I was encouraged by Ann Voskamp's blog this morning (as I am most mornings), particularly because it spoke to what I've been meditating on for the past couple of weeks. I left my dear family for ten days to visit with a friend who is expecting her first child soon and to attend a cousin's wedding. (I'll blog more about my gratitude for this time on Monday.) I was excited to use this as an opportunity to take some time from my church and community here, to see how others are "doing church," and to dialogue with some of the people I most respect in the faith. All of this happened, but I discovered that it was almost too much. I have so much to process and try and put into practice that I'm not entirely sure where to start!
The theme that came up over and over again was how we as the church are successfully - or not - sharing the message of the Gospel with the world. Many of you know of my ongoing love/hate relationship with the current manifestation of the Church in the world. I was privileged to attend three different congregations while away from home. One was led by my friend's husband, the second is an emergent church on the beach in California, and the third was a college-age gathering led by my youngest brother. (How cool was that, to be preached to by my baby brother and have God speak through him!!) All very different services, but the key that tied them all together was passion. At least one person (sometimes just the pastor, sometimes not) had a passion for sharing the Gospel. I miss that. In my own life sometimes and more often in the life of the current congregation we serve.
In case there are those from my church who are reading this, let me be clear. I love the people of this congregation. You are a hard-working, conscientious, generous group. But I will also be honest: you lack zeal for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am looking forward to growing with this congregation in passion for the message that God Himself came to deliver and die for. I want to see those in our community drawn to its power; I want to be known only as the light-bearers in this place.
How that will come to pass, I don't know. Through prayer. Possibly with study. But I know that I want God to change the hearts of the people in his Church to have a burden for those who don't know the power of the new life that salvation gives. Even if that is for themselves. Those of you who are so inclined, please be praying for us. For me. For this Bride of Christ who is so distracted from her Groom. Would you pray also for vision to put together what I gathered on my time away and wisdom to know how to encourage those around me.
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:19-20