Monday, May 22, 2006

Love-Inspired Audacity

“Audacity is ‘a bold and blatant disregard for normal constraints.’”

-Steve Farber, “The Radical Leap,” page 111.

“Love-inspired audacity is courageous and bold and filled with valor. It’s the kind of audacity that’s required to change the world for the better. Ego-inspired audacity is just a pain in the ass. In other words, some people aer audacious just for the purpose of drawing attention to themselves; they’re not concerned about anything other than their image.”

-Steve Farber, “The Radical Leap,” page 112.

“”This will be the age of love-inspired audacity,’ he continued, picking up a full head of steam. ‘Now is the time for all of us to take our power back and become, eachof us, Extreme leaders in our own right. We have to set a new example of that’s right in business and everywhere else. We have to be audacious enough to follow the examples we respect and challenge the ones we don’t.’”

-Steve Farber, “The Radical Leap,” page 114-115.

Churches like things stable. Churches like things normal. Churches like things to be the same. Churches struggle with the idea of change.

Presbyterian churches are filled with people who are “older.” It is hard to imagine the changes these wonderful folks have lived through. The “world” they were born into no longer exists. Imagine a world without computers or even televisions! Now we have wikis, blogs, streaming video on the net and Ipods that show videos. Change. Change! Change!! Everything has changed.

These folks enjoy some of the changes in their world. The microwave oven makes cooking much faster. The riding lawn mower takes the physical effort out of a weekly chore. The motor home is more comfortable than that old leaky tent. The air conditioning makes a hot summer day more comfortable. Some enjoy e-mailing their families and friends. But there is only so much change that can be easily absorbed.

Sunday morning is “church time.” Church is the one constant in their world of change. Many may be thinking, “The world may be changing but don’t you dare change my church!” It is their stable rock in a river of change.


For churches, another way of saying “audacity” is “thinking and acting outside of the box.” We simply cannot keep doing church the same old way in the PCUSA—our declining numbers demonstrate this fact. Churches that don’t want change don’t want Extreme Leaders. Let them bring in a hospice pastor to walk with them through their final years of life. Let these churches worship God in a way that is meaningful to them. They can have a meaningful ministry to “older” adults—but they had better not complain about low attendance or the lack of younger families and children!

Think outside of the box. Extreme Leaders need to be in churches that are willing to change. The church will need to know that the pastor loves them and is willing to die for them. This love will generate an energy that will be the catalyst for change. The church will then be willing to think outside of the box.

What kind of crazy, audacious, ministry is God leading my church and your church to undertake? What old norms and constraints need to be challenged and changed? One of those norms is what we call denominations. Their mission and objectives will need to change. What will denominations look like in the future? IT IS UP TO YOU AND ME!

Speaking of denominations, we need to ask if God is calling our churches to stay in the PCUSA? Maybe. Maybe not. The Bible says that new wine doesn’t go in old wineskins. Is the PCUSA (and any other denomination for that matter) so dried,tired and old that it is not the place for new wine of the Spirit? We will soon find out.

Let’s forget about the PCUSA for a moment. What does God want your church to do to change the world? Is your church/my church even thinking about changing the world? It is better to close a church that that tried to change the world and failed than to keep a dying church on life support for decades. Who is reaching the divorced moms in your area? Who is helping kids with after school tutoring? Who is providing homes for low-income families? Who is reaching the new people in our communities for Christ? Who is looking at the postmodern culture and trying to find ways to communicate the love of God in a way that will be understood? THINK OUTSIDE OF THE BOX!!!! (Note: Following this series I will be looking at a book of Leonard Sweat, a Christian futurist, who writes extensively about ministry to the postmodern culture.) MAKE A DIFFERENCE! CHANGE THE WORLD!

The cross was audacious! Healing the sick was audacious! Peter going to the home of a Gentile was audacious! Paul singing while locked in a Philippian jail was audacious! Martin Luthor posting his criticisms of the Catholic Church on the Wittenburg door was audacious! Bill Hybles starting a church in a movie theater was audacious! Rick Warren moving to Southern California to start a church was audacious!

What audacious steps is God calling me to take? You? Will we be willing to follow him and be audacious Extreme Leaders?


At 6:47 AM , Blogger islandpreacha said...

You and Mr. Farber are right on with Audacity. It's not the word i'd have used but it is really right on. The church I serve is over 150yr old. So like many other congregations we are both blessed and held back by our past. Sometimes it would be so great to just start new and not have any "we've never done that before..." attitude. Thankfully, however, our congregatin and especially our session is open to doing things in new ways. It seems to me that the secret formula has to do with both finding the proper pace for change....and a whole lotta prayer!

At 9:45 PM , Anonymous tonyc said...

LEAP is exactly what we need to do. And it certainly is difficult for some churches to do it. But sometimes it's hard to recognize who's headed in what direction. When I was in high school (in the middle ages) Northwood was the happening church and Whitworth was in decline. Now Whitworth has 1000 members and a paid webmaster with lots of great tech stuff to go with their mission emphasis. Northwood is in decline. In our own Presbytery there are big churches and small churches that are youthful and vigorous, and filled with young adults who don't think they're boring. And then there are many churches that are old and boring. Our denomination is still a plus for the connectional and relational strengths it provides, and the opportunity to accomplish things together that we cannot do individually. But we still have to LEAP forward.


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