Devotional Thought of the Day
Do this because you are a people set apart as holy to GOD, your God. GOD, your God, chose you out of all the people on Earth for himself as a cherished, personal treasure. GOD wasn’t attracted to you and didn’t choose you because you were big and important—the fact is, there was almost nothing to you. He did it out of sheer love, keeping the promise he made to your ancestors. GOD stepped in and mightily bought you back out of that world of slavery, freed you from the iron grip of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know this: GOD, your God, is God indeed, a God you can depend upon. Deuteronomy 7:6-9a (MSG)
Something similar has happened to us. With little effort we could find among our family, friends, and acquaintances—not to mention the crowds of the world—so many worthier persons that Christ could have called. Yes, persons who are simpler and wiser, more influential and important, more grateful and generous. In thinking along these lines, I feel embarrassed. But I also realize that human logic cannot possibly explain the world of grace. God usually seeks out deficient instruments so that the work can more clearly be seen to be his.
I have had it with the church statistics “experts”. The well intention men and women who tell churches that they have only a 25 year life cycle, that they are going to die and close their doors, and that this can be a good thing.
Or the men who say that the fastest growing churches, and the best return of investment is to plant new churches (even if they are only 2 miles from a healthy church. Who play around with statistics and charts and give advice and sell their coaching services. Whose advice becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as people believe them, and forget that ministry is not about statistics and what gives us the biggest bang for our buck. The new thought is that a church while it still has value should close, before it loses what value it has, in order that God would do something new somewhere else. (That line I have a problem with, because doing something new in scripture was about the cross and resurrection – the death of Christ – not his church)
We don’t “do” church in ways because of what makes sense in a business model. Statistics don’t governthe church, God does. Brooklyn Tabernacle was once a dead, tiny church, the American Baptist hcurches in Northern Calfiornia were once empty. My first church was under 20 in attendance. We do church because God calls us to minister to those who are broken, to reconcile people to them, to see their souls healed. We are there to pray for comfort and healing of the cancer patient, to remind the imprisoned that God hasn’t given up on them, to help people broken by divorce, or challenged by changes in their lives, or the past that haunts them.
Wo are the church to “do” grace, to be “grace”, to be the place where God incarnates, where he is revealed.
The church is something that can’t be reduced to statistics, or to methodologies. Because it isn’t about numbers, it is about life. It is about the supernatural invading and transforming the natural. It is about the power of God made clear as it transforms the lives of people who thought there was no hope.
What does beating the statistical models take? How can we avoid being another church which closes its doors?
It’s so simple that the experts can’t see it.
Know Christ! revel in His presence! Help people give to God the burdens and anxieties they carry. Plead with them to let God reconcile them! Teach them to treasure God’s time and presence. Fall in love with Him to the point where your heart beats in harmony with His.
It works, because God promised not to abandon us… but to work through us.
Abide in Him. And watch what He does … it is amazing!
Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). Christ is Passing By (Kindle Locations 424-429). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Discussion and Devotional Thoughts of the Day:
11 I will live among you in my sacred Tent, and I will never turn away from you. 12 I will be with you; I will be your God, and you will be my people. Leviticus 26:11-12 (TEV)
What does it mean to have a god? or, what is God? Answer: A god means that from which we are to expect all good and to which we are to take refuge in all distress, so that to have a God is nothing else than to trust and believe Him from the [whole] heart; as I have often said that the confidence and faith of the heart alone make both God and an idol. (1)
78 Heroism, sanctity, daring, require a constant spiritual preparation. You can only ever give to others what you already have. And, to give God to them, you yourself need to get to know him, to live his Life, to serve him. (2)
I have pondered why the church is anemic in America.
We have incredible theologians, great exegetes, and emphasis on apologetics. We have Church Growth studies and strategies, church planters, church restorers, more seminaries than anywhere else in the world.
Yet the church in America still is in decline. It is so bad now, that we actually have experts in church viability, and strategies to close churches. The key phrase these days is a legacy church – a church which realizes it isn’t viable, and therefore determines how to will its assets to something that will live and thrive.
We’e forgotten His promises, we’ve forgotten that this faith we have, is faith in those promises, a trust that is based in not knowing about God
A trust not founded in theological treatises, or exegeting the word skuballw correctly, or in knowing which studies to use to understand a church, or which programs might work in which context. It’s a trust that isn’t dependent on using a 14th century liturgy, (or one from a red, blue or maroon hymnal) or haing the right contemporary service order. All these things are tools, they can be used in our churches, But we never, ever dare put our trust in them. They are not what we count on, they are not whom we believe on, and they will let us down.
It is a trust that comes from knowing God, and knowing Him intimately.
It is then we can study His promises and claim those promises (not promises we or others create) as His promises to us.
But it still isn’t about the promises. They are incredible, they are awesome… but our faith isn’t in them.
It is in Him.
It is in realize that He lives with us, in us, that He has come to us, and saved us, cleansed us, is healing us, and is shepherding us, His church, that we come to know Him. Yes, intimately, and we know He knows us more intimately that we will ever know ourselves. It was that knowledge that caused Him to comes to us, to die for us, for in knowing us, He loves us, and we… amazed, in awe, begin to learn to love Him back.
That love of His for us is what makes us holy.. It is what drives missionaries and martyrs. It’s what makes grandma’s and great aunt’s pray for their prodigals on their knees, It is what makes all the heroes of the faith trust in God in their darkest hour. It is what is causing the church in the “third world” or the Global South, to grow in the face of persecution, in the face of famine, in the face of spiritual warfare.
It’s time we remembered that…. its times we shared that, in chruches, and restaurants, in our homes, our workplaces.
God is with us. God loves us… and share the extent of that love.
(1) The Large Catechism of Martin Luther.
(2) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 493-495). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.