What is the church responsible for?

There’s been a lot of chatter lately about Willow Creek repenting, a new book/initiative called Reveal and people complaining about the church.

They’re all somewhat related. To summarize, Willow Creek came to the conclusion they’re doing a terrible job at reaching people who are more mature in their faith. Willow Creek’s Greg Hawkins illustrates this below.

He classifies people at the church in order of maturity (except #5).

  1. Pre-salvation. Exploring their faith.
  2. Post-salvation. Growing in their faith.
  3. Close in their relationship with Jesus (regular devotional time).
  4. Centered in their relationship (everything revolves around Jesus).
  5. Stalled. People who are saved, but are just cruisin’ along.

reveal_illustration.jpg

The blue circle represents the people Willow Creek is doing a great job at reaching. Not so much for everyone else.

Probably one of the major complains from this “un-reached” group is that the church isn’t feeding them. According to Willow Creek, this is a true statement.

Reveal is an initiative to change that. To do a better job at reaching these people by teaching them to feed themselves. Bill Hybels hints at “personal spiritual growth plans” (think spiritual trainer, not personal trainer) to help accomplish this.

I probably wouldn’t normally post anything about this, but this topic happens to also relate to a conversation I had a couple weeks ago. Somebody asked me what I thought the church was weak at and in my naivety responded with “not doing a good job at discipling our members.”

Sounds a lot like the problem Willow Creek is having.

Perhaps, but the conclusion of our conversation was . . . what is the church responsible for?

Yes, our church may not be doing so well discipling the “close and centered” Christian, but is it our responsibility?

What is the Biblical responsibility of the church?

It seems Reveal and Willow Creek are on the right track. They’ve taken their findings and instead of doing a better job at “providing food” to the close, centered, and stalled Christian, they are teaching people how to feed themselves.

They are addressing the responsibility of the church, not just a weakness.

A weakness is not worth fixing if it’s not a responsibility.

I guess you could say that’s what I’ve learned the past couple of weeks.

God. Protection. Mountains.

Psalm 125:1-2 (NIV)
1 Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. 2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people both now and forevermore.

Mountains can’t be moved (Eh, for the most part. Matthew 17:20.). As this verse and I have been keeping each other company these past few days, God has been showing me how mountains can be strategically placed in our lives to offer us the same protection and stability hinted at in this psalm.

Jacksonville has no mountains. It probably won’t ever have mountains. I bet Mountain City, TN has mountains. ;)

Unlike cities, however, we can do something about getting mountains. In particular, God has really been nudging me towards the fellowship mountain. I need to be less of a loner and more of a socialite.

Paris Hilton watch out! There’s a new kid on the block.

If we can answer the question: what things will provide me the protection and stability of God? then we know where we need to go to surround ourselves with mountains.

This is what those verses have been speaking to me. It’s behind these mountains where God is with us “now and forevermore.” Where we find ourselves unshakable when all the hustle and bustle of city life take up all our time.

So the answer to the question? These are the mountains I’m trying to surround myself with.

  • Hanging out with solid friends
  • Praying more for others and less for myself
  • Digging deeper into the Word
  • Giving God some private worship time