Last Call

We’ll wrap up our True Vision = Right Conduct discussion today by throwing out another couple of ideas for ways our churches can present a better picture of the realities of the eternal Kingdom of God.

True VisionWe’ve said this week that until we learn to see the world in the reality of the cross, see how the love of God and the sacrifice of Christ and the promises we have in that salvation act impact all of reality, our character won’t change and neither will our actions. There needs to be a mindset developed in our congregations that everything we do or say is directly controlled by our God. Our actions are always determined beforehand by what God has done for us, is doing for us currently, and has promised to do for us tomorrow. It all has to be connected.

We’ve talked about service and the spiritual disciplines. We’ve discussed prayer and the reading of Scripture. I appreciate your comments and suggestions. And I’m looking for more. Allow me to prime the pump with another couple of recommendations.

What’s wrong with incorporating some of the Liturgical Year into what we do as a church family? I’m not sure we could find book-chapter-verse that would sanction this (like we have for every thing else we do in worship) or if the very first church practiced it. But what’s wrong with following the life of Christ through the Lectionary readings and events over the course of a church year? We change our worship schedules according to the Super Bowl and Thanksgiving holidays, things celebrated by everyone in this country. Why not arrange our lives around things Christians celebrate as children of God? It would give a much needed sense of structure — Christian structure — to our hectic lives and serve as a weekly reminder of how our time and talents are gifts from God and should be used with him in mind. I’m thinking it would be really great to do this as a church family every five years.

I also love the idea of worshiping as a church family in public places and serving the community while we worship. Why not plan a big cookout and worship assembly at a city park or a public recreation center three or four times a year? Maybe on a holiday weekend or a beautiful spring evening. The whole congregation. Invite everybody already there at the park to join you for dinner. Feed everybody in the place. Meet people. Meet needs. And worship. Sing. Pray. Read Scripture. Proclaim the Gospel. Out loud. Together as a Church. The Church. What a huge statement to your community that being together and worshiping God is the most important thing you can do. It’s the most appropriate way to celebrate Labor Day or New Year’s Eve. Won’t that be the same statement your church takes away from the event? I think public worship would help shape our vision of our devotion to God and to each other steering our actions in the world, not the other way around.

I love the concept some churches have adopted of putting the baptistry outside. I’m reading of more churches that have put their baptistry outside in the parking lot, next to the main road, when they’ve built new buildings. The entire church family proceeds outdoors for baptisms where they stand and sing and pray and witness and participate together in a new birth in Christ. What a testimony to the whole community! We try to use the church marquee here at Legacy for welcoming new members into our family. Instead of just cute bumper sticker sayings, how about something like, “Welcome Mike & Pat Fry to the Legacy Church of Christ! See how God is blessing us!” Or maybe, “Congratulations to Trevor Podsednik, baptized into Christ on Sunday! Praise God from whom salvation flows!” Something like that tells the community—and reminds us—that we’re growing, we’re serious about what we’re doing, and that it’s God who gives the increase.

Our society, this culture in which we live, is not a good thing. It’s not even a neutral thing. Our churches should be taught to realize that almost everything about the way this country operates is designed to pull us away from our God and from one another. It works to make us less Christian, not more. It’s time we let go of the culture. It’s time we recognize God’s Church as counter-cultural, an eschatological community of faith, the boot camp that gets us ready for eternity with the Father.

That’s the vision that shapes the attitude that informs the actions.

What else?

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Out of Service from 8p Friday thru 8a SaturdayPlease be patient with the blog this weekend. Our server is being moved — actually, physically, being moved, I think — and will impact a couple of our blogs here at Legacy and our Legacy church website. We’re going to be down and unavailable, I’m told, from 8p Friday through about 8a Saturday. Sorry.

Go Angels. Go Falcons.

Peace,

Allan

2 Comments

  1. Paul D

    I have been reading your remarks all week as you have put forth the ‘vision concept’ which would (for the most part) require serious adjustment if not a complete overhaul. I have also been following all the comments that have been submitted each day as various folk have reacted to your prompting.

    I had delayed my response primarily because I was not sure of what I might say that could be beneficial. Please let me express my thoughts as I hopefully do not ramble on incoherently.

    The ‘vision concept’ escapes me a bit in my shallow mind but I think the solution to the issue you raise lies in a more perfect understanding of ‘The Great Commission’ as recorded in Matthew 28. The first instruction was to “make disciples” and the second to “baptize” and the third to “teach obedience to all he commanded”. I am afraid that in our zeal we have skipped over the first instruction – that is to make disciples – which I have understood to mean to create followers and imitators of The Christ. We have been more intent in converting people to a “five step recipe” as opposed to converting people to become like Jesus. Our failure stems from the fact that we ourselves were converted to that same “five step recipe” rather than being transformed out of the world to march to an entirely different drummer. As I read Taylor’s response I could not but think that what she was talking about was “discipleship” – a day by day walking with Jesus.

    I have recently been pointed to an essay by Dallas Willard entitled “Why Bother With Discipleship?” See a link below to the essay. In the essay he calls attention to a concept which I believe should shake us to our innermost. He cites a malady that he calls “Vampire Christianity” which simply stated means that all we want from Jesus is the cleansing blood of forgiveness and don’t bother us with this discipleship thing. Please read the complete essay to understand more fully his accusation and solution.

    http://dwillard.org/articles/artview.asp?artID=71

    I am in agreement with your suggestions that would refocus our attention on being imitators of Jesus – which was what the Apostle Paul exhorted us to do. I love the time we spend in the reading of scripture and agree with James that we should never find the reading of God’s Word to be boring.

    There is extreme benefit in meeting with the Saints on a regular basis gathering around the table of blessed communion but if our ‘Christianity’ never leaves the meeting house then we have failed miserably in “being disciples” and perhaps are even guilty of “Vampire Christianity”

  2. James Prather

    @Paul: Right on! And thanks for sharing that article. Discipleship is what’s missing from today’s church vision, something I’ve blogged about repeatedly, especially here: http://wp.me/pr2hE-39

    @Allan: I love the idea of following Messiah through the liturgical year. And building on that: why not celebrate God’s appointed feasts? Let’s take back our own heritage and celebrate truly God-centered holidays. Many churches (including Legacy) celebrate Halloween, 4th of July, Valentines Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and others, all of which were made up by men. Important? Yes, with varying degrees and for varying reasons. But why not celebrate the same holidays and festivals that Jesus himself and his Apostles celebrated? I’ve put forward some good reasons for it here: http://wp.me/pr2hE-bz

    Peace,
    James

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