|LeaderLines - from Hillcrest Baptist Church, Austin, Texas||Contact Tom Goodman, Pastor|
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Many seekers have been attracted to the lifestyle of their Christian friends, and they have been impressed by the work of a local church. Other seekers, however, have stories of hypocritical Christian neighbors, judgmental Christian relatives, and churches in their past that left them either bored or emotionally beaten up. This disillusionment shows up in polls and census information which reveal growing number of people who identify themselves as "spiritual" are not attached to any particular religious body.
LeaderLines is an e-newsletter designed for church leaders, and it's essential that, as a leader, you help people understand why they need to plug in to a church. I've discovered two ways to do this.
First, you need to point out that Jesus loves the church. To those who would say, "Don't talk about the church, talk about Jesus," I would say that talking about the church is part of talking about Jesus. Loving someone means sharing in that person's passions -- and Jesus is passionate about his church. The Bible says, "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." (Ephesians 5:25) People have to understand why Jesus loved the church so deeply if they're going to take him seriously.
Second, you need to emphasize that Jesus has a vision for the church. People get cynical when they see what humans have made of the church, but when seekers look at Christ's intent for his church, they get a lot more intrigued with the topic. Seekers want to know what it means to be a believer, and part of what it means is joining other disciples in pursuit of an inspiring vision of what "church" is supposed to be! In my talks with seekers, and in Part Five of The Anchor Course, we look at this hope-filled blueprint designed by Christ himself. The ancient Apostles' Creed summarizes the vision in three words: the church is to be one, holy, and a communion. As I put it in chapter 14:
Note that these three words work best to describe an assembly of people rather than a building or a corporation. This corrects a major misconception right away. Many understand "the church" as a building they go to or an organization that can do things for them.... The church is not a building you go to but a body you belong to. A building or an institution cannot really be described with words like "one" and "holy" and "communion" -- but people can, and Jesus intended his people to be worthy of those titles.
In our ancient Creed, even as we recite together, "I believe in God the Father," and "I believe in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord," and "I believe in the Holy Spirit," so also we profess together, "I believe in the one holy church" and "the communion of saints."
As a church leader, you can't shy away from the topic of church involvement. In my talks with seekers, I've found that I don't have to.
LeaderLines is a weekly "e-briefing" providing valuable information and inspiration to those who serve at Hillcrest Baptist Church.