Are you willing to do unto others what Christ has done for you? What about others you fear or do not like? What is your call in this?
The Church itself was emerging after Christ's resurrection and call to the Disciples to build His Church and make disciples. The Church was emerging during the Protestant Reformation as they sought to bring His Bride back to Christ and the Bible. The Church is now emerging again, trying to fill a gap in the apathy end emptiness that countless people feel in many of today's churches. The call during the Reformer's day was to point the Church back to Christ and His Word and away from bad traditions, false teachings, bureaucracy, pride, and apostasy. Now, the times of the Church have seen more than its fair share of apathy and dysfunction. Many of today's churches-even good ones-are moving away from Scripture and embracing bad trends that do not honor God or build His Church. Many of our people do not know the Word or what they are to believe to grow in faith and maturity; they seek only "feel good" messages, "sermonettes for christianettes" and not Him. Young people and many others are seeking something better, more real, more effectual and impacting. They are bored and see no relevance to real life in Church! It is no wonder, since many of us are bored and see no real impact in our lives from our churches! This is why we must reform or die!
Many people outside of the Church are hostile to us. We should expect this (our Lord warned of this in Matthew 10), but of those who grew up in our midst too? Yes! "Organized" religion has its many flaws as it is run by pride and sinful desires while our true Savior and call are ignored. At the same time, many people today are more and more interested in Spiritual things, perhaps more than any previous generation. Yet, many of our churches have nothing to hold onto or share. The Church, for the most part, has left its young outside in the cold to fend for themselves. Today's church has become boring and is no longer the social and personal impact it once was. It is the Holy One we come to and worship each Sunday! How dare we bore His people to the Great Wonder, LORD, and Savior of the universe! How dare we circumvent the precepts of Jesus Christ for faulty traditions or lapse into apathy and complacency! The church does need Reforming, but that reforming must point to Christ, His Work, and His Precepts un-compromised and applied into the lives of our local church and us. We must find delight in Him with joy, see His wonder, and be impacted so we can impact others.
What is the Emerging Church to Do?
Bring Him on! Taste and see that the LORD is good and show Him, all of Him including the joy and life change you have experienced to others! This is being real and personal, putting Christ first and foremost before we seek to do this with others. This, of course, is a struggle of our faith and practice; we will not always get it right. It is our genuine effort to know and grow so we can go and do and meet people where they are. We are to know and live out the goodness of God the best we can so we can share this goodness of God. Our call is to be the people of God before we do the work of God. So, when we are seeking new and creative ways to build our church and worship services and outreach events, we can make sure we are primed correctly to His Prime-know for whom and why we are doing this. There are all kinds of great ideas we can glean from visiting other churches, from the Internet, and networking with other pastors, books, and conferences as well as other emergent leaders. But, the bottom line is that we are responsible to do this right to the best of our ability and situation. God demands and deserves our excellence-not our carelessness and apathy.
The call for us is to love, as also stated in many other parts of the Bible; we are to love authentically and with sincerity. We are to love our fellow Christians and others around us without hypocrisy. This is what all people need including and especially the new generations such as Gen X and Millennialists, or whatever names and labels there are for them. This means we are not to come against others, manipulate them, or seek to control, subvert, or be jealous of them; rather, we are to encourage and spur one another on in the faith, to cooperate one with another, and by synergy, together further the Kingdom of God. We are to do this with vigor and earnestness in an active pursuit from our heart that is in Christ. Pretending cannot do this; it has to be real, as we are called to be real in all that we do and in the stricture of His love, and to do so because of what Jesus has done for us. This is the formula for building a successful authentic emergent church or any church (John 13:35; 1 Cor. 13; 1 Pet. 2:1-3; 1 John 4:7-11)!
This is a call to present Christ to a postmodern culture that has rejected conventional "churchianity" because of our failure to be relevant and show Christ in a real, powerful, and purposeful Way. We have a God who is still here and wants to be honored, and who calls us to worship Him! We, as leaders in His local church, must realize we are the containers of His grace and the display cases of His Love and principles. We must do a better job at this. We must accomplish our mission to know Him and make Him known, while not compromising His Truth so people can see, feel, and know Him for themselves. We are called to do this; it is our job as pastors, church leaders, elders, or deacons, or as a Christian is called to be His Church in the lives of His children. Thus, this Emerging Church is about presenting Christ to His people and those who do not know Him in a more relevant and impacting way without compromising His message and precepts. We must find ways to navigate our culture, contextualize the Gospel (make it better understandable and comprehensible) and capitalize on our ministry as a local church in a Christ honoring way.
The postmodern generation seeks true spirituality; they want to know who the real God is, and how to know and relate to Him. We as Christians have this truth and reality for them. The problem is that in our pride or dysfunction, we tend to hide Him so Christ is not communicated correctly or passionately in love or in truth. This generation needs people to come along side and help them though the trials and travesties as well as joys in life.
Remember, this is not just about new ways of origination and structure or how to tell His story. It is about bringing Christ to people in a real way without concession of His Truth and precepts. Our God is timeless! Our culture is ever changing. The Gospel is the same and our Lord is the same; the only difference is how people see and perceive. People's experience of the Truth of our Lord may change-Its application is flexible-but He remains the same. Thus, we are to communicate His Treasures and create a new package for His Truth without compromising the Contents so others can see it.
Who is in Control of your Church?
What gets in the way of our doing a successful new church start or service or new approach? Our misdirected desires and pride that just seeks the idea without the Lord! And then there are the "others." The enemy of a successful Emerging Church-or any church-is complacency and the unwillingness to give up the command and control of the church, resulting in an unwillingness to move forward in Him and for Him. This usually comes from those who fear change, or new people, or those people with tattoos and earrings, weird hair, and piercings. Keep in mind, that what seems disgusting to some can be God-honoring to others (I do not get this about tattoos, but many do). What are our hang-ups and how do we get rid of them and still honor God or so we can have a loving and friendly church? Pride, self focused will, personal agendas, and fear of change or the fear of new people will drive any once great church into the ground of failure and dysfunction or hinder one from arising when it is so needed. Who is in control of your church? If you are thinking of a pastor or key leader, you are way off. Why? It is His Way that is in the lead, and when we do not get this essential fact, we fail Christ's call. Let's not do that. We will have problems, fears, and it is scary to wonder who these new people are who may come. What will be their problems and situations? Can we handle them? Yes, we can when we are in Him!
I was on staff at a church once where they refused to grow because they said they did not have the right facilities. That was hogwash, I thought! I had been to churches five times their size with far less building space. The only space limitations I found there, and in other churches like it, were the empty spaces in the leadership that faith should occupy. God calls us to reach out to young people, to the discouraged, disheartened, disenfranchised, and the people outside the loop of life and Church as well as the successful images we desire to have in our chairs, couches, and pews. We have to reach out our hands as Christ's hands so they will have someone to grasp. Your church can be His hand; all you need to know is Him and to think outside the box of how you have done things before. Just being fruitful and hospitable is prime real estate for a person seeking a church home or one who has been hurt by another church. The biggest piles of dust to be removed are our attitudes and reactions; be welcoming and open, smile with sincerity, and be involved in the lives of others. This goes farther than any program or new way. No new program will work unless real faith is working from our being in Christ with sincerity and in joy.