The Summer is coming to a slow end. It is getting a little bit darker, a little bit earlier. As I turned down the lights after Bible Study/Prayer Meeting last night, the darkness of the room reminded me that we weren’t in August any more. It seems that the sun of Summer is setting. Fall is fast approaching, and Winter is on the cusp.
We just got back from a little family vacation to Kansas. My wife has family up yonder ways, and it was quite a drive. I’m always impressed on the way up and over to central Kansas. It really is a beautiful expanse…and, I really mean expanse. You can see as far as your eyes will let you. The sun pierces your eyes the moment it crests the horizon. The colors of the sunset are beautiful, and fills the sky. It got down to 49 degrees one night! That was quite an experience for this Texas boy. That was downright unexpected! Yep, Summer seems to be setting all over the place.
I can’t help but think of the churches in our country. I can’t help but think of my church, the one I’m blessed to serve. It seems that the Summer of church life is setting, or perhaps is already well into Fall. The chill and death of Winter is right around the corner…some already falling to it’s icy grasp.
Four thousand Southern Baptist churches closing their doors every year. Ninety percent of our “churched” students never to return after high school. One-third (plus) of our young adults leaving the institutions of faith that they’ve been raised in. The Builder generation, the ones that really built the great monoliths to the faith, are in their final years of life. Some would say that the church’s sun is setting as well.
Perhaps they are right. If we define the church as the institutions perfected during the 1960-1970s, then maybe so. If church is defined as the organization that does particular things in a particular way, then perhaps the analogy is correct. But, if the church continues to be defined simply as the people of God, then I think it’s demise is premature.
Sure, the structures may change. How things are done may change. The profession that puts food on my personal table, and roof over my family’s head may change. But, the people of God will carry on. Those who love Christ and desire to be obedient to him will continue into the future. God continues to build his Kingdom, even if that doesn’t mean that he will build our churches.
So, what do we do? I believe that we stay obedient. We stay faithful to what he calls us to. We continue to discern his will, and stride obediently forward in it.
For me, that means that I lead my church outward. We are to be more outwardly focused, and less inwardly concerned. If we “get” from God, it is because we’ve already given in obedience to him. If we “receive” as an institution, it is only because we’ve already went for him. We invest in the community that surrounds us by doing the good things we believe God is calling us to do. We live sacrificially, giving of our time to the schools, so that we may bless the children that attend them. We volunteer for community events, so that we may bless our neighbor that attends them. We love them as Christ loves us, so that when they ask us “why?” we can answer from the heart: Because my Jesus loves me and wants me to.
It has been a nice Summer here in Fort Worth. I’ve stayed away from blogging, and the Baptist politics that seem to abound. I can’t guarantee that I’ll get back into it. Simply because, I’m not so sure how much they matter any more. For me, it is about God’s Kingdom, not our own. It is about obedience to him over denominationalism. To steal, and change just a bit, from the RNC: Its about Kingdom over Party.