Friday, April 11, 2008

The Present Future—New Reality #3—The New Reformation: Releasing God’s People.

This new reality has to go hand-in-hand with new reality #2 (Kingdom thinking). If we are going to shift our emphasis from building the church to building the kingdom then we must deploy our people in a different way. We will keep offering things for “club” members to do if we want to build up the club. We will have to send people away from the church building if we insist of building up the Kingdom of God.

Doing things away from the “church” building if a fabulous idea—and terrifying! Almost every day I spend time at a local coffee shop doing some of my “work.” I connect with lots of people even though I generally have music playing though my ear buds. There is one accountability group from our church that meets at the same coffee shop. However, almost everything else for the church happens in the “church” building. L There are a few things that happen in private homes. Every Wednesday our “Lunch bunch” meets at the church for lunch, Bible study and fellowship. The Saturday morning Men’s study meets in the church kitchen. The deacons meet in the church library. The Women’s Association meets at the church. The Session meets in the homes of the Elders—just to make sure that they get out of the church building!

Yesterday I mentioned Alive Covenant Church (Poulsbo, Washington). The people of Alive spend most of their “church” time away from the typical church building. They are out in the community. I am hoping to meet with the pastor of Alive in the next week or two.

What would happen if Evergreen moved most of its “stuff’ away from our church building? Here are some possibilities:

  • Move the Presbyterian Women’s (PW) meeting to the Azalea Gardens clubhouse and change its name—Azalea Gardens is a large “retirement” community in the Graham area. Most (if not all) of the ladies involved in PW are the age of the ladies that live in Azalea Gardens. I am confident that that PW group would double in size in just a short period of time. PW would be taking Jesus into the world.
  • Move the Lunch Bunch to a retirement community—The Lunch Bunch has about 25 seniors that meet each week. They could double in size if they were to move to a location where seniors gather, or live.
  • For the men’s group I am still stumped! I am writing this at The Oasis and just asked some of the “regulars” to help me identify where older men in this area go to hang out with other men. We could not identify a single place. We could not identify a single place where the older men could go that would be a draw for other older men. To be honest, the couple I talked to would rather do things as a couple than apart! Interesting!
  • I just found out that one church’s youth group meets at a coffee shop (not The Oasis) on Friday evenings and the coffee shop owner shows appropriate movies.
  • There are two shooting (gun) clubs in the area. We have people from our church that are involved in both of the gun clubs. What would happen if some group from our church would meet at one of the gun clubs on a Saturday morning?
  • Evergreen sponsors a Boy Scout troop. This troop is VERY active. They are gone on an outing every two or three weeks. In the summer they go on at least one 50 mile hike. What would happen if one or two of our men would become the “pastors” of the Scout Troop? These guys would go on all of the trips with the Scouts and lead worship, Bible studies and discussions on all of these trips. They could have a profound impact of the lives of young men!
  • The list could go on and on.

Until we start making heroes of people who decide to be and act like missionaries, we will fail to turn club members into missionaries. Until we bless people who ‘go out’ from us to reach people who may not come to us, we will continue to have a kingdom vision that is shrink-wrapped to church programs and church real estate. Until we start adopting schools and hosting community food banks and teaching parenting seminars and hold financial planning seminars for the people who come to us for food, we will keep fostering club member mentality.

I had just spoken to a group of church leaders in a small town. Representatives of three different churches were present. I pleaded with them to consider doing less church stuff and doing more ministry aimed at the pre-Christian culture. When I finished speaking, a man approached me and introduced himself to me as a deacon in his church. He said, ‘From now on, when some idea comes up for something new to do at our church, I am going to ask the question, Who is this for?’

Who is this for? may be a good way for you to begin your own journey from member to missionary.”

-McNeal, The Present Future, pages 67-68.

Our congregation does a great job of supporting missionaries. Our congregation (including me) does a horrible job of having every person at our church BE a missionary. Churches that make this shift will thrive and make a difference in the world. Churches that fail to make this shift will continue to be “holy huddles,” basically ignoring the masses of people around us who do not know Christ Jesus.


At 11:13 AM , Blogger Red_Cleric said...

Do any of the "older men" bowl? That was/is a major hangout for older men in Portland. I'm talking about older than me; not older than you, kid LOL.


PS. Loving the series

At 9:40 AM , Blogger Pastor Lance said...

There isn't a bowling alley in our area. The closest one is a 25 minute drive. :-)

I suck at bowling. Yet, I would gladly do it if other guys would.

The same would go for golf. There are golf courses around here. You best wear a helmet if you play golf with me!

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