Who cares about church?

This is our last episode for a while.

I’m taking some vacation time, but don’t worry! We’ll be back and even more almost perfect. In the meantime, where did all this apatheism come from?

Stay blessed…john

In our power

Luke 24:44-53

Many in the church know power. In fact, they seek it.

You can tell when they feel threatened at the loss of it. People outside the church are right to criticize those in the church who are power hungry. So much of the abuse and scandal we’ve seen in churches over the years can boil down to how leaders abuse power. What they do with it.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely. I don’t know whose observant mind first said that, but it’s true. Do we talk about power enough in our ministries? We like to think this conversation is only needed in politics. But have you ever tried to change something your church? If you haven’t, chances are, you’ll find out who has the power.

And I don’t say that as a joke. For many people, God’s church is where they try to exercise their sense of power. As a result, the ministry and witness of the church suffers. People suffer.

Before Jesus ascended to heaven, he told his disciples to wait. After helping them “understand the scriptures” (Luke 24:45), he reminded them of the promise of God. They were to wait in Jerusalem “until you have been clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).

Why would the disciples need power from on high? To preach about Jesus? To organize a fellowship? To choose the color of the carpet in the sanctuary?

Their apostolic ministry would center on sharing the story of Jesus. Theirs was a religious calling. Church stuff, we might say. I have a hard time believing, though, Jesus meant to constrict God’s power to our idea of church. That is, faith in the living God and the resurrected Lord is not merely about religious practice. Yes, Jesus taught about forgiveness and mercy. Are those only church-related issues? When will we believe God that our faith has an impact on the world around us?

This power is not to get people to show up at church. But to empower us to be God’s presence in the world. Why do we need God’s power? Because the world is hurting. Power and money rule the hearts of so many that could be doing something to bring about real change. Power and money are controlling idols.

Don’t think they don’t creep into our churches. They do. And don’t think they have to hide either. We need God’s power because we could very well settle for the world’s.

Stay blessed…john

My dream team

1 Chronicles 12:16-22
I once wrote about my ministry dream team.

By that time, I had served a handful of churches as a full-time pastor. In each of those congregations there were faithful, spirit-led saints of God. They blessed me in many ways. I had thought if I had a chance to do some new form of ministry, I would want all these people with me.

In that group were people of prayer and people of action. No, I didn’t include them because of what I could convince them to do. It wasn’t that I thought they could do a great job with some project. I trusted their bent toward prayer and communion and compassion. They’re my dream team because there’s no telling what kind of ministry they would pursue!

Then it hit me.

Jesus didn’t need a dream team. In fact, it feels like he chose people to be his disciples everyone else would’ve picked last. If at all. Yes, they blundered their way through ministry. But I’m a believer today because of them. You are, too.

Churches and pastors do this, if we’re not careful. I’ve read many times the encouragement of large-church pastors. They say to imagine the person you want to come to your church. Picture that person. Give them a name. Then preach and reach out to that person. Before long, you’ll fill your church with people like that.

But do you see the potential issue? That sounds more like target marketing than it does reaching out. I’m all for marketing as a tool to help communicate the good news of Jesus. The temptation, though, it to use it to build our own ministries.

As a result, we surround ourselves with people who look and sound a lot like us. Not only do we build echo chambers, we might also be using people to get the ministry we desire.

1 Chronicles 12 is an example of David’s army growing. The text says “from day to day people kept coming to David to help him until their was a great army, like an army of God” (1 Chronicles 12:22). Notice David didn’t choose them. David accepted them (vs 18).

There’s our reflection for today.

Who do we ignore when we look for who we think is best to have with us? I thank God for saints who know their spiritual gifts and use them for God’s glory. But we don’t need a dream team. If God needed one, I wouldn’t be called up. What we need is to be open to the Spirit’s leading. Whom God brings to us is who we need.

Stay blessed…john