Thursday, June 01, 2017

The Builder's Building

The church has become very difficult to see because we're confused about the building.

I know very well what it's like to be part of church-in-the-building leadership, and the pressure is high to get people to come and to "engage" in some manner. Whether and how people engage becomes the way by which leadership sees its effectiveness. Poor attendance and poor engagement reflects badly, leading to assessments, strategies and pressure for improvement. Good attendance and good engagement reflects well and becomes a template: "This is how we do ministry around here." Either way, attendance and engagement become the measurements for leaders, and attendees are caught in the measurements. (In fact, they also often adopt them.)

I would say that neither leaders nor attendees do well when this form of assessment is foundational. When it is, no one will be seen for who he or she really is in Christ, magnificent and noble, since that invisible and eternal reality will have been camouflaged by another one, visible and temporary. Our efforts and appeals will go toward the latter because that's what we see and that's what we can manage. (So we think.) Many of us attempt to live right there, in the passing away realm, contorting our true selves in the vain effort to make life happen where there is none. And so much fails from there.

But if we see what's true, if we believe God about what He does for and to the born again—It's astounding!—if that's our foundation, then we can go forward well from there. It will look different, to be sure, especially in a building. It must, since God is the builder and you are the building.

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