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The Best That We Can Do

Something made me laugh and cry on Sunday.  After worship there were a handful of our elementary kids out in front of the church building laughing and playing and waving at passing cars.  This looks like fun to me, so I don’t stop them…even when I see them climbing on our church’s sign.  Shortly after this, my son comes flying into the building very proud and excited:

“Dad! We just invited people to church, and I think they’re going to come next week!”

“That’s great, Alex…that’ll be wonderful, won’t it?”

“Yah, during worship I got to looking around and thought to myself, ‘Is this the best we can do?’ So I decided to start inviting more people to church.”

All week long it’s been haunting me: “Is this the best we can do?”  Now, I understand that my son is a boy with some pretty large expectations, but I know he’s not the only one.  There are plenty of people who have probably asked the same question.  I, however, have never asked that question…so, I decided to ask myself that question this week.  Along with that question I asked another question that seemed appropriate: “What is it we are supposed to be doing?”  And this question: “What is…or maybe…should be the measure by which we decide how we are doing?

This week we’ll celebrate three years as a church.  Three years.  That’s 156 Sundays.  It also happens to be the point at which most church plants in my denomination run out of money from outside sources…therefore it becomes the point at which you ask yourself the question: is this church going to be able to fly?

By my calculation, that is four questions: 1 Is this the best we can do? 2 What is it we are supposed to be doing? 3 What is…or maybe…should be the measure by which we decide how we are doing? 4 Is this church going to fly?

#1: Is this the best we can do?  Answer: Yes and No.  No – we do not have 100, 200, 300, or 400 people in worship on a Sunday morning – it’s a mere 60-70.  No. We are not self-supporting financially.  No.  We don’t have streams of hungry people knocking on our doors for a soup kitchen.  No.  According to certain standards, this is clearly not the best we can do…I’ll leave the Yes part for later.

#2: What is it we are supposed to be doing?  Answer: Acts tells us that the very first groups of Christians di four things: devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking bread, and prayer.  This, we have done, and this we continue to do.  It is not a simple thing to do – these four.  Because we are human, and though many of us have a new life in Christ, our old self makes trouble for us.  The New Testament of the Bible is full of teachings about how to get along and not embarrass Christ by how we treat one another.  Embody Christ Fellowship makes a practice of devoting ourselves to scripture, to fellowship, to breaking bread, and to prayer.  Perhaps the original question looms – are we doing it as well as we can?  But, I am convinced we are doing as we have been taught.

#3: What is…or maybe…should be the measure by which we decide how we are doing?  This is a tough one.  The measure is different depending on who you are.  Here is how I measure success: is there growth.  Healthy things grow, right?  In fact I was having coffee with another church planter last week, and he was so discouraged because his three years are up and he hasn’t seen the growth necessary to make the case for more financial help.  I asked him if anyone is growing.  Yes.  Are people walking toward a life like the one Jesus lived?  Yes.  Do you see change in people’s lives?  Yes.  Then there’s growth…it just doesn’t look like your expectations…but it looks exactly like the expectations of Jesus.

What is our measure?  My son clearly thinks we need more people in the worship service?  My friend clearly thinks he needs more people to be able to support the church financially.  My measure is this: are people walking toward Jesus? – No matter where they started, are they moving in the direction of Christ?  Growth.  We are a growing church.

#4: Is this church going to fly?:  I am a positive man.  Always have been.  Even in my darkest of seasons I see the horizon and say, “We can get there.”  So, it may come as no surprise to hear me say without hesitation, “Heck yah, it’ll fly.”  What could stop it?  Here is a list of things that could stop it: infighting, inauthenticity, pride…as I start making the list, I realize the whole list will be things from within, and not from without.  The only thing that can stop us is us.

I believe God has called this community of people together.  Some Christians, some not, some sure of their faith, some not sure how they got out of bed this morning, some who believe that there is a God, some not sure if Jesus was an historical person, some who have walked with Christ all their life, some who are looking through the starting gates of a life with Christ and wondering if it is worth the complete abandon it requires.  I believe God has called this community of people together, and I also believe this: What God puts together has some strong bonds that are not easily broken.

Back to our original question: Is this the best we can do?  I have to say that there are certainly more efficient ways, and maybe more fruitful ways, and doubtless there are other ways, but there is no better way than the way we are going about it.  It is true to both who we are, and who God is making us to be.  I wouldn’t change a thing about our history.  Now…there are clearly things to improve upon as we move forward, but for the first three years: this is the best that we have done – and I pray God receives it as a sacrifice for His glory.  I also won’t stop my son from inviting others to hear about the God we love.

Pray for our small community of people who gather on Sundays, pray for one another all week long, get together for coffee, break bread together, and study scripture together.  Pray that we will be the very presence of Christ in the world.  Pray for us.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Joanie
    September 4, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    Yes. I will…and do…pray for the church that meets at Embody Fellowship…and for you, James Michael. Love you!

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