N. T. Wright says the problem with traditional church is that usually “there’s too much tradition and not enough church.” Put another way, there is a big difference between doing church and being church, right?
When the church is seen by the world as moving straight from the worship of God into making a difference in the community; when it’s clear that the people who feast at Christ’s table are also the ones working to eliminate hunger and famine; when people realize that those who pray for the Spirit to work through them are the same ones who seem to have extra measures of patience and grace; when the world really experiences the love of God in the children of God, it becomes natural for people to recognize that something is going on they want to be a part of.
In a lot of cases, I think, genuine forgiveness and/or a hot meal do much better evangelism than a church service or a sermon. When the church is living out the mission of God —say, like in Acts 2:42-47 — the Word of God will spread powerfully and do its own salvation work in the world.
I would recommend a brand new banana pudding milkshake at Chick-Fil-A. Right now.
Before we leave for the annual Tulsa Workshop, I’ll leave you with a George Burns line that was forwarded to me today by a kind and sweet but wholly misguided brother in the Lord. “The secret to a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending…and to have the two as close together as possible.”