There are a lot of hard changes. Like the one where you discover that after banging my head on the wall time after time, getting in arguments with friends, getting bitter, chasing after things that seem indispensable but fail to pay off...that the problem is...me! This is an essential step in discovering that God's Hope is available for you and me. But it requires that we be willing to change.
Another time when change is necessary is when you want to do something different. We are planting theCityChurch because something needs to be different. Again, we're NOT against any churches - if you're for Jesus, we're for you! However, the church in America is in decline. There are lots of articles about this, here are two that were at the top of a google search: Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/28/trends-for-us-churches-mostly-pointing-down_n_985886.html, Ed Stetzer, Chief Missiologist at Lifeway Research, http://www.edstetzer.com/2012/06/sbc-2011-statistical-realities.html.
So, we're planting this church, and in our Rallying Cry, theCityShouldBeDifferent, there is the call for theCityChurch to be different, and for our city, Lake Charles and SWLA, to be different. But, as I just said, being different, changing, is hard to do! We naturally drift toward the things we like or are accustomed to. This reality requires us to regularly re-look at our objective, and examine how we need to adapt to stay on course.
Even new things like new churches need to do this. So, we're doing just that right now at theCityChurch.
One very helpful handle is to think of the activities of a church in these two categories:
Gathering and Scattering
What we are discovering is that we are much more accustomed to and better at the Gathering types of activities. Worship Gatherings, Community Group gatherings, Bible Study gatherings, and general party/social/hanging out gatherings. That only makes sense, since that is what we have tended to do, historically, in church in our culture. We're more familiar with gathering, so we're better at it. Again, this is NOT a bad thing - Gathering it Vital, Life-Giving, Required to be the Church the Bible describes. We need to Gather! The work church literally means, gathered people. So, we will gather and we say #RightOnToThat
What we have recognized is that saying that you want to go out and serve, setting that up as a key value and preaching about it (all of which we have done) is still leaving us with a gap to fill. We just haven't done serving and scattering very much, and aren't sure what to do, or how to do it. So, theCityChurch is going to build our skills and experience at Scattering. Specifically, focusing on serving others, making the Kingdom of God tangible to people. Serving others includes our neighbors (people like us) and serving the least of these (the poor). We will do this as a community, so it's a 2-for-1 special!
The U.S. Marines have a motto, Improvise, Adapt and Overcome. I heard Clint Eastwood quote that in the movie, Heartbreak Ridge, and it's stuck with me ever since. We are going to adapt at theCityChurch to learn to train our own hearts and hands to be a community of faith that goes out on Jesus mission to serve others, making disciples as we go!
The world, our city included, needs to see the church of Jesus learn to scatter, to go out and love and serve, to be on mission as a community of faith. Jesus said to make disciples, and serving others is a vital part of that mission - it trains us to remember that "it's not about me."
I'm pumped! You can join in our our path of discovery, adapting and walking it out!
"And the King will say, 'I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!" Jesus, quoted by his disciple, Matthew 25:40
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