While I might not agree with everything he has to say, what Bishop Michael Curry stated in his address to the recent convention of his NC diocese resounds within me. I share some of the Winston-Salem Journal article here:
A church should not be concerned about its own life, but instead should follow the steps of Jesus . . . Jesus was trying to get us to understand that we need to move beyond our own individual self-interest . . . We need to go beyond our various ideologies and go where God dreams for us to be. . . The church’s goal should not be to build bigger churches, start a lot of new churches, or even fill up the pews. I’m not convinced those goals are born of the gospel. Instead, the goals should be to live, witness to, and share the gospel of Jesus Christ in order to make disciples . . .
You go, Bishop Curry! Some of these statements are radical departures from “the way we do church” in 2011; yet, it sounds like the very heartbeat of our heavenly Father, as made clear in His Word. Why should it be so radical, then, even to the eyes and ears of Christians today? Have we bought into the world’s ways, the world’s ambitions, the world’s ideas of what constitutes success? Have we become more competitive toward one another about which church or denomination is “best”, rather than competing against the devil for the souls of the people who haven’t yet believed and received Christ Jesus, their only hope of salvation? Have we lost our focus, our purpose – which is truly to know Christ and to make Him known to others?
It’s time to break out of the four walls of the church (an overused cliché, but relevant here). Maybe, it’s really time to break down those walls and not try to build newer, bigger, or better ones. It’s time for us to realize that Jesus Christ came for a lost and dying world, tearing down walls everywhere He taught, that the world could know Him. Why, then, do we insist on our walls, still believing we can reach the world for Christ with them?
Please don’t let this be just food for thought. Let it become a catalyst for action. We’re not going to make disciples – followers of Christ – of our Jerusalems, Judeas, Samarias, and the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8), until we let go of the old way and do it Jesus’ way.