I wrote this article a few years ago and have had it reprinted in several blogs etc. It’s still true.
Many years ago I went to my favorite restaurant, the Screaming Coyote, to purchase a Forklift burrito, the biggest ever made, to bring home to share with my wife.
While waiting I noticed a young mother with her child. The mother was dressed in typical alternative dress, appropriately ripped jeans, T-shirt and Doc Martin sandals. She was wearing more than one earring and looked like the typical young mom.
While she was digging in to her purse to find the correct change to purchase her food, her baby sat in his stroller and stared into space. He did not look well. I then noticed a tube running to his nose.
I thought, ‘I need to pray for the child.’ It was a crowded night so I waited for my order and observed that the mother had moved to the sidewalk tables. I paid for my burrito and nachos and strolled outside. I introduced myself and asked the mom about her child mentioning that I had noticed the tube. She explained that the baby had been born premature and had some major health problems since the birth and that the tube was a feeding tube.
Interestingly she also informed me she had named the child a biblical name, Michael. At some point in the conversation I asked if I could pray for her and the baby. Unsurprisingly she affirmed by saying something like, ‘That would be nice. Thank you very much’.
Before I prayed I asked permission to place my hand on the child’s head and then prayed a please give health to baby and grant wisdom and strength to mom type of prayer. I did notice the mother had tears rolling down her face. At the end of the prayer, I said, ‘Thanks for letting me pray.’
She responded tearfully by saying, ‘No, thank you for praying.’ Her next response ripped my heart she said, ‘I didn’t think anybody cared.’
Stunned, I affirmed God’s care and love for her and her child and told her about a great outward focused church where I knew she could find acceptance. The only problem it was miles away.
As I walked away I pondered the situation. I was living in Pensacola, host of a revival that had been going on for over two years, and here was a person who never knew somebody cared for her life. I was stunned. I asked my self, ‘What is revival?’ I thought it meant communities being reached and changed. People empowered to reach their world.
The Church is God’s great idea. It is a place where people can discover a new life living a new way. The people of the early church were ‘the called out ones’, ‘disciples’, and followers of the ‘Way’. In the early church there was an atmosphere which included a sense of awe, togetherness, unselfishness, unity, power, community and a strong sense of God’s presence and mission. The resulting fruit?… ‘The Lord added to the church day by day those being saved…and the church found favor with all the people.’
The truth: God wants to get the attention of His church. His purpose… that the church might seek Him and find Him, and discover His passion for our dismembered world.
It is interesting to view church movements from a distance. While some seek Him for personal prosperity and personal blessing, others seek Him for the lost. They are mission, / value driven. Some of the fastest growing churches in the USA are in this category.
Believe it or not, they are criticized for their passion for the lost. ‘Those seeker churches, They are a mile wide and an inch deep.’ Sadly, this criticism sometimes comes from our ‘more spiritual’ brothers who are criticized by the ‘less aware brothers’ who are criticized by… ok I’ll stop. Truth.
The reality, many churches in the different streams are doing all they can to reach everyone they can. They are focused upon knowing God (His relationship / His presence) and making Him known (His mission / His power). Everything else follows.
As one great leader has stated, “We need to re-present Jesus to our world.” How, by first of all pressing in to know Him, then reach out to our world to reveal Him in life, action, attitude and word.
The questions…What drives your church? What is it’s purpose in life? What is it’s mission? Does your church have a sense of mission? Or is it a church a drift?
Sometimes getting back to our foundations defines our business. As Christians and church leaders we need to continually ask ourselves, what business are we in? How is business? Sometimes it is facing the hard questions. We need to discover our present reality on order to move forward.
One year during a losing season Greenbay Packers coach Vince Lombardy gathered the team together and said, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” This is getting back to basics. I think our great Coach would like to gather His team together, point to our world and say, ‘Church this is your mission.’ It really does matter where you focus your aim. It will set the course of your life.
Where are you aiming? Inward or outward? What is your purpose? Why do you exist? May I suggest that answering these questions will help you discover what really matters to you and to your church.
Fill in the blanks: Our church exists to _____________________ ________________.
We are a church that ______________________________.
Our purpose in this town, city is to ___________________________.
Our main focus is to ______________________________________.
Our main mission is to ________________________________.
May I also suggest that if you answer doesn’t include pressing into God’s Presence, or going out into the Great Commission you are falling far short of your destiny.
The Desire For All Nations by an All Nations God
God has always been an all nations God. From beginning to end He desires to be in relationship with every person from every tribe, people, tongue and nation. This is God’s ideal for the inhabitants of planet earth. His desire was expressed when he commanded Adam and Eve to multiply and fill the earth. His Father heart was revealed when He asked the questions, “Where are you? Why are you hiding?” He’s still asking those questions to the people of our world today.
His desire for all nations was also revealed when he encouraged Abraham telling him his seed was to be as the sands of the sea and as the stars in the universe.
For God so loved the world
that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him
shall not perish but have eternal life.
Jesus revealed His Fathers passion when he upset the religious leaders of his day. The court of the gentiles had become a robbers den. Their buying and selling under the guise of religious ceremony prevented all nations from coming to worship at His House. His passion overflowed as He literally drove the money-changers from the area with a whip over turning their tables as he went.
The Apostle Peter revealed the heart of God when he expressed, ‘He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but (wanting) everyone to come to repentance.’ (2 Peter 3:9 NIV)
Lastly, a new song will be written to celebrate God’s passion of the who-so-ever believers at the conclusion of time and at the beginning of eternity … And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth. (Rev 5:9-10 NIV)
He is an outward focused, all nations, all peoples God, looking and longing to have relationship with all who will call upon Him. Always has been… always will be.
When the Church, which is supposed to be connected to His eternal purpose, loses sight of God’s main plan for man, we often move our focus on minors rather than on majors.