It is very late in the night and I have a really busy day ahead of me tomorrow, but I can't sleep. All I can do is lay in my bed and think about my community, the city I live in. One question that keeps haunting me is, 'How can a person reach a community for Jesus that appears to have already been reached?' I know, not everyone has been, but what about those who appear to have been? Are they truly in love with and following Christ, or have they just bought into a religious tradition?
I just can't seem to come up with a plan or a 'strategy' if you will, on the right approach to reach this area. The seeker/100 program churches are getting a lot of people busy in the church, but I am thinking about something that is much deeper than busyness. I am talking about getting people to see their need for Jesus at the core of who they are. Something that is not just getting people involved in an activity or even an age appropriate program, but something that becomes who they are, the source of their life not just another item on their to-do list.
I don't know, I am just not buying into this business as usual, going through the motions ordeal. I want to experience and lead people to experience a community that centered on Jesus. One where we focus on seeking the face of God, searching out the Word of God, getting involved in people's lives without the agenda of getting them to buy into a tradition of rituals, but just genuinely wanting to get to know them and build lasting relationships with them.
I just have a burden for all those laboring and trying to find fulfillment in going to church and being busy doing 'God's Work', and yet still find themselves lacking. It is my dream to see a group of people come together in community to seek God for the sake of knowing Him and feeding on Him and relying on Him for our satisfaction. I just don't see a hunger in people's eyes for something more. I don't see that longing in church goers eyes that says 'I want more'. People get to church three times a week and then look miserable while they are there and then leave as quickly as they come when it is over. Why?
As a leader how do I take this burden and make it into a reality? I spoke to a college class recently. I was asked questions about my job and then when I told them I was a pastor the good questions came. "How do you deal with those who have different views than you?"; "As a Christian how do you set your agenda aside and begin to help those who maybe aren't Christians?". These are excellent questions, and ones that I feel deserve answers. These are the people that I see that are searching for something deeper, something more. Where is the hunger, where is the thirst for the truth?
How do you proclaim the truth in a believable way to people who are convinced that they are the only ones right? I don't want to have an agenda, except to love people the way Jesus has loved me, and through those relationships point them to Jesus by showing them the truths found in the Gospel. I just find myself battling church traditions and religious rituals more and more, and I just want to see less fighting and more desiring of God. More desperation for the Spirit of Truth. Less agendas and more love.
This may be a terrible post to even publish, but this is killing me tonight for some reason. Like Paul, I am burdened for my city. I am tired of feeling as though I am in competition with other churches, and tired of hearing who is right and who is wrong. Who cares? People are desperate all around us for the truth. They are desperate to be a part of a community of people who are honest and humble about their faults, doubts, and questions. We need to be seeking to build relationships with these people, not for the sake of filling the pews on Sunday, but for the sake of letting them know someone loves them regardless if we agree with them or not on every issue.
How do we do this? And no, I am not asking for another book referral, I have read plenty, but none of them suggest to me how to reach the so called reached. How do we in the 'Bible-belt', get to the people and show them that the Christian life is not about being faithful to a denomination or a church, but faithful to the God of the church and his Son who provides the way for us to even have contact with this God, Jesus Christ?
We need to see our desperation for Jesus, in our lives, in our homes, in our relationships, in our churches...I need Him more than ever. I know this seems like a bunch of rambling nonsense, but it is three o'clock in the morning and I am carrying a heavy burden and I need to hash out my thoughts. Sorry if this offends you, and just to set the record straight, this does not stem from any specific interaction with any specific person or person's. These are my observations of my city and the surrounding areas as a whole. I love my church and the people who are members of it. I care deeply for them as individuals and their souls. They are growing spiritually and asking tough questions. However, this has been a burden of mine since I moved back to this area, and believe that is the reason God has placed me and my wife back in this area. I just want to figure out a way to get through, connect, and get people moving towards the cross of Calvary where we are on level ground, where we are all equals. I just want to see a burning desire in peoples lives for God, and who are willing to seek Him no matter the costs.