. They don’t “beat up” others or hide behind titles, movements, or trends. They stay the course in the midst of challenge, trial, and transition – waving the lantern in the thick of the clouds. I pray and hope Bridgeway is found to be as such, through and through.
You see, it’s all about relationships: (1) Our relationship with God (first); and (2) Our relationship with each other (second). The 2 are for sure interwoven, just as Jesus Himself tells us in the Greatest Commandment. It can’t be separated or removed from the core of the local church, so let’s be sure that we are seekers of these relationships, in Christ, and trust Him to lead us/guide us/direct us. I believe in the ministry of His Church and I believe it is the local church body that is called to “work out what God has worked in.” There is no absolutely perfect institution or organization as long as humanity is involved; no matter how organized, disorganized, liturgical, contemporary, formal, or casual it may be. But the Church is part of God’s perfect plan to share His Gospel and His saving grace with a lost and dying world: It’s His chosen way and means. I love the song that states: “I’m coming back to the heart of worship…and it’s all about You, all about You, Jesus…” There is a richness in the story that is behind the song. But right now, I believe we could make a 2-word change to the song which would capture a Top Priority for the Church today: “We’re coming back to the heart of relationship…and it’s all about You, all about You, Jesus…” No, I won’t be singing that so you can relax :-)
We have His power in us to do it; and what He authorizes, He energizes. Relationship is where it’s at…
Blessings and many prayers, you are loved…