Monday, June 23, 2014

A Thought

“Our ultimate goal as a church is to help persons become deeply committed Christians.  As we developed our membership expectations in 1990 we asked this question, ‘What does it take to grow in Christ and to become a committed disciple of Jesus Christ?’  At the core I felt that if someone would worship regularly, commit to a small group or some other form of personal discipleship, would begin to serve The Lord with their gifts, and would reorder personal priorities by moving toward tithing, this would be the basis for both growing in Christ, as well as helping the church to accomplish its mission.”  Adam Hamilton, “Leading Beyond the Walls”

For those who do not know of Adam Hamilton, he is pastor of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood KS.  He planted this church in 1990 with four persons and celebrated ten years of ministry with some 8000 members!  The church is still known as one of the fastest-growing United Methodist churches in the nation, and Rev. Hamilton was very clear in this year’s Annual Conference: this is no accident, no lucky strike, no “fate”, and certainly not just himself.  The church continues to grow because The Church is engaged in ministry to the community and understands itself purposefully and intentionally as The Body of Christ Himself!

Adam never makes a claim to have perfected their approach; he only makes clear that nothing – especially the personal component of faith – is taken for granted nor it is ever assumed as a given.  Membership is understood not as a position of privilege but one of expectation, duty, and responsibility.  It is understood before one is even allowed to join the church that these four things are to be expected, but no one is ever prohibited from participating in the life of the church.

Membership is a sign of commitment within the covenant of that community of faith, just as it is a sign of commitment to our Lord as Head of the Church.  That we claim Him as Savior is one thing (and the beginning of a very great thing!), but that we claim Him as Lord of our lives and Head of the Church is another thing entirely. 

We in the land of plenty have learned to take too much for granted.  We assume the church will always be there in case it is needed for our own funerals, but we overlook the reality that it is the commitment of every single member that ensures the church is always there.  Giving nothing of oneself is the surest way to seal the lid on the coffin.

Let us recommit ourselves to this certain reality: discipleship is not a “thing” we do.  Rather it is our very lifeblood and the assurance of the well-being of the church we call our spiritual home.  It is devotion to our Lord which ensures that others will come to know of the Gospel of our Lord – for outside of this reality, this duty, there is no church.  And the only life we can really claim for ourselves is the one that will surely come to an end when we breathe our last. 

Never assume the church does not need you, and never assume the church will be just fine without you.  Without you, the church is just a building that can be as easily abandoned as it can be strengthened.



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