Sunday, June 24, 2007

Somebody's Funeral

Today in our worship services we had "Somebody's Funeral." From now on, we won't be able to rely on "somebody" to serve, to give, to evangelize, and do everything else that God calls each of us to do, because "somebody" is dead. We all (and I include myself in this as well) need to recognize our own personal need to live out our life of faith in all areas--Real Spirituality (our vertical relationship with God), Real Community (our horizontal relationship with our church family), and Real Story (our outward relationship with the unchurched people that God has placed in our lives).

For too long, I believe we've been just coasting along, content and satisfied with the status quo (Latin for "the mess we are in"). We do many things with excellence, and so we congratulate ourselves and pat ourselves on the back. But rarely do we do the hard work of looking at whether we accomplished our goals, or whether we furthered the mission of the church and advanced God's kingdom. We can put on an excellent event (or an excellent message series) that is impressive on many levels, but are we building relationships with new people? Are we seeing any results? Are we bearing any fruit for the kingdom of God? Jesus tells us, "I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit" (John 15:1-2 NIV). This is why churches die--they cease to bear fruit, and God cuts them off.

For too long, I believe that we've been comfortable with "a church for us." But Christ tells us that when we sign on to his plan, our lives are no longer about us. Once we give ourselves to him, now our job becomes to go tell others about the great news that we are experiencing. Our church has to be "a church for the unchurched." And it has to happen intentionally, with all of us pulling together in the same direction, working toward the same end; it doesn't work when all we change is the structure and the style but don't actually build relationships and invite others to join us. The church is the only institution in the world that exists for the people who are not yet members, and it's time we internalized what that means for each of us personally.

In essence, what this means is that we're all done messing around. We're all done accepting ministry that focuses on the surface and neglects the central mission of the church. We're all done with stuff that looks good on paper but doesn't amount to a hill of beans in terms of real kingdom impact. We're all done with things that would be great if they actually had any point of contact with an unchurched person. We're all done with practice--it's time for us to graduate into actually living out our convictions.

This also means that things are going to be different. The expectations are changing. From now on, we are going to be clear that personal outreach is a vital part of what we do as a church. This means that we're not going to just talk about it and not actually expect that anyone will really do it. We're going to equip our members to be faithful in this area of their lives--through training, small groups, classes, and whatever other forums may be necessary--so that no one is left behind. We're going to hold leaders at all levels accountable for living out these concepts in their lives.

Somebody's dead. Now it's time for the rest of us to do what we've been shoving off to Somebody. It's time for us to accept personal responsibility for the mission of our church. After all, nothing else really matters in the light of eternity.


no1mom said...

I have seen this poem before and thought it fitting.

Title: Job Responsibility

There was a most important job that needed to be done,
and no reason not to do it, there was absolutely none.
But in vital matters such as this, you have to ask,
who exactly will it be who'll carry out the task?

Anybody could have told you that everybody knew
that this was something somebody would surely have to do.
Nobody was unwilling; anybody had the ability,
but nobody believed that it was their responsibility.

It seemed to be a job that anybody could have done,
if anybody thought he was supposed to be the one.
But since everybody recognized that anybody could,
Everybody took for granted that somebody would.

But nobody told anybody that we are aware of,
that he would be in charge of seeing it was taken care of.
And nobody took it on himself to follow through,
and do what everybody thought that somebody would do.

When what everybody needed did not get done at all,
Everybody was complaining that Somebody dropped the ball.
Anybody then could see it was an awful crying shame,
and everybody looked around for Somebody to blame.

Somebody should have done the job
and Everybody should have,
But in the end Nobody did
what Anybody could have.

Pastor Scott said...

I love it! You are absolutely right. That's exactly why we killed Somebody at our church. The next one to go may be "they"--as in "they should..." and "they oughta stop..." and "What did they do now?" When it comes down to it, we are the only people to rely on and point to--no mysterious Somebodys and Theys.