What Kind Of Church Are You?

You’ve seen these dumb tests on Facebook…  Answer 7 questions and you will find out whom, what, and where you should be.  After answering a few questions about rock bands and vacation activities, I found out that I’m an introverted, free-spirited boss that looks like (fat) Val Kilmer and I should live in Dublin.

 The introverted part is right…  Well, I’m a bit fat.  Whatever!

 As a pastor, I am continually thinking about church stuff.  With almost 15 years of history in our rear view mirror, I have much to dwell on from the past.  The present has many challenges that consume my thoughts also.  But it’s the future that really gets me.

  • What can we do to be a better expression of the church? 
  • How can we discover, practice, and carry out the mission of ‘being’ the church in the world? 
  • What are we doing right? 
  • What are we doing wrong?

Recently, I began to wonder what the other churches in my community are doing… I wanted some inspiration, so I hopped on the World Wide Web and started to look around.

I found traditional churches continuing to do what they have always traditionally done.  I’ve read articles in the magazines that declare the impending death of the traditional church.  I turned a few more pages in those same magazines and read articles about the impending death of the modern evangelical church because all the young folks are returning to the traditional churches.  They are holding their ground with their traditions, liturgies and methods of worship.  I really respect that consistency.

 I found rural churches with bi-vocational pastors preaching up a storm every Sunday to a small crowd of locals who always follow up the preaching with the eating.  The potlucks tables are bursting over and the kids are running freely in the parking lot, having a great time.

 I found trying churches.  They are struggling and have been struggling for some time.  They are trying to become something bigger.  People come and people go at a steady rate.  The pastors are always very positive.  And yet, behind the scenes, they are hurting… struggling… doubting…

 I found the big program churches.  In fact, I found them first because Google deemed them worthy of being on the top of the list.  They started with a team of people, a stash of cash, and a step-by-step fail-proof plan for church growth.  They provide an environment that makes you feel like you are part of something amazing.  Most of the people there recently transitioned from traditional, rural, or trying churches, but even so, they are finally experiencing some excitement in their faith.  Their excitement leads others to come and by means of invitation, lost souls are brought into the presence of the Gospel and lives are changed.  Much of their focus is inward and they invest heavily into themselves.  Good things are happening in these places, and I won’t even follow this statement with a ‘but’…

There are others… there are unbelieving churches, status quo churches, private club churches, super friendly churches, signs and wonder churches, bible centered churches, worship centered churches and pastor centered churches. 

The thing is…  I wasn’t looking for those churches.  I was looking for examples of what kind of church I want to be part of.

I want the traditions that we discover and embrace because the Holy Spirit led us to do so.  I want the family bond of the rural church.  I want the humility of the trying church.  I want the order and the administration of the program church.  But all of this must take a back seat the thing I really want.

I want to be who we are. 

 But I want us to be better.

Better lovers of Jesus.  Better servants outside the walls of our church.  Better lovers of people.  Better worshippers.  Better ‘doers of the Word’.  Better at realizing our weakness and imperfection.  Better at soaking in grace rather than beating ourselves up.

I don’t want better programs, bigger numbers, and professional displays.  I want to walk in unity with broken people who know their brokenness, and live lives that overflow with the Gospel.

I want to be who we are… but better.

I know that I can't do much... but I can do a little and depend on the Holy Spirit to make things happen...

I've stocked my Kindle with new books about living the Gospel as servants in our communities.  I am striving to establish a solid 'Gospel' foundation with my elders and my regular 'counselees'.  I'm reading prayerfully through our next book of study (Genesis) with the hopes that God will present a message and theme to help us be better.  I'm listening to my elders and encouraging ideas.  I'm asking the family for their thoughts.  I'm turning my radio off more often, and when I pray, I am trying to spend more time listening.

I want to be who we are... but I want us to be better.