For what kind of church are you praying, believing, and living?
These days, I am praying and believing that the church will become more faithfully the church that God is calling it to be. That will mean many things:
1. It will mean that the church’s people become stubbornly resistant to cynicism and chronic negativity. Nothing corrupts the joy and vibrancy of the church’s ministry faster than a grumbling spirit and a cynical heart. I am praying and living for a church whose people recognize possibilities instead of settling for disparagement, thereby becoming instruments of prophetic joy and hope.
2. It will mean that the church’s people stop pretending that racism is no longer an issue for us and acknowledge that it is still a heartbreaking sin that all too often finds expression in our sanctuaries, our institutions, our attitudes, our language, and our presuppositions. I am praying and living for a church in which people name racism instead of denying it; repent of it instead of accommodating it; stand against it instead of giving it a place to live and grow.
3. It will mean that the church’s people begin to take an honest and critical look at their buildings for the purpose of making certain that those buildings are in alignment with the ministry that God is calling the church to do. While it is important to be sensitive to the time-tested sacredness of our sanctuaries and the precious memories that are linked to our fellowship halls, we must also be sensitive to the danger of becoming idolatrous about buildings that are no longer maintainable or practical. I am praying and living for a church that is more passionate about strategic location than it is about preserving an architectural albatross.
4. It will mean that the church’s people become uncompromising in their commitment to reaching people in the margins of life: the margins of poverty and hunger; the margins of malaria and killer diseases; the margins of loneliness and isolation; the margins of domestic violence and addiction. I am praying and living for that kind of a church—a church that regularly looks into the eyes of hurting and marginalized people and sees the eyes of Jesus looking back at them.
5. When all is said and done, becoming more faithfully the church will mean that the church recovers its foundational conviction that it’s all about Jesus. His ministry. His justifying and sanctifying grace. His life, death, and resurrection. His Way. His love. His righteousness. His call. I am praying and living for that kind of a church—a church whose people are willing to subordinate every portion of their lives to the Lordship of Christ. That is discipleship. That is the church at its best.