As we begin this discussion, we have to admit that there are many Ideas, both in the church and in society, that work to divide us, to separate people in their Monday – Saturday world, from any reality in their “Sunday” world. Many, of course, don’t bother with Sundays because they have ideas that make the integration of church life into their real life unsustainable. They just cannot see how faith could ever plug into real life. What are those ideas that divide?
Here are five ideas that discourage integrating:
All of these ideas and more exist in our culture to deeply divide the two realities of religion, and real life.
It would be good to ask that age-old question: If your church closed, would anyone even notice? Would the community miss your church, or would they simply be glad to rezone a property to receive more tax revenue? If you would not be missed, your church is likely living up to those above bad ideas.
When we talk about our church integrating into our community, we really have two ways this happens. First, we can refer to the individuals in our church being dispersed throughout our community when they are not engaged in corporate worship or mission. Second, we may refer to the corporate expression of our church when we gather for worship, service, or mission. In today’s podcast, we are referring more to the corporate expression of our church in the community.
Three challenges to integrating:
We have to decide if we even want to integrate. We need to count the cost, and honestly ask the question – Are we really ready to make church “not about us”? For most churches, what they do, the programs they develop or adopt, the services they plan, and the way they spend their money all point to a group of people who are making it all about themselves. This is hard to admit, and even harder to recognize in your own church. To be fair, this is normal and natural for how groups and people cycle. But we cannot accept it if we are to make a difference in our community.
Let’s also be truthful about the fact that to integrate into our community is going to be hard, will require intentionality, and necessitate long term perseverance. As we said on Monday, it should be viewed in terms of years, not weekends.
Are we willing to put in the time and make a church-wide, lifelong commitment to the community? Can we make the investment that will be needed to move the ball down the fields in terms of making a difference? We just cannot think that our corporate investment into the community on Sunday mornings is going to be enough. It won’t be!
Five steps toward integrating:
This is going to be an ongoing conversation on the 200churches Podcasts. In the coming months we will return to this discussion from time to time. Read Matthew 28:17-20. We must integrate into all communities in order to make disciples. Let’s just start with the one we’re in!
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